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Placer Sentinel

Anonymous Users Hijacked SJWD Online Public Hearing

Jul 23, 2020 12:00AM ● By Story by Shaunna Boyd

The San Juan Water District -- which includes Granite Bay, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Orangevale, and parts of Roseville and Folsom -- will be divided into five voting divisions that will each elect one representative to sit on the Board of Directors. Image from San Juan Water District

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - After a legal challenge alleging that their at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), the San Juan Water District (SJWD) Board of Directors is transitioning to division-based elections. The SJWD includes Granite Bay, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Orangevale, and parts of Roseville and Folsom. Under the current at-large system, voters throughout the District elect five board members on staggered terms. The transition process will split the District into five voting divisions; voters within each division will elect one board member to represent them.

The transition process involves the creation of draft maps, which must meet specific legal requirements: divisions must be contiguous and compact, each division must have reasonably equal populations based on 2010 Census data (approximately 30,100 residents per division, with no more than a 10% deviation allowed between divisions), communities of interest must be considered, and no racial gerrymandering is allowed. The public is encouraged to submit draft maps for consideration, and the template can be downloaded from the SJWD website (

SJWD is required to hold two public hearings before the release of the draft maps, and those meetings must be held within 30 days. Due to social distancing requirements as the pandemic continues, the meetings are held online through video teleconferencing. The first was held on June 10, 2020. The second was scheduled for July 8, 2020, but unfortunately the meeting was disrupted by “Zoom bombers” before the public was able to participate in the process. Multiple anonymous users hijacked the meeting to shout obscenities and scream violent threats, with one even exposing themselves to the camera. The Board was forced to stop the meeting.

Rescheduling the second meeting would have pushed it beyond the 30 days, so the Board will instead be holding meetings on August 3 and 5 to meet the legal requirement. General Manager Paul Helliker said that the upcoming meetings will be held using a webinar feature of GoToMeeting. Participants will have to register using their email address before they are provided with the meeting link, and meeting organizers can control the microphones of attendees and delete any inappropriate users.

After getting public input on the transition process, draft maps will be released by September 2. The maps will be discussed and refined at two public hearings, scheduled for September 9 and October 14. The final map will be adopted on November 9. If necessary, adjustments will be made to the final map based on data from the 2020 Census, which is expected to be released in 2021. Current board members will be allowed to complete their terms, so the first division election will be held in 2022 for three seats, and the other two division seats will be elected in 2024.

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