The Santa Barbara Independent Redistricting Commission made headway on its new map last week, beginning to narrow down the choices following input from city council members and the public.
Iterations of about five maps were heavily discussed during Thursday’s meeting, and staff was directed to prepare a “matrix” of pros and cons for each before the next meeting scheduled for March 9.
During Thursday’s meeting, many people expressed concern about the way Eucalyptus Hill was divided in the draft maps. Residents and council members said they would prefer the Eucalyptus Hill area to remain intact in District 4 rather than have a narrow section of the area contained in District 1 as well.
“I’d like to support the Eucalyptus Hill Association in that canyon,” said District 4 Councilmember Kristen Sneddon. “They’ve worked very hard and raised their own funds to mitigate fire in that canyon, and it’s all part of one neighborhood.
Some of the discussed maps (such as Plan 105B) took a whole triangle of the neighborhood and included it into District 1. Others (such as Plan 101R) put just a snake-like sliver into District 1.
Demographer Daniel Phillips said he