More than a dozen city council district map proposals, submitted by residents and a professional demographer, are available for public review on a website created to set up the new election system.
The draft maps can be viewed at drawmh.org, which provides a wealth of map drawing tools and demographic information about the City of Morgan Hill.
Citizens can review the submitted draft maps and offer suggested changes, or create their own maps depicting four council districts equal in population, according to Morgan Hill Communications Manager Maureen Tobin. Residents can submit maps until Aug. 14.
The city council is scheduled to approve an official four-district map in late August or early September. The map they approve will take effect with the November 2018 council election, and remain in place at least until the 2020 U.S. Census is completed.
The five-member (including the mayor) Morgan Hill City Council approved the change from the current at-large election system to the new district-based system at their June 7 meeting. The change was a response to a demand letter from an Oakland law firm that claims the at-large system is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act because it limits the influence of minority groups.
Under the by-district system, the city’s four council members will be elected by voters within the council district in which they reside. The mayor’s seat will continue to be elected on an at-large, citywide basis, according to city staff.
By approving the change, the council aimed to protect the city from a potentially costly civil rights lawsuit. But it also forced the city to fast track the process of notifying the public and creating four new districts equal in population, without gerrymandering.
The draft maps posted on drawmh.org include 10 “population balanced” maps with four districts each containing roughly 9,500 Morgan Hill residents. Seven of these were created by Morgan Hill residents. The other three were drawn by National Demographics Corporation, with whom the city contracted for $43,000 to help with the districting process.
Also posted on the website are three maps created by residents that are not population balanced, and two maps that depict a single district.