Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

After the Federal Census was performed in the Spring of 2020 a mandate to redraw political district lines applies. In Arizona that is for congressional districts, state legislative districts and local districts.

Glendale began this process this summer after the hiring of a consultant to assist with the technical aspects of the process. Glendale’s new map with council districts must be submitted to the state no later than December 15, 2021.

The city council has had a series of workshops on the issue and there has been a period of public comment. Below is the public comment that has been received to date and presented to city council at its most recent workshop on November 9, 2020.

Please note that one citizen comment was made requesting that the Copperwood community not be divided. This citizen request was accommodated by the consultant and the city council. Three citizens asked that the Independence Heights community remain within the Yucca district. Neither the consultant nor the city council accommodated these citizens’ request as can be seen by the preferred city council map, Draft A, presented by the consultants. See Map A here:

The traditional redistricting guidelines for consideration in drawing districts includes three items of particular importance. One is to preserve communities of interest another is to accommodate planned future growth and the third is to have a “nearly equal number of inhabitants” (Arizona Statute 9—473.B). Here are the guidelines, federal, state and traditional:

In my opinion, some of these guidelines have been not been satisfied. Lets take a look at future growth within the districts. Please refer to this map:

You will see numbers for each district. Upon receiving clarification from the consultant, these numbers refer to the number of residential units already approved or in the pipeline and anticipated to be approved. The nationally recognized multiplier of occupants per residential unit is 2.3.

  • Cholla 533 units       X 2.3       increased population expected of 1,225.9
  • Sahuaro 944 units    X 2.3       increased population expected of 2,171.2
  • Barrel 859 units       X 2.3       increased population expected of 1,975.7
  • Cactus 342 units      X 2.3       increased population expected of 786.6
  • Ocotillo 410 units     X 2.3       increased population expected of 943
  • Yucca 7848 units      X 2.3       increased population expected of 18,050.4

Also consider this:

                                 Current population Map A          Future planned population by district

  • Cholla      39,793             +1,225.9                                     40,018.9
  • Sahuaro   42,051             +2,171.2                                     44,222.2
  • Barrel      41,210             +1,975.7                                     43,185.7
  • Cactus     43,132               +786.6                                      43,918.6
  • Ocotillo    42,409               + 943                                        43,352.0
  • Yucca       39,820           +18.050.4                                     57,870.04

The startling fact that should be immediately apparent is that the Yucca district is expected to see an increase in population of nearly 20,000 new residents in the next few years. It will have a population of 13,000 more residents than Sahuaro district projected to have a population of 44,222.2.

Legal guidelines do permit accommodation for future growth. However, there is one caveat to that guideline. The Supreme Court has granted safe harbor for population plan deviations up to 10%. Map A offers a deviation of total population of 8.06%. However, that deviation is occurring in Sahuaro, Cactus and Ocotillo districts. I’m not convinced that adding another percentage point in total population deviation would make any substantial difference.

However, while accommodating the Copperwood community, Map A offers no accommodation for the Independence Heights neighborhood’s request to remain in the Yucca district. This is a distinct community of interest between Ocotillo Road and Maryland Avenue, 71st Avenue to 75th Avenue. I am convinced that the consultants could have accommodated their request with minimal disruption to other council district boundaries.

I found it astonishing that Councilmember Aldama, representing the Ocotillo district, into which Independence Heights would go, paraphrasing made the following comment, If I am losing the Sands neighborhood, it should be compensated for by including Independence Heights in the Ocotillo district.  His comment virtually makes Independence Heights a pawn or consolation prize for losing the Sands neighborhood. I didn’t know that’s the way districts were to be drawn.

I am surprised that the only Councilmember that recognized the issues and supported keeping the Independence Heights neighborhood in the Yucca district was Councilmember Turner and for that, I thank him. To support their interests and their boundaries the rest of the council was willing to sacrifice the interests of the Yucca district.

Here’s two maps that I created. Obviously, they are not perfect. They were not vetted by the consultants and even though the population deviations are lower than the consultant’s Map A, they recognize that at some point council district boundaries are going to have to change dramatically to accommodate the growth occurring in the Yucca district. That is what occurs in my proposed draft maps. The Ocotillo boundary has to shift west at some point and that will create a domino effect in all of the other districts with their common boundaries moving further south. In fact, it should happen this time but it won’t.


A powerhouse in Glendale has not only been created but perpetuated for the next ten years until the 2030 census. The Yucca district is the largest geographically. The Yucca district will be the most populated of all 6 districts. The Yucca district is the epicenter of not only residential development but economic development as well.

If anything makes the case for the completion of Heroes Park, after 23 years of waiting for sports fields, a recreation and aquatics center, expansion of the smallest library in the city system and a dog park, this is it.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       


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