Documentation

Draw My CA Community User Guide

Welcome to the Draw My CA Community user guide. This user guide provides full instructions on creating your community map and description through the Draw My CA Community tool.

How to use Draw My CA Community

To understand your community, the Commission needs to know 2 things:

  • who your community is
  • and where your community is.

Through this tool, you can tell the Commission about your community. Try to describe your community in a way that helps the Commission understand what matters to your community and why it’s important that your community be kept together in California's new election districts.

Along with the written description of your community, you will be able to draw your community’s location on a map to let the Commission know where it is.

Define your community

We will ask you to answer a few questions about your community. There are no wrong answers to these questions! The only limitation is that your community should not be defined by its support for a political party, candidate, or incumbent. If you have trouble identifying your community, it may be helpful to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is different about my community compared to nearby areas?
  • What is important to my community that is less important to people who live in surrounding areas?

Once you have answered the questions about your community, you are ready to start working on your map.

To create your map:

  • Zoom into your community’s location on the map
  • Use the drawing tools to highlight the area you consider to be your community. This doesn’t have to match the boundaries of your county or town.
  • Some communities are small, consisting of just a few city blocks. Others can be much larger and can include multiple cities or counties. Let us know where you consider your community to be, no matter how big or small!
  • Your community should be drawn as one shape on the map. Avoid drawing a map that represents your community as broken up into more than one piece.

Then, send us your map and comments by clicking the “Submit” button. Your community will be sent directly to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission!

Why should you participate?

We need your input to:

  • Make sure the Commission knows about your community. In order to keep your community together in California’s new districts, the Commission first needs to know that it exists and where it is!
  • Give your community a voice and make sure it has equal access to the political process.
  • Help shape new districts that give your community an opportunity to elect candidates who represent your interests on issues that are important to your community.

Everyone in California is invited to participate.

Learn more about how your input can help shape California’s new districts here: https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org.

You can use Draw My CA Community as a guest or by creating an account. If you make an account you’ll be able to save your work as a draft and finish it later. You will also be able to see any maps you submitted to the Commission at an earlier date.

To create a new account, click the “Sign up here” link on the home page, complete the form, and check your email. Follow the instructions in the email we send you to verify your account. If you do not see a verification email, check your spam folder.

Once you log in to your account, you will be taken to a page called “My Maps.” Click “Start a New Map” to draw your first map.

To use the tool as a guest, click “Continue as Guest” at the welcome page. You will be able to do everything a logged in user can do except save your work. If you start using Draw My CA Community as a guest and decide you would like to save your work, you can still create an account and log in after you’ve started drawing your community.

You can change the language you are working in at any time.

At the Welcome Page, you can change the language by clicking the “Languages” menu in the top left corner of the window.

You can also change the language from the main page of Draw My CA Community by clicking the “Languages” menu at the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

Tell us about your community in the Describe your community section. Click the words Describe your community on the left-hand side of the page to expand this section. Answer the questions in this section to help the California Citizens Redistricting Commission understand who your community is and what matters to you. Remember, there are no wrong answers – you can describe your community however you like. Try to describe your community in a way that helps the Commission understand who is part of your community and what is important to you.



You don’t have to answer the questions right away. You can come back to this section at any point while you are working on your community. You can switch between the Describe your community section and the Draw your community sections by clicking the titles of each section.

Click on the words Draw your community on the left-hand side of the page to expand this section. You will see tools you can use to move the map, draw your map, and more.

Moving the Map

Move Map

When you open Draw My CA Community, the Move Map button will be enabled. You can click on this icon at any time to use this tool.

Click and drag anywhere on the map to move the map.

Zooming in and out

  • Click the “plus” or “minus” [“+”/”-”] buttons at the top left corner of the map area to zoom in and out.
  • Or zoom in and out by using the trackpad on a laptop or the wheel of a mouse.
  • On mobile devices, zoom in and out by placing two fingers on the screen and pinch or spread them apart from each other.

Search

You can search for any address, city, or town in California using the search icon below the [“+”/”-”] buttons. Some landmarks, such as parks or schools, can be found through the Search feature as well. Click the search icon, type a location into the search bar, and hit [enter]. If the search returns multiple results, choose one from the list. A pin will appear on the map at the location you searched for.

You can use the drawing tools to draw the location of your community on the map. Use these tools to choose areas on the map that are part of your community. When you use the drawing tools to choose areas on the map, the areas will highlight on the map; the highlighted area represents your community map.

  • Add by Clicking: To add area to your community, click individual shapes in the Drawing Layer to add those shapes to your community map.
  • Add by Rectangle: Click and drag across an area on the map.
  • Add by Freehand: Click and freehand draw an area on the map.
  • Remove Area: To remove area from your map, either click or click and drag across an area.
  • Undo/Redo: Undo or redo recent changes.

Example basemap

Example drawing layer

The map area displays the "basemap” and the “Drawing Layer.”

The basemap is the background map that appears in the map area of the screen. It shows the streets, rivers, schools, and other landmarks commonly displayed on online maps. The closer you zoom in, the more detailed the basemap will appear.

You can change the basemap by choosing a different one from the Basemap style drop-down list.



Colorful

Terrain

Topographical

Black and white

You will use the Drawing Layer to “draw” where your community is located on the map. The Drawing Layer is displayed in the map area on top of the basemap. The Drawing Layer appears as part of the map, but shows different information than the basemap does.

While the basemap helps you orient yourself on the map, the Drawing Layer shows the boundaries of counties, cities, and towns in California along with smaller levels of detail as well.

