Lawsuit filed to stop SLO County redistricting plan

October 21, 2011


The new redistricting lines for San Luis Obispo County were one day away from going into effect when a lawsuit was filed challenging the proposed boundaries.

William Pelfrey, a resident of Templeton, said he filed the suit because he believes the SLO County Board of Supervisors failed to follow government code and instead drew supervisory boundaries in an attempt to improve several board members chances at reelection.

For Pelfrey, it’s about keeping communities together and he believes the supervisors’ plans will jeopardize Templeton’s voting strength and representation.

“I am doing this for the people of Templeton who came to me because they don’t think what the supervisors did was right,” Pelfrey said. “At the board meetings, there were a lot of people from San Luis Obispo who asked why they had so many supervisors.

“I am doing this for the people of San Luis Obispo and Templeton.”

Every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, the county redraws the supervisory boundaries reportedly seeking to provide as equal a population as possible and working to keep populations sharing common social and economic interests together.

In the lawsuit filed on Wednesday in district court, Pelfrey is suing the SLO County Board of Supervisors, claiming the board failed to follow its own criteria and selected boundaries for political gain.

Supervisors Adam Hill, Frank Mecham and Jim Patterson are up for reelection in 2012.

At a Sept. 20 board meeting, supervisor Bruce Gibson, Hill and Patterson voted in favor of the plan that breaks the Templeton school district into two supervisory districts and the city of San Luis Obispo into three districts. Both supervisors Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira said that they needed to listen to the citizens of Templeton and voted against the controversial redistricting plan.

In his lawsuit, Pelfrey contends that Patterson’s bid to keep a chunk of San Luis Obispo in his primarily North County district is an attempt to help him win next year’s election.

Currently, the more liberal supervisors, Patterson, Hill and Gibson, have a majority vote on the board. North County is historically more conservative than the city of San Luis Obispo.

“Retaining a portion of the city of San Luis Obispo would likely greatly benefit Mr. Patterson in the upcoming elections, given the past voting histories of voters in that area,’ says the lawsuit filed by Santa Margarita attorney Sophia Trader.

If Pelfrey’s suit is successful, the boundaries will be reset by either the board or a redistricting commission so that “it compiles with the primary and secondary Election Code criteria,”  with a local judge staying involved until the issue is settled. In addition, Pelfrey is seeking reimbursement for his attorney’s fees and court costs.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I don’t have a clue about redristricting, but if it ends up in court, the pleadings are going to be worth their weight in gold….

scoopone said:Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 2:51 pm

This should remind voters that Adam Hill has lost his way….he’s not the same person I supported in the last election. It’s time for him to go back to being a substitute lecturer @ Cal Poly.

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

Doesn’t that photo of the Sups speak volumes? Happy face photo op…

These are the five most powerful people in the county, and they use that power to their own ends. They make political appointments that last for years to do their bidding, they mandate from behind closed doors to steer county staff and influence the public and they direct county staff to do their bidding i order to feed the coffers. They hold sway over they entire county budget, they hold sway over all county staff and yet cow tow to an staff report that comes accross their desk and give in to any project that provides employment for the county staff…

It’s like the “revolving-door” lobbyist/ White House administration staff of our presidents, where there is a constant switching of many WH staff to lobbyist positions for government contractors, and then revolving right back again into the WH, sometimes in the same presidential administration.

It won’t be enough to show a map & the numbers. Pelfrey will have to show intent. Just because a sitting supe is or may run for re-election does not prove intent to distort the process. He’ll need the conspiratorial emails, if he can find them, and if they exist.

Barring that evidence, he’s just wasting our general fund money on his self-described crusade. That should make the so-called conservatives angry, yet here they are gleefully joining in the tilting after windmills in this comment section.

Go figure.

Alright ya mo-rons. Here’s your history lesson in supervisorial politics from a 50 yr local. It has always been in the interests of those outside SLO so as to not add to the city’s dominate status by having someone from SLO on the board. This is, and has always been, accomplished by dividing SLO into thirds. For all you Tea Party folks, this means three districts extend into SLO. That’d be 2, 3 & 5. The idea here is get control of 5, which flips back and forth, Tea/non-Tea, however always a North County local. The idea is to pull 5 out of SLO and and giving the people to 2 & 3. 2 is always non-tea Party, 3, a swing district , would be conceded to the left with the transfer of SLO voters. The basis of the suit is reasonable. Keep Templeton whole. Fair enough political swap. Does anyone know what plan this was and post a link? I was curious as to how 1 & 5 would look after giving up SLO, including a poop-load of non-voting students that still count as people for these purposes. I don’t think Templeton has nearly the numbers to make up for the chunk of SLO and this will actually push 5 further towards the outskirts of Paso where it already has an awkward presence to keep up with Paso growth. Sounds like a good fight!

