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CITY OF ANAHEIM ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT IN CALIFORNIA VOTING RIGHTS ACT CASE
ANAHEIM, Calif. (January 7, 2014) The City of Anaheim tonight announced approval of a settlement agreement in the case Moreno v. Anaheim, which involves a challenge to the City’s method of electing City Council members under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). According to Anaheim City Attorney Michael R.W. Houston, “the settlement will result in a full dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims and allows the City to resolve this litigation through voter consideration of a Charter amendment to change the City’s method of electing City Council members, not through court-ordered mandates and judicial oversight of the City’s electoral system.” Upon implementation of key settlement terms, the plaintiffs must dismiss their claims against the City and are barred from bringing any further challenge to the City’s electoral system based on the facts raised in their lawsuit. “By settling this matter and obtaining dismissal, the City will stop incurring costs from further litigation,” said Houston.
As part of this settlement, the plaintiffs have agreed that entering this settlement is not an admission by the City in any way that the City’s current method of electing City Council members violates the CVRA or that the CVRA is applicable to the City.
The Settlement Agreement requires the City Council to place on its agenda for action at an upcoming open session prior to February 7 a resolution calling an election in November 2014 for voters to decide on changing the City Charter’s current method of electing City Council members from an at-large electoral system to a single member district system. The Mayor would continue to be elected at-large. Further, the Settlement Agreement provides that the election to consider a proposed Charter amendment to increase the City Council’s size from four to six members be moved from June 2014 to the November 2014 election. Should the voters approve either of these Charter amendments, the measures will be used in the 2016 municipal election and thereafter.
The single member district model would require future Council Members to be residents of, and elected by the residents of, their respective districts. If single member districts are approved by the voters, then the City Council will create and appoint an advisory committee to make recommendations to the City Council for the creation of single member districts.
If the single member district model is not approved by the voters, the residency district model previously adopted by City Council ordinance could then be implemented for use in the 2016 municipal elections. The Settlement Agreement provides that the residency ordinance (previously adopted on July 23, 2013) would be suspended until after the 2014 elections. Residency districts would require that future Council Members reside within a specified district, but be voted upon citywide.
The Anaheim v. Moreno case was filed on June 28, 2012. Plaintiffs expressed their position in both letters to the City and court papers that resolution required a court order because plaintiffs previously stated that voter action was not appropriate or necessary to change the City’s electoral system. Anaheim is a Charter City, with its Charter being adopted by the voters in 1965, and disputed plaintiffs’ position. The at-large voting system currently utilized was adopted by voters as part of the 1965 Charter. During litigation, the City’s position in court papers was that any change to the City’s method of electing City Council members should be resolved through the legislative process and approved by the voters, not a court. The settlement agreement approved tonight allows the voters to consider changing the City’s electoral system.
For more information and for a copy of the Settlement Agreement, please visit www.anaheim.net/settlement.
For more information on the City of Anaheim, please visit www.anaheim.net.