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Thousand Oaks

Park View: Conejo Recreation and Park District/Community Map Divisions

Since the inception of the Conejo Recreation and Park District 60 years ago, all five CRPD directors/board members have been elected at large by the voters who reside throughout the entire park district. However, at-large voting has recently come to an end.

In January, the CRPD Board approved holding elections by community divisions. With this change, many have asked, “What does it mean now that the CRPD has transitioned to ‘by-division’ elections rather than ‘at large,’ district-wide elections?” I will explain.

Reason for the Change

In the fall of 2022, the CRPD received a letter from Malibu attorney, Kevin Shenkman, claiming that the park district was in violation of the California Voter’s Act (CVA). He threatened to file a lawsuit if CRPD did not immediately begin the process of complying with the CVA. In lieu of fighting a lawsuit and possibly spending several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees (perhaps over a million dollars as other agencies have done), the board determined it was in the best interest of the CRPD and our constituents to proceed with the redistricting process and pay the state-determined attorney fee of $30,000.

Rules for the Process

Boundaries for the new divisions were mandated to follow certain criteria. Specifically, clearly defined rules and goals were required to be studied and weighed in order to reach suitable conclusions and decisions when drawing and selecting the division maps:

  • The divisions must be about 20 percent of the total population (equally populated)
  • The divisions must comply with all aspects of the Federal/California Voting Rights Acts
  • No racial gerrymandering
  • Communities of Interest (neighborhoods, socio-economic areas, groups of people with similar interests) must be considered
  • Division boundaries must be compact (not too spread out)
  • Division boundaries must be contiguous (all in one piece — no disconnected areas or sections; share a common border)
  • Division boundaries must be visible (by roads, streams, natural land features, etc.)
  • Voters’ choices/continuity in office must be a consideration for the electorate’s choosing of the current board members
  • Planned future growth (potential increase in population of the City/Park District)

Response by CRPD Board

The CRPD hired a professional demographer to prepare draft maps for board consideration. Several public hearings were held to review the CVA by-division process, which included detailed presentations by the demographer. Residents provided input about the process, and some even submitted their own draft maps for consideration in addition to those already prepared. All the maps up for consideration can be viewed online at https://drawconejo.org/draft-maps .

Three of the draft maps would have allowed all five currently-elected directors/board members to keep their seats. All of the other maps created divisions that had vacant and/or dual representation, thereby forcing two or more of the current directors/board members to run against each other for the next election cycle.

During the public hearings, a group of residents requested that the CRPD board not consider the fact that the current directors had been elected by the voters and instead consider draft maps that would result in current directors being phased out of their elected positions. Other residents supported maps that would retain all of the current board members. The demographer noted that all of the draft maps complied with the California Voting Rights Act (CVA) and met the federal law requirements, state law requirements, and redistricting principles.

On January 19, 2023, the board approved a by-division map (#110) that can be viewed online at https://drawconejo.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Map-110.pdf. However, within the resolution and adoption of the by-division map, the Board unanimously disagreed with the claim that the park district was not in compliance with the CVA and reserved the right to return to at-large elections if it was determined to be in the best interest of the park district and our community.

Resulting Impacts

With the implementation of by-division elections, a park district director/board member candidate must reside within the division in which they run and can only be elected by voters residing within that same division. In other words, each board member will only be elected by approximately 20 percent of the electorate instead of all voters throughout the entire Conejo Recreation and Park District. However, each board member will continue to represent the entire park district and will not have any specific authority over the parks or facilities in the division where he/she is elected.

The five divisions are listed below with a general description of the area(s) included within each division and the sequence of elections for the next two election cycles. There will be no impact on the current board until the 2024 election.

Division 1: North Thousand Oaks, Sunset Hills, Lang Ranch – 2024 (Huffer & Lange)

Division 2: East Thousand Oaks, North Ranch, Westlake (South Ranch), Lake Sherwood – 2026 (Nickles)

Division 3: Central Thousand Oaks, Thousand Oaks Blvd, West Hillcrest Drive – 2026 (Cusworth)

Division 4: Lynn Ranch, Rancho Conejo, Casa Conejo – 2026 (Buss)

Division 5: Newbury Park, Dos Vientos – 2024 (vacant)


The CRPD Board has expressed the intent to retain the culture and history of unified representation for the benefit of the community. The CRPD is recognized throughout the state and nation as an exemplary recreation and park public agency, and with the support of the community, we can keep it that way.

Doug Nickles is a director/board member for the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts. The views expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the district, agency or the respective boards. He can be contacted via email at [email protected]


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