So in simple terms, they are steering the vote? The protection of a few in disregard of the many is acceptable?

Whole thing smells like crap.

The liberal majority are using political shenanigans to further their partisan politics. The conservatives are using judicial might to protect their partisan politics. We need something new.

I agree. So what is your solution? Show us your map. How do you intend to balance the districts when you remove SLO from 5? 1 & 5 will be collectively short. Whadaya gonna do? Take Cambria or eastern Arroyo Grande? Can someone please post a link to readable map proposals whether or not considered. The Trib had a couple at one time that were not readable in print or online. It may be on the County’s website but I’m lazy and non-web proficient so I’d really like someone to do it for me :)

What I would do is what has been done historically, always, in the past to balance population among the disticts. I would move the district lines a few blocks one way or the other in the City of SLO until the numbers came out right.

Isn’t that exactly what was tried? But the people in Templeton got in high rage over the prospect of being “divided.” SLO’s been divided three or four ways for decades, and as a result doesn’t even have a supervisor who answers to its residents. Why should Templeton think they’re above being treated similarly? You draw a line to divide the population. It’s the Templetonites who want to gerrymander for their own purposes. Now one of them files a silly lawsuit. Great!

I don’t think so.

The people of the City of SLO are governed by their City Council. When they have land use, garbage rate, pothole, etc. problems they take it to their City Council. Templeton, being unincorporated, has not representation/governance other than the Board of Supes. It is for this reason Templeton needs to keep its voice intact.

We can debate all day about whether Templeton shoulda/woulda/coulda incorporated “back in the day.” But it is not going to happen now — CA is not minting any new cities.

Actually, eastern AG would be a good fit for the Nipomo Mesa (which has part of AG on it). Many of the peeps out there are on larger lots, septic and private wells. I know quite a few people in that area, and they feel ZERO affiliation with the City of Arroyo Grande.

Yes, we do need something new. The key is to remove the conflict of interest created when elected officeholders draw their own districts. Too much self-interest. Even other elected officials in the County or in the Cities drawing districts for the Supervisors would have too much potential self-interest in the outcome of Supervisorial District elections to be entrusted with redistricting.

The best model is what Americans have turned to throughout history to check abuses of power. Call it a citizens commission or some kind of jury, it works out to be the same thing. Citizens selected who do not hold public or political party office to meet and determine how to follow the rules that the citizens have set up in the state constitution, and in the elections code, for drawing districts that are as nearly equal in population as possible, keeping each city and each community in single districts unless doing so is completely impossible.

CICERO: “The best model is what Americans have turned to throughout history to check abuses of power. Call it a citizens commission or some kind of jury, it works out to be the same thing.”

You mean like the grand-jury system?

Some people have issues with how the GJ fails to take the hard steps and make the hard findings that would actually get something accomplished.


I smell “PROTECT MY JOB!!!!!!!!”


ANOTHER local group of residents who DARE to defy the edicts of the BOS?

First, the Los Osos peeps who dared to lay down for Paavo Ogren’s Sewer Vision for Los Osos….now the north county people are getting all uppity on the poor supes.

It’s anarchy, I tell you. Anarchy.

How long before the north county peeps who are “radical” enough to demand fair representation at the county level are marginalized and physically dragged out of BOS meetings? A group of politicians who will marginalize one group of residents who defy them–as they have the Los Osos peeps–will not flinch at marginalizing another group of residents who defy them.

Will the north county residents now look at the Los Osos residents with a little more understanding and tolerance?

First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me.

We clearly are more conservative in North County and the lines should not cross the top of the grade in my opinion. I sure would like to know how what’s good for SLO is good for N County? Somebody actually tried to justify the district lines by stating that since many N County residents work and shop in SLO that we have an interest in SLO and that would be a common denominator. We may not have many choices where we work but we have made a choice about where we live and it AIN’T SLO. Patterson I voted and lobbied for you in your last election but this time, you’re outta here.

Is it coincidence that the approved map favors the more liberal candidates and was approved by the more liberal members of the board?

No, and I would not be surprised if conservatives wanted to redistrict in favor of themselves. I do not begrudge politicians their politics. I begrudge them my hard earned money.

Is it a fact? What’s your evidence? How does dividing conservative Templeton help “liberal candidates,” whoever they may be?

As far as the BOS goes, I don’t think there is any partisanship when it comes to their corruption, using the Brown Act as toiletpaper, and conspiring to commit fraud on the people of SLOCounty.

When it comes to those activities, the BOS are remarkably bipartisan.