The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has approved a settlement agreement with several groups that filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the supervisorial district map adopted in December 2021.
In the lawsuit, SLO County Citizens for Good Government (SLOCCGG) claimed the so-called "Patten map," nicknamed after Arroyo Grande resident Richard Patten who submitted the map, broke up communities of interest and favored Republican candidates. They also claimed the map violated the Fair Maps Act and accused the Board of Supervisors of gerrymandering. The League of Women Voters and three other plaintiffs were also involved in the lawsuit.
The map 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.
In early 2022, a judge allowed the map to be used for the 2022 supervisorial election but found the plaintiffs had a reasonable probability of prevailing in court.
County officials say that due to the significant expense and uncertainty associated with going to trial, the supervisors decided to settle the case.
The settlement requires that the "Patten map" be set aside and that the Board of Supervisors resume the redistricting process and adopt a new map in time for the March 2024 primary election.
Supervisors will have three previously proposed maps to consider:
A public hearing on repealing the current map and considering the previously proposed maps is expected to take place on April 18.
Also as part of the settlement, the county will pay the plaintiffs $300,000 for legal fees.
In response to the settlement, SLOCCGG Director and President Jim Gardiner said, "Achieving this result on behalf of the citizens of San Luis Obispo County is a victory for democracy. During the course of this litigation, we have come to appreciate that the preservation of free and fair elections is a goal worth fighting for."