District-Based Elections / Elecciones por Distrito

106b (003)On September 18, 2018, the City of Half Moon Bay approved a transition from at-large to by-district elections, with the mayor to be elected at-large. The final map of City Council Districts can be viewed here.

With district-based elections, each of four council members will be elected by voters within that candidate’s district, while the mayor would be elected by all voters within the City. The City Council selected districts 2 and 3 to hold elections in November, 2020. Districts 1 and 4 will hold elections in November, 2022, along with the mayor-elect in general.

This decision came after significant community outreach and engagement, including website information, public participation kits, online mapping tools, newspaper advertising, information tables, public hearings, and eNews, Next Door, and Coastside BUZZ social media posts.

Key Documents (most recent shown first):

Background:

At its April 17, 2018 meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution declaring the City’s intention to transition from Half Moon Bay’s existing at-large elections, to district-based elections. 

Most California cities and other public agencies conduct elections on either an at-large basis (each representative is elected by vote of the entire voting population) or district-based basis (the jurisdiction is divided into separate districts and each voter within a district may cast one vote, only for a candidate seeking election within that district).

Half Moon Bay has traditionally utilized the at-large election system, with the City Council selecting one of its members to serve as Mayor and one to serve as Vice Mayor, on an annual basis.

A key reason that the City is proceeding with district-based elections is the threat of significant litigation. Most of the California cities that have transitioned in the last few years have done so as a result of legal challenges brought under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). Earlier this year, Half Moon Bay received a Notice of Violation of the CVRA from a southern California law firm, which has also sent such notices to dozens of other cities. Faced with potentially hundreds-of-thousands, or even millions, of dollars in legal fees and damages (as some cities have experienced), Half Moon Bay decided to voluntarily proceed with transitioning to district-based elections.

It’s important to note that an allegation of a CVRA violation does not imply that the City or its Council is acting in a discriminatory manner; rather it is an allegation that the overall electoral system within the city is resulting in the disenfranchisement of minority voters. The intent of District-based elections is to give all legitimate groups, particularly minority groups, a better chance of being fairly represented on a city council.