Bellflower hires consultant to draw new council districts

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Wave Staff Report

BELLFLOWER — A consultant is on hand to draw up the city’s new voting districts, but that can’t be done until information on the 2020 census is received, possibly sometime this fall.

National Demographics will draw up new maps once the census data is received, but the earliest for that is September, City Clerk Mayra Ochiqui said

The deadline for the new district lines to be drawn is April 17, 2022.

Meanwhile, Bellflower continues the state mandate to let residents know of the plan and obtain  input from them.

The second of four required public hearings took place June 28. No one commented or questioned the redrawing, Ochiqui said, noting the city still has not opened the sessions to live audiences so public participation is only via email or telephone.

The required third and fourth hearings have not been scheduled pending receipt of the census data, Ochiqui said in a report to the council.

There is no cost for the public hearings, but redrawing new boundary lines for the city’s four voting districts will cost about $85,000, she said.

Redistricting based on changes in population will affect all cities that elect city council members by district, such as Alhambra, Bellflower, Downey and Whittier.

Residents of those communities may vote only for the city council candidates who live in their district.

Downey elects four council members by district but adds a fifth district which is citywide. Whittier elects four council members from four districts but the position of mayor is elected in a citywide vote.

Redrawing of voting district boundaries is required under state laws after every census to keep the population of each district as similar as possible, Ochiqui said.

“Once final data is received, draft district maps and proposed election sequencing will be posted to the city website and available at City Hall, ” Ochiqui said in her report.

Bellflower adopted its current district boundaries in October 2015, based on 2010 census data as required by law.

New districts must comply with the federal requirements of equal population and the California Voting Rights Act; and be geographically contiguous. They may not divide neighborhoods and socio-economic communities of interest.

Ochiqui said boundaries must be easily identifiable and compact and must not favor or discriminate against any political party.

To sign up for updates and information about the redistricting process in Bellflower and future public meetings, visit https://drawbellflower.org/ or email redistricting@bellflower.org.

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