“The current ward boundaries are out of whack,” city planner Jim Rundle told council members.
Municipal code requires that no single ward have a population that exceeds any other by more than 5 percent. But population growth since 2003 — the last time the voting wards were redrawn — has upended this balance and triggered the necessary adjustments.
The city’s population currently stands at 91,057. If the population were to be divided evenly among five wards, each would have 18,211 residents.
According to staff reports, based on that number Ward 1 is under-populated by about 10 percent; Ward 2 is under-populated by 3 percent; Ward 3 is under-populated by 16 percent; and Ward 4 and Ward 5 are overpopulated by 26 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
The three proposals include a litany of possible changes to the size and demographics of each ward.
But Ward 4, represented by Councilman Mike Carrigan, is likely to see the biggest change because of the surge in population it has experienced in recent years.
Concept 1 removes Pioneer Meadows and a portion of The Vistas from Ward 4.
Carrigan said this was the only feasible plan presented, but he wanted to see the entirety of The Vistas remain in Ward 4 because splitting the neighborhood could affect the homeowners association there.
Councilman Ron Smith, who represents Ward 3, said he would like to see Talladega Drive and Shady Oak Drive kept in his ward under Concept 1.
Concept 2 is designed with a north-south border in mind, Rundle said. Under this plan, each ward would incorporate sections of the city’s industrial area, transit-oriented development area and new residential development.
This concept retains Pioneer Meadows within Ward 4 but removes Wingfield Springs, Cimarron, The Foothills and Upper Highlands.
Finally, Concept 3 cuts out significant residential areas currently within Ward 4 and incorporates the city’s industrial area.
Under this plan, three city wards would reach into the Spanish Springs Valley and three would include parts of the industrial area.
Councilman Ron Schmitt, who represents Ward 5, said he would like to see the Pyramid Highway and McCarran Boulevard corridor assigned to one representative rather than split between two, as it currently is done.
City officials said the new voting wards would be used to redraw the county’s precincts prior to the 2012 general elections.
The redistricting plans will be presented to the Sparks Citizens Advisory Committee this week for review and comment.
Meanwhile, an Aug. 29 workshop will provide council members with the city’s demographic information.
City staff has said they will take minority representation and other factors mandated by the Voting Rights Act of 1964 into account when finalizing the redistricting plans.
“This whole process is fraught with potential liability,” City Attorney Chet Adams said.
The City Council is expected to approve a final map for the new voting ward boundaries sometime in September.
To view the three proposed redistricting plans, go to www.cityofsparks.us, click on the “Council Agenda and Minutes” tab, then click on the staff reports for the Aug. 8 meeting.