From One Year Ago: On Anaheim Districting Maps — One or Two District Boundaries Are Already Largely Set

Anaheim Flatlands Map W-N-S

Carve into 4½ equal population-sized pieces, placing the half piece in the upper right to be joined to easternmost Anaheim Hills.

Note: I published the piece below on Jan. 8, 2014 — so, with Distrincting back in the news, this first anniversary is a pretty good day to republish it, right?  Its maps were predicated on the idea of four districts, but it gives a good head start on understanding how six districts might work.  I’ll add some new commentary both in between existing material (in blue) and more at the end.

If you need a reminder about what all of Anaheim looks like, here it is.  The yellow part around the Anaheim Canyon is the part represented by Ed Royce.

Anaheim Map - 600 px, CA-39 marked

You may be wondering why Ed Royce represents any part of Anaheim at all.

Worried about how Anaheim might be gerrymandered?  You can mostly relax.

The City of Anaheim has either removed or hidden its tool that allowed people to redistrict the city, which is too bad because if it were still there I could offer you better maps than the shoddy ones I provide below.  Still, I think that my main point will be pretty clear: if you’re going to try to gerrymander Anaheim, especially into only four districts, you don’t have as much to work with as you might think.

You might be able to do it by eliminating some of the rules that were set out in that mapping tool (which was to be used to generate “from” districts requiring candidate residency this year) — notably the one that separated the city into 206 pieces to be assembled.  But the City’s geography leaves one surprisingly little latitude to make the big changes that I had feared before I tried my hand at it myself.  Let’s look at some maps and some geographic features.

1. You might have 6 districts, but they won’t look like 6 vertical stripes

I know that the people who created this stylized map were not actually suggesting that these would be the districts — although this would be the Anaheim Hillspeoples’ dream.  They were trying to make a nice graphic that would, among other things, reinforce the number 6 — although many reformers would prefer a number like 8 or 10.  Still, the map raises a question: given four districts, how many of those stripes on the right would be combined together into one district?

The answer is: about 3-1/3 of them — about up to the crook in the bottom of that mauve piece.  All of that is Anaheim Hills — and it’s about a quarter of the city’s population.  (Remember: district size is determined by total population, not by voting population.)  So under four districts, that’s your easternmost district.  Because that section running the width of the city at its narrowest part is only one piece of the puzzle, it’s a bottleneck.  You can’t squeeze a second district through.  Even if you have six districts, that just means that one of them needs to stop east of that bottleneck (around the size of the lime, tan, and teal stripes combined) and then the next one look for other voters either past Anaheim Canyon to the west or down along the south.

Want to see how this works in action?  Here’s the City’s official designation of the city into regions from its website:

So the east part of the city is pretty well set.  What you may not have realized is: so is the west side.  The peninsula west of Stanton (that “inlet” at the bottom left) where you see the word “West”the unincorporated “Anaheim Island” is neither easily or reasonably separated into more than one district.  You can start with that peninsula and just move east, where you’ll have a decision to make about whether to (1) go past I-5 (as you see above) as far as Brookhurst (or even Euclid), losing the section adjacent to the South district; or (2) stop at I-5, gaining a little land from central or south; or (3) stop someplace between La Palma or as far down as Lincoln and snake even further into the South section.

Of these, the second option seems pointless and the third seems downright irritating, given the longtime designations of regions of the city.  So something like the west region above — using option (1) — is what you’re likely to see.  Are there ways to jiggle things around for some slight partisan (or racial, or who knows what given that it’s Anaheim) advantage?  Yes — but the effect would be pretty marginal.  The straight lines bisected by the freeway give a large presumption to a fair cut.

Here’s a map with the areas in question shaded.  (I may revise this one to cover some points raised since I first created it — but it basically shows where the likeliest points of contention would be.  And if it doesn’t — it will once revised!)

That’s two down, two to go.

Now the question is: do we divide up South Anaheim and Central and Northwest Anaheim horizontally or vertically?  One could theoretically divide this middle swath of the city vertically along some combination of Harbor and/or Anaheim Boulevards — but that’s not just how it’s usually done.  Instead, what you see above — a cut around Ball Rd., with some likely shifts from Central to South to equalize population, is likely.  Some mischief is possible in making those cuts — but it would be hard to do anything so outrageous as to avoid pissing off the residents (and inviting a lawsuit.)

So, we’re likely to see something along the lines of this — which I’d suggest for use by the pro-districts campaign because it just looks sensible.  (I’ll come up with a six-district version too.)  [NOTE: apparently, I meant “in a year or so.”]

