Will redistricting split Coachella Valley representation?
There may be major changes on the way when it comes to the Coachella Valley's representation at the federal, state and county levels.
Redistricting happens every 10 years, once new census data is released, to make sure everyone is equally represented – and new proposals could split the valley's representation.
Draft district maps are being drawn up right now ahead of being finalized later this month. One shows a new line right through the valley's congressional district. The valley is currently represented in its entirety by Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz.
But the new draft map puts cities including Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage in with Menifee, Norco and Corona, leaving the rest of the valley in a district with Imperial County and some of eastern San Bernardino County.
"Several of us had said that's not a good final solution," said Ray Kennedy, one of 14 California Citizens Redistricting commissioners working to redraw the state's district lines. He's a former Palm Springs resident now living in Morongo Valley, and the only representative from the Inland Empire.
Kenneday said he has concerns about dividing the valley's districts.
"We have had a few people calling in and saying that they're not happy with the Coachella Valley being split," he said. "I've said I'm not happy with the Coachella Valley being split the way it is. I think it's very artificial."
The Coachella Valley's state senate representation could be upended too. The valley as a whole is in Senate District 28 right now, but the new drafts, if approved, would move cities like Coachella and Indio into a district with Imperial County and some of San Diego County, leaving the rest of the valley, including Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and La Quinta, in a district with Southern San Bernardino County.
The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce said there are "more potential negative outcomes with the redistricting proposal, than positive," and is urging the commission to keep the Coachella Valley whole wherever possible.
But Kennedy said with a December 27th deadline fast approaching, time is running out.
"If people want to comment, we encourage them to do so as soon as possible so that it can be given full consideration," he said.
Separately, Riverside County is also looking at redrawing district lines for county supervisor representation.
Right now, District 4, which encompasses the Coachella Valley, seems to have the lowest population. That means in order to balance it out, the valley's district would likely grow in size.