SLO County adopts redistricting Map A

April 18, 2023

Map A


Split down party lines, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to adopt Map A, with supervisors Debbie Arnold and John Peschong dissenting. Map is almost identical to the map selected in 2011.

Multiple supporters of the map change claimed the Patten Map was illegal and discriminatory. Supervisor Arnold reminded attendees and her fellow supervisors that the court did not find the Patten map illegal or discriminatory.

After a lengthy and contentious process, the SLO County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in Dec. 2021 to adopt the Patten Map, with supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg dissenting.

Split along party lines, local Democrats sought minimal changes while area Republicans wanted cities and communities intact. In 2021, several supporters of Democratic candidates Gibson and Jimmy Paulding threatened a lawsuit if the board majority selected the Patten Map.

In Jan. 2022, SLO County Citizens for Good Government and three SLO County residents filed a lawsuit challenging the new map, saying he map harmed Latino voters, broke up communities of interest, and harmed Democratic voters.

In Feb. 2022, Superior Court Judge Rita Federman rejected the bulk of the plaintiffs’ arguments, including that it diminished Latino voters and that cities are not communities of interest.

Judge Federman found the plaintiffs’ argument that the county should have looked at evidence that the adopted map favored or discriminated against a political party, accurate, though procedural.

Even so, last month the new board majority voted to toss the existing map, consider three maps supported by the petitioners and pay the petitioners $300,000 for legal costs, according to the settlement agreement.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote, local election law attorneys Stewart Jenkins and Charles Bell informed the county in writing that the board majority’s plan violates the 2019 Fair Maps Act. It is anticipated Tuesday’s adoption of a new map will result in another legal challenge.

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As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t much care for this map, and I also don’t care for the Patten Map. Map A helps Democrats by spreading SLOs liberal population to several districts, the Patten Map did the opposite – packing progressives into super blue districts to give the Republicans a more stable majority (which did backfire admittedly). Both maps divide and group communities of interest (Map A splits SLO but unites the north coast, Patten does the opposite). In a county our size, population, it’s inevitable that some boarders will be arbitrary and harmful…unless of course we do away with the dumb, politician drawn, litigatious lines and move to a ranked choice, multi member district board – all the upsides, none of the down. Only reason it doesn’t happen is cause the politician are scared they won’t win.