For example, the basemap might help you find your community on the map based on a highway or river near your house, while the Drawing Layer will show you the exact boundaries of the city or county you live in.

Just like the basemap, the Drawing Layer will automatically change to show you more detail as you zoom into the map.

Only one Drawing Layer will appear on the map at a time. The Drawing Layer that is displayed on the map at any given time is the layer you can use to draw the location of your community by using the drawing tools.

Default Drawing Layers

By default, the map will automatically switch between different Drawing Layers based on your zoom level.

The Drawing Layer section under “Draw Your Community” will show you which Drawing Layer is currently visible on the map. The name of the layer will be displayed in the same color as the layer’s lines that appear on the map. As you zoom into the map, the Drawing Layer will automatically change to show you more detail, and the smaller the size of the individual shapes that make up the Drawing Layer will be. That means the closer you zoom in, you'll be able to draw your community with smaller shapes and more detail. As you zoom out of the map, the Drawing Layer will change to show you less detail.

For example, if the Drawing Layer shows the boundaries of counties, you will be able to add a county to your community map. If you zoom into the map, the Drawing Layer will automatically change to display cities. You will now be able to add a city to your map. You do not have to use only one Drawing Layer to create your community map. In this example, both the county and city would be included in your map.

In this example, the user first selects areas from the 'Cities and Towns' drawing layer.

Then, they zoom into the 'Tracts' drawing layer and selects additional areas.

Choosing the Drawing Layer

The Drawing Layer section under “Draw Your Community” will show you which Drawing Layer is currently visible on the map. The name of the layer will be displayed in the same color that the layer’s lines appear on the map . As you zoom into the map, the Drawing Layer will automatically change to show you more detail. As you zoom out of the map, the Drawing Layer will change to show you less detail.

If you want to use a specific Drawing Layer, but that Drawing Layer does not appear on the map by default based on your zoom level, click the Choose Drawing Layer drop-down list below the Drawing Layer label. Choose the layer you want to work with. Now you can work with the layer of your choice in a zoom level that works for you.

For example, if the Drawing Layer is displaying cities and towns and you want to add a county to your map, but don’t want to zoom out of your current view, you can choose “Counties” from the Choose Drawing Layer drop-down list instead of zooming out of the map. Once you choose “Counties” as your Drawing Layer, you will be able to add a county to your community map.

To switch back to having the zoom level automatically control the Drawing Layer, click "Default" in the Drawing Layer drop-down list.

Map Legend

The Drawing Layers are color coded. For help remembering which color corresponds with each Drawing Layer, toggle the map’s Legend on and off.

Where did the Drawing Layers come from?

Draw My CA Communityworks with five Drawing Layers. Each layer shows a different level of detail in the shapes that make up the layer. The Drawing Layers are based on census geography, which is created by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the geography the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will be using to create districts.

There are many levels of census geography - ranging from large (nation-wide) to small (block).

This is the list of census geography levels we use as our Drawing Layers, in order of largest to smallest:

  • Counties: This layer represents each of the counties in California.
  • Cities and towns: This layer is based on the Census Geography unit called, “places”. This layer represents what we think of as cities and towns in California. It includes incorporated and unincorporated places.
  • Tribal areas: This layer includes all legal and statistical tribal areas in California. These are the Reservations and Rancherias throughout the state.
  • Tracts: The census tract layer is designed to contain between 2,500 and 8,000 inhabitants per census tract. Generally speaking, there are often multiple census tracts in a city, but a census tract might be larger than a small, rural town. Tracts do not necessarily follow the same boundaries as cities and towns.
  • Blocks: This is the smallest unit of census geography. In metropolitan areas, a census block may be the size of a city block, in rural areas the space covered by a single census block is often much larger.

County

Places

Tribal areas

Tracts

Blocks

You can send yourself a copy of your community description and map at any time. To export your work, click the Menu at the top right corner of the screen and select “Export.” You can choose to download either a PDF, a shapefile, or an equivalency file. Shapefiles and equivalency files can be used in mapping software.

If you are logged in to your Draw My CA Community account, you can save your work as a draft.

  • Click the “Save” button at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
  • Click “Yes, Save Draft” to save your work
If you are using Draw My CA Community as a guest, you will be asked to create an account in order to save a draft.

When you save a draft, you will be taken to the My Maps page, where you will find a list of all your saved drafts and submissions. When you click on a draft or submission, the map of that community will appear on the screen. To edit a draft, click the three dots next to the name of the draft. Choose “Edit” to keep working on your community.

When you are ready to send your community description and map to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, click “Submit.” You will have one last chance to review your work before it is sent to the Commission.

  • Review your answers to the questions in the Describe your community section. You can change your answers without going back to the main page. If you want to change your map, you’ll have to go back to the mapping page
  • Answer a few optional questions about yourself
  • Click “Submit.” Your community map and description will be sent directly to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission!
  • If you are logged in when you submit, you will receive an email verifying that your community has been sent to the Commission. The email will include a copy of your submission in the form of a PDF, a shapefile, an equivalency file.

Once you submit your community input to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission it becomes part of the public record, and the Commission may make the information you provide readily available to the public.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission must adhere to several criteria when creating new districts; keeping communities together is just one of them. Communities submitted through Draw My CA Community will be reviewed and considered, however, your community is not guaranteed to be kept together in California’s new election districts.

Learn more about the California Citizens Redistricting Commission and California’s redistricting process here: https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org.

Documentation

  • User guide

About

  • Statewide Database
  • California Citizens Redistricting Commission

FAQs