SLO County supervisors discuss redistricting maps, take no action

A map drawn by Richard Patten, with major changes to district lines.

By KAREN VELIE

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors discussed multiple redistricting proposals Tuesday evening, while staff fielded allegations county council misrepresented California’s Election Code.

At the start of the board meeting, staff referred to an inaccurate portrayal of the Election Code’s list of five priorities in the staff report as a “typo.” County counsel deleted the priority to promote communities of interest based on proximity and replaced it with the requirement “not to favor or discriminate against any political party.”

“There was a typographical error in the staff report,” said SLO County Administrative Analyst Kristin Eriksson. “Staff inadvertently deleted the language of the fifth consideration.”

Every 10 years, counties use new census data to redraw their boundaries to reflect changing populations and new legislative requirements.

Representing Redistricting Partners, a consulting firm hired by the county, Chris Chaffee helped county staff construct four maps, while relying on public input seeking to keep District 2 as it is and to leave Oceano in District 4. Chaffee explained that many of the maps submitted by the public failed to meet the 10% population deviation requirement.

During Tuesday’s meeting, nearly 70% of the 31 public speakers asked the board of supervisors to place the city of San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly in one district. The majority of the speakers encouraged the board to select a map drawn by Arroyo Grande resident Richard Patten, which puts most of San Luis Obispo in a district with Cal Poly and Morro Bay.

The remaining 10 speakers asked the board to make little or no changes to the current district layout, with claims that if it is not broken there is no reason for change. Because current district boundaries remain within the 10% deviation requirement, the board could elect to keep the boundaries the same for the next 10 years.

In Map A, districts remain primarily unchanged.

Speakers on both sides of the redistricting argument chastised county staff for failing to place all the submitted maps with the meeting agenda, or in an easily accessible place on the county website.

Supervisor John Peschong then asked county staff to post all submitted maps on the same page and in the same format on the county website.

Both supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg voiced support for making no changes to the current district map, with Gibson moving a step further. Gibson wanted the board to start rejecting inadequate maps and to consider shortening the time to submit maps, which currently has a Nov. 21 deadline.

Rejecting Gibson’s proposal, supervisors Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold wanted more public engagement, including retaining the already allotted time to submit and correct maps.

In the end, the board made no changes to the Nov. 21 deadline to submit maps.

The Board of Supervisors will conduct a third redistricting hearing on Nov. 12 and a fourth on Nov. 30.

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