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Proposed district map remains center of controversy in Palm Desert redistricting process

The City of Palm Desert is set to hold two more community workshops on Wednesday, November 29 and Wednesday, December 6, where the public is invited to provide feedback on a proposed voter map advanced by Council in a 4-1 vote at the last meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Karina Quintanilla was the only councilmember to vote against the adoption of map 109 as the sole map to be used in redistricting discussions moving forward.

According to the meeting agenda, staff had recommended that Council select 2-3 "focus maps" for further consideration, which did not end up happening

"The stated objective was to narrow it down to two to three and if we narrow it down to one, we are stealing from our voters. we are suppressing their voice and saying come and tell us what you think of this one choice," according to Quintanilla.

The "focus map" advanced by Council would divide the northern part of town between two council districts. District 4, which would have Interstate 10 at its top edge, would span from Monterey Ave. to Washington Street and encompass both the CSU San Bernardino and UCR campuses. District 5 would mostly sit between Monterey Ave. and Portola Rd., spanning south of Gerald Ford Dr. to College of the Desert.

The Council rejected two other eligible maps (102b and 103b) for further consideration, due to concerns from a majority of the councilmembers that it would divide the Hidden Palms gated community into two districts.

All of the 5 eligible maps presented to Council at the last meeting would split gated communities, with the exception of map 109. "It's absolutely unacceptable to cut a gated community in half," said Councilmember Jan Harnik.

Population growth was another topic discussed by Council, with map 109 presented as one of two options that would achieve a greater balance in dividing future population in north Palm Desert.

"The city of Palm Desert needs to look at residents that live outside of the gated communities and respect their needs as well," said Quintanilla.

Stephen Nelson, the HOA president at Genesis near I-10, said he has concerns with the "focus map" selected by Council. "It really is in direct conflict with the compactness requirement of the Voting Rights Act of the state of California and it also lessens the identity of the north," according to Nelson.

Nelson would like to see Council throw its support behind another option, such as the rejected map 102b, which would encompass the northern part of town from Interstate 10 down to Country Club Dr. and span from Monterey Ave. to an area just east of Palm Valley Country Club.

He said he's hopeful Council will reconsider how it will ultimately draw district lines so that a single northern district remains in tact when a final map is decided upon.

At the December 14 Council meeting, the City will hold its fourth public hearing on the topic. At that meeting, the Council will make any final adjustments to the map based on public feedback received.

The debate comes after the Council voted to switch from the current two districts to 5 back in June.

Tune in at 6:00 p.m. tonight for more on the story.

Article Topic Follows: Local News

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3


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