Shift in city’s population, not growth, means voting districts need to be altered, potentially not by much
While the population of Palm Springs changed very little between the 2010 and 2020 US Census, shifts in where that population resides means the boundaries of its five voting districts need to change. A late addition to maps available for public review may have avoided a scenario that would have resulted in significant changes.
The maps, included in a staff report and available for viewing here, were drawn by a consultant, with input from city employees. They are intended to be a starting point for discussions taking place during public hearings and workshops involving the public, elected officials, and staff. The first public hearing since the maps became available is this evening.
The need for redistricting is simple: Every 10 years, cities with by-district election systems must use new Census data to review and, if needed, redraw voting district lines to reflect how local populations have changed, providing for equal numbers of residents in each district. Palm Springs, when switching to districts in 2018, adopted boundaries based on 2010 Census data. New data from 2020 means new lines must be drawn.
The consultant initially prepared two maps for public review and comment. Both would have removed a feature city leaders and community members worked hard to create with the adoption of the 2018 maps: a district whose population is a minority majority. That currently exists in District 1, but “due to the dispersed nature of the minority population throughout the community,” it was initially believed it would be hard to maintain.
A third option, submitted Wednesday, does provide for a minority majority, thanks to the efforts of City Clerk Anthony Mejia.
“Once I saw Maps A and B,” Mejia explained via email, “I worked with the consultant to develop Map C, which I received today and is more consistent with the City Council’s direction.”
While the 2020 Census data shows the city’s population barely changed in the past decade — growing from 44,552 residents to 44,575 — it also indicates that the population shifted. That shift has changed the balance in the five districts. Where courts have allowed for, at most, a 10% deviation between the most populated and least populated districts, the city’s deviation between those districts is now more than 12%.
“Currently, the city’s districts vary widely in population, a result of the post-recession building boom occurring since the 2010 census,” the staff report states. “One of the goals of redistricting is to reduce the total deviation to as close to zero as possible.”
Redrawing boundaries to get to that point is as easy or complicated as you care to make it. Similar to the 2018 district drawing process, members of the public can submit their own proposed maps. For now, the consultant’s maps are all that are up for discussion.
One redrawing from the consultant, Map Option A, provides a total deviation of just over 5% by reducing the population in District 3 and adding it to District 4. The other redrawing, Map Option B, also focuses on population rebalance, creating a deviation of just over 2%. But it does so in a more complicated manner, creating “significant changes” to the current configuration of districts 2, 3, and 4.
The deviation in the map submitted Wednesday — Map Option C — is 7.9%. Because of that, and the fact it meets other goals set by the Council, such as keeping organized neighborhoods intact within each district, Mejia wrote that, “Staff believes Map Options A and B should be set aside and the City Council and public should focus their comments on desired changes to Map Option C.”
While minority representation in the city’s voting districts may not be an issue, it was an issue this week at the county level.
Riverside County Supervisor Manuel Perez, who represents the Coachella Valley in District 4, was the sole opponent Wednesday to a district map approved 4-1 by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Perez favored a map lauded by the ACLU and other interest groups that would have sliced multiple cities and communities into disparate parts, particularly on the west side of the county, but kept minority voting blocs together. The map adopted Wednesday ensures most cities and unincorporated communities in the county remained intact within one district.
“It’s a difficult choice,” Perez said during deliberations Wednesday. “But it’s the only map that … allows for an effective opportunity to elect preferred candidates and does not crack or dilute the Latino vote.”
More information: Palm Springs residents can draw and submit their own proposed district maps to the city by visiting this site. Instructions for taking part in tonight’s public hearing can be found here. A complete list of the redistricting workshops held at various locations throughout December can be found here.
GENEROUS GROUP COMES THROUGH: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters, a group formed to help local women socialize and make new friends, delivered $15,000 in toys and gift cards Tuesday to Shelter from the Storm, an organization that provides support to victims of domestic violence, for use in an Adopt-a-Family program for the holidays. Shelter from the Storm provided a list of 50 families and their needs and wants for the holidays, and 90 members of the Sunshine Sisters went to work. “We were able to provide EVERY gift requested,” wrote Mary Miller, who helped organize the group. According to Shelter from the Storm Executive Director Angelina Coe, thanks to the Sunshine Sisters, 2021 is the first year the organization has had all of the families involved in its program fully “adopted” for the holidays. You can sign up to be part of the Sunshine Sisters on Meetup here.
POINT-IN-TIME HELP NEEDED: Members of faith-based groups, churches, civic affairs organizations, college students, and many others are needed for Riverside County’s 2022 point-in-time homeless count, and officials on Wednesday asked all those interested in taking part in the effort next month to sign up. The county would like to have more than 700 volunteers available to find and verify the status of individuals who may be living in cars, under bridges, in transient encampments, homeless shelters, and other locations throughout the county. All those interested in participating are encouraged to register here.
