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    San Clemente approves final 4-district map for new by-district voting process
    • October 19, 2023

    The City Council has picked the map for how San Clemente should be carved up into four voting districts for future elections.

    On Tuesday, in what was the council’s fourth public hearing, a council majority voted for the map considered the “clearest, easiest and clearly delineated by boundaries.” Those boundaries would form districts from which voters would chose their council representative; all voters would cast ballots for the city’s mayor, who would serve two-year terms.

    Map 109 has been the one that has drawn the most support over the past few weeks.

    If approved in a second required vote on on Nov. 7, the new districts will go into effect for the November 2024 election.

    At that time, the council seats representing the more coastal District 3 and District 4 would be on the ballot and in 2026 voters in District 1 and District 2 would choose their councilmembers. The at-large election for mayor would be held in 2026.

    Councilmembers have said creating an elected mayor position chosen by all voters would guarantee residents always have a voice in each election, regardless whether their district was on the ballot. Currently the mayor is chosen each year by councilmembers from among their ranks.

    Map 109 includes the Talega and Rancho San Clemente communities as one district and Forster Ranch and Marble Head as another. The other two districts along the coast are divided by Avenida Victoria. One district would go toward North Beach and the other would go south toward Cypress Shores. From there, it would cross the 5 Freeway and go around the golf course toward the Broadmore area.

    The switch to by-district elections comes after San Clemente’s at-large system – used for decade – was challenged in July for being “racially polarizing” and diluting the voice of minority groups. In response, the council in August began looking at the change to by-district elections.

    In the end, councilmembers Steve Knoblock, Victor Cabral and Rick Loeffler voted for Map 109.

    “I like Map 109, it does a good job of keeping the associations together,” Knoblock said. “I think it makes sense; it’s a clean map and keeps population numbers consistent.”

    Loeffler agreed, saying, “A resident can look at this and it’s easy to understand; it just seems to me as the most obvious.” Cabral called it the “most straight-forward.”

    Duncan and Councilmember Mark Enmeier pushed for a different map that separated Rancho San Clemente from Talega, saying pairing the two was not putting like with like.

    “They are very different in terms of how they view their communities,” Enmeier said, adding he lives in Rancho San Clemente. He said other maps worked “really well to create communities that represent San Clemente in the traditional sense of how we look at San Clemente.”

    The current two-term limits for councilmembers will be maintained and the at-large mayor will be able to serve up to three terms.

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    ​ Orange County Register