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"City's idea of districts looks suspicious"
Letter to the Editor, Hi-Desert Star / Desert Trail, August 4, 2021
The redistricting process for the city of Twentynine Palms needs informed input from the entire community; engagement and inclusivity should be strongly encouraged. A first public hearing on such an important matter should be scheduled as its own singular event, with at least two weeks notice and the appropriate publicity for an issue which truly impacts the entire population of Twentynine Palms.
The staff report claims that the state’s criteria for creating districts “already apply to the city’s existing districts.” However, upon close review of the current map, almost every criteria for forming council districts has not been applied.
Current districts do not meet the contiguity requirement as defined in the City Elections Code. Reasons given: the unique nature of the Marine base and a variety of relevant issues. The public needs a clearer explanation of this vague term.
The current district map available to the public on the city website is flawed. The public cannot be expected to fully participate in an intelligent discussion without clearly understanding what district they are in.
Every district is characterized by fragmented neighborhoods, to the detriment of real community building and solidarity, and against principles of democracy. It is difficult to comprehend the rationale that was applied in this endeavor.
Research of the events following the 2017 lawsuit and the subsequent drawing of district lines suggests that districts were drawn to serve sitting council members, rather than to benefit the needs of the greater community. In the best interests of the community, the city should appoint an independent citizen’s commission to assist in the redrawing of district lines based on the 2020 census. To do otherwise is to invite yet another lawsuit demanding accountability from the city and potentially bring further discredit to the council.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This letter comes from a group called 29 Palms Neighbors.