Redistricting War Ramping Up

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

January 17, 2022

The war over San Luis Obispo County’s new supervisor districts has begun, after a citizen’s activist group vowed to challenge the new district lines in court after a split board, 3-2, approved the new map Dec. 14. 

The “SLO County Citizens for Good Government” (see: sloccgg.org) announced it was planning a challenge to the new maps, which greatly redraw all five Supervisor Districts the SLOCCGG said.

“We believe,” Linda Seifert, one of the non-profit group’s directors, said, “the supervisors’ formal adoption Tuesday of the so-called Patten Map clearly violates California election law.”

At issue is the California Fair Maps Act. According to a fact sheet put out by the League of Women Voters, “Redistricting determines which communities are placed together into a district and whether communities are split up across different districts. The decisions made during the redistricting process determine whether residents have fair representation in government and whether their representatives will reflect their interests.”

The citizen’s group claims that the new Supervisorial maps constitute Gerrymandering and are unnecessary because the County’s population hasn’t grown enough or where people live hasn’t changed enough to warrant such drastic redrawing of the map.

The map allegedly breaks up long-standing “communities of interest,” they claim, in particular, the North Coast communities of Los Osos, Morro Bay, Cayucos, and Cambria, dividing what has always been a contiguous block of like-minded Dist. 2 voters into three different districts. 

Los Osos is now in Dist. 4 along with Avila Beach and much of the South County; Morro Bay and SLO City are in Dist. 3 a narrow slice of the County following the Chorro Valley corridor; and Cayucos and Cambria along with Atascadero and San Miguel of the North County now make up the population centers in Dist. 2.

According to an article in New Times, SLO County was also notified by the “Latino Caucus of California Counties” — a coalition of county supervisors that includes Dist. 4 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg — that they too plan to sue. The Caucus also has issues with the new maps in Butte and Merced Counties as well.

The Citizens for Good Government also claims the new maps lessen voting power for Hispanics in the South County and gives the Republican Party majorities in three districts (Dist. 1, 4 and 5), which critics have charged would ensure Republican majority on the board until at least the next time the map gets redrawn — after the 2030 U. S. Census is completed.

County Counsel Rita Neal on Jan. 7 told Estero Bay News that the County has not yet been served with any lawsuits over redistricting.

The local political kerfuffle isn’t alone, as the State Redistricting Commission’s new Assembly, State Senate and Congressional District maps have come under fire too.

SLO County is now part of two Congressional Districts — the 19th and 24th. The 19th District is now a long thin stretch of Coastline from San Jose down to just above Cayucos and includes Carmel, Scotts Valley and a large swath of the North County — Templeton, San Miguel, Atascadero and Paso Robles as well as numerous tiny communities in between.

Morro Bay, Cayucos, SLO and Los Osos, are now in the 24th District which includes Santa Ynez, Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, stopping just above Oxnard.

The new Assembly Dist. 30 includes all of SLO County plus the coastal communities going northward and including Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey, up to Capitola in Santa Cruz County.

The new 17th State Senate District now includes most of SLO County and Monterey County, as well, stretching northward in a line to the southern edge of Los Gatos in the Southwestern Bay Area.

Several groups have vowed to challenge these maps basically along the same lines as the challenge to SLO County’s new supervisorial map.

The new maps will be first used in the June 2022 Primary Election, though Dist. 3 Supervisor Ortiz-Legg, who was appointed last year to the seat by Gov. Newsom after the death of Adam Hill in 2020, will stand election using the old map for her district.

It remains to be seen if the new maps on any level can survive legal challenges, with a final decision expected in time for the June Primary Election. Readers can check out the approved State maps at: www.wedrawthelinesca.org.

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