NEW: Communities of Interest Forms Now Available!
Share your input now by using our new Communities of Interest forms.
The San Mateo City Council has begun the process to transition to district elections and is initiating a robust community-engagement initiative that will influence how voters elect future council members. Read the latest news release for more information.
The City received a certified letter from attorney Scott J. Rafferty asserting that the City’s current at-large council member electoral system may violate the California Voting Rights Act (the “CVRA”) (Elections Code §§ 14025-14032) and stating that the City should voluntarily change to a district-based election system for electing City Council Members. Upon receipt of such a letter, the City could agree to transition to district elections, or be forced to defend against a lawsuit asserting a CVRA violation.
The City of San Mateo currently employs an at-large elections system, which means voters of the entire City elect the five City Council members. A district-based election is one in which the City is divided into separate districts, each with one City Council member who resides in the district and is chosen by the voters in that particular district.
Process & Next Steps
Community input and census data will be used to determine how districts should be drawn in San Mateo. To assist with the transition, the City hired Redistricting Partners, a firm that specializes in drawing district lines for jurisdictions.
The formal districting process will include a minimum of five public hearings with the City Council. The public hearing schedule will be published shortly.
The City will also host in-person community workshops and pop-up events to provide opportunities for the public to engage in the process.
There will be two phases of public engagement:
Phase 1: Communities of Interest
Prior to any official draft maps being drawn, the public will be encouraged to share input to help define local Communities of Interest (COI). This includes gathering information about racial and social demographics, neighborhood geography and how residents relate to their local City government.
Two public hearings will be held to review the process and gather input. Residents may also provide input by filling out the Communities of Interest form.
Phase 2: District Mapping
Census data and COI feedback will be used to develop draft maps. The public may also submit draft maps through online tools or by hand through printable maps that will be provided by the City. Two public hearings will be held to collect feedback and review draft maps. The City Council will consider adoption of a final district map during a fifth public hearing.
On July 19, 2021 the City Council adopted a resolution to update a district elections transition process and public outreach schedule.
On June 21, 2021, the City Council held a public hearing to consider options for transitioning to district elections. Read a news release about the Council's adoption of a resolution intending to move to district elections.
On May 24, 2021, the City received a demand letter alleging the City's at-large election system violated the California Voting Rights Act. Read a June 17, 2021 news release announcing the City's consideration of district elections.
Legal & Related Laws
Legal & Legislative
- Council Resolution of Intent to Move to District Elections - June 21, 2021
- Council Resolution Updated District Election Outreach Schedule - July 19, 2021
- Rafferty Letter to Clerk - Neighborhood Elections for SM City Council - May 19, 2021
- Transition to Elections By District - Resolution of Intention (Staff Report) June 21, 2021
- Transition to Elections By District Updated Schedule (Staff Report) July 19, 2021