The Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission will continue its selection process of the Santa Barbara County redistricting map during a meeting at 10 a.m. today.
The map involves the boundaries for the five districts that elect members of the county Board of Supervisors.
Today’s discussion continues the lengthy process that involved the selection of 11 commissioners over six months as well as reviewing and amending more than 100 redistricting maps drawn by citizens.
Political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years as a response to census numbers, which identify fluctuating populations.
The maps are required to abide by a comprehensive criteria, which includes the Federal Voting Rights Act, geographical contiguity, easily identifiable boundaries and many more stipulations.
The final deadline to submit maps was Nov. 12, and since that deadline, the commission has reduced the number to three drafts for further consideration. The commission will continue its discussion at today’s 10 a.m. meeting, which will take place in the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission chambers, 123 E. Anapamu St.
“Tomorrow is the meeting to attend,” 2nd District Commissioner Megan Turley told the News-Press Friday. “This is the time for residents of Santa Barbara County to come out and give us informed suggestions based on their personal lived experiences.”
She said the commission plans to make its final selection of a map on Dec. 8 or 15.
Mrs. Turley told the News-Press there are distinct differences between each potential map, and the commission is interested in hearing feedback concerning these distinctions.
“We are ensuring one person has the same value to their vote as anyone else in the county,” Mrs. Turley told the News-Press. “We don’t want to water down anyone’s vote or fairly unweigh people based on special interests.”
This venture can be easier said than done, and the maps have garnered significant dispute.
Residents like Denice Spangler Adams disagree with the operations of the redistricting committee.
“In my opinion, the process was not followed,” Mrs. Adams told the News-Press.
Mrs. Adams is primarily concerned with the amended Plan 818, championed by Mrs. Turley, which she feels was introduced too late in the game to be considered.
Mrs. Adams and others also are cognizant of the committee redistricting areas like UCSB and Santa Barbara City College, which may have an impact on voter demographics.
“The guidelines say to keep like-minded communities together and make sure it is nonpartisan,” Mrs. Adams told the News-Press. “It just makes sense to keep communities who are governed and taxed alike together.”
She said UCSB, SBCC, the Santa Barbara Airport and Goleta should be in the same district for reasons of geography and common issues.
The 41-year resident cited a lawsuit against the Redistricting Commission, which unsuccessfully attempted to block its hiring of a Strumwasser & Woocher attorney for legal counsel.
The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business claimed the attorney violated the basic hiring regulations by working with a “political committee” within the past eight years.
Despite this, a Santa Barbara County judge denied the petition, and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve the contract with Strumwasser & Woocher with Supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Bob Nelson dissenting.
The redistricting drafts are still open to change, which emphasizes the importance of public opinion in the impending meeting.
“The most valuable public comment is going to be new, specific personal information that helps us to add to our arsenal of existing knowledge,” Mrs. Turley told the News-Press. “I’m excited. We have a fantastic slate of maps, and they’re only going to get better as we get more feedback.”