September 30, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

City of Santa Monica Seeks Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Challenging Its Use of At-Large Elections

The City of Santa Monica filed a motion seeking summary judgment in its favor in a lawsuit challenging Santa Monica’s use of at-large elections for City Council positions.

In the filing, the City explains how the lawsuit fails as a matter of law and undisputed facts, because the at-large election system that plaintiffs challenge under the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”) and the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution has not caused any dilution of Latino/a voting strength in Santa Monica.  On the contrary, Santa Monica’s Latino/a voters can and do exercise their full voting power to elect the City Council candidates they prefer.

At-large elections have been in place in Santa Monica for over a century, and voters have twice affirmed the at-large election system—in 1975 (rejecting failed Proposition 3) and in 2002 (rejecting failed Measure HH).  The City’s motion defending the election system is supported by an expert declaration establishing that Latino/a voters (who represent approximately 13% of the voting population based on the most recent census data) reside throughout Santa Monica, not just in one neighborhood, that it is impossible to create a Latino/a-majority district in Santa Monica, and that the creation of any district designed to concentrate Latino/a voters would actually have the opposite result — isolating the majority of Latino/a voters outside of that district.  Contrary to assertions made in the lawsuit, the City’s motion explains that:

  • Latino/a candidates have been successful in elections for all of the City’s governing bodies over the past several election cycles;
  • Though Latino/as account for just over one-eighth of the City’s population, they hold roughly one-fifth of the City’s elective offices; and,
  • Two of the seven current members of the City Council (28.5% of the City Council), are ethnically Latino/a.

The City’s motion also argues that application of certain provisions of the CVRA to Santa Monica would result in the drawing of race-based voting districts without sufficient justification in violation of the U.S. Constitution. 

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Pico Neighborhood Association (“PNA”) and Maria Loya, a 2004 City Council candidate who was unsuccessful in the election.  Ms. Loya’s husband, Oscar de la Torre, has several times been elected at-large to be a Board member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and has been identified by plaintiffs as a representative of PNA in this case.  The plaintiffs are represented by lawyers who have filed, or threatened to file, similar CVRA lawsuits against a number of other California cities, seeking, as they do here, payment by the cities of their attorneys’ fees.

A hearing on the motion is currently scheduled for June 14, 2018.  If the court grants the City’s motion, it will end the lawsuit.  If the court denies the motion, the case will proceed to trial where the City expects to introduce additional evidence to demonstrate that plaintiffs’ claims are without merit.

Santa Monica courthouse

Related Posts

Fresh Corn Grill Closes Santa Monica Location

September 29, 2022

September 29, 2022

Restaurant ceases operations September 23 By Dolores Quintana Fresh Corn Grill, a small chain based in Westwood that serves “a...

Santa Monica’s Love Coffee Bar Expanding to Mar Vista

September 29, 2022

September 29, 2022

3519 S Centinela Avenue location coming for popular Santa Monica coffee shop  By Dolores Quintana Love Coffee Bar, a Santa...

Dr. Jane Goodall Speaking at Youth Event Wednesday at Temescal Park

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Seven Arrows Elementary hosting event Wednesday for students from around region Seven Arrows Elementary, an independent kindergarten through 6th grade...

Five Santa Monica Artists Awarded City Artist Fellowships

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

The $16,000 Artist Fellowship will be presented to painter and sculptor Meg Cranston The City of Santa Monica awarded five...

Santa Monica High School Orchestra Program Presents Disney in Concert Around the World

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Submitted by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District For the first time since the fall of 2019, the Santa Monica...

Trailhead Improvement Project Begins at Cheeseboro Canyon

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Access to trails will continue, but use of temporary parking lot required The National Park Service is revitalizing the trailhead...

Santa Monica Man Killed by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies After Hitting a Deputy With Car and Attempting to Attack Him With a Knife

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Marlon Bonds shot by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies Saturday night in Rancho Cucamonga  By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica...

Man Arrested for Santa Monica College Sexual Assaults

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Christopher Noah Griddine II being held on $1 million bond By Sam Catanzaro A 27-year-old man has been arrested for...

SMa.r.t. Column: SMCLC Rejects Gelson’s Project

September 26, 2022

September 26, 2022

This week our SMa.r.t. column is guest written by the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC). They are...

Framing Nearly Complete on Lincoln Blvd 47 Unit Mixed Use Building: Santa Monica Real Estate Report – September 26th, 2022

September 26, 2022

September 26, 2022

Property, Developments, and Listings on the Westside.* Framing Nearly Complete on Lincoln Blvd 47 Unit Mixed Use Building* City of...

Renderings Released for Santa Monica Library-Adjacent Affordable Housing

September 23, 2022

September 23, 2022

38 units planned to at 1333 7th Street By Dolores Quintana The Foundation For Affordable Housing has proposed a new...

Kim Kardashian Buys Cindy Crawford’s Former Malibu Estate for $70 Million

September 23, 2022

September 23, 2022

Sale priciest residential transfer in Malibu of 2022 and is also the year’s fourth-priciest sale in the state By Dolores...

Santa Monica Mayor and City Council Call for an End to Needle Exchange Program at Reed Park

September 23, 2022

September 23, 2022

By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich has formally requested that Los Angeles County end the Harm Reduction Syringe...

City of Malibu Continues Opposition to County Action to Move Juvenile Prisoners to Santa Monica Mountains Near Malibu

September 23, 2022

September 23, 2022

By Matt Myerhoff, Media Information Officer for the City of Malibu   The City of Malibu continued its strong opposition to...

Student Hospitalized Following Fight Near Santa Monica High School

September 22, 2022

September 22, 2022

Olympic High School student taken, discharged from hospital following Monday fight in alley behind Samohi By Sam Catanzaro A student...