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May 17, 2018 - Public input is needed on drawing voting districts. Get tools for outlining four districts online at DRAWHMB.ORG. The next public hearing is June 5, 2018, 7 pm for public comment about possible criteria and boundaries for districts.
For Immediate ReleaseMay 17, 2018
Contact: Jessica Blair, City Clerk650-726-8271
Council direction is to create four council districts, with a mayor elected at-large
Half Moon Bay, CA - The first of several public hearings on the City’s transition to district-based elections was held during the City Council meeting on May 15. The purpose of that hearing was to gather initial public comment about the possible criteria and boundaries for districts, as well as about the proposed number of districts to be created. The City Council directed staff to move forward with a four-district approach, with the mayor being elected at-large. This means that each of four council members would be elected by voters within that candidate’s district, while the mayor would be elected by all voters within the City.
One of the specific questions for the public is about the desired term of the at-large elected mayor: should the mayor’s term be two years, or four years? Community input on that question and other district-based elections issues can be provided via email to Jessica Blair, City Clerk, at email@example.com, and/or by attending and participating in the next public hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 7 pm, Ted Adcock Community Center, 535 Kelly Avenue.
The first two hearings are intended to provide the opportunity for public input on how the draft maps should be drawn. More information and a variety of tools for community members to describe possible district boundaries are online at www.drawhmb.org. Background information and periodic updates are on the City’s website at www.hmbcity.com/districts. After the June 5 hearing, draft maps will be drawn and posted for public review. Two additional public hearings (scheduled for June 19 and July 17) will offer an opportunity for public comment on the draft maps.
A key reason that the City is proceeding with district-based elections is the threat of significant litigation. Most of the California cities that have transitioned in the last few years have done so as a result of legal challenges brought under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). Earlier this year, Half Moon Bay received a Notice of Violation of the CVRA from a southern California law firm, which has also sent such notices to dozens of other cities. Faced with potentially hundreds-of-thousands, or even millions, of dollars in legal fees and damages (as some cities have experienced), Half Moon Bay decided to voluntarily proceed with transitioning to district-based elections.
The intent of District-based elections is to give all legitimate groups, particularly minority groups, a better chance of being fairly represented on a city council. An allegation of a CVRA violation does not imply that the City is acting in a discriminatory manner. Rather, it is an allegation that the overall electoral system within the city is resulting in the disenfranchisement of minority voters.
Located 28 miles south of San Francisco, the City of Half Moon Bay is a community of about 12,000 people, situated on the peninsula between forested hills and some of the most beautiful coastlines that California has to offer. Its historic Downtown is home to numerous shops, art galleries, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and other businesses, and its celebrated beaches and parks are wonders of nature, accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians. With its many activities and events, beautiful natural scenery, old-town charm, and abundance of retail and commercial services, Half Moon Bay is a regional destination. The City's website is www.hmbcity.com.