The City of Arroyo Grande is making the switch to district-based elections. It’s part of a $30,000 settlement the city entered into amid the threat of a California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit.
The mayor will remain at-large, while four districts will be created for City Council members. Draft maps that were considered by the city can be viewed here.
Mayor Caren Ray Russom said she agrees with the goal of increasing representation and making it easier for people of color to run for Council. But some have questioned the motivation behind the legal threats.
"I think it's noteworthy that they didn't attend any of our public meetings," Russom said. "Some cities have settled like ours, especially those that are so small that we don't have the resources to fight something like that."
Numerous agencies have switched to district-based elections under threat of a CVRA lawsuit. Under AB 350, signed into law in 2016, plaintiffs are required first to send a written notice to the agency before filing suit, giving the agency an opportunity to make the transition voluntarily. The agency has a 45-day safe-harbor period to decide. AB 350 also limits allowable CVRA plaintiff’s attorney fees to $30,000.