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Vista residents help city to create new boundary map

VISTA — Vista residents responded to a call to action after the city of Vista asked for their help in creating a new boundary map reflecting the districts for future City Council elections. With five focus maps to choose from, the City Council unanimously voted on the “purple map.”

Mayor Judy Ritter asked City Attorney Darold Pieper to introduce the item. 

“Tonight is the culmination of a process which began back in March to consider district boundaries for the city of Vista,” Pieper said.

He went on to say that this issue was prompted by the threat of litigation over the California Voting Rights Act. 

“To date, the City Council has held five public hearings; tonight, is the sixth, plus two community workshops and one informal workshop to discuss proposed maps,” he said. “At the last City Council meeting, the City Council identified five maps to bring forward for discussion this evening, and for possible adoption of an ordinance, choosing one of those maps.”

On hand to assist was Dr. Justin Levitt of the National Demographics Corporation. As well as introducing the maps, he was there to help in the navigation process, if needed.

“Thank you to all the members of the public who have participated and really made Vista’s districting process a real success,” Levitt said.

He added to Pieper’s introduction that the hearings first began in March. He also said he wanted everyone to know that moving toward district elections would in no way impact any member of the City Council directly for their current terms. “So the first two districts that have elections in November 2018 plus the mayor’s race will be in the districts which are currently on the 2018 cycle and contain the representatives currently on the 2018 cycle,” Levitt said. He added, “The remaining two districts will hold their first election in 2020.”

Levitt explained that looking ahead to 2021, new census information will be available regarding the total population. This will allow a closer look at where the city has evolved and changed, he said.

Councilwoman Amanda Rigby took part in one of the workshops that was held and highlighted the great participation. 

“It was a really great back-and-forth discussion talking about the neighborhoods, talking about what we were looking for, and what we were trying to avoid,” she said. “I’m really glad that we had the chance to do that, and I’m sorry we didn’t have more opportunities to do that throughout the city because I think that was a really good process for us. And at the end of it, we did end up back at the purple map.”

Rigby went on to say that the discussion process from different neighborhoods regarding the purple map decision triggered a better understanding as to why they arrived at that point. She described it as a valuable experience and said that she was hopeful that they could do it once again in 2022, when the updated census numbers were released. 

“I really appreciate everybody coming out to all of the meetings that we had, coming out to the council meetings, the emails, the phone calls and to everybody who submitted maps,” she said. “Thank you for being here and participating in the process.”

Ritter shared that she expected in another three to four years that the city of Vista would have a rising population change.   

Councilman Joe Green echoed the same appreciation to Vista residents. He thanked everyone who was part of the process.

“Even the idea of additional community workshops came from people in this room right here,” he said.

Green went on to say that while they weren’t initially happy when they got the news of creating new district boundaries for by-district elections, he believed that those views did change as time went on. 

“We’re all a part of this town and we’ve all worked really hard to be a part of this process, so I am glad that it’s at its end now and that we’ll be moving forward,” Green said. “I look forward to 2022 and Lord willing, if I’m in office then, collaborating with the community. If not, still being at that table, because one of my favorite sayings is that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu, so thank you guys for being at the table and helping make decisions.”