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Group files lawsuit against SLO County over redistricting map

final patten map.JPG
Posted at 3:57 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 22:16:15-05

The recently-formed non-profit SLO County Citizens for Good Government announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against San Luis Obispo County seeking to overturn the redistricting map approved in December.

The group, which describes itself as a nonprofit coalition of county residents, announced its intent to sue immediately after the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to adopt the so-called "Patten map."

The map was submitted by Arroyo Grande resident Richard Patten. It made significant changes to the county's supervisorial districts, including removing Oceano from District 4 and adding it to District 3, splitting the city of San Luis Obispo into two districts rather than three, and separating Los Osos, Morro Bay, and the Cayucos/Cambria area into three separate districts.

Those opposed to the map argue that it breaks up communities of interest and favors Republican representation, while those in favor believe it more fairly divides the county and follows all redistricting rules.

SLO County Citizens for Good Government claims that the map is a violation of the Fair Maps Act. It accuses the majority of the Board of gerrymandering and argues that no redistricting was required since the county's current district boundaries meet state requirements.

"The law also makes clear that any redistricting must respect and give priority to long-standing communities of interest, not dilute any minority voices, and not be used to favor one political party over another," attorney Mike Normoyle said in a press release issued Thursday. "Yet the end result of the Patten map is to radically rearrange, essentially destroy, long-standing communities of interest while giving greater credence to lower-ranked criteria such as keeping cities whole. This demonstrably leads to the radical redrawing of districts where immediate partisan advantage is gained for elections next June and for the rest of the decade, in clear violation of the Fair Maps Act."

KSBY News reached out to the county for comment. In a statement, officials said, "The County has not yet been served with the lawsuit from Citizens for Good Government. Late this afternoon, County Counsel obtained a copy of the complaint seeking to overturn the redistricting map and is reviewing it. The County will be defending the Board of Supervisor's legislative decision through the court process."

SLO County Citizens for Good Government spokesperson Quinn Brady says the non-profit has received more than $200,000 in donations for its legal efforts.

"This will be a sustained legal effort," Brady said in the press release. "We will continue fundraising to have resources ready to take every step necessary to ensure a fair and free democracy for SLO County."