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Sonoma County Gazette
Santa Rosa District Elections

Santa Rosa District Elections public hearings and input

Oct 2, 2017


District-Based Elections

The City of Santa Rosa will transition from at-large to district-based elections starting in November 2018. 


The city received a certified letter from the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes on July 17, 2017 claiming the city is violating the California Voting Rights Act (Elec. Code §§ 14025-14032) because Council members are elected at-large rather than by districts. Dozens of local government agencies in California have faced similar challenges in recent years.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, the Council adopted a Resolution of Intention NoRES-2017-173, taking advantage of a legal protection that enables cities to have a say in district boundaries and avoid costly litigation.

This protection applies only to cities that pass a resolution within 45 days of receiving a demand letter alleging a violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The resolution must indicate the city’s intent to move to district elections. Read the staff report and supporting documentation for the meeting where the City Council voted to move to district elections. 

Santa Rosa must complete this new District Election process within the next 90 days – by November 27 

Here’s where we stand currently:
  1. We hired a demographer to assess our City and bring us proposed maps of possible districts.
  2. Our city will have seven districts and each district will elect their own City Council Member.
  3. The next three council members will likely be elected from these new districts in November 2018. 
  4. The districts must have roughly the same number of residents.
  5. My goal is for neighborhoods and communities with natural affinity and common interests to be kept together in districts that are compact and contiguous.  
  6. Districts will be drawn by an impartial demographer and may not manipulated by elected officials for political advantage.
Important questions remain:
How will we transition from At-Large Elections to District Elections?
How will the districts be drawn?

Roseland will be annexed into Santa Rosa in November and will be part of these elections. If you live in Roseland, please participate in this process. Your input is needed.

All Public Hearings will be held at City Hall in the Council Chamber at 100 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa at 5:00 P.M. or as soon thereafter. 


October 3, 2017 - 1st Public hearing - Composition of Districts. To receive feedback from community members that will be used to draw preliminary district maps. No Maps Yet Drawn

October 10, 2017 - 2nd Public hearing - Composition of Districts. Continuation of the opportunity for community members to provide feedback to be used in drawing preliminary district maps.No Maps Yet Drawn.

October 24, 2017  - Publish Draft Maps andPotential Sequence of Elections

November 1, 2017 - 3rd Public Hearing Special Meeting - Draft Maps.  Opportunity to respond and make recommendations regarding the proposed district boundaries and the potential sequence of elections

November 7, 2017 - Any Amended Maps Posted

November 14, 2017 - 4th Public Hearing - Draft Maps.  Expected that Council will select map to establish district boundaries, introduce an ordinance establishing district elections, and determine election sequence.

November 21, 2017 - 5th Public Hearing - Expected that Council will adopt an ordinance establishing district elections.

November 27, 2017 - Day 90

Discussion: Input Invited on the Drawing of District Maps for Upcoming District Elections

The City has begun the process to transition to district-based elections and will be drawing boundaries for those new districts to be ready for the November 2018 Council elections. 

It is essential for the success of this process that there is a shared understanding of neighborhood regions.  You are the person who knows your neighborhood best.  Please use the topics below to inform us on how you identify your neighborhood by describing your community characteristics, shared interests, views, or problems.

All comments received will be shared with City Council as part of the public feedback at future public hearings.

In addition to collecting information here on Speak-up, Santa Rosa, there will be opportunities for residents to engage in this discussion in person, sign-up and subscribe to receive email notifications (select "City Council Agendas, Minutes, and Videos") about upcoming community meetings & public hearings that are focused on district-based elections:

  • Community Meetings - 4-5 community meetings will be held around the City to answer questions and solicit input.

  • City Council Public Hearings - opportunity to be involved through the process of drafting and finalizing the maps 

Looking for background information on why district-based elections are coming to the City of Santa Rosa?  Please review the report item prepared for the October 3rd City Council Meeting (found here).

Topic: Share about your community: 

1) How do your refer to your neighborhood (e.g. Sky Hawk, Montgomery Village, Roseland Creek, Coffey Park, South Park, historic area, etc.)?  Please describe the areas that you naturally include and/or exclude in order to define your neighborhood.

2) Describe what you think are your neighborhood's natural boundaries: what are the highways, railroad, main streets, creeks, trails, or other geographic features that begin and end in your neighborhood?

3) Please share any additional thoughts or concerns you may have about how districts lines may impact your neighborhood and/or nearby areas that you do not identify as being a part of your neighborhood.

Please be as specific as you can in your responses.


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