Redistricting process and FAQs

What are district elections?

A district election process means voters within a designated city council electoral district elect one city councilmember who must also reside in and be a registered voter of that district. 

What is redistricting?

Every 10 years, districts must be redrawn so that each district is substantially equal in population. This process, called redistricting, is important to ensure that each city councilmember represents about the same number of constituents. In 2021, the City Council authorized the formation of an independent redistricting commission responsible for drawing city council districts. Redistricting is done using U.S. Census data. For Menlo Park, the current redistricting process must be completed by April 17, 2022.

Why does redistricting matter to me?

Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a district for purposes of electing a city councilmember.

Our redistricting process, involves members of the public and provides opportunities for input in selecting the next district map for our city council districts. You have the opportunity to share how you think district boundaries should be drawn to best represent your community.

You can contact City Clerk Judi Herren to find out more about how the process works.

How can I get involved?

District lines will ultimately be set by Menlo Park's local independent redistricting commission. Our redistricting process includes meetings, hearings and workshops to receive public input on where district lines should be drawn. The schedule is published on the Independent Redistricting Commission webpage and all events are also on the city website calendar. 

We encourage residents to submit their own draft maps for city council districts and “communities of interest” using the Districtr online mapping tool and to take part in the redistricting survey.

Submit your draft map

Don't want to draw your map online? You can also submit a suggested draft map using a paper map. You are always welcome and invited to send public comments and feedback by contacting City Clerk Judi Herren.   

What are communities of interest?

A community of interest is a neighborhood or community that would benefit from being in the same district because of shared interests, views or characteristics. Possible community features or boundary definitions include:

  • School attendance areas
  • Natural neighborhood dividing lines such as roads, hills or highways
  • Areas around parks and other landmarks
  • City borders
  • Common issues, neighborhood activities or legislative/election concerns
  • Shared demographic characteristics, such as:
    • Similar levels of income, education or linguistic isolation
    • Ancestry (not race or ethnicity)
    • Languages spoken at home
    • Percentage of immigrants
  • Single-family and multifamily housing units

What do the existing city council districts look like?

You can view the current city council districts and look up your city council representative using our interactive map.


What criteria will be used when drawing district lines?

To the extent practicable, district lines will be adopted using the following criteria:

  1. geographically contiguous districts (each city council district should share a common border with the next),
  2. the geographic integrity of local neighborhoods or communities shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division,
  3. geographic integrity of a city shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division,
  4. easily identifiable boundaries that follow natural or artificial barriers (rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, etc.), and
  5. lines shall be drawn to encourage geographic compactness. In addition, boundaries shall not be drawn for purposes of favoring or discriminating against a political party.

How will the City notify the public about redistricting?

The City will reach out to local media to publicize the redistricting process. Also, we will make a good faith effort to notify community groups of various kinds about the redistricting process. Our public hearings or workshops will be provided in applicable languages if residents submit a request in advance. Our City will notify the public about redistricting hearings or workshops, post maps online before adoption and maintain this dedicated webpage for all relevant information about the redistricting process.

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When are city council elections held?

City Council elections are consolidated with county, state and federal elections and occur on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (Election Day). In Menlo Park, city council terms are 4-years with the terms staggered so that three city council seats are up in one election, followed by the other two seats in the next election. For the November 2018, districts 1, 2 and 4 were on the ballot. For November 2020, districts 3 and 5 were on the ballot.

What qualifications are needed to run for city council?

A candidate must be a registered voter of the City of Menlo Park and must reside in the district they are running for at the time nomination papers are issued to the candidate. (Government Code § 34882.)

After a city councilmember is elected to a district seat, may the city councilmember move out of the district?

If the city councilmember moves out of the district, they must vacate their city council seat. (Government Code § 34882.)

What are the Federal and California Voting Rights Acts?

The Federal Voting Rights Act (FVRA) was adopted in 1965 and is intended to protect the rights of all citizens to participate in the voting process. The CVRA was passed in the California State Legislature in 2001, based on the Legislature’s belief that minorities and other members of protected classes were being denied the opportunity to have representation of their choosing at the local level because of a number of issues associated with at-large elections. Upon a finding of a violation of the CVRA, the act requires that “the court shall implement appropriate remedies, including the imposition of district-based elections that are tailored to remedy the violation.” As such, the default remedy and the clearly identified remedy by the Legislature is district-based elections.

Read more about the FVRA, the CVRA and CVRA Safe Harbor information.