Anaheim Council Gives Final Approval to ‘People’s Map’

Nick Gerda/Voice of OC

Hundreds of protesters advocating for district voting shut down an Anaheim City Council meeting in January 2016.

After months of controversy over the adoption of a city council districts map in Anaheim, council members Tuesday night stuck by their decision to restore the “people’s map” and put the district with the largest number of Latinos up for election this year.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote was the final decision needed to implement the map and determine which districts will elect council members this year and which districts will have to wait until 2018.

“This is the people’s map. This is the people’s process,” said Mayor Tom Tait. “Long road… we’re here tonight. This is an historic moment”

The road included several twists and turns. It was unclear up to the last minute whether council members would stick by the districts map, which has been dubbed the “people’s map” because of its broad community support.

The map is a product of a lawsuit filed in 2012, which alleged that the city council’s at-large electoral system violated California’s Voting Rights Act because it did not allow Latinos, who make up 53 percent of the city’s population, to elect their candidates of choice.

The city settled the lawsuit by putting a measure calling for the implementation of a council-districts system before voters on the 2014 ballot. A panel of judges recommended the map after a series of hearings.

The map included a Latino majority district, which meant that citizen voting age Latinos make up more than 50 percent of the district’s population; and two Latino plurality districts, which means that citizen voting age Latinos outnumber other groups in the district, but don’t make up more than 50 percent of its population.

In November another battle erupted when the council majority decided that the only Latino majority district would have to wait until 2018 to elect a council member, while other districts would be up for election this year.

Activists were outraged and accused the council majority of a racist intent to deny Latinos representation on the council.

Instead of allowing the district to hold its election this year, Councilman Jordan Brandman concluded that the map itself was the problem because it only had one Latino majority district. He and the council majority scrapped the map and restarted the map selection process.

In response, hundreds of activists showed up to the Dec. 8 council meeting and shouted down council members until Mayor Tom Tait was forced to prematurely adjourn the meeting. After activists escalated their pressure further, the council majority flipped again and voted to restore the People’s Map and put the Latino majority district up for election this year.

But then there was yet another twist last week when city officials revealed that the only Latino majority district in the map was no longer majority Latino. Based on the latest U.S. Census estimates, the number of Latinos dropped to 49.1 percent, a 1.7 percent dip, according to a city staff report.

Latino activists remained in support of the map. And in casting her vote Tuesday, Councilwoman Kris Murray said her office had been in contact with prominent Latino organizations and had received confirmation that they still supported the map, meaning the estimated population change was unlikely to draw a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit.

After the vote, activists cheered and celebrated their victory outside City Hall. They vowed to wage a grassroots campaign to win enough to districts to gain the majority, an achievement made all the more likely by the map and the inclusion of the most Latino district in this year’s election.

“Our hard work has just begun brothers and sisters,” said Ada Briceño, interim executive director of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD). “In November, we’re going to turn this city council.”

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Ada Briceno

    Such a great Victory! Congratulations to the People of Anaheim for standing strong and fighting!

  • Paul Lucas

    Its about time.

  • Ron

    The George Wallace of OC, Jordan Beandman finally cast the correct vote. He only had to be shamed & and will be known accurately as the OC racist.

    • David Zenger

      Ron, I think that’s harsh. I don’t believe Brandman was motivated by racism so much as the pressure caused by the cupidity that animates the Anaheim kleptocracy.

      • Cynthia Ward

        Is it any more evil to dehumanize, exploit, and deny power to a segment of the population because of their race, vs doing so for financial or political gain? The outcome is still two Anaheims, and unequal representation. Entire neighborhoods have been shoved into a political corner and ordered to sit down, shut up, and stand by helplessly while the permanent aristocracy controls access to what should be shared public resources. The impact to quality of life and opportunity for future success is the same, no matter what the motive of the elite in maintaining their power/denying others access to power.

        The motive of the Kleptocracy does not appear to be racist so much as elitist. They carefully guard the gates to the fortified castle where power is concentrated, opening the portcullis only to those of like mind who will defend the concentration of money and power, with or without the pyrotechnics display backlighting the crenelated tower. I don’t think they care about the color of the human fuel for their economic engine as long as the negative impacts hit peasants outside the moat that protects their own base of operations.

        In the case of Brandman, it is hard not to believe his sidetracking of districts and putting the blame on MALDEF/LULAC was not at least slightly personal, given his history with individuals within those groups and past hurts he is not likely to forget. But again, that (at least appeared) as familial vengeance, not race baiting. And ANY use of public resources and official authority for personal motives of any kind is a corruption of that office and violation of the public trust! Again, whether it is race or animosity, it is WRONG and the leaders who even consider using such power for any purpose other than the public benefit need to be removed,

        While they will now pat themselves on the backs for approving what was requested long ago doesn’t mean the rest of us credit them with doing the right thing. The THREE of them were FORCED into doing the right thing after needlessly creating conflict where a giant group hug was about to take place. It shows their back room advisors call the shots and not some vision of the common good. ENOUGH! We have had ENOUGH! No they don’t get a free pass, and all is well, just because they protected the NAMM show and feared the backlash from hoteliers. If anything it further condemns them, as they value the opinions of out of town visitors more than the unanimous and (initially peaceful) request of their own constituents. Let dozens of Anaheim residents line up to speak in support of an outcome created by MONTHS of public hearings, (after years of expensive legal wrangling) vetted by impartial judges donating their time, and we are dismissed as irrelevant, but let a few hoteliers pick up the phone and they are all ears. The outcome of The Peoples Map and requested sequencing was negative in their minds when requested by constituents but somehow acceptable when demanded by their campaign contributing buddies?! I don’t care what color skin those hoteliers are, their wallets produce GREEN. And please don’t forget that while the neighborhoods whose votes were most often overcome by others higher propensity precincts were mostly Latino, a great many middle or the road white folk supported the Peoples Map and the requested sequencing. Self-dealing leadership is always evil, period.

        • David Zenger

          “Is it any more evil to dehumanize, exploit, and deny power to a segment
          of the population because of their race, vs doing so for financial or
          political gain?”

          Good point. I guess we would be arguing about the taxonomy of corruption as an exercise in scholasticism.

  • Cynthia Ward

    Thank. God.