The Carpinteria City Council voted 4-1 on Monday to go with five district-based election seats, rather than four, with Councilmember Roy Lee dissenting.
Beginning Nov. 2022, the city will shift from holding at-large elections to district elections, a decision made to ensure more minority representation in the community.
At-large elections allow all residents to vote for all council members who are up for elections, while district-based elections divide up the city into districts, where each resident will only vote for one council member in their geographic district.
City program manager Olivia Uribe-Mutal said there were a few main questions regarding the districts that were tackled by an ad-hoc committee created for this matter: whether there would be four or five districts; what the term limits would be for the district representatives; how the elections would be staggered; and which software would be used to determine how redistricting would work.
She said the ad-hoc committee recommended that splitting the area in five districts would be better, as the smaller capacity – approximately 2,700 people compared to 3,400 people – would allow for better representation. With four districts, the community would also be able to elect a mayor in an at-large process, whereas with five districts, the council would continue to choose its own mayor, as per tradition.
“After some discussion, the ad-hoc committee made the recommendation for five district elections,” she said.
The ad-hoc committee also recommended that elections be staggered, meaning some would happen in 2022, and others in 2024, and so on. She said a decision on which districts would vote first would not have to be made until March 2022.
Uribe-Mutal added that the ad-hoc committee recommended four-year terms for the council seats, although she said there wasn’t yet a decision on the term limits for the mayor.
She said that the census data for the area hasn’t been released yet, and the maps will be drawn after it is. Once the staff receives the census data and draws up the maps, those maps will be brought to the council and the public for feedback. The staff expects the first public hearing regarding the maps to take place in October 2021, when the initial draft maps will be published.
Councilmember Gregg Carty asked city staff about what would happen if there isn’t a nominee for one of the districts. Legal Counsel Jena Shoaf Acos said she would look into that and get back to the council.
“It’s not very likely that it would happen, but it could,” Carty said.
Lee challenged the committee’s recommendation to choose five districts rather than four, stating that the community, rather than the council, should decide who should be mayor.
“I think that’s long overdue and that’s very important that we consider that,” he said.
Lee first motioned to approve all staff recommendations on the matter save the five-district recommendation; when his motion failed, Vice Mayor Al Clark motioned to approve all staff recommendations, which was approved in a 4-1 vote, with Lee dissenting.
There was no public comment on this matter.
Christie Boyd, who said she lives on Bailard Avenue, spoke during public comment opposing the Bailard Housing Project.
“I am here representing the 1,490 Carpinteria Valley residents who have signed petitions in opposition to Santa Barbara County’s current proposal to build a three story, 173-unit apartment complex at the northern end of Bailard Avenue.”
She said that although she realizes it is a county project – the project lies just outside the city boundaries of Carpinteria – she encouraged the city council to push back against the Bailard Avenue housing project.
“The north end of Bailard is currently home to almost 500 condominiums, the densest housing in our city. To add 173 more apartment units, possibly more than 300 cars to this area, is a potential nightmare,” she said.
Council meeting cancellation
The city council voted to cancel its regular August 23, 2021 city council meeting, per a regular summer tradition.
“Traditionally the council has cancelled one meeting in July or August due to a light agenda and/or vacation schedules,” Acting city clerk Brian Barrett said. “The staff has considered the upcoming schedule of agenda items and at this time, there are no issues with canceling the Aug. 23 city council meeting.”
Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi provided his regular report to the Carpinteria City Council at its Monday meeting, touching on the recent bout of graffiti done by juveniles at Carpinteria Unified School District.
Councilmember Natalia Alarcon questioned what would happen to those juveniles who were caught tagging the school, expressing concern about incarceration or probation.
Arnoldi clarified that the juveniles would be sent to teen court, “an excellent, excellent program,” that has been around for many years.
“It is teens themselves that are the judge and jury, shall we say. But in a lot of these cases, what we like to do is make it (into) an education component and (...) remove the graffiti for one, as a community service, and two, go pick up trash. It doesn’t have to be fines or incarceration or juvenile hall.”
“Unfortunately, sometimes these youngsters think it’s fun and games to go out and do this. Why should mom and dad have to suffer and pay the monetary value of it? Put the burden back on the perpetrators, make the kids go out there and work for the community and make them see how hard it is to clean up those five minutes of mess they made,” he added.
“To scrub that graffiti off takes 10 times as long as it did for them to etch whatever they etched.”