The Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday will hold the first legally mandated public hearing before it can draw districts and switch from at-large to district elections.
On Sept. 21, the council formally decided to transition to district elections, which means the city is divided into districts, with each area being represented by a council member residing inside.
The position of mayor will remain at-large and elected by the entire city.
California law mandates the city holds at least two public meetings within 30 days of one another before any district map can be drawn. The city is encouraging the public to give its input.
A staff report for Tuesday's meeting says the city will spend $50,000 for outside legal counsel and a demographer to assist the making boundaries. Based on the council's direction and public input, the demographer will draft one or more maps to bring back to the council for final approval.
The law requires each district to have roughly the same population. Race can't be the predominant factor and, to the extent practicable, districts should be geographically contiguous and respect the geographic integrity of any local neighborhood or local community of interest.
State law also says district boundaries can't be drawn to favor one political party.
Other public hearings will be held Jan. 18 and Feb. 3. The final map would likely be voted on at the Feb. 24 council meeting. The transition will be done in time for the 2022 elections.
In other business
** A proposed initiative to amend the California State Constitution in regard to land use or zoning is scheduled for a council discussion on Tuesday night.
Known as Initiative 21-0016, the proposed amendment "provides that city and county land use and zoning laws override all conflicting state laws," with three noted exceptions, according to a staff report. Included are circumstances related to the California Coastal Act of 1976; the siting of power plants; and development of water, communication, or transportation infrastructure projects.
The final initiative submitted to the State Attorney General's Office in September "prevents the state legislature and local legislative bodies from passing laws invalidating voter-approved local land-use or zoning initiatives," according to staff, and "prohibits the state from changing, granting, or denying funding to local governments based on their implementation of this measure."
Following a review, staff said the city's "key advocacy partner" the League of California Cities has recommended adopting a "no" stance on the initiative. Noted in Cal Cities' initial analysis "is one area of concern relative to the language in the initiative's preamble."
Cal Cities said "the expressed intent of the voters is not clearly stated in the Constitutional amendment text," and that "further study and assessment is needed to address outstanding questions as to how the initiative impacts CEQA, FEHA, prohibition on discrimination, and the requirement to affirmatively furthering fair housing."
When considering adopting a position, staff said council members "will necessarily want to fully understand the consequences of passage of this initiative from multiple perspectives," and that "
retaining local control in decision making — particularly as it relates to housing — is of primary importance to the city."
"It is also beneficial to consider when the state's role is primary in requiring accountability and adherence to the same housing regulations," staff added, such as what recourse the city would have "if a neighboring city or region determines it doesn't want to comply with a state law and passes a superseding local ordinance which then has a negative impact on our city."
The city's adopted legislative framework advises their response to proposed legislation and process for advocacy efforts concerning proposed or pending legislation, but "does not provide guidance for the city taking a position on a proposed ballot initiative."
While the council is not prohibited from taking a position on ballot initiatives, staff said "past practice has generally been to refrain from taking a position on initiatives until the initiative is formally placed on the ballot."
Staff has recommended that the council "refrain from taking any action or position at this time," as "this would allow additional time for city staff to work with Cal Cities to further study the initiative and determine if there are any unintended consequences related to this ballot measure."