There is opportunity for greater gerrymandering mischief with six districts — but probably not a huge amount.  (Unless, that is, the Masters of the Universe take that statement as a challenge to prove me wrong.  But if they do, they will be made to look stupid.)  Of the two main isolating geographic features, highly Republican eastern Anaheim Hills can’t be divided up and the highly Democratic peninsula west of Stanton the unincorporated Island almost surely won’t be.  The latter would be joined with either the area west of Magnolia or — if it goes up only as far as Lincoln — with the area just east of Stanton the Island.  (That choice may be the most significant determination of the shape of the city’s districts — although I’m not sure what it would mean politically.)

A second Anaheim Hills anchored district could either head west to (or even partly past?) the border of the Colony or down to the south; while more competitive than the easternmost district it would still not be all that competitive.  Similarly, a second district with a foot in the West would either unite literal northwest Anaheim with nominal Northwest Anaheim (to its east), if the “both sides of Stanton” approach is taken to the westernmost district.  If the westernmost district includes everything west of Magnolia or so, except for those to blocks intruding into the east side of Stanton, then the next district would probably unite everything east of  Stanton and south of I-5 maybe as far as Harbor.

As for the rest, mapmakers would probably want to keep the Colony in one district and the Northwest Anaheim, if not already spoken for, with the portion of Anaheim north of the 91 that should just be given to Fullerton.  (Who are you kidding?  We know that that’s really Fullerton.)  Then one last district stretching from the border of Colony to the Stadium and we’re done.  But, again, if one shows any respect at all for contiguity and compactness (and for the rules set forth for how to divide up the City into blocks), the specific cuts one would make in this very Democratic part of the City probably aren’t that consequential.

The big thing I’ve heard is that some people seem to think that the maps will find a way to draw a line down La Palma Agenue, dividing Colony-dwellers Jordan Brandman from Gail Eastman (or, now, it would be James Vanderbilt instead — or as well) so that both can continue to run.  (This seems unlikely — La Palma is just too far north — but they might find a way to try it.)  Others have suggesting that they’ll find a way to connect Lucille Kring’s house to Anaheim Hills.  It looks to me that that would have to go through Orange.  With six districts, she’s just too far away; with four districts, anything connecting South Anaheim with Anaheim Hills would leave a rump portion of eastern Anaheim that was contiguous to nothing.)

One thing looks very likely to me: everyone will want people to vote yes on six districts.  (And, again, it really should be eight.)  Reformers will want it because it lowers the cost of competition and brings representatives closer to constituents; the status quo types will want it because it maximizes the chances that more of them can get elected.  That gives reformers an advantage — “yes on districts and yes on six” is a clearer message than “no on districts but yes on six just in case there are districts.”  If you see the status quo types pushing for a no vote on the “four vs. six” question just to simplify their task, you’ll know that they’re really  getting desperate.  (OK, so I got that part wrong.  We still don’t see to know why Measure M — considered to be the sure thing — lagged so far behind.)

January 2015 Update

Let’s return to that map up at the top of the Anaheim flatlands, which was based on a four-district model.

Anaheim Flatlands Map W-N-S

I’m not showing the Anaheim Hills part, which would be to the right (or east, if you prefer) of the area shown, because again there’s just not much one can do to mess with it without calling a deadly lawsuit onto one’s head.  Anaheim is quite narrow at the point between what (numbering from west to east) we’ll call “District 6” — as I recall, the dividing line will be a bit further east of the right end of the orange area there in the upper right, but not too far.  Maybe about as far as the white portion of the map.  The real action is elsewhere.

Again, I think that in a six-district map it’s going to be very hard to justify not keeping all of that pink area to the west of the Anaheim Island together.  Remember: 2/3 of that pink area is the population of one new district.  You may be able to make a case to go around the Island, as my version of this four district map would do, but you’d probably need some compelling case for community of interest.

Let’s use this map so that we can see the streets.

Anaheim Map - Flatlands, CA-39 marked

I no longer have ready access to my spiffy mapping software (which I use elsewhere because chokes my computer), but eyeballing it I would expect to find that “District 1” — containing Southwest Anaheim plus a little more — would probably go right north from the west border of the Island and go north to either Crescent or La Palma, conceivably even to the freeway (as that Northwest corner is a commercial/industrial area with minimal population, so precisely where it ends up doesn’t much matter.)  So we’re pretty much talking west of Gilbert, with some parts going west of Magnolia as necessary to even out the population.  Something like this:

Anaheim map - District 1

District 1: Southwest Anaheim up to the Island, plus as far northeast as you have to go.

Once you do that, your next task is, obviously, going to take care of that section where the 5 departs Anaheim, so it’s not going to be left over.  You have basically three choices:

(1) Create a big horizontal stripe across the top of the city that will go from that section to the part that extrudes into Fullerton and maybe beyond, depending on how wide you make it.  A “north of La Palma Ave.” stripe might conceivably go all the way to the Anaheim Hills (or at least CA-57) border.   A “north of Crescent” district will go for a shorter distance.

