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SLO and Santa Barbara counties start redistricting process, public can submit maps

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Posted at 11:18 AM, Jul 16, 2021

It’s a reshuffle that happens once every ten years, and now counties all over California will redraw the lines that determine how people vote in local elections.

Redistricting is setting political boundaries that categorize voters based on where they live.

Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are going through the process differently.

One has a group of citizens choosing the districts and the other has district supervisors making the final decision.

“We've had some choices to make about how we move forward, and they decided that no, they didn't want to form the Citizens Advisory Committee,” said Bruce Gibson, SLO County District 2 Supervisor.

Each supervisor gets one vote on the final plan.

Santa Barbara County went with a committee of citizens. Eleven people were chosen to sit on an independent commission.

“You know, an independent group of people really take that decision piece of the process and make that choice on behalf of the whole community,” said Glenn Morris, Santa Barbara County Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission Chairman.

Both counties are accepting map proposals from the public.

“Anybody can submit a proposed map and you could draw it on the back of a napkin, if you will, if you wanted to,” Gibson said.

The counties must abide by state guidelines for drawing the districts. These include making the districts as equal as possible, respecting communities of interest, and complying with the Federal Voting Rights Act.

“Can't have a long skinny district reaching out to grab a preferred community... they should be reasonable at some sense of the word,” Gibson explained.

Both deciding bodies need to have a majority decision on the final map, and plans must be finalized by December 15, 2021.

The maps and the finalized district plans will remain in place until 2031.

San Luis Obispo County is about to hold the first of many meetings on the subject. The first public hearing on the new redistricting maps is set for July 20 at 1:30 p.m.

To learn more about the redistricting process in San Luis Obispo County, click here.

To learn more about the redistricting process in Santa Barbara County, click here.