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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story attributed a quote to the wrong councilmember.
By Breeana Greenberg
Dana Point’s district map will likely stay the same in 2022; however, the city is still looking for public input on the redistricting process.
The current map, drawn in 2018, meets all legal requirements and the population balances.
“I’m really happy that these maps turned out the way that they did and that we didn’t have to start looking at neighborhoods of interest again and dividing people up,” Mayor Pro Tem Joe Muller said. “I mean, that’s one of the toughest things we did four years ago was figuring out how do we draw these lines, because lines, let’s face it, they divide. And that’s not what we’re about.”
Following the 2020 decennial census, the city council is required to adopt new council districts. In total, the city is required to hold four public hearings on the matter—the Nov. 16 hearing was the third one. The first two hearings occurred prior to draft maps. Subsequently, two public hearings must occur after draft or proposed maps for redistricting are prepared.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors is also looking at new redistricting maps. The board selected four variations on a map during its Nov. 16 meeting and plan to formally vote to adopt one of the maps during a special meeting on Nov. 22. The four maps were scheduled to posted on Nov. 19.
On May 15, 2018, Dana Point adopted a by-district election process rather than continue holding at-large elections. The city choice to adopt the by-district election process was to protect itself from California Voting Rights Act lawsuits.
“I believe Councilmember (Richard) Viczorek and I are the only two that were still on the council when the districting went into place, and I’m going say what I did back then, I don’t see myself as a district guy; I see myself as a Dana Point representative,” Mayor Pro Tem Joe Muller said.
Mayor Jamey Federico noted that the council received written comments varying from, “everything is great the way it is, to I’d like to see the 92624 zip code put together as a voting district, and I’d like to see an elected mayor and four councilmembers.”
City Attorney Patrick Muñoz added that the city is not protected from a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit if it were to adopt a four district and at-large mayor rather than the five, by-district election process.
Dana Point resident Robbie Robinson commented that her street was split into two districts. She lives on the east side of Copper Lantern and is in Federico’s district and noted that her neighbors on the other side of the street are in Councilmember Michael Villar’s district. She wanted her street to be together with the rest of Lantern Village in District 4.
When splitting the Dana Point into districts in 2018, Muñoz said the city wanted to keep neighborhoods together as best they could.
Being in the same district as neighbors across the street might be more of a nicety, Federico said, adding that residents on a district boundary line have two councilmembers who care about their street.
“None of us wanted to go to districts, as you heard in the presentation,” Viczorek said. “We’re in districts, because we were forced into that. I want to respond to some of the comments that you live on one street but you’ve got two councilmembers; no matter where you live in Dana Point, you’ve got five councilmembers.”
“This has always been a very tight community,” Federico said. “We all take care of each other. And I don’t even like saying District 1 and District 2 or 3; we’re Dana Point. And we’re going to take care of each other no matter what district we happen to represent and where we have to live, because we’re all in the same city.”
The final public hearing will be held on Feb. 15, 2022. Residents can submit comments on the redistricting map at danapoint.org. The city has until Apr. 17 to complete the redistricting process.
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org