In its preparation to shift to district elections in 2024, the City of Irvine is hosting a series of community forums that will focus on the districting process, in which the public is being asked to participate.

Currently, Irvine is the largest city in Orange County without district elections, according to Dr. Justin Levitt, Vice President of the National Demographics Association.

In a presentation to the Irvine City Council, Levitt explained how these community workshops would prepare and educate the public in the district process.

“These workshops are a little more intimate than a council meeting, they really give the people that attend a chance to get their questions answered,” he said. “It even gives them a chance to draw their own map at the site.”

In February, leaders in Irvine approved adding the aspect of district elections to the midterm ballot in March 2024. If voters opt to switch, it would expand the City Council from five to seven seats.

The next districting community forum will be held virtually on Wednesday, April 26, at 6 p.m. The city also plans to host two community forums in May, along with the second public hearing at the Irvine City Council on Tuesday, May 9. 

A schedule of upcoming community districting forums and public hearings can be found here.

In November 2024, eligible voters in Irvine will have the opportunity to vote for the mayor at large and a council member to represent an individual district.

In addition to a series of community forums, the city is asking for the public’s input in drafting new district maps via its new districting website Drafted maps will be available for the public to view.

Based on the timeline, the public is encouraged to submit maps before the June 29 deadline.

In terms of consideration criteria for drawing new district lines, the City of Irvine will rely on several factors, including geography, federal decennial census data to determine equal population between districts, easily identifiable boundaries, future population growth, and voter choice.

“Irvine is one of the few cities left in Orange County that does not have by-district elections,” Levitt explained. “And [Irvine] is the largest in the state that does not have by-district elections.”

In his presentation, Levitt also added that candidates will need to reside within the specific district, while the mayor will be elected at large.

Based on Irvine’s current population each council member will represent approximately 50,000 residents per district, according to Levitt.

This is a developing story.

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