City Council expresses concern about County redistricting maps

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The Winters City Council discussed the redistricting plans for federal, state, and county legislative representation. The council also heard a presentation on plans to fund restoration on the El Rio Villas housing project.

County, State, and Federal Redistricting Maps 2021

As governments across the country prepare for redistricting based on results of the 2020 Census, the councilmembers expressed their opinions on the current maps. The council authorized the city to send letters with feedback to Yolo County and the state redistricting commission.

Councilmembers spoke on the electoral districts for the County Supervisor, State Assembly and House of Representatives.

“We would have better representation if we had a rural representative,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bill Biasi. Similarly, Mayor Wade Cowan said that he favors plans that put Winters in the most rural possible district. 

Drafts of the county and congressional map would separate Winters from similar agricultural communities, grouping it with cities like Davis. The state assembly map would separate Winters from northern Yolo County. Instead, Winters would share a district with Solano County.

Councilmember Jesse Loren said, “we have cohesive general interests with the agriculture [in the Beryessa Mountain Watershed], especially…specialty farming.”

Other councilmembers shared her desire that Winters share an assembly district with Napa County rather than Solano. 

“This is an area worth fighting for,” said Loren, “And I think we’re completely in the wrong area with people who don’t have any of our best interests in mind, and actually nothing in common with us.”

Winters resident Corrine Martinez, said that a good district “is about communities of interest, it is about like needs, it is about commonalities,” during public comment.  

Residents can view live-edited versions of the Congressional, State Assembly and State Senate maps and send feedback to the redistricting commission on its website. The proposed drafts for Yolo County are also available to view online

El Rio Villas Restoration

El Rio Villas project
Sandra Sigrist, Interim Executive Director of Yolo County Housing Authority, presented the Yolo County Housing Authority’s plan to fund restoration for the El Rio Villas public housing project. The new system shifts funding towards a combination of Section 8 tenant-based and project-based vouchers, said Sigrist. 

“This development was put together over four very spread out decades,” said Sigrist. The first two buildings, built in 1951 and 1962 respectively, will be the primary candidates for restoration. 

Sigrist presented a timeline for the full restoration of El Rio Villas. After a process of community feedback and individual tenant plans, the restoration will be completed in 2025-2026.

“It’s truly a community conversation and also an individual family conversation,” Sigrist said of the rehabilitation process. 

The repositioning process is a nationwide action, said Sigrist. The ultimate goal is to improve finances so local housing authorities can tackle deferred maintenance. Sigrist reported Yolo County has deferred maintenance in excess of $20 million. 

Council Code of Conduct

The council also approved a new code of conduct. The city will require councilmembers to sign the code upon assuming office and reelection. City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa prepared the measures alongside Assistant City Attorney Joanna Gin.

“It is not unusual for city councils to adopt codes of conduct or council norms in order to cultivate a culture of respectful relationships,” said Trepa. “So, a code of conduct helps facilitate and reinforce those values and norms. And they often serve as a framework for decorum that promotes an environment for effective governance.” 

Read the full code of conduct here

Other Business

The council designated November as Native American Heritage Month and approved a contract for new lighting at Blue Oak Park.   

Loren suggested that the city create a committee for street and park names during the council comments portion of the meeting. Cowan agreed, along with other members of the council. 

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