Palm Desert moves forward with proposed district map amid objections from Northside residents

The Palm Desert City Council has maintained its stance to move forward with a single focus map to be used in redistricting as the City prepares to shift from its current two districts to five.

A fourth public hearing on the matter was held Thursday night, where the City Council heard desired modifications to focus map 109 and the sequence of elections. 

In a 4-1 vote, the City Council voted to accept the staff recommendation to accept focus map 109 renumbered so that the sequence of elections will result in Districts 1, 2, and 3 being up for election in November 2024, and Districts 4 and 5 will be up for reelection in November 2026. 

“I support us limiting us to map 109 and moving forward in hopes that it would display this Council’s commitment to effectuate the transfer to five districts as expeditiously as possible,” said Council Member Kathleen Kelly. 

Mayor Karina Quintanilla was the sole vote against the motion.

On November 16, 2023, the City Council selected focus map 109 for further consideration. A majority of the councilmembers expressed support for the map because it does not split any HOAs or neighborhoods, keeps residents bordering the Midvalley channel in the same district, and places the Portola Country Club and Palm Desert Greens Country Club in the same district as communities that share unique land ownership issues. 

Focus map 109 considers future population growth, by splitting future residential growth between Districts 4 and 5, encompassing the northern part of town.

“We can’t predict, but I think here and now we would be ignoring the voice of our current residents in favor of idealized future residents,” said Mayor Karina Quintanilla. 

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Two community workshops were held on November 29 and December 6, where community members provided feedback on the proposed redistricting map. 

Residents, mostly those who live in the northern part of Palm Desert, expressed disappointment that the City Council did not select more than one focus map. 

Additionally, they pointed out that map 109 splits numerous communities of interest, including students and taxpayers north of Frank Sinatra who are within the Palm Springs Unified School District. 

They also felt the City Council’s decision was based on the demographer’s response that she could not find a solution to map 102 that does not result in a split HOA or gated community. 

Stephen Nelson, a resident of Genesis gated community, created map 102c as an alternative deemed viable by the City Manager and demographer. However, the map was submitted after the deadline for consideration had already passed. 

The City Council had the option to discuss, consider, and act on any one or more district map(s), including modifications of district boundaries, but decided to proceed with focus map 109 renumbered. 

The City Council will meet again on January 11 and is expected to adopt a final map.

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