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Notice of Violation of CA Voting Rights Act - Goodman 11-12-2019RECEIVED NOV 13 2019 ATTORNEY AT LAW 1114 STATE STREET, SUITE 312 C SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93101 O TIr CLERK TELEPHONE (805) 965-9869 FACSIMILE (805) 965-8669 November 12, 2019 Ms. Teresa Purrington, City Clerk City of San Luis Obispo 990 Palm Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 By certified mail Re: Notice of Violation of California Votin Rights Act Dear Ms_ Purrington: On behalf of Jamie Gomez, a member of a protected class and a registered voter residing in the City of San Luis Obispo, this letter and the enclosed report are to assert that the City of San Luis Obispo's method of conducting elections may violate the California Voting Rights Act. Pursuant to California law, the San Luis Obispo City Council now has 45 days from receipt of this letter to adopt a resolution outlining its intention to transition from at - large to district elections, specifying specific steps it will take to facilitate this transition, and estimating the time -frame for this transition. If the City Council does not adopt a resolution to this effect within 45 days from the receipt of this letter, then a legal action will be commenced in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to require the City of San Luis Obispo to institute district elections pursuant to the California Voting Rights Act. District elections are sweeping California, as described in the enclosed report. As far as this office is aware, no government agency in California has successfully defended a complaint alleging violation of the California Voting Rights Act. For this reason, we recommend a collaborative settlement with the City of San Luis Obispo that would cap costs and enable more participation by the City Council in the transition to district elections than would be the case through a court action. As described in the enclosed report, advantages of a settlement agreement would include that implementation of district elections could be deferred until the November 2022 election. This approach has proved successful in a number of other government jurisdictions in California- Letter to Ms. Teresa Purrington, City Clerk November 12, 2019 Page 2 Essentially, a difficulty of requiring district elections in November 2020 is that this would necessitate the time and expense of two districting processes in two years --one for November 2020 (using 2010 census data), and a new process for November 2022 after the decennial 2020 census. Government jurisdictions elsewhere have asked for a process whereby these costs in time and money could be incurred only once through commencement of district elections in November 2022. A settlement agreement can accomplish this goal. In either case --whether the City of San Luis Obispo would seek implementation of district elections in November 2020 or enter into a settlement agreement for implementation in November 2022 --reimbursement costs are capped at $30,000, so there would be no difference to the City in this respect. An additional benefit of a pre- litigation settlement would be that current city councilmembers whose terms commenced in 2016 could run for reelection in 2020 under existing electoral arrangements. As you are aware, a number of other government jurisdictions in San Luis Obispo County --including the City of Paso Robles, the City of Grover Beach, the City of Arroyo Grande, the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, and the San Luis Coastal Unified School District --as well as elsewhere in the state, have recently decided to institute district elections. We believe the City of San Luis Obispo will be an even better and more representative city with district elections and in compliance with state law. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely yours, Robert Goodman cc: Mayor Heidi Harmon Councihnember Carlyn Christianson Councilmember Aaron Gomez Councilmember Andy Pease Councilmember Erica A. Stewart Derek J. Johnson, City Manager J. Christine Dietrick, City Attorney encl: "Abridgment of Voting Rights and Racially Polarized Voting in the City of San Luis Obispo'