The Half Moon Bay Redistricting Advisory Committee this week got its first look at drafted maps that could determine the election district boundaries for the next decade. It also extended the deadline for the public to submit maps because the 15 submissions it received did not meet the population balancing criteria.

The committee is taking in feedback from anonymous surveys that were available online and handed out at events across the city during the past several months. The surveys identified communities of interest including Ocean Colony, Cañada Cove, downtown Half Moon Bay and the Alsace Lorraine neighborhoods.

At its meeting on Tuesday, its first since Sept. 2, the committee reviewed eight five-district maps and seven four-district maps submitted by residents. None of them properly balanced population and therefore couldn’t be adopted without redrawing the lines. It then examined four maps created by the National Demographics Corp., which were population balanced and based on accurate Census numbers, NDC consultant Ken Chawkins said.

State law required that city districts have an equal population or within 10 percent of the ideal deviation. With four districts, the city’s population is split into 2,954 people. According to 2020 Census data, Half Moon Bay’s existing District 4 is the largest with 3,241 people, about 9.72 percent above deviation. Meanwhile, districts 2 and 3 have 2,756 and 2,773 people, respectively, and both are more than 6 percent below the ideal deviation. Chawkins explained that the most logical change is to take about 200 people out of District 4 and put them into 2 and 3.

To see the drafted maps, visit drawhmb.org/draft-maps.

The NDC’s four-district maps do just that. One alternative expands districts 2 and 3 into District 4 near Alsace Lorraine and Kelly avenues. The other drafted map expands District 2 into seven city blocks near Kelly Avenue and Main Street. The committee expressed concern that one of NDC’s five-district alternatives, which splits the city into five groups of 2,363 people, divided the Arleta Park neighborhood at Correas Avenue.

Committee member Steve Maller noted the difficulty of dividing a diversified area like Half Moon Bay, where incomes can vary from house to house on the same street.

“I think we’re running into a challenge here in that any way you cut this, you’re going to cut an artery in this area,” Maller said. “It’s a complicated exercise.”

Chawkins agreed that integrated communities where multiple city boundaries meet are often difficult to divide because of the shared interest, economics and demographics.

“Folks know what’s going on in the communities, and that’s why we’re having this conversation. You want to draw it as best you can so that the representation gets the best snapshot possible.”

The committee opted to extend the deadline to submit maps to Nov. 26 in part because it wanted more accurate feedback from the public but also to get more up-to-date Census data. District R, the redrawing tool posted on the city’s website recommended by NDC, was using projected 2020 population numbers from the 2019 American Communities Survey, which overestimated the city’s population by 8 percent. The ACS estimated 12,834 people, the 2020 Census counted 11,795.

The final tally wasn’t accurate because the program, run by a small research team from Tufts University, was overwhelmed and unable to process data quickly enough, Chawkins said. The committee decided it would roll out another map-making tool called “Dave’s Redistricting App” sometime in the next few days because it’s thought to be more user-friendly.

“I think extending the time is a good idea, but people need to be prepared to use a change in equipment and have an orientation on how to use that equipment,” committee member Michal Settles said.

City Clerk Jessica Blair said she would reach out to residents who submitted maps to redraw and resubmit them again to make the districts have an equal population. The new Nov. 26 deadline is three weeks before the committee’s next meeting on Dec. 16 and should give NDC enough time to process the maps, Chair Marin Holt said.

During that December meeting, the committee is expected to select two draft maps to submit to the City Council, which will examine them on Jan. 19.

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

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