As a Burbank resident, you are going to be hearing A LOT about redistricting in the coming months. This is going to affect both our City Council and our School Board in significant ways. Here is some basic information about what and why this is happening, what to expect and how you can get involved.
Redistricting is a process that will change how Council Members and BUSD Board of Education Members are elected. Right now, all members are voted for and chosen by all Burbank voters. Every elected official is an “at large” official meaning they represent the entire community at large.
Redistricting will break up Burbank into voting districts based on population and geography. The City and BUSD have hired a firm that specializes in drawing up districts that meet the legal requirements to have equity among the districts. So rather than voting for candidates for whatever number of seats are open on City Council (for example, in 2022 there were three seats open), you will vote for only one Council Member who will represent your district only. All candidates for a district seat will have to live in that district.
Both the City and School District received a letter from an attorney representing a Burbank resident that invoked a California law on this issue. The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) was passed in 2001. CRVA allows a plaintiff to bring an action asserting that there was discrimination in how elections were conducted in a city based on race. Usually, a plaintiff has to prove that a specific minority has been unable to have representation in the local government due to unfair voting practices. The CVRA is more general in that a plaintiff can bring a case that at large voting dilutes the strength of minority voters in that city.
Since the CVRA went into effect, most cities and school districts in California have received “CVRA letters” that threaten litigation if redistricting is not done. Most cities and districts have chosen to not go into litigation and comply with the demand to eliminate at large elections.
Here is a 2017 profile of an attorney who has made millions bringing and winning CVRA cases. https://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-shenkman-voting-20170514-story.html
Palmdale fought their CVRA case, lost and ended up paying this attorney $4.6 million in legal fees.
Right now, the only city that is fighting a CVRA case against it is Santa Monica. Their case has been ongoing since 2016 and it currently waiting a hearing before the California Supreme Court. https://www.santamonica.gov/election-litigation-pna-v-santa-monica
The City will be scheduling public hearings to let the community know about the process and gain input. City Council approved paying a public relations firm over $100,000 to make sure that residents are informed about the process going forward.
City Council has their first hearing for public input scheduled for the March 14, 2023 City Council meeting.
BUSD already has begun obtaining input through public hearings and has a website devoted to this process – https://drawbusd.org/
BUSD public hearings on this issue will continue them through May and you can find the schedule here: https://drawbusd.org/schedule/
How you can get involved
Your input will change the present and future of Burbank – stay informed, stay engaged and make a difference!
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