Implementation of district-based elections will be on hold pending the City’s appeal of its recent loss following a recent ruling by the California Court of Appeal.
Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled Feb. 15 that the City of Santa Monica’s at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) because it suppresses the voting power of the Santa Monica’s Latino population. The ruling prohibited councilmembers who were elected in at-large elections from serving past Aug. 15 and ordered the City to hold a special election on July 2 to elect councilmembers according to a seven-district map drawn by the plaintiffs in the case, Maria Loya and the Pico Neighborhood Association.
The City’s appeal automatically halted the order to hold new elections but Palazuelos’ order for current members to vacate their seats required additional judicial action. Palazuelos declined to issue a stay on that part of her order but the Court of Appeals issued a temporary ruling in the City’s favor on Monday clarifying current councilmembers would be able to retain their seats.
The Court of Appeals further ordered the respondents (Pico Neighborhood Association and Maria Loya) to file their opposition to the City’s petition for a stay by March 21, 2019, and the City to file a reply on or before March 25, 2019. Acting Presiding Justice Elizabeth A. Grimes, Justice Maria E. Stratton, and Justice John Shepard Wiley signed the order.