The city of Pacifica is reluctantly preparing to transition from at-large to district-based elections, responding to a legal challenge involving the California Voting Rights Act, the City Clerk’s Office announced last month.

Pacifica is one of hundreds of cities statewide facing a challenge from a Southern California law firm alleging violations of the voting act. A letter from Kevin Shenkman of the Shenkman & Hughes firm was delivered to Pacifica on Aug. 20, alleging its at-large City Council election system is “racially polarized, resulting in minority vote dilution.”

On Sept. 24, the Pacifica City Council discussed the letter and voting-act provisions, ultimately adopting a resolution of intent to transition to district-based elections, the city clerk said.

The city then has 90 days to hold five public hearings. After the hearings and the drawing of district maps, the council will consider passing an ordinance to confirm the transition. The 2020 general election would be the first year in which the city could implement district voting.

“It is frustrating to the entire City Council to have to consider this election systems change based on the threat of significant litigation and not based on the intent of the CVRA and its applicability to Pacifica,” Mayor John Keener said in a statement. “Tossing millions of dollars to Mr. Shenkman for attorneys’ fees in a case we are unlikely to win is not in the City’s best financial interest,” he added.

Story originally published by Bay City News.