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Public hearing set on Palm Desert City Council boundaries

PALM DESERT

Palm Desert residents are invited today to give their input on the boundaries of two City Council districts as the city prepares to change the way it conducts elections.

As part of its Thursday meeting, the Palm Desert City Council will hold the second of five planned public hearings on the issue. The first public hearing was held Feb. 13. The city previously held a pair of informal open houses.

By June 1, the final maps of the two districts must be finalized and sent to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, according to City Clerk Rachelle Klassen.

Last December, the City Council approved a settlement stemming from a lawsuit alleging the city's at-large voting system violated the California Voting Rights Act by preventing Latino residents from electing candidates of their choice. U.S. Census data from 2019 shows that 25.5% of Palm Desert residents are Hispanic or Latino.

The settlement included language which substantially alters city elections by creating two districts.

Starting in November, one council member will be elected from a downtown district encompassing about 20% of the city's population, while the other four will be chosen from a second district that includes the remaining 80% of the population.

The California Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 2002, requires cities to switch to district-based elections if not doing so "would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election.''

The Nov. 3 election will be the first to be held under the new system.

The meeting begins 4 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall, 73510 Fred Waring Drive.

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City News Service

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