(2) Create a big vertical stripe next to District 1, which (guesstimating) might include everything west of Euclid that isn’t in District 1.

(3) A third option, which I think actually fits better with Anaheim’s geography, is to have a district that follows I-5 all the way down to where it bumps into an even larger natural barrier: Disneyland.  (Depending on the population, it might not go south of Katella, which seems would fit more naturally with areas to its east.)  My guess from doing a lot of mapping is that making it fit would involve either including or excluding the area between Walnut and the 5 north of Disneyland.  I think that the communities of interest tend to treat the freeway as a border, so I’m going to map that third one.

Anaheim map - District 2

Let’s take stock of where we are now.  Roughly everything east of a vertical somewhere around the area between Tustin Avenue and Imperial Highway will be District 6 — the Anaheim Hills district.  What’s left?  We have the northwest part north of the 5; everything east of Harbor;  the Canyon (which is certain to be part of District 5, bordering the Hills); the northern strip; and the midtown area, including the Colony.

Of these, it strikes me that the Colony has the clearest remaining “community of interest, so the question becomes “if it isn’t going to be split, then to what does it connect”?  It could be part of a district with the northwest, with the south, or with the east — although not, I’m pretty confident, part of District 5.  Let’s see where the idea of keeping the Colony whole would get us.  And the place to start with that is probably to figure out the borders of the northeastern remaining district, District 5.

One possible solution would be to treat CA-57 as a real border, leading to a district that stretches from Anaheim Canyon (or a bit west) all of the way down to the across from the Stadium, but this would leave Southeastern Anaheim a bit chopped up.  Another would be to create a northern district that followed the 91 all the way to the border of district 2 — but that’s a long way.  A happy medium might be one that pushes west only as far as either State College or East Street, and as far down as led the population equality would allow.  My guess is that if it stopped at State College, it would go down to somewhere between Lincoln and Ball.  So it might look like this:

Anaheim map - District 5

And, again, it could stretch further south or west as need be.  Its north border is fixed by the city’s boundary and its east border is fixed by the west border of District 6.

At this point, we have literally only one more line to draw.  Let’s bring Districts 1, 2, and 5 together to get a sense of what’s left.

When you set it out that way, it’s pretty clear what’s left to do (if the population is cooperative: draw a line southwest from the closest part of District 5 to Disneyland right to the closest corner of Disneyland.  Luckily, we have one that takes us within a short walk of there: Vermont Avenue, turning south at Harbor to stop at Ball.  This leaves Southeast Anaheim whole (connected to the Resort) and the Colony whole (connected to the Northeast and the Fullerton Incursion.  And the population probably fits reasonably well.  So — with District 3 in purple and District 4 in green — we get this:

Anaheim Map - Districts 3 and 4

And, if you want to see all of the Flatlands in one image, it would look like this:

Anaheim Map - Districts 1 thru 5

Beau’iful plumage!

I know that certain people reading this may be having heart attacks right now while others may be in ecstasy — and it may not be the people whom I’d prefer in each category.  I did not take a look at where any current or former Councilmember, or any likely candidate, lives — and that’s how I think that this ought to be done.  (For state redistricting, that was an actual requirement.)  That’s one reason why I did such a preliminary version without looking at the precise populations: I don’t want this to be anything to rely upon, yet, but simply a gloss to make some points.  Those points are:

  1. The border of District 6 — Anaheim Hills, to the east — is pretty much entirely fixed.
  2. The border of District 1 — Southwest Anaheim — is probably largely fixed, unless one wants to do something weird.
  3. The border of District 5 — Anaheim Canyon and eastern flatlands — is generally limited, although which streets are the exact border still matter.
  4. The border of District 2 — moving in from District 1 just as District 5 moves in from District 6 — is probably the key decision that will determine the location of the other districts.
  5. Given the shape of the city, it’s likely that that last line separating Districts 3 and 4 will be mostly horizontal, if it is to keep together what people seem to consider to be geographical areas.
  6. The final map will, I hope, look much like this — not necessarily in its precise borders, but in its simplicity.  This map follows the main roads.  It does not slip tendrils into another district to snatch up or exclude a given candidate’s house.  Most areas have reasonably coherent geographical designations; the exception perhaps being District 2, which is mostly just “south of I-5 between the Island and Disneyland.”
  7. I’ll do revisions of this map once I do look closely at how to even out the population.  I think that I’ve indicated fairly well where I think that given districts might expand or contract, though.  District 1 could continue northward if it’s too small or drop down a bit if it’s too large; District 2 could take in more northwestern space north of I-5, etc.
  8. If there are communities of interest that I have missed, this is a good time to mention them.  We should have these discussions openly — and this is as good a place as any to begin that conversation.  Keep it clean; sometime later this year, a panel of retired judges might be reading your comments!


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)