San Ramon City Council to finalize adoption of district-based elections

Council expected to approve 'Plan Red' as preferred map for division of city

The discussion over the overhaul of San Ramon’s election method is scheduled to come to a close on Tuesday, when the City Council considers giving approval for the permanent establishment of district-based elections.

After more than six months of review, the council is expected to give final endorsement of the new election practice and select a map -- referred to as “Plan Red” -- that will be used to divide the city up into four distinct geographic districts, one for each sitting council member, for future elections.

Under district-based elections, residents will only be allowed to vote for City Council candidates who reside in their designated geographic region, as opposed to the current practice of at-large elections where residents vote for all available candidates.

The change will essentially mean residents will only vote for one council member every four years, instead of each available seat every two years. The mayor's seat will remain elected at-large every two years.

The transition to district-based elections was first initiated when the city received a letter by attorney Scott Rafferty on behalf of the Bay Area Voting Rights Initiative, requesting that the city do so and threatening litigation if the council denied the switch. The petition further stated its motivation was to give greater representation to San Ramon’s residents who are members of a protected class -- residents who are members of a race, color or language minority group

To guide the city through this process, the council has selected Plan Red out of several potential options, as the preferred map for dividing up the city.

In Plan Red, the western half of the city contains two districts that are divided into northern and southern sections along Interstate 680 and are roughly divided by a border that follows Montevideo Drive.

The eastern half also divides two districts into northern and southern sections, and each contain “minority majority” populations. Located in east San Ramon and containing the Dougherty Valley region, these districts each have populations where more than 50% of total residents identify as being of Asian descent.

It is worth noting that all population and demographic data used for Plan Red and was gathered using information from the 2010 census, and districts will most likely need to be redrawn once more up-to-date information is collected from the 2020 census.

The City Council is set to discuss district-based elections, among other issues facing the city, during its regular meeting Tuesday 7 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road.

In other business

* During a special presentation, the council will honor Dougherty Valley High School freshman Geetika Kodali, who was selected to play on the USA Cricket national women’s team.

* The council will also greet the city’s newest public works employees, Jose Sanchez-Figueroa, Richard Gregori and John Murphy.

* Council members will also review the San Ramon’s financial situation, and consider approving the city’s operating and capital budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The financial situation in the city is sound, according to administrative services director Eva Phelps, and the 2019-20 operating budget is projected to see $76.3 million in expenditures against $82.5 million of revenue.

* The council is set to consider adopting a resolution confirming a landscaping and lighting district assessment for 2019-20, to review the status and operating costs of these services.

“The city conducts an annual process for its Landscaping & Lighting Districts to review past, current and future expenses, on-going and up-coming maintenance needs, needs for new capital improvement projects and to set future assessments,” division manager/district engineer Robin Bartlett said in a staff report.

* To close out the evening, the council will discuss rezoning nine parcels located at the intersection of Sunset Drive and Bishop Drive -- City Center Bishop Ranch -- in order to ensure consistency between the city’s General Plan and zoning map.

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