The official website for Solano County 2021 Redistricting information.

Board Receives 2021 Supervisorial Redistricting Legal Requirements

Feb 2 2021

Solano County
File Number:  21-102

Agenda Date: 02/02/2021 Version: 1 Status Regular Calendar
In Control: County Counsel File Type: Presentation
Agenda Number: 11

Consider receiving a presentation on Supervisorial redistricting requirements following receipt of the 2020 Decennial Census information and provide direction to staff on the next steps including possible formation of a Technical Advisory Committee to assist in this effort

Published Notice Required?   Yes          No    X
Public Hearing Required?   Yes        No    X   

Departmental Recommendation:

The County Administrator recommends the Board of Supervisors receive a presentation on Supervisorial redistricting requirements following receipt of the 2020 Decennial Census information and provide direction to staff on next steps including the possible formation of a Technical Advisory Committee to assist in this effort


Federal and state law require counties to undergo an adjustment to their Supervisorial District boundaries to reflect the outcome of the U.S. Census, conducted every ten years. The 2020 Census information is required to be available on or about April 1, 2021. There have been certain changes in federal and state laws that have occurred since the 2011 redistricting which will change the process from 2021. Staff is requesting direction on the process to guide the efforts to assure that the Board is able to adopt new district boundaries within the prescribed time frame.

Financial Impact:

There is no direct fiscal impact associated with acceptance of the presentation on Supervisorial redistricting requirements and discussion and/or action regarding establishment of the County’s redistricting process. The process itself will involve use of County staff time and will require outside technical support likely including a demographer and other consultant services to assist the Board. Staff will return at a future meeting with a proposed budget for the additional support needed to complete this process in a complete and timely manner


The U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) is required by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to conduct an accurate count of the population every ten years. Census data is used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and in redistricting of state legislatures, county boards of supervisors and city councils. In 2020, the Bureau conducted the decennial census, extending the deadline for responses through October 15, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon completion of the Census, the County’s self-response rate (those residents who responded without contact from the Bureau) was estimated to be 74.1% and the Bureau estimated that the total California self-response rate was 69.6% of all U.S. residents. According to the Bureau’s website, the Bureau followed up with non-responders through census takers and estimates that 99.9% of the U.S. population was counted between self-response and follow up by the Bureau. The Bureau was expected to report final data to the U.S. President on or before December 31, 2020 and the County is expected to receive final data as close to April 1, 2021, as possible.

Pursuant to Elections Code section 21500 et seq., “Following each federal decennial census, and using that census as a basis, the board shall adjust the boundaries of any or all of the supervisorial districts of the county so that the supervisorial districts shall be substantially equal in population as required by the United States Constitution.” The Board must adopt an ordinance amending supervisorial districts no later than December 15, 2021 which means that the process must be complete and new maps presented to the Board for adoption in early November in order to meet the deadline.

Redistricting Requirements: The process for redistricting is regulated by the U.S. and California Constitutions, the Voting Rights Act and Elections Code sections 21500 et seq. These authorities require that districts be based on total population and must have substantially equal population per district. Additionally, these authorities generally prohibit using race as a predominate criteria for redrawing districts or diluting the voting rights of racial or language minority communities to elect representatives of their choice.

2011: During 2011, the Board followed a multi- step process that extended from April thru August. A technical committee consisting of the GIS Coordinator, Assistant Registrar of Voters, County counsel and the Director of Resource Management was utilized, and several town hall meetings were conducted to review census data and several scenarios were created for consideration by the Board. A preferred alternative was developed and two formal public hearings were conducted followed by introduction of an ordinance and ultimately adoption. The entire process was guided by the Board. A similar process could be followed for 2021 although the Board consider new provisions of the law as described below.

2021: New requirements have been added to the California Elections Code since the 2010 redistricting that provide that the updated districts must be redrawn using the following criteria, in order of priority:

  1. To the extent practicable, districts must be geographically contiguous;
  2. To the extent practicable, districts must maintain the geographic integrity of neighborhoods and “communities of interest” which are defined as “populations that share common social or economic interests and should be included within a single supervisorial district for purposes of its effective and fair representation”;
  3. To the extent practicable, districts must minimize division of cities or census designated places;
  4. Boundaries must be easily identifiable and, if possible, bound by natural/artificial barriers; and
  5. To the extent practicable, and where it does not conflict with the preceding criteria, districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness.

New State law also requires extensive outreach and opportunity be given for public input, especially for minority and language minority communities. The County is required to hold at least three public hearings or workshops, with the following requirements:

  1. One public hearing/workshop must be held before draft maps are drawn
  2. Two public hearings/workshops must be held after draft maps are drawn
  3. One public hearing/workshop must be held on a weekend or after 6 p.m. on a weekday
  4. All public hearings/workshops must be noticed to the public, accessible to the disabled and must provide live translation if requested 72 hours prior to the hearing/workshop
  5. The date, time and place of each hearing/workshop must be published online at least 5 days in advances

In addition, the County must make good faith, demonstrable efforts to engage the public, including underrepresented and non-English speaking communities. This may be demonstrated by providing information via local media organizations, including those serving non-English speaking communities and to local community organizations and agencies, including those active in language minority communities. The County is also required to publish all draft maps, along with specified information regarding the maps at least 7 days prior to their adoption. Throughout the redrawing process, the County must allow the public to submit testimony or their own draft maps in writing and electronically. Finally, the County must record all public comment and Board deliberation regarding proposed maps and maintain such records for a minimum of 10 years.

In order to begin the redistricting process, staff is requesting direction from the Board as to the mechanism for how the new district maps will be developed. The Board can choose to lead this process and facilitate the required hearings and workshops to draw and approve the new maps as was done back in 2001 and 2011. Alternatively, Elec. Code, § 23001 authorizes the Board to establish (by ordinance or resolution) one of three different types of redistricting commissions:

  • Advisory: The commission recommends proposed district boundaries to the Board. (Elec. Code, § 23000(a).) The Board decides who is appointed to the advisory commission and establishes the process for appointment. The only statutory restriction is that “[a] person who is an elected official of the [County], or a family member, staff member, or paid campaign staff of an elected official of the [County], shall not be appointed to serve on the commission.” (Elec. Code, § 23002(b).)
  • Independent: An independent redistricting commission is empowered to adopt the district boundaries, meaning the Board has no authority over the final map. (Elec. Code, § 23000(d).)
  • Hybrid: A hybrid redistricting commission recommends two or more maps and the Board must then adopt one of those maps without modification (except as may be required to comply with state or federal law). (Elec. Code, § 23000(c).)

Should the Board choose to form one of these redistricting commissions, staff will return with recommended procedures for the selection of commission members as well as recommended rules and requirements.

Regardless of whether the Board chooses to lead the process or form a redistricting commission, staff is recommending the appointment of a Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of the Director of Information Technology (or designees(s) – likely the GIS Coordinator and Assistant Registrar of Voters); Resource Management Director (or designee – likely County Surveyor); County Counsel (or designee); and County Administrator to work together from their respective disciplines and the retention of a demographer or experienced consultant to assist with the census data. The Technical Advisory Committee would assist the Board and/or commission if established with the development of the proposed boundary alternatives. A similar committee was formed for the redistricting process completed in 2010.


The Board could choose not to receive this presentation or decide not to provide direction to staff; however, this is not recommended since the County is mandated to review its supervisorial boundaries at the conclusion of each federal decennial census and failure to do so may result in a resident petitioning the court to adopt new boundaries at the County’s cost.

Other Agency Involvement:

The Departments of Resource Management, Information Technology – Registrar of Voters and GIS, and County Counsel were consulted on this item and will be part of the process going forward.

CAO Recommendation:

Approve Departmental Recommendation

May 27, 2021
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