SLO County’s district map selection process exposes political divide

December 1, 2021

Richard Patten map

By KAREN VELIE

After months of debate and mudslinging, San Luis Obispo County has a new political map that makes major changes to the supervisorial districts. Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to adopt the Patten map, with supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg dissenting.

Every ten years, following the census, the county reexamines its supervisorial district boundaries while taking into account changes in population, communities of interest, keeping cities whole and compactness.

During Tuesday’s meeting, dozens of residents, split primarily along political lines, asked the supervisors to select the map that appears to support their favored candidates. Liberals promoted the SLO Chamber of Commerce map, which divides the heavily Democratic city of San Luis Obispo into three sections, diluting the voting power of rural voters while supporting the reelection of Supervisor Gibson.

On the other side, conservatives championed the Patten map, which divides the city of San Luis Obispo into two districts while keeping the county’s remaining cities and communities whole. Under the Patten map, three of the county’s five supervisorial districts lean Republican.

In an attempt to find fault with the Patten map, supervisors Gibson and Ortiz-Legg battled to have staff investigate party registrations in the proposed districts. The conservative supervisors argued that they are not supposed to consider party registrations while redistricting, before rejecting the motion.

Supervisor John Peschong voiced his support for keeping communities whole, in compliance with new redistricting regulations, before supporting the Patten map.

Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg

Supervisor Ortiz-Legg voiced her concerns over changes to District 3, which under the Patten map is comprised primarily of the cities of San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay, which she said results in an uneven distribution of work for each supervisor. Ortiz-Legg then questioned the importance of keeping cities intact.

“Who cares if the cities are together or not, they have city councils,” Ortiz-Legg said.

Multiple supporters of the SLO Chamber of Commerce map argued that Latinos in Oceano are more connected to Nipomo, and have little in common with neighboring beach communities.

In support of the Patten map, a handful of Hispanic Oceano business owners said their community has more in common with Grover Beach and Pismo Beach.

Ortiz-Legg disagreed, voicing concerns about the political prowess of Latinos.

“Latinos do not know how to own their own political power,” Ortiz-Legg said.

Gibson then attempted to discuss the political makeup of each of the Patten map districts, but was cut off by Supervisor Lynn Compton, who called for a vote on a motion by Peschong to adopt the Patten map.

In an example of staff not listening to the board, the clerk refused to call the roll, prompting Compton to call it herself.

When it was his turn to vote, Gibson took the opportunity to argue that the Patten map was partisan, while noting how San Luis Obispo city residents have consistently voted against conservative supervisors.

Prior to the vote, commenters on the Facebook page of one of Supervisor Gibson’s campaign consultants, Tom Fulks, discussed plans to file a lawsuit if one of their proposed maps was not selected. On Tuesday evening, Gordon Fuglie, the husband of Atascadero Councilwoman Susan Funk, discussed harassing supervisors Peschong, Compton and Debbie Arnold at their homes.

“Time to go picket 3 offices and homes of the guilty parties,”  Fuglie posted on Fulks Facebook page. “Let’s make the political also PERSONAL. And bring some real pain to Arnold, Compton, and Peschong.”


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robdadbod

I have questions-

1. Latinos in Grover relate more to those in Nipomo? Absolutely not. Those are very distinct financial resources and business types when compared.

2. People still read the Trib?

3. District lines should never cut through cities of this size. SLO residents criss-cross each other all day, utilizing the same resources and businesses. How can the Chamber, representing the business’s best interests, support one business over another solely on location, which could be right around the corner?

4. Isn’t it true that the only people that are in favor of carving cities apart for political purposes (hat tip, Paragon) are a few elected officials?


aye-caramba

To quote the great Doc Holiday in Tombstone “the hypocrisy was more than I could bear”…… shame to the Dem Supes, with their tantrums at not getting their way and more shame to the Trib for calling and labeling juvenile names to the majority Supes , while ignoring the deep, dark crimes of the criminally indicted and corrupt Supervisor. The Trib needs to fold, it just does.


kayaknut

Yep, the Dems didn’t have a problem 10 years ago when the districts were last confirmed.


paragon

All these maps are gerrymandered abominations. Districts should not cut through cities and carve out little niches for political purposes. I couldn’t care less about any of these political parties – they are all awful. Don’t even think about politics and just group communities with common geography and concerns, let the chips fall where they may, and be done with it. Something like North coast, north inland, SLO/Avila, south coast, east county. Done.


JordanJ

I am shocked at the ignorance, vitriol and hate from the Tribune’s editorial staff. It is clear they have not read the voting regulations. They applaud Bruce Gibson’s attempt to include voting registration numbers into the process, though it is not permitted. And then say the only way to keep partisanship out is to know the numbers and make sure the percentages are reflected in their decisions. What?


Then to call Republican supervisors names like cabal, ruthless and cagey, reminds me of the bullying of Adam Hill and his consultant Tom Fulks. The Trib’s editorial staff’s reaction to the widespread corruption of their golden boy Adam Hill was to say it is time to let it go and move on. Maybe it is time to remember when you vote who was tied to the corruption, Adam Hill and Helios Dayspring.


Character does matter, as does integrity and the ability to let others have a different opinion. We are one community, with many views and many backgrounds.


Myself

Thank you Jordan, that was very well put, I read that same blather in the rag myself. I have always been under the impression that a newspaper should report the news and keep its opinion and editorials to itself, but I guess that is from days gone by.


Jorge Estrada

I attended the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council meeting last evening, clearly there is concern over the new district lines. This council was formed during 5th District Supervisor Richard Krejsa’s tenure in 1974 and currently represents 10 geographical areas surrounding the town of Santa Margarita. Of the 10 council member attendees (not a quorum), 9 agreed by a showing of hands that more work is needed to keep our rural community whole. One example is on this council’s public agenda, Supervisor’s report, will we now have three Supervisors attend our public advisory meeting because Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council is now within three districts per the proposed map or will this council be required to make bylaw changes, quit being a voice to their Supervisor and or step aside for the hungry government growth incentives, like the State of California pushing the term, “Self Help Counties”? Maybe there will be a new Board of Supervisors majority that will move the County Fair Grounds to the once Santa Margarita Ranch, surrounding the decomposing headquarters with Disneyland type amenities, like a train or Water World Adventures? Whatever, some may argue that this new map is not a big deal, just a change of lines, but when the vote is over and the community is trashed by our professional government, they will say, “the voters have spoken”.


obispan

“In support of the Patten map, a handful of Hispanic Oceano business owners said their community has more in common with Grover Beach and Pismo Beach. Ortiz-Legg disagreed, voicing concerns about the political prowess of Latinos. “Latinos do not know how to own their own political power,” Ortiz-Legg said”. Latinos must answer only to Ortiz-Legg, this is her message.


Eyes Everywhere

Who the hell is Gordon Fuglie? Anyone else read the last sentence of this article: “Let’s bring some real pain to Arnold, Compton, and Peschong.”


Pain? Seriously?


horse_soldier