After using nearly $ 100,000 of taxpayer dollars for a consultant to draw new electoral maps, Fresno city council on Thursday opted for its own map.
It is a map of the status quo that has largely left many city districts untouched – after eight public hearings and workshops, hundreds of comments and countless hours of work.
The council’s decision shocked many people, including members of the town’s Sikh community.
City council members drew the final map
The public submitted 12 maps, and the city’s mapping consultant, National Demographics Corporation, provided three more. The final 6-0 vote was for a map created by members of the City Council Redistribution Subcommittee – Miguel Arias, Nelson Esparza and Tyler Maxwell.
“This map recognizes historic, unites Highway City (northwest of Fresno) which has been claimed by our Highway City residents for many years. It eliminates the city’s landlocked municipal district and keeps the population at 1% of balance, while adhering to a complex set of federal, state and municipal laws, ”Arias said.
Known officially as Public 111, several of the council’s seven districts have undergone only slight modifications, if any. The major change is in District 7, which now stretches from central Fresno to the eastern outskirts of the city.
“Drawing these maps and finding that perfect spot can be very difficult. District 7 in its current form and in all its forms that it has ever taken, just because of its nature and location, has always sort of split into different neighborhoods, ”said the District 7 city councilor, Esparza.
A skeptical Esmeralda Soria did not tap a vote despite her virtual presence – she has teleconferenced from a League of Cities meeting in Monterey – during the discussion.
The Sikh community introduces itself
Deep Singh, leader of the Jakara movement and administrator of the Unified Central School Board, thanked those in attendance and for making their voices heard. Local Punjabi radio encouraged participation. Several members of the Sikh community have pleaded for another map created by a coalition of advocacy groups.
“Even though the decision didn’t go the way we hoped, we were just giving everyone what we say ‘patience and resilience’ at least we made our voices heard tonight,” Singh said. “Am I satisfied? .. obviously we were hoping for a different outcome. But you know, these are lines that we will be working with for the next 10 years.
Self-selected card criticized
Several speakers expressed skepticism, believing that the new borders were too the status quo.
Tyler Mackey of the Tower District Marketing Committee criticized the Public 111 map for continuing to divide the Tower District at Olive Avenue and further divide it towards the western border.
City councilor Esmeralda Soria also questioned this choice.
“I have significant concerns, particularly the further separation or fragmentation of the Tower community and the Fresno High community,” Soria said.
Several other speakers have accepted.
Several speakers supported card 108 and an unnumbered card supported by the Inclusive Families coalition.
“It’s really heartbreaking not even getting the due consideration it deserves,” said Pedro Navarro Cruz, who submitted a card on behalf of the Communities for advocacy group at the New California Education Fund.
“I seriously wonder if our elected officials can sleep at night after setting up gimmicks pretending to listen to us”, later Navarro Cruz wrote on Twitter.
Protect the incumbent operators?
Presentation of the city to council, including analysis of the maps and a table indicating whether the maps complied with a provision of the city charter to keep holders in their current district.
Only the cards provided by the consultant and the card drawn by the members of the council retained all the holders in their respective quarters.
Legal consultant Chris Skinnell explained that Public 108 and other cards – including Public 109 submitted by GV Wire – did not meet the city’s charter requirements because they attracted cardholders.
“Our view is that as long as it is possible to adopt a card that meets both the requirements (state and federal), there is no justification for ignoring the charter requirement,” said Skinnell on the board.
The charter says “No limit will be modified so as to exclude a holder from his functions before the expiry of his mandate. “
GV Wire’s redistribution experts had previously spoken out saying that taking incumbents into account should be the lowest priority.
“I don’t think we’ll ever reach the ideal map,” said city councilor Luis Chavez.
A final ratification vote is scheduled for December 9 at 6 p.m.
The new card will go into effect on January 9, 2022 – 31 days after its ratification scheduled for next week. Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 will be elected on June 7, 2022.
In west Fresno, Shaw Avenue served as the north / south line between Districts 1 and 2. Now a triangle-shaped area bounded by Golden State Boulevard, a canal, and Shaw Avenue – the Highway City neighborhood – will now be part of the city. district 1.
Neighborhoods near Blackstone Avenue and Bullard Avenue will also switch between Districts 2, 6 and 4.
The Tower district will also be changed. While Olive Avenue will still be the north / south divide between Districts 1 and 3, a portion between Palm Avenue and Echo Avenue will now move to District 3.
District 7 will take over Fresno City College at its western end. The district stretches east, taking areas from District 4 west of Chestnut to the city’s eastern border on Locan Avenue. He lost Roosevelt high school (Cedar and Tulare avenues) to District 5.
District 4 retains some neighborhoods east of Clovis Avenue and north of Shields. However, the two blocks between Armstrong and Locan avenues, north of Shields, will now join District 7.