Costa Mesa City Council members are calling on the OC Board of Supervisors to keep the city in the same voting district as Newport and Huntington Beach, instead of splitting them up.
On Tuesday, the city council voted on a resolution opposing any of the board’s proposed redistricting maps that would take the city out of District 2 and out of the same district as the bordering coastal cities of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
One of the proposed maps advanced by supervisors this week does just that, under a proposal put forward by supervisors’ Chairman Andrew Do. Other supervisors made various proposed changes to Do’s proposed map all of which are options for the board’s final decision.
“Our job here is to make sure we’re advocating for Costa Mesa to be tied with cities that we’re most aligned with,” Costa Mesa Councilman Manuel Chavez said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“I think this has given us the best opportunity to say, Hey, we’ve always been with Newport Beach, we’ve always been with Huntington Beach. This is becoming a bit of a political game.”
Those three cities have been in the same district for decades and share a range of various public services, according to a staff report.
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District serves parents and students in both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. Those two cities also share a homeless shelter.
Costa Mesa contracts with Huntington Beach for their police helicopter to patrol the city.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Mayor John Stephens said the contracted public services wouldn’t be affected if the cities are split from each other on an election map, but keeping it all in one district would give officials one county supervisor to help them — making it easier to get county resources.
“So many of those issues are also dealt with through the county, it would be good to have one point of contact — one supervisor … dealing with those commonalities,” he said.
The resolution also opposes any map that will divide Costa Mesa into more than one supervisorial district.
“If we, as Costa Mesa, had to work with two supervisors … that could create a lot of problems in terms of dealing with, for example, the continuum of care,” Stephens said in the phone interview.
“If you have two supervisors who handle a particular issue differently, then it would be difficult for the city because you’d have one policy on one side of the city and another policy on the other side of the city from the county’s perspective.”
The resolution passed the same day the County Board of Supervisors shortened residents’ review time of the newly proposed maps from 10 days to three — the bare minimum public notice required under state law.
After whittling down the proposed maps to two, including the variations to Do’s proposal, supervisors are expected to pick the final one on Monday.
Both proposals up for consideration are from county supervisors after they modified maps from residents.
The maps are still being drawn up by county staff and are slated to be publicly released Friday.
“Many of the proposed maps divide Costa Mesa neighborhoods and certain Council Districts into two supervisorial districts. Should the Board select one of these proposed maps, this action would create division resulting in fragmentation of Costa Mesa neighborhoods,” reads the staff report.
But following the Supervisor meeting on Tuesday — all but one map that breaks apart seven Costa Mesa residents from the rest of the city were canned, said City Attorney Kim Barlow at the city council meeting Tuesday.
Barlow also spoke at the county supervisors meeting earlier on Tuesday.
During public comment, she told supervisors that redistricting efforts surrounding Costa Mesa appear to be politically motivated.
“That would be very inappropriate,” Barlow said.
Regardless of what maps are on the table, Mayor Stephens said he wants their position as a city to be made crystal clear in case there’s a lawsuit.
“It’s my understanding that part of the reason at this point we’re doing a resolution is to have it in the record in case there’s some type of litigation challenge to whatever is on the table,” he said at the meeting.
Stephens also said the resolution should not tie itself to any one proposed map because of the fluid nature of the redistricting process.
“Our resolution should stick with the principles of the interest of our city,” he said. “This resolution — I can assure you — is not going to move the dial at all with any of the supervisors.”
Even with the maps still on the table for supervisors, city officials like Barlow still have concerns about the impacts the supervisors’ decision will have on their city — including impacting the city’s election cycle and inturn disenfranchising voters.
Do’s proposed map would force Costa Mesa’s current county supervisor, Katrina Foley, off the board in late 2022 and the city’s district wouldn’t be up for election again until 2024, she told Voice of OC in an interview this week.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Barlow said one of the proposed maps moves Costa Mesa into District 1, potentially delaying city voters from picking a supervisor.
The District 2 supervisor seat is up for grabs in 2022 while the District 1 seat will not be up for election until 2024.
There is also concern from Barlow, the city attorney, that county officials have made little effort to notify the community on the redistricting process and solicit input from cities and residents.
“My concern (is) also about the fact that they aren’t supposed to select a map until all of the maps that they are choosing from have been publicly available for seven days. I made a point about that, it seems as though they’re going to go ahead and pick one before that happens in any event,” she said at the city council meeting.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
Reporter Nick Gerda contributed to this article.
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