Is SLO County staff manipulating the redistricting process?

October 26, 2021

SLO County Counsel Rita Neal


San Luis Obispo County will consider which redistricting maps to move forward at a special meeting tonight, as the county works to set supervisory district boundaries which will stand for the next decade.

County staff is promoting four maps drawn in compliance with a partisan proposal to keep Oceano in District 4, which supports the election of candidate Jimmy Paulding over incumbent Lynn Compton. Oceano has a majority of voters who register Democrat, while most of District 4 swings Republican.

County staff reviewed a letter endorsed by 227 voters and organizations, including only six Republicans, that asked the supervisors to keep Oceano in District 4.

With the help of a consultant, county staff created four draft maps that “keep the town of Oceano in the same district as Arroyo Grande and Nipomo as a community of interest,” taking into account public input, according to the staff report. In each map, Oceano remains in District 4 and the city of San Luis Obispo is divided into at least two districts.

For decades, the state has required that supervisors divide districts based on population numbers, that redistricting complies with the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and that redistricting is not done to favor or discriminate against any political party.

In 2019, the state passed Assembly Bill 849, which also requires county boards of supervisors “adopt supervisorial district boundaries using the following criteria as set forth in order of priority:

“(1) To the extent practicable, supervisorial districts shall be geographically contiguous. Areas that meet only at the points of adjoining corners are not contiguous. Areas that are separated by water and not connected by a bridge, tunnel, or regular ferry service are not contiguous.

“(2) To the extent practicable, the geographic integrity of any local neighborhood or local community of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division.

“(3) To the extent practicable, the geographic integrity of a city or census designated place shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division.

“(4) Supervisorial district boundaries should be easily identifiable and understandable by residents. To the extent practicable, supervisorial districts shall be bounded by natural and artificial barriers, by streets, or by the boundaries of the county.

“(5) To the extent practicable, and where it does not conflict with the preceding criteria in this subdivision, supervisorial districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness in a manner that nearby areas of population are not bypassed in favor of more distant populations.”

In their report, the county counsel’s office notes that the California Elections Code requires new supervisorial districts be redrawn based on the five criteria.

County counsel lists the five priorities listed above, with one major change: Staff replace the fifth priority with the requirement “not to favor or discriminate against any political party.” The inaccurate portrayal of the Election Code appears to support keeping Oceano in District 4 and dividing the city San Luis Obispo into three districts.

In their report, county staff promotes the four redistricting maps they helped create.  County residents created an additional six maps, with two that place the city of San Luis Obispo in one district and Oceano in District 3.

SLO County staff’s four proposed maps:

In Map A, districts remain primarily unchanged.


In Map B, Cal Poly is moved from District 5 to District 2.


Map C takes Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo out of District 5.


In Map D, the supervisory districts align more with school districts.


Two maps drawn by county residents

Communities of interest map with the city of San Luis Obispo as one district and Oceano in District 3.


Map submitted by Richard Patten of Arroyo Grande with the city of San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly and Morro Bay in one district.

Richard Patten map

The SLO County Board of Supervisors will discuss the proposed maps Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the government center.

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Gerymandering is the word that applied to this redistricting tentative . Manipulating the electorals boundaries. It is what Arnold, Peshong and Colton have in mind.District 5 seems to be out of reach to democrats, 3 elections , 3 right wing victories. There is a slight majority of registred republicains in this district, democrats victory could be possible but democrats have a tendancy to seat on their butts drinking cappuccinos.

District 4 is the big one.Paulding lost the last elections by only 60 votes. He has a real chance to be elected. ms Colton knows that , her last voted show panic and confusion . So only one choice , Gerrymandering. Lets move part of Oceano to a other district.

Well my lawyer is on alert, so go head, try .

The cal poly case is an other example; the county is proud of calpoly, many of our children went there, many alumnies live here, started bussiness and created jobs.But no, right wingers are denieying the right to vote to people who have being here for 5 , 6 years , are registred voters and are doing their civic duty, voting.

Like i said , try.


Cal Poly students have a right to vote where they live, period.

But the county was gerrymandered both 10 and 20 years ago, with long misshapen districts, with fingers grabbing a chunk of SLO. Remember, it was Adam Hill who first said Oceano belongs in District 3.

The five new priorities include keeping communities of interest together, keeping cities together, and having compact districts. It is time to follow the new rules and redraw the boundaries to compact our gerrymandered districts. What are you planning to say in your suit, they are keeping cities and communities whole while creating blocks instead of gerrymandered districts? Good luck.


Why is Cal Poly considered part of anything? There is no permanent housing, the dorms only temporarily shelter people not from this county, and only one full time resident address!


You are going to have to have a better reason for Cal Poly attendees not being allowed to vote due to it being not permanent housing. We are told that the county’s homeless, oops I mean unhoused, population still have a right to vote as long as they can provide an address of some sort. Now those that voted in the last local election even though they were living at their out of the area home due to no in person classes is another issue.


Thank you for telling more of this story. Very interesting.


Cal Poly doesn’t belong in any district, those students don’t need to be voting in local elections.

Adam Trask

Cal Poly students pay taxes to both the city and the county. As you may remember, taxation without representation was one of the major gripes of our revolutionary forefathers.


Just because a person pays taxes in a given city or county gives them a right to vote there? Yippee anyone traveling or paying taxes in an adjacent city or area should be glad to hear that.

Adam Trask

As long as you maintain a residence (permanent or temporary) in the place where you want to vote. My guess is very few Cal Poly students who live elsewhere actually vote in this county—those who do vote more likely vote absentee in their home areas, if they vote at all.

If a student maintains a residence in an area, they damn sure pay taxes and damn sure have a right to say who represents them. That’s in the Constitution. Why is it that the right-wing is always trying to limit the vote rather than expand it?

Jorge Estrada

For the students they earn an F through A which has nothing to do with taxation, they are their to represent themselves. Should they purchase or rent off campus then that would be different, living on campus should not permit an outside of the bubble vote. Yes, within the campus perimeter should not have a vote.


Cal Poly is looking to expand all faculty and students to live on campus. I wonder how that will impact our community?

Jorge Estrada

Staff started by letting us (the audience) know that currently the population variance between districts currently is under the 10% threshold (9.3) and the county is not required to make any changes. Must be nice to fund this when we have a wooden bridge that is the only access for a county road that serves 70 homes in a extreme fire area. Personally I would rather see money spent on our infrastructure and put staff to work on public benefit projects.


The County is not making detailed maps available to the public, no surprise if you’re familiar with how the County, operates they only want you to see the above. You could do a public records request which they would sit on until the decision was already made but I personally work. The newest dorms are already in District 2, the border being Grand Ave. and Perimeter Road. All the pre-existing dorms were in D5 to the northwest side. Interesting is the plan for D1 to move over to the coast to allow D5 to leave Cal Poly/SLO and D2 to take on the additional population. A few hippies on the coast ain’t gonna flip D1. D5 is the battleground.


Hmm, lots of negative votes, no comments.