Map 140 was one of two submitted by Shenkman & Hughes, the legal firm representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that districting seeks to settle.

Map 138 sets the district boundaries for the 2020 election that will fill four council seats in Orange.

“Imperfect” Orange district boundary map selected

By Tina Richards

The Orange City Council selected a final voting district map for the 2020 election, following the sixth public hearing on the topic, Oct. 22.

The final map, number 138, was one of 40 submitted by residents and the city’s hired demographer over the six months of the process. The council chose a similar map, 135, at its Sept. 10 meeting for tweaking and fine tuning.

That map sprouted three more, one submitted by a resident, two by Shenkman & Hughes, the legal firm representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that forced the city to divide itself into voting districts. The goal of the Shenkman & Hughes maps was to keep the El Modena community together with other Latino neighborhoods along the 55 Freeway. Map 138 keeps El Modena in one district, although joined with fewer freeway neighborhoods. It also keeps the Presidential tract and Old Towne together and uses Santiago Creek as an East Orange boundary (mostly), as requested by Orange Park Acres.

Close call
Everyone – the city council and residents at the meeting – agrees that map 138 is not perfect. It does, however, balance the population among districts better than the other finalists in the map debate. The law requires no more than a 10 percent difference between the population of the largest and smallest districts. Map 138 has an eight percent deviation, the other two slightly higher.

“The maps before us tonight are actionable,” Mayor Mark Murphy explained. “We could pick one. If there are more changes, it will require another public hearing.”

“We could keep moving streets until November 2020,” Kim Nichols pointed out. “Give a street here, take another from there. There will be no perfect map, but this one’s close.”

With map 138 chosen by unanimous vote, the council next determined which four districts will vote for a representative in the next election. Because Kim Nichols and Chip Monaco will have two years of their terms remaining in 2020, their seats will not be open.  

Staggered voting
Mark Murphy announced that districts four and six would be the ones sitting out 2020. He did not state a reason for choosing those districts, but Nichols lives in District 6 and Monaco currently resides in District 4. 

One council member elected by one of the remaining four districts will serve only a two-year term (not four). That offset will allow a two-year rotation of council seats. 

The other two-year-term district was selected by an audience member who drew District 1 out of a bag containing cards representing Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5. The grab-bag approach was deemed to be unbiased and transparent.

The rotation will therefore be districts 1, 2, 3 and 5 in 2020; 1, 4 and 6 in 2022; and 2, 3 and 5 again in 2024. The mayor will be elected every two years by citywide vote.

The “imperfect” district boundaries must be accepted by the lawsuit plaintiffs to satisfy the settlement agreement. It will also receive a further tweaking in 2021, following the 2020 national census. The population and demographics used to define map 138 and all of the other iterations are based on the 2010 census. 

November 2019