Residents of Santa Barbara County’s 3rd Supervisorial District don’t want to be lumped together when the district boundaries are redrawn, based on comments received by the Independent Redistricting Commission.
Comments about “communities of interest” were delivered to the commission via Zoom and in person when it met Oct. 6 in Santa Maria and summarized by commissioners from individuals they have spoken with.
Numerous individuals have said Guadalupe should be in the same district as Santa Maria due to cultural and ethnic similarities, that Lompoc shouldn’t be split away from its outlying communities and beaches, and that Isla Vista shouldn’t be in the same district as the Santa Ynez Valley.
“I’m taking a look at the numbers, and this is going to be the biggest problem for us, is that if we include Orcutt, Guadalupe and Santa Maria in one district, that’s almost 150,000 people,” said Megan Turley, 2nd District representative on the commission. “So obviously, that magic number [for district equity] is 89,300 or so.
A conditional use permit for a relatively small solar photovoltaic generating and electricity storage facility sailed through a unanimous approval this week by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, the second time the project has been given the OK.
“So what I would really love to hear from the people of North County is how we can divide up that population and still account for communities of interest,” she said.
In the process of redrawing district boundaries, district populations should be roughly equal, with a variation of 10% allowed, accounting for every person except prisoners, regardless of age or legal status.
But districts should also be geographically contiguous and compact, have easily identifiable boundaries and not divide cities, census-designated places, neighborhoods and “communities of interest.”
Other recommendations some commission members found interesting included using Highway 1 as a dividing line — particularly among South Coast communities — and providing each district with a portion of the Pacific shoreline.
Several people said Guadalupe and Orcutt form a community of interest, as children from Guadalupe all attend public or private schools in Orcutt.
“I’ve lived in Guadalupe since 1997, and I’ve never moved, but I’ve lived in three districts,” said Frances Romero, a former mayor of the city. “Guadalupe should not be bounced around.”
Residents and merchants in Orcutt objected to some of the suggested maps county citizens have turned in on the commission’s website that they said show the community being split into two districts.
Laura Price, a 17-year Cuyama Valley resident, noted she is in the 1st District, but the district office is two hours away. She said the 5th District would seem to be a better fit for her community because of similar locations and lifestyles.
Of the people from the South Coast portion of the 1st District she’s spoken with, Price said “it’s pretty clear they don’t have a clear understanding of our lifestyle or our needs.”
The commission is mandated by county ordinance to hold seven public hearings before beginning to redraw the supervisorial district boundaries, and Chairman Glenn Morris noted the Santa Maria meeting was the eighth.
Commissioners are scheduled to begin discussing the various maps submitted by the public at their Nov. 3 meeting, and they asked members of the public to create their own suggested district boundaries using the mapping application on the commission’s website.
The commission intends to adopt a new map of supervisorial boundaries on Dec. 8.
To draw a map and to find more information about the commission, the redistricting process and upcoming meetings, visit https://drawsantabarbaracounty.org.