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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obispan

The map was as carefully crafted as the Dem maps of 1990, 2000, and 2010, no doubt. So why is that suddenly wrong? Ortiz-Legg argued that Cal Poly being included with Atascadero didn’t matter “because they don’t vote”, despite clearly being part of the San Luis Obispo, not the Atascadero, “community of interest”. A little disrespectful, and yes they will vote. Ever heard of the SLO Progressives (yes you have Dawn…)? And more of SLO is in the 5th under the Chamber map. I’m in the 5th, the short walk to my parent’s house puts them in the 3rd. The non-incorporated populations do not have to be balanced. The supervisor’s represent all of SLO County and ALL of the supervisors have responsibility for the ENTIRE county. The districts not are local fiefdoms, they are districts for fair distribution of representation by area to avoid a concentration by power i.e., the BOS is not entirely comprised of former SLO City Council Members. Debbie Arnold is not sole the rule-maker for District 5, nor is she be prohibited from advocating for parks in District 4, or opposing expenditures in District 4.


jimmy_me

Let the lawsuits begin. If the conservative BOS members are sure they did the right thing, then they have nothing to worry about.


Florian75

To quote that exalted, transformative, great healer and unifier in American history – President B. Hussein Obama: ”Elections have consequences”.


BigRed

The winner here is Tom Fulks who gets paid to fail. Worth every penny!


kevin rise

Not like the BOS does anything aside from cater to rich people, developers, and boot lickers. They love Parkinson, Dow and coverups.


tidepool

yes they do Kevin! and you know what Republicans don’t love? Gavin Newsom, Heidi Harmon and the complete disaster that has become SLO thanks to the Democrat Party~


pigsrule

I’ve learned a long time ago, if Gibson is for or against something, go the other way.


jdchem

I would love to hear more of Miss Ortiz-Legg’s deep thoughts on the latino population.


obispan

Ortiz-Legg got a political patronage PR job at a short-lived-jobs solar farm and claims she was responsible for every resulting economic benefit. I’m sure SHE benefitted economically.


Cindy

Master manipulator Bruce Gibson tried to get the entire board to consider partisan makeup before voting, which appeared to be an attempt to get all the supervisors to violate the rules, so a judge could take over the process. But for Dawn Ortiz-Legg to attempt to get the board to throw out new state requirements to keep cities whole, took the cake. Integrity counts.


obispan

SLO as whole as possible without the southern developments both within and outside of the city away from downtown and Poly and the student neighborhoods. Atascadero whole. Oceano, whole with the cities it abuts and shares the beach and Hwy 1 with.


Mitch C

The idiot that called for.boycotting three supervisors homes and offices does not know how democracy works: those with the majority of votes has things their way. Those in the majority have the ability seek change in a democratic way: those who enjoy the majority position got their majority position through the support of the majority. Those with less popular support occupy the position that has less influence.


Further, Gibson’s time on the Board is over. He has become a political hack fostering unpopular positions. His constituents deserve someone who can and will advocate for them instead of pushing left wing nonsense.


Adam Trask

If only that were true at the federal level, where the Republicans have gained the WH twice in the last 20 years without a majority of the popular vote. And in the Senate where Dems represent 42 million more Americans than the Republicans yet it is a 50-50 tie.


Florian75

Actually our wonderful Constitutional Representative Republic was brilliantly crafted so there are checks and balances on the majority and therefore mob rule is avoided, or at least obstructed on occasion.


Adam Trask

Yep, but it also leads to tyranny of the minority. Such as when the majority of Americans, by a broad margin, favor abortion rights, gun control and less corporate money in politics.


Yet the Supreme Court, the ultimate instrument of that tyranny, is looking to restrict abortion, increase guns on our streets and continue to allow corporate interests to control who runs the government.


Moreover, when a senator from one of the poorest states in the nation can wield enough power to block the will of the majority, there is something seriously wrong with that “wonderful Constitutional Representative Republic.”