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 City has hosted a series of public meetings to engage the community during this transition.


The purpose of this meeting is for the City Council to review and discuss the draft maps, select the preferred map, and set the election sequencing. The election sequencing will determine which two districts will be up for election in the upcoming 2018 election and which two districts will be up for the 2020 election.


Staff has recommended 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. 



In addition to the engagement efforts called out in the engagement plan, teammates attended the Friday Music Series on July 7th to share information with the community about the process. The team also held a community workshop on July 10th to share information on the process and how to use the various mapping tools.


As the City Council directed, we have had a focused effort on outreaching to our Spanish speaking community.  All information has and will continue to be provided in both English and Spanish.  Translators and translation equipment will be available at all public meetings.


We are working with NDC to support and provide expertise. They have provided and managed the website that is 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 the maps submitted has been uploaded and is available for viewing on this site.  The site is directly linked to our website for ease of access.


We are utilizing all of our communication channels and 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. 



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, 2017 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

·         June 28, 2017 City Council public hearing to receive input from the community

·         July 26, 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 executed 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

Aug 23, 2017 5:30 PM Video City Council Special - Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Deputy City Clerk Michelle Wilson presented the report. She introduced Doug Johnson with National Demographics Corporation who continued the presentation.

The public hearing was opened at 7:51 p.m. The following people were called to speak.

Armando Benavides

Sally Casas

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

Mayor Tate called a recess at 8:05 p.m.

The meeting was reconvened at 8:15 p.m.


Adopting district elections map Vertical 2.

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