"Unite neighborhoods, spread out council"
Letter to the Editor, Hi-Desert Star / Desert Trail, March 2, 2022
29 Palms Neighbors has reviewed the three maps submitted by NDC to the City. While NDC's Orange map is an improvement over the current map, it still prioritizes sitting Council members over the democratic representation of united neighborhoods. We edited the NDC Orange map and succeeded in uniting the three neighborhoods that remained split on the Orange map.
In 2017/2018 the City switched from at large elections to single member district elections.following legal action forcing compliance with the California Voting Rights Act. Five districts were drawn, mirroring the number of sitting Council Members. Each Council Member was placed in their own district. To achieve that outcome, several neighborhoods were split up, the most obvious being Indian Cove and Harmony Acres, which were divided in half.
This is the first chance we have to draw the lines when they are usually drawn – every 10 years at the Census. 29 Palms Neighbors feels the City should use this opportunity to look at the 2017/2018 decisions with fresh eyes – the primary goal being to reunite the neighborhoods and communities of interest, as directed by the 2019 California Fair Maps Act.
Displacing sitting Council Members IS NOT our primary intent. However, Councilmen Bilderain and Klink live in the same neighborhood, so it isn’t possible to unite Harmony Acres and avoid a contest between them. And we cannot unite Chocolate Drop without Councilman Mintz landing in District 2.
In fact, these three Council members live within a few miles of each other, concentrating a Council majority in a relatively small region of 29 Palms. Uniting the neighborhoods of Harmony Acres and Chocolate Drop creates an opportunity for a larger region of the City to be represented on Council. We ask that Council give our map serious consideration on March 8.