Morgan Hill

City Council Staff Report

City Council Transition to by-district elections


Department:City ClerkSponsors:



On May 5, 2017, the City of Morgan Hill received a letter from Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho demanding that the City change its election process from at-large elections to district-based elections. On June 7, 2017, The City Council adopted a resolution of intent to transition to district-based elections.


The purpose of this public hearing is to receive a report from National Demographic Corporation (NDC) and to receive input on the process from the community. The report from NDC will provide the following information:

·         Brief introduction to the California Voting Rights Act

·         Project Timeline

·         Discussion of traditional line-drawing criteria, with discussion on what is a “community of interest”

·         Demonstration of the public input tools, including the interactive review map and the online mapping tools.


Staff recommends that the City Council create four electoral voting districts in which each Council Member must live within the district they wish to represent and voters may only vote for candidates within their voting district. Any changes to the procedures for electing the Mayor would need to be approved by the voters. Staff is not recommending placing a measure on the ballot at this time. Under staff’s recommendation, the Mayor would continue to be directly elected. through an at-large election allowing all residents in the City to vote for Mayor. 



We are planning for an extensive engagement effort with a goal of both informing the community about this process and involving the community in the mapping of the new districts.  As the City Council directed, we will have a focused effort on outreaching to our Spanish speaking community.  All information will be provided in both English and Spanish.  Translators and translation equipment will be available at all public meetings.


As previously indicated, we will be working with NDC to support and provide expertise. They will provide and manage a website that will be the repository for all information related to the transition to district elections including an interactive tool that allows for online creation of district maps.  Additionally, every version of a map submitted from community members will be uploaded and available for viewing on this site.  The site will be directly linked to our website for ease of access


We will utilize all our communication channels providing all information in both English and Spanish:  Website newsflashes, Eblasts, Nextdoor, Facebook, Twitter, and print. Additionally, we have reached out to several individuals and churches that have connections to our Spanish speaking community to have them share our communications both electronically and in print. 


A detailed community engagement plan is attached.



The City Council could take no action to change the City Council election system and direct staff to defend against any CVRA lawsuits that may be filed; this option could be very expensive to defend and would likely expose the City to costly attorneysfees.



·         May 17, 2017 City Council directed the team to bring this matter back to the City Council for consideration in open session

·         June 7, 2107 City Council adopted a resolution of intent to transition to by-district elections

·         June 21, 2017 City Council public hearing to receive input from the community



There will be significant resource impacts to teammates throughout the organization due to the amount of time needed to ensure thorough community engagement and to meet the legal requirements of transitioning to by-district elections. Additionally, the City is processing a contract with NDC in the amount of $43,000 to provide demographic and mapping expertise.


CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act): 

Not a project.


The forming of electoral districts is not a project as defined in Section 15378 of the State CEQA guidelines.

Meeting History

Jun 28, 2017 6:00 PM Video City Council Special - Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Deputy City Clerk Michelle Wilson and Communications and Engagement Manager Maureen Tobin presented the report and introduced Douglas Johnson, President, National Demographics Corporation who continued the report.

The public hearing was opened at 8:09 p.m.

Brian Faircloth was called to speak.

There being no further requests to speak, the public hearing was closed.


Approving the recommended action.

MOVER:Caitlin Jachimowicz, Council Member
SECONDER:Rene Spring, Council Member
AYES:Steve Tate, Larry Carr, Rich Constantine, Caitlin Jachimowicz, Rene Spring