Districting: Establishing Voter Divisions

The Districting Process

Local governments use data from the U.S. Census Bureau to draw division lines to reflect the changing local population demographics. State law requires cities, counties, and special districts to engage communities in the districting process by holding public hearings and doing public outreach.

The Santa Margarita Water District is transitioning from an at-large election process to division-based elections through which SMWD’s five board members will each be elected from a single-member division. A by-division method divides an agency into separate divisions and allows the voters in each division to elect a member of the Board of Directors. These new division-based elections will take effect for the November 2024 election.

How can I participate?

The Board of Directors will be holding public hearings to receive resident input on where division lines should be drawn. Share your specific thoughts, draw a map, attend an upcoming public hearing to get involved! We want to hear your stories - tell us what your communities of interest are and give your opinions on draft maps in person or via email at districting@smwd.com.

Below you can view a calendar of public hearings at which you can give input about the process or a specific map.

Why is this important?

The Santa Margarita Water District is asking for your help as we undertake the District’s first ever districting process. We want your input in planning, drawing, and dividing our District. With your help, the finalized maps we create will define the Director Division boundaries and will impact how you elect your Board Members in the future.

Our primary goal when developing election divisions is to draw lines that respect neighborhoods, history, and geographical elements. In order to achieve this goal, we need your input: What do you consider the boundaries of your neighborhood?

Submitting Public Comments

The public is encouraged to submit ideas or comments on the districting process including ideas about communities of interest or proposed division boundaries. This can be done at board meetings, public hearings or via email to districting@smwd.com.

The public will have several opportunities and methods to provide input into SMWD’s districting effort. The public can submit written comments, submit maps for consideration, and is invited to provide oral comments to the SMWD Board of Directors at any of the public hearings related to districting. More information regarding the public hearings is provided below under “Public Hearings & Timeline”.

Public Participation Kit

The Public Participation Kit and districting materials for developing maps are expected to be released on December 8, 2022.

Districting Maps

Map proposals will be posted here in late January 2023 following the close of the public map submission period on January 13, 2023. 

Public Hearings & Timeline

10/05/2022 5:30 p.m.Board Meeting
  • Districting process kickoff
Agenda Information
11/02/2022 5:30 p.m.Public Hearing #1:
  • Pre-Map
  • Solicit public input
  • Release districting website
Agenda Information
12/07/2022 5:30 p.m.Public Hearing #2:
  • Pre-Map
  • Solicit public input
  • Present Existing Conditions report and Public Participation Kit
  • Open map submission period
Agenda Information
01/04/2023 5:30 p.m.
(Potential special meeting date of 01/11/2023, should the January 4th meeting be canceled, as per past practice)
Public Hearing #3:
  • Pre-Map
  • Solicit public input
Agenda Information
01/13/2023 5:00 p.m.Close of the public submission period for map proposals by the public
02/01/2023 5:30 p.m.Public Hearing #4:
  • First review of draft maps
  • Possible revision direction by board members
Agenda Information
02/17/2023 7:30 a.m.Public Hearing #5:
  • Consideration of maps and any revised maps
  • Possible map selection
Agenda Information
03/01/2023 5:30 p.m.Public Meeting/Hearing
  • If needed, final meeting to select map
  • Adopt resolution finalizing division boundaries
Agenda Information


What is districting?

It is the regular process of determining the lines of voting districts in accordance with population shifts. In California, public agencies and other organizations must divide the lines of their districts according to the results of the Decennial Census, so that each board division is substantially equal in population. This ensures that each elected official represents about the same number of constituents. All division lines must be reviewed to meet strict requirements for population equality and voting rights protections in accordance with the federal Voting Rights Act and the California Elections Code.

Why is it important?

Districting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a division for purposes of electing Board Members. The Board of Directors will seek input in selecting the first division map for electing Board Members. You have an opportunity to share with the Board of Directors how you think division boundaries should be drawn to best represent your community during the public hearings and/or by submitting comments to districting@smwd.com.

What criteria will be used to determine division lines?

  1. Federal Laws 
    • Equal Population (based on total population of residents as determined by the most recent Federal Decennial Census)
    • Federal Voting Rights Act
    • No Racial Gerrymandering
  2. California Criteria for Special Districts (to the extent practicable) 
    • Topography (considering mountains, canyons)
    • Geography (Considering infrastructure such as highways, bridges, major arterial roads)
    • Cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, and compactness of territory (Do not bypass one group of people to get to a more distant group of people)
    • Communities of interests of the division
  3. Other Traditional Redistricting Principles 
    • Minimize voters shifted to different election years
    • Respect voters’ choices / continuity in office
    • Future population growth