On Thursday evening, the City of Palm Desert held a public workshop where residents will have a chance to learn about and provide feedback on the City’s redistricting process.
“With the release of the 2020 census information, we’re now adjusting our districts to reflect those numbers,” said the City's Public Affairs Manager Thomas Soule.
Every 10 years, local governments use new data from the Census to redraw their district lines to reflect how local populations have changed. The City is asking for the public’s help to plan, draw, and reapportion the City’s districts.
The city moved to a two-district system with the 2020 election as part of a settlement agreement with two Palm Desert residents who sued the city in 2019.
During Thursday’s workshop, residents learned how to use the city’s map-making feature to submit a map of their own. Map drafts will need to be submitted by February 11.
“All of those will be considered by the council at one of the upcoming public meetings," Soule added, "Then they will shift in and use that input from the public. We have demographers working on this to help us figure what might be optimal for the City of Palm Desert.”
Palm Desert is currently split up into two districts. A downtown district shown (below in green) with one city councilor, and four other city councilors elected from the remaining area (below in purple) on this map.
A group of residents, Drive4Five, held a rally ahead of Thursday's meeting to push redistricting from two to five voting districts.
“Representation is a real thing, it’s a meaningful thing. I happen to live in north Palm Desert so there’s a lot of issues in north Palm Desert that are not relevant to or not noted by that live in the south part of town. There’s just different issues that we face,” said Drive4Five member Carlos Garcia.
Members of this group believe the citizens of Palm Desert would be represented better with five districts. They claim 80% of the City lacks equal representation.
“So many of the big projects the the city is undertaking are all in the south part of town," Garcia added, "You know the north part of town doesn't have a main street, we don’t have like a place to walk around. Uhm, everything is like big box stores and you know Costcos and Walmarts and Home Depots and Lowes– it’s not like, it’s not that friendly. we feel we deserve some consideration for that type of quality of life as well."
Soule said the five-district plan is different from what they’re considering for Palm Desert. The city just adopted a two-district system in 2020, but they are open to all suggestions.
“The resident participation is so vital to this process because this is a basic part of our democracy,” Soule reiterated.
The City's workshop began at 6 p.m. at the Palm Desert Community Center. The next public hearing is set to take place next Thursday, January 27. Click here for the full timeline for redistricting in the weeks ahead.