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Anaheim could get 3 predominantly Latino City Council districts

A puzzle-piece cartoon mural of the city of Anaheim hangs on the entrance of the OCCORD office. The Orange County community-organizing has participated in the redistricting process.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
A puzzle-piece cartoon mural of the city of Anaheim hangs on the entrance of the OCCORD office. The Orange County group has participated in the redistricting process.

Half of Anaheim's City Council districts would be predominantly Latino, if current council members approve a map drawn by residents and endorsed by a panel of judges. 

Only one, however, would have a majority Latino citizen voting-age population. 

“This plan gives minority groups, particularly the large Latino population, the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” the panel wrote in its final report to be considered at the Anaheim City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The council is expected to vote on a map by the end of the year; it would be used in the November 2016 elections.

A lawsuit filed three years ago by a group of Latino residents forced Anaheim to move from an at-large voting system to a district-based one, which is supposed to give minorities a greater voice in City Hall politics. The lawsuit came after years of protests over unequal representation in Anaheim politics for the city's approximately 53-percent Latino population.

At the moment, the City Council has one Latino council member but advocates are hoping the proposed map would change that. 

The plan, drawn by a young Latino activist with input from several community groups, carves the city into six districts, each represented by a council member who lives within the district. The mayor will still be chosen by citywide vote.

The proposed map has one Latino majority district (District 3) in central Anaheim; Latinos make up 50.8 percent of the citizen voting age population there.

South Anaheim’s District 4 and East Anaheim’s District 5 have Latino citizen voting age pluralities at 46.8 percent and 44.3 percent, respectively.

“That’ll allow us to have more Latino representation throughout,” said Marisol Ramirez, a community organizer with Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, which supports the plan.

Ramirez said Latinos in Latino plurality districts could elect a candidate of their choice by combining their voting influence with other minority and neighborhood groups.

“Having a map that looks like that allows for them to be able to elect a candidate that lives in the area, that knows their issues,” she said. “And they’ll be able to hold that candidate accountable.”

The plan's advocates also noted that the Latino citizen voting age population is growing in Anaheim and may already be larger, particularly in the central parts of the city, than what is reflected in the data they were required by law to use, which was last collected in 2009.

The committee said it tried to keep together communities formed around elementary schools. The wealthy Anaheim Hills neighborhoods were mostly concentrated into the proposed District 6. 

Disneyland and the Resort Area are in District 4 in South Anaheim separated from other entertainment venues such as Angel Stadium and the Honda Center.

Greg Diamond, a political blogger in Orange County, said separating the entertainment areas probably wouldn't dampen the corporations' influence on City Hall.

“It’s not like they’re only going to spend money in the Fourth District where Disney is located,” he said. “They’re going to be spending it in all six districts and for the mayor’s race.”

The first of three public hearings on the proposed map is scheduled for October 20.