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Redistricting FAQs

What is redistricting?

Redistricting is the regular process of adjusting the lines of voting districts in accordance with population shifts. For many jurisdictions, including the City of Santa Barbara, this means redrawing district lines every ten years following the decennial census. In the modern era of redistricting, all district lines must be reviewed after the census to meet strict requirements for population equality and voting rights protections.

City Charter Section 1301 requires the City Council to create an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) composed of three retired judges who do not reside in Santa Barbara County. Following the 2020 Census, the IRC must adopt a redistricting map, and refer the map for mandatory Council approval. A redistricting map divides the City into six electoral districts which are approximately equal in population, and which comply with extensive state and federal voting rights protections.

In March 2021, the City Council appointed the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to prepare electoral district maps using the 2020 Census Bureau data, as required by City Charter Section 1301. As agreed in the 2015 Banales v. City of Santa Barbara, SBSC Case No. 1468167, litigation settlement, the Charter requires the IRC to prepare new maps for each of the City’s six City Council districts. These maps will remain in full force and effect through the 2031 City Council elections.

Why Does Redistricting Matter to Me?

Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a district for the purposes of electing a City Council member. City staff will seek input in redistricting maps for our council districts. You have an opportunity to share with the City how you think district boundaries should be drawn to best represent your community.

Fair, representative redistricting maps help ensure that elected officials will be responsive to the voters in their communities. Redistricting ensures every person has equal representation by drawing districts with approximately equal numbers of people – one person, one vote.

You can contact the City at or visit to find out more about how the process works.

Do I Have to Submit a Completed Map?

No. You can draw boundaries for just one district in your part of the City, or any other part.

Can I Submit More Than One Map?


What Happens to the Drafted Maps?

Once submitted, maps are considered public records. City staff will post all legally-compliant submitted maps on the Draft Maps page.

What Criteria Must be Followed When Drawing District Lines?

Federal law requires that districts have about the same number of people in them, and adhere to the Voting Rights Act by not diluting the vote of protected classes. Some deviation in the population count by district is permissible to fulfill all redistricting criteria.

State law (FAIRMAPS Act (AB 849) and AB 1276) requires that districts be drawn using the following criteria in the given order of priority:

1. Districts should be contiguous (each district should be one piece)
2. Districts should respect the integrity of local neighborhoods or communities of interest in a manner that minimizes their division
3. District boundaries should be easily identifiable by following natural or artificial barriers (rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, etc.)
4. Districts should be compact

In addition, districts should not be drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party.

How Will the City Notify the Public About Redistricting?

The Independent Redistricting Commission approved a CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND OUTREACH PLAN, which outlines steps the City will take to engage the public throughout the process. The City will publish meeting dates and notices in major publications, post flyers in prominent places, and make radio announcements.

All meetings and information will be available in English and Spanish and will be simultaneously interpreted from English into Spanish and American Sign Language. All meetings held in person will include refreshments and complimentary childcare, and will be recorded and posted at All meetings will be held in the evening or on weekends.

What is the Schedule of Hearings?

The schedule of hearings can be found HERE. Also, all previous meeting agendas and minutes can be found HERE.

The September 20, 2021 and October 20, 2021 meetings will be held virtually. It is planned that the individual district meetings starting in January, 2021 will be held in person, but may be held virtually due to COVID restrictions. The public will be kept informed, in either case.

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2021
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