Originally posted at www.theliberaloc.com

UPDATE:The City of Santa Ana is rescheduling the public hearing proposing to change the City’s Ward boundaries. The public hearing will be held on Monday, December 19, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, located at 22 Civic Center Plaza, in which testimony will be received and where any person having an interest in, objection to, or suggestion regarding the making of changes in Ward boundary lines may appear before the City Council.

On November 15th, the City of Santa Ana issued the following announcement to the media regarding the required Decennial review of Ward boundaries.

SANTA ANA, CA (November 15, 2011) – The City of Santa Ana is proposing to change the City’s Ward boundaries. A public hearing has been set for December 5, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, located at 22 Civic Center Plaza, in which testimony will be received and considered by the City Council.

Santa Ana Charter, Section 101.2 – Requires that Ward boundaries have equal population based on the decennial Federal census. The data reviewed was generated by the United States Census Bureau as a result of the 2010 Census. In 1992, the City Council made a similar decision to change the boundaries after Census data was received, which identified significant population changes by Ward. Similarly, the 2010 Census data has identified a shift in boundary population, which triggers the City to consider changing the current Ward boundaries.

The City’s website can be accessed to view the proposed boundary changes, along with the following information here:

  • Current and proposed boundary changes City map (all boundaries depicted).
  • Current and proposed boundary changes by Ward.
  • Map of current and proposed neighborhood association changes by Ward.

The information on the City’s website will serve as a resource to the community during the next several weeks as the Santa Ana City Council considers Ward re-boundary. Through the City’s website, residents may access maps, information, and provide comments for City Council consideration.

The process leading up to the Public Hearing has been entirely closed to public participation, Three Councilmembers, Tinajero, Martinez, and Benavides were assigned at some point to conduct the review, and propose the new boundaries. Unlike the process for County Supervisor Districts, there have been no hearings, no opportunity for public comment or input, and no discussion of the method or rationale for the proposed realignment presented.

For a City that claims to be transparent, dumping a redistricting proposal for hearing without an open and inclusive process before hand smacks of a rubberstamp process. From what has been released, it appears that there has been no consideration of the possibility of proposing a charter amendment that would provide for Council members to be elected by votes of their individual wards, rather than citywide.

But if a proposal for a Ward specific elections were to come forward, the current proposal moves a significant percentage of Asian/American voters (primarily Vietnamese) from Ward 6 to Ward 4. City hall sources indicate that the Ward 6 Councilmember was the primary author of the current proposal.

It’s concerning that members of the City Council found it important to participate in the State and County redistricting processes and join the public to present their recommendations and concerns. Yet in the case of their own process, they failed to offer the residents of Santa Ana the same opportunity.

City residents should attend the meeting on December 5th, or submit public comment before that meeting at council@santa-ana.org. Demand a transparent process that allows the public to submit their proposed lines as well as an open process where the Council Committee discusses in public the proposals and develops its recommendations in public rather than in secret. That would be a transparency.