Rancho Cucamonga Council Districts

The final voting district boundary map to be put before Rancho Cucamonga residents.

By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 05/05/16 – 6:10 PM PDT |

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Voters in November will decide whether the city should be divided into districts rather than at-large voting for every council seat.

The City Council Wednesday night unanimously agreed to put the question to the voters. City leaders also unanimously approved a map outlining the boundaries for the districts. The city consultant’s proposal breaks the city up into four quadrants, representing the Alta Loma, Cucamonga and Etiwanda communities and a new district in the center.

Rancho Cucamonga was served with a lawsuit March 14 from Santa Monica-based law firm Shenkman & Hughes claiming it had violated the California Voting Rights Act, asking that a judge force the council to adopt boundaries by the November election.

The California Voting Rights Act puts into question — in a community that has a certain percentage of minority voters — whether at-large voting deprives a minority of a meaningful opportunity to elect their chosen representatives.’

City Attorney Jim Markman said by taking action Wednesday, “the lawsuit becomes very meaningless because there’s nothing a court can tell the council to do that hasn’t already been done.”

The lawsuit, Markman said, was originally filed on behalf of a voter registration organization. At first, the city fought.

“We attacked that legally, saying that the Voter Rights Act requires a Rancho Cucamonga registered voter to be one of the plaintiffs,” he said.

About a week ago, the complaint was amended, adding a Rancho Cucamonga voter as a plaintiff. Rancho Cucamonga has until May 24 to respond to the complaint, Markman said.

“If the council has done everything it can, and this is headed toward the ballot, then we’re going to take the position that this lawsuit is moot,” Markman said.

Three of the four districts follow more or less the boundaries of Alta Loma, Cucamonga, and Etiwanda, the three communities that in 1977 formed Rancho Cucamonga. The fourth is in the center; 40 percent of its adults are Latino.

A new map was introduced Wednesday night, map because it not only met all the legal criteria but didn’t separate the existing landscape management districts and homeowners’ associations.

If approved by the voters, the first by-district elections would be in 2018, which is when council members Diane Williams and Bill Alexander’s terms end. If they want to seek re-election, the duo would have to live in either District 2 or District 3.

The second phase, for District 1 and District 4, would occur during the 2020 election. The mayor would continue to be voted at-large.

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