Defining Goleta’s political boundaries gets official airtime on Tuesday when the City Council convenes to hear what the public wants the four council districts to be. The process has been ongoing ever since Lindsey Rojas and Hector Mendez threatened to file suit in 2017, claiming the at-large practice — choosing councilmembers from anywhere in the city — led to an unfair composition of councilors in violation of California’s Voting Rights Act. Similar legal actions had ended in defeat for the cities — Santa Barbara paid $600,000 in legal fees to the victors when it lost an attempt to defend its at-large elections — and Goleta agreed to create district elections.
Since then, a Public Engagement Commission was formed to explore better means to reach all Goleta communities and to give input on drawing district lines. Three workshops involving dozens of residents gave tutorials on the public mapping process, and a fourth will now be added for October 21.
Goleta currently has about 21,000 citizens of voting age, and the four districts would be composed of roughly 5,200 voters apiece; the mayor is still chosen citywide. A number of images will be shown on Tuesday representing the city’s neighborhoods, housing developments, school attendance areas, and special interest areas like parks, cultural, environmental, or economic locations, all of which are considerations in the district boundary process. Public input on “communities of interest” that should remain in one district can be given through the comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, or by emailing the city clerk, Deborah Lopez, at email@example.com. Full information on the process is at DrawGoleta.org.
Maps will be considered at the council meetings set for next February. The public has until January 6 to submit maps. The final determinations will be made at council on March 15, 2022.