LIBRARY LENDING LAPTOPS: The Palm Springs Public Library is now lending 12 new Google Chromebooks. The new program allows library patrons to borrow a Chromebook, just like any other library item, for a period of two weeks. Funding for the program comes from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. “We believe these Chromebooks will provide a needed resource for those without a device,” wrote Jeannie Kays, director of library services, in a news release. “Connecting people to information is what the Library is all about.” Patrons can place a hold on a Chromebook, but they are not renewable. If a patron does not return the Chromebook at the end of the 14-day lending period, the device becomes useless. The library is located at 300 South Sunrise Way, on the corner of Sunrise Way and Baristo Road. For more information about the library, call 760-322-READ (7323) or visit the library’s website at www.pslibrary.org.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers walking aerobics, a movie of the week, and more, starting at 8 AM. A complete list of everything offered can be found online here.
BOOK CLUB: The Cover to Cover Book Club meets at 10:30 AM via Zoom. This month the book club is discussing The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict. To receive meeting information and join the email list for the book club, please email Sharon Ballard in advance of the meeting at [email protected].
WOMEN’S CHAT: The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert offers a chat group for all women — no matter how you identify — to discuss topics of interest and find connections every Thursday at 10:30 AM. You can find information about the event here.
STORY TIME: Librarian Nancy Valdivia reads stories, sings songs and shows early learning concepts (Wednesdays in Spanish and Thursdays in English) at 10:30 AM. You can watch the videos on YouTube here.
NOT TEEN TALK: The Palm Springs Public Library’s teen librarian hosts an Instagram Live session each Thursday at 3:30 PM. To follow along, follow @psplteenzone on Instagram here.
FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at a community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Rd., between 5 PM and 7 PM, and at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 West Tram View Rd., from 4 PM until 5:30 PM. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community this month is available here.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.
CITY COUNCIL: The Palm Springs City Council meets in regular session at 5:30 PM. Information about how to offer public comments or how to view the meeting can be found here. A preview of the meeting appeared in The Post on Monday.
VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 6 PM on Palm Canyon Drive downtown. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.
Palm Springs comes alive in December with events for all ages and all tastes. The Post has put together a list of those events, organized by category, from reader submissions. Click here for the complete list. Want your event included? If it’s happening in Palm Springs, or involves a Palm Springs-based organization or business, Email [email protected]
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
SOUND OF MUSIC: Palm Canyon Theatre’s staging of “The Sound of Music” runs Thursdays through Sundays until December 19. Showtimes are 7 PM on Thursdays, 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 PM on Sundays. For tickets or other information, call the PCT Box Office at 760-323-5123 or order online at PalmCanyonTheatre.org. Tickets are $36 for adults, $32 for seniors, and $15.00 for students and children. The theater is located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive.
BALLROOM BASH: Palm Springs Dance Academy is hosting “Palm Springs Ballroom Bash” on December 12, starting at 2:30 PM. Attendees can participate in a night club 2-step holiday variations class, a social dance “practice party,” and then watch a professional performance by Curtis & Beverly. The event will be held at the academy, located at 611 South Palm Canyon Dr., Suite 12. Tickets include a welcome drink and may be purchased at nickersonrossidance.com.
MARTINIS AND MOXIE: The final “Martinis and Moxie” of the season is December 12 at Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E Baristo Rd. The event begins at 6 PM with a society social. Attendees are invited to come raise a drink to celebrate the birthday of the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. They can also enjoy swingin’ discussions about Frank’s life in the Coachella Valley hosted by Claudia Ried and Conrad Angel Corral of Palm Springs Point of View. In addition, special surprise guests (many of whom knew Frank) will be there, and an all-new art exhibition by local artist Kasey Scott-Brown is planned. Tickets start at $45 and are available here.
STRUT AWARDS VOTING: Voting has started for the STRUT Awards, slated to be handed out next week in Palm Springs. The STRUT Awards are a people’s choice voting event designed to honor members of the local LGBTQ+ industry. Nominations were accepted in more than two dozen categories, and now it’s time to vote. You can do that by going here. Winners will be announced and celebrated on December 12 during an event at Margaritaville Palm Springs beginning at 6 PM. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.
NEXT SPEAKER IN SERIES: Mizell Center presents sound bath master Lisa Botts, in conversation with Maria Sesito, senior issues reporter with The Desert Sun, at its next 3rd Wednesday Speaker Series event, held December 15 starting at 6 PM. Together they will explore the origins, growth and appreciation of sound baths – a deeply immersive sound experience that delivers you to a fully relaxed state of ease. The free introductory experience is designed to engage participants, particularly older adults, who are new to the sound bath experience. Please be certain to wear comfortable clothing. Guests are asked to bring a yoga mat or blanket. To register for the free events, go here. Mizell Center is located at 480 South Sunrise Way.
MOBILE CHRISTMAS: Well in the Desert is again planning its annual Christmas event as a mobile event due to COVID-19 restrictions. The drive-up event will be held Saturday, December 18, from 11:30 AM until 3 PM at The United Methodist Church, 1555 East Alejo Rd. Volunteers will distribute a frozen turkey and pie, as well as gifts for children to open on Christmas Day, to any family in need. Donations can be dropped off at churches where The Well serves hot meals, between 11 AM and 1 PM: Mondays and Tuesdays: United Methodist, 1555 East Alejo Rd.; Wednesdays: Church of St. Paul’s, 125 West El Alameda; Thursdays: Our Lady of Solitude, 151 West Alejo Rd.; and Fridays: Our Lady of Guadalupe, 204 South Calle El Segundo.