District-Based City Council Elections

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The City of Novato is engaged in a process to change the way that City Councilmembers are elected by transitioning to a district-based election system. Currently, all five Councilmembers, including the Mayor, are elected at-large, meaning that all registered voters who reside in Novato have the opportunity to vote for all five City Council positions.

District-Based Election System

A district-based election system would divide the City into geographic districts. Councilmembers will be required to live in the district that they represent and will be elected only by registered voters of that district.

Why transition to district elections?

In 2002, the Legislature enacted the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) (Elec. Code §§14025 – 14032), which prohibits California public agencies, including municipal governments, from imposing or applying an at-large election method "that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election" (Elec. Code §14027). A protected class is defined by the CVRA as "a class of voters who are members of a race, color, or language minority group, as this class is referenced and defined in the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965".

In a lawsuit brought pursuant to the CVRA, a plaintiff who establishes a history of a "racially polarized voting" under a city's at-large election system can require the city to change to a district-based election system and pay for his or her attorneys' fees. In February 2019, the City received a letter from an attorney, alleging racially-polarized voting in Novato. Pursuant to California Elections Code section 10010, a city can avoid even the filing of a lawsuit if, within 45 days of receiving a demand letter, it adopts a resolution of intention to move to district-based elections and, within 90 days thereafter, it adopts a district map for use in future elections. Although the City in no way concedes the allegations in the demand letter, and in order to avoid the high cost and burden of needless litigation, on March 12, 2019, the City Council adopted a resolution outlining its intention to transition from at-large to district-based elections , which includes specific steps the City will undertake to facilitate the transition, and an estimated timeframe for doing so. The Elections Code provides that, in order to avoid the filing of a lawsuit and to cap possible attorneys' fees, the City has 90 days to adopt an ordinance providing for district-based elections.

Draft District Maps

On May 14, 2019, the City Council held its fourth district elections public hearing to review, consider and receive public feedback on 22 proposed district maps which included 16 community submissions. As part of this process, the City-contracted demographer assisted the Council in determining which proposed maps met the required districting map criteria. After consideration, discussion, and narrowing down each Council member’s top choices, the Council voted unanimously to select map #114, submitted by Novato resident Tracey Ruiz.

The following maps were submitted for Council consideration. There are sixteen (16) community-submitted proposed maps, five (5) proposed draft maps submitted by City-contracted demographer Doug Johnson with the National Demographics Corporation, and one (1) proposed map submission from a City Councilmember. Demographics are included with each map.

Additionally, Map Submitter Comments are available for public review.

Draft Maps Posted May 6, 2019
Draft Map - 101
Draft Map - 102
Draft Map - 103
Draft Map - 104
Draft Map - 105
Draft Map - 106
Draft Map - 107
Draft Map - 108
Draft Map - 109
Draft Map - 110
Draft Map - 111
Draft Map - 112
Draft Map - 113
Draft Map - 114
Draft Map - 115
Draft Map - 116
Draft Map - Teal
Draft Map - Eklund

Draft Maps Posted April 15, 2019
Draft Map - Green
Draft Map - Purple
Draft Map - Yellow
Draft Map - Orange

Additionally, you can view the initial four proposed draft district maps (posted on 4/15/19) on the Interactive Review Map Tool, which allows the ability to zoom in and out to see the map details.   

You can provide your feedback and/or comments on these draft maps to the City Council by attending the City Council Public Hearing on May 14, 2019 or by emailing the City Clerk at tgillen@novato.org.

Schedule & Timeline

The City Council has 90 days from March 12, 2019 to move from an at-large to district-based elections system.

Public Hearing Dates
(All located at Novato City Hall, 901 Sherman Avenue)
March 26
Public Hearing #1 
Council hearing regarding composition of districts; no maps 
April 9
Public Hearing #2 
Council hearing regarding composition of districts; no maps, but the Council directs the demographer on providing drafts of the maps 
April 15  Posting of draft maps and potential sequence of elections (must be posted at least 7 days prior to April 23 hearing) 
April 23
Public Hearing #3
Council hearing regarding draft maps 
May 6  Post any new or amended maps and potential sequence of elections (must be posted at least 7 days before May 14 hearing)
May 14
Public Hearing #4
Introduce Ordinance 
If selected map is amended, ordinance cannot be introduced until 7 days after amended map is published
(No more than 45 days after the third public hearing) 
May 21
Public Hearing #5
Second Reading  
Ordinance adopted
(Within 90 days of initial Resolution of Intention) 
June 10  Day 90 
(Todas las reuniones se realizarán en el ayuntamiento en 901 Sherman Avenue) 

26 de marzo
(Primera vista pública) 

Vista del concejo sobre la composición de los distritos; sin mapas 
9 de abril
(Segunda vista pública) 
Vista del concejo sobre la composición de los distritos; sin mapas, pero el concejo ofrece dirección al demógrafo en la presentación de borradores de los mapas  
15 de abril  Se publican borradores de mapas y la secuencia propuesta de elecciones (tienen que ser publicados 7 días antes de la vista pública – 23 de abril) 
23 de abril
(Tercera vista pública) 
Vista pública sobre los borradores de los mapas 
6 de mayo  Se publica cualquier mapa nuevo o modificado y la secuencia propuesta de elecciones (tienen que ser publicados 7 días antes de la vista pública – 14 de mayo) 
14 de mayo
(Cuarta vista pública – se introduce la ordenanza) 

Si se modifica el mapa seleccionado, la ordenanza no se puede introducir hasta 7 días después de la publicación del mapa modificado

(a no más de 45 días luego de la tercera vista pública) 
21 de mayo 
(Quinta vista pública – Second Reading) 

La ordenanza es adoptada

(Dentro de 90 días luego de la resolución de intención adoptada el 12 de marzo) 
10 de junio  Día 90 

Draw & Submit Your Own District Map  (Submission Period Closed on 4/30/19)

Maps must be submitted by April 30, 2019 to meet legally-mandated deadlines.

Help shape Novato's voting districts by drawing your own map! You can now draw and submit your own proposed district map for the City Council to consider. You can draw a citywide five-district map or just the boundaries of your neighborhood--it's up to you!

There are two map-drawing tools available for you to draw and submit your own proposed district map:

  1. paper-only maps
  2. online map-drawing tool

Paper-only Map
Use the participation map in English or en Español to draw your proposed districts and calculate the total population.

Online Map-Drawing Tool
The Online District Map-Drawing Tool enables you to draw districts census block by census block. You can fine-tune your district lines and see, in detail, the resulting demographics as you draw your map. This online tool includes five templates--one blank citywide map template and the four proposed draft district map templates submitted by the City-contracted demographer. (Please note: The draft district maps are available for review below.)

This tool can be challenging to figure out at first so before you log in and create your map, please review the following helpful guidelines:

Map Drawing Tips
One of the most important factors to consider when drawing your map is equal population among the five districts. In a five-district map, the ideal population for each district is 10,381. Additionally, there can be no more than a 1,038-person difference between the largest and smallest districts.

Please also consider the following factors:

  • Communities of interest
  • Be compact
  • Be contiguous
  • Have visible (natural and man-made) boundaries
  • Include respect for past voter selections
  • Plan for future growth

Submit Your Map
Completed maps can be submitted by email (you can scan and email or take a picture of your map and email from your mobile device) to the City Clerk at tgillen@novato.org, by fax at 415-899-8213, or mailed/dropped off to:

ATTN: City Clerk
City of Novato
922 Machin Avenue
Novato, CA 94945

Your proposed maps will be provided to the City Council for consideration.

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Flash Player Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer