SLO County wins first redistricting map challenge

February 10, 2022


A judge shot down an attempt to temporarily reverse the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ adoption of the Patten map on Wednesday, a win for the Republican board majority.

SLO County Citizens for Good Government and three SLO County residents, registered Democrats, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 12 challenging the county’s selection of the Patten map, arguing it benefits the Republican Party at the expense of Democrats and Latinos. The plaintiffs then sought an exparte order to temporarily restrain the county from holding elections based on the new supervisorial district map.

The plaintiffs wanted the court to either revert back to the old boundary map, or select Map A, both of which were promoted by Democratic supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg during the redistricting process.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that many primarily Democratic voters will lose their right to vote in the 2022 election because of redistricting, causing irreparable harm. Superior Court Judge Rita Federman did not agree.

“The right to vote may be delayed, but it will not be eliminated,” Judge Federman wrote in her ruling. “Accordingly, petitioners do not establish a significant showing of irreparable injury.”

Plaintiffs argued that the map chosen by the board majority diluted Latino votes, a claim rejected by Judge Federman, who found “there are no protected class interests at issue in this case.”

While the plaintiffs’ attorney said the 2011 map is considered the status quo map, the county’s attorneys argued the recently adopted Patten map is the status quo map. Judge Federman again agreed with the county.

The newly adopted Patten map places the largest portion of San Luis Obispo in a district with Cal Poly and Morro Bay, which plaintiffs argued was breaking up communities of interest in favor of keeping the city more intact, which is a lower priority. Judge Federman rejected the claim, writing that cities can be considered communities of interest.

As for plaintiffs’ argument that the county should have considered whether the adopted map favored or discriminated against a political party, Judge Federman agreed. Even so, the judge found the plaintiffs unlikely to succeed on the merits of the case.

While it is illegal to draw a district to favor or disfavor a political party, “the mere fact that a particular reapportionment may result in a shift in political control of some legislative districts … falls short of demonstrating such a purpose,” according to the ruling.

As a result of the ruling, candidates for the June 7 election will rely on the Patten map to determine their district. While the plaintiffs lost their motion for a temporary restraining order, the case is ongoing with a case management conference scheduled in March.

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Oxymoron titled ‘SLO Citizens for Good Government’ hypocritically argued that consideration for SLO City’s ”community of interest” should be subjugated and broken up into 3, 4, or maybe 5 districts in order to preserve intact other communities of interest. Sheesh, its apparent who would do the real gerrymandering.

People may not recognize it now, but Los Osos and Avila have plenty in common and are, in fact, communities of interest with one another. The Patten Map recognizes this fact. They both are situated on bays, both adjacent to the ocean, and both are the ”bookends” to what will become one of the largest tracts of protected coastline (30k to 40,000+ acres) between the Mexican border and Big Sur. Los Osos will serve as the northern gateway to this yet to be established giant chunk of coastal & marine parkland, and Avila will be the southern gateway. Who knows, one day it may even receive Federal status and be recognized under the auspices of the NPS as a National Seashore, making it only the second National Seashore to be designated on the West Coast.

The judge denied the Petitioner’s request for an emergency injunction but her ruling indicates that the Petitioners will probably succeed on their claim that the Board of Supervisors did not follow the law when they adopted the Patten Map.

“…the Court concludes the Petitioners have demonstrated a probability of success on their claim that the Board did not proceed in the manner required by law when it failed to consider the evidence that the Adopted Map favored or discriminated against a political party…”

Although they were not granted the emergency injunction, the case to overturn the Board’s adoption of the Patten Map is still moving along in court and the case management conference is set for March 14th, 2022

The judge’s ruling can be found here:

I guess we read two different rulings. “this interim conclusion calls into question only the correctness of the procedure followed” not the actual map.

A bit of wishful thinking maybe….there is no reason or case to be made to overturn the board on this issue….