Statement on Tentative CVRA Decision

November 13, 2018

Statement on Tentative CVRA Decision

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – “We received today the court’s tentative ruling.  We are disappointed that it contains no reasoning in support of the court’s decision, which we believe is based on an unjustified adoption of the plaintiffs’ misguided and unsupported view of the law.  In accordance with the court’s order, we will file briefing on the issue of remedies.  Once the court’s ruling is final, we plan to appeal, which will allow the California Court of Appeal to address the significant legal issues of first impression posed by this case.” 

- Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP 


The City believes that continuing to fight the lawsuit is appropriate for a number of reasons, including:

First, as the closing briefs make clear, the trial in this case demonstrated that Santa Monica’s at-large elections are fair, inclusive, and comply fully with California and federal law.  The reality is that Latinos have consistently been able to elect candidates of their choice to the City Council and other positions in Santa Monica.  Indeed, at the time of trial, under either party’s position in the case, at least one of seven City Council members (14%) was Latino, even though Latinos make up only 13% of the City’s voting population.  Latino-preferred positions on significant ballot initiatives have similarly prevailed in Santa Monica. 

Second, as the closing briefs also make clear, a shift to districts will not meaningfully enhance Latino voting power or Latino political representation.  It is impossible to draw a district in which Latino voters would form a majority.  Under the districting scheme proposed by plaintiffs, Latinos would constitute only 30% of the voters in the most highly Latino district.  In this proposed district, the evidence at trial showed that most Latino-preferred (and Latino) candidates would have fared no better than they did at-large.  At the same time, concentrating Latino voters within a single district would leave Latino voters outside that district (the majority of Latino voters in Santa Monica) submerged in overwhelmingly white districts.   

Third, Santa Monica voters have chosen the current at-large system for reasons that make sense.  Santa Monica voters have twice rejected proposals to move to district-based elections, in 1975 and 2002.  A district system may work well in larger cities like Los Angeles, but dividing up Santa Monica’s 8.3-square-mile community would pit neighborhood against neighborhood, encouraging legislative deal making to serve the interests of individual districts rather than the city as a whole.  A united Santa Monica has been able to tackle large issues, including crime, homelessness, affordable housing, mobility, economic growth, educational opportunity and community well-being, in part because council members are accountable to every Santa Monica voter every two years. With district elections, residents would be represented by only one council member, who would face election only once every four years. 

Court’s Tentative Ruling – Tentative ruling by the court.

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