Palm Springs Adopts New Map of City Council Districts; minor changes

The Palm Springs City Council adopted a new map of the district on Thursday.

The new map will result in relatively minor boundary changes compared to the current map.

The Sunmor neighborhood on the west side of the airport moved from District 3 to District 1, while a small number of homes centered around Arnico Street in the Gene Autry neighborhood moved from District 1 to District 2.

Another small section of downtown centered on the Palm Springs Museum of Art has moved from District 5 to District 2, reuniting it with the rest of the Old Las Palmas neighborhood it is sometimes associated with. Two streets in the Lawrence Crossley neighborhood will be moved from District 4 to District 1.

By law, city council districts should contain roughly the same number of residents — in the case of Palm Springs, that’s about 8,900 people in each of the five districts. According to a lawyer hired by the city to help with redistricting, the courts currently allow a total deviation of 10% in the size of council districts within a city.

District populations are allowed to vary by up to 10% in the interest of keeping “communities of interest” together – i.e. communities that share commonalities such as a neighborhood or school .

The total discrepancy between the size of council districts under the new map, known as Map L, will be 7.55%.

Thursday’s Map L selection was the culmination of an approximately three-month process that cities must complete to update their district maps after the 2020 census is completed. In Palm Springs, that process included four public hearings at city council meetings as well as community meetings in each current council district.

It was also the first time Palm Springs had held a redistricting process since it transitioned from general council elections to district elections.

In November, a lawyer hired by the city to guide the redistricting process informed the council that while the city had barely grown since the 2010 census, the council’s districts had become unbalanced beyond the total deviation limit. 10% due to uneven population growth. Therefore, district boundaries should be adjusted.

Throughout the process, City Council has repeatedly emphasized that it will prioritize the adoption of a map that includes a neighborhood where racial majorities together constitute a majority. According to the council’s current map, District 1 is that majority-minority district and will remain so under the new map.

The law firm the city consulted initially suggested that District 1 could not be maintained as a majority-minority district. However, in December the council was presented with a map option that preserved District 1 as a majority minority district.

The current Palm Springs City Council map, which will now be replaced by the new map.

The following two redrawing meetings focused on minor adjustments to this map.

The latest adjustment made on Thursday was to change the boundaries of District 3 to include the downtown section, which brought old Las Palmas — which was previously split between District 5 and District 3 — together. The change added 80 people to the district, council member Geoff Kors said.

The largest district under the new map will be District 4, with 9,005 residents. The smallest district will be District 1, with 8,863 residents.

None of the residents who move move from who will vote in 2022 to who will vote in 2024, which the council has repeatedly cited as another priority.

The new map, entitled Map L, can be viewed at psdistricts.com.

Districts 1, 2 and 3 up for election in the fall

Seats for Districts 1, 2 and 3 will be elected in November, while Districts 4 and 5 will not be elected until November 2024. Several people have already announced their candidacy, or lack thereof, for the seats to be elected this year.

Grace Garner has announced that she will be seeking re-election in constituency 1.

In District 2, holder Dennis Woods has not announced whether he will seek re-election. He told the Desert Sun on January 23 that he was still considering running and would make an announcement soon.

It was the same day Destination PSP owner Jeffrey Bernstein has announced that he would also run for the District 2 seat. Earlier this month, Woods has called for an investigation into Palm Springs’ Measure J Oversight Commission, alleging the emergence of conflicts of interest for Bernstein and other members. He later apologized going over many of his concerns.

In District 3, Geoff Kors has announced that he will not run again after serving two terms. Ron deHarte, president of Greater Palm Springs Pride and chairman of the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission, announced that he was running for that seat.

Although District 4 is not eligible for re-election, it is possible that it will also be represented by someone new sooner than that. This is because in January, Council member Christy Holstege has launched a campaign to represent California Assembly District 47.

If Holstege wins that assembly seat in November, the city council will have 60 days to appoint someone to complete their term or schedule a special election.

Mayor Lisa Middleton, who represents District 5, had announced in November that she would run for the state Senate. However, following the Senate redistricting process, Palm Springs was moved to State Senate District 19, which will not be reelected until 2024. Middleton said in December that she still plans to run for the seat then.

Paul Albani-Burgio covers breaking news and the city of Palm Springs. Follow him on Twitter at @albaniburgiop and by email at [email protected]

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