Redistricting Update for Local Jurisdictions in California

2021 brings many changes and new rules for California’s local agencies in the redistricting process

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Every ten years, after the completion of the U.S. Census, all local jurisdictions in California are required to redraw their boundaries to reflect new population counts and ensure compliance with state and federal law.  Attorneys at Olson Remcho have more than thirty-five years’ experience advising public entities on issues involving redistricting and helping them develop redistricting plans that comply with all applicable criteria, while at the same time maximizing electoral opportunities for competing interest groups so as to minimize the likelihood of legal challenges.

2021 brings many changes and new rules for California’s local agencies in the redistricting process.  The U.S. Census Bureau initially announced that because of delays related to COVID-19, data won’t be available until July 31, a target that has now been pushed back to September 30.  In response the California Legislature passed AB1276 in 2020 which extends the local redistricting timeline to account for the census delay, as well as adding further requirements to the local redistricting process and making clarifying changes to the Fair Maps Act which had been passed a year earlier. The Fair Maps Act passed in 2019 was intended to create standardized redistricting criteria to better keep communities together and prevent partisan gerrymandering.  The law requires local agencies to hold public hearings on redistricting and alters the redistricting timeline to allow more opportunities for public participation in the map drawing process.  

Attorneys at Olson Remcho provide practical advice to public officials and line-drawers about all aspects of the redistricting process

Attorneys at Olson Remcho provide practical advice to public officials and line-drawers about all aspects of the redistricting process, including the hiring of experts and line-drawers, the appropriate use of data, undertaking public hearings and fact-gathering, applying redistricting criteria to line-drawing, drafting redistricting plans, working with public officials to pass the necessary legislation, and defending the plan in any subsequent challenges. Our attorneys also have extensive experience advising and litigating in areas of the law that are ancillary but no less important to the public process of adopting a redistricting plan, including the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act, and initiative and referendum law.

Our clients include many municipalities and local agencies, whom we have advised and continue to advise on various redistricting initiatives and legislation, including the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”) and the federal Voting Rights Act, as well as AB 1276 (2020 Cal. Stats. ch. 90) and the Fair Maps Act mentioned above.  We are also experienced in defending municipal redistricting plans if they are later challenged in court. Recently, we successfully defended the City of Los Angeles’s 2012 Redistricting Ordinance against a lawsuit alleging that district boundaries violated the federal and state Constitutions, and the Los Angeles City Charter. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 908 F.3d 1175 (9th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 2019 U.S. LEXIS 3748 (June 3, 2019).

Representative local public agency clients include

  • City of Long Beach
  • City of Danville
  • City of San Ramon
  • Dublin San Ramon Services District
  • City of Vacaville
  • City of Brentwood
  • City of Concord
  • City of Livermore
  • Redwood City