The same way the U.S. Census provides the federal government with data about the people living in the U.S., that same demographic data also aids local governments in making important decisions to better serve their residents, including redrawing ward lines, a process known as redistricting.
Every 10 years local governments are required to publicly review ward boundaries and adjust them if, or as, necessary to reflect changes in the population. Changes in population can include things like more people living in a certain area because of new housing that went up during the 10-year period, and other factors.
To the extent practicable, ward lines are determined using the following criteria: geographically contiguous wards (each council ward should share a common border with the next); respecting the geographic integrity of local neighborhoods or communities as to minimize division; easily identifiable boundaries that follow natural or artificial barriers such as rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, and lines that encourage geographic compactness. Boundaries cannot be drawn for political purposes.
According to the. City’s redistricting information website, “state law requires cities and counties to engage communities in the redistricting process by holding public hearings and doing public outreach, including to underrepresented and non-English-speaking communities.”
The City of Riverside is currently in the early stages of the redistricting process and is asking residents for their input and involvement in determining the necessity of planning, drawing, and redividing new City wards. Community meetings are already underway, with the first of 18 meetings taking place on Tuesday, August 23 at the Cesar Chavez Community Center.
Sabrina and Jeffrey were just two of several residents who chose to get involved by attending the first meeting. While they chose not to provide their last names for publication, they said they attended the meeting because they are concerned about the redistricting process and want to ensure it is done fairly.
The finalized maps that residents have a hand in creating will define the seven City of Riverside ward borders, and these new wards will impact how councilmembers are elected for the next 10 years.
Residents are encouraged to participate in the process in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, attending public meetings to offer their input through sharing their stories, defining their neighborhood or community of interest, and explaining why redistricting is relevant to their community.
Involvement in the process also allows residents to receive the tools they need to help draw a map of one or all districts, sharing their opinions on the drafts of maps, and talking to other residents and local organizations.
The redistricting process runs until April 23, 2023. Residents are encouraged to get involved and share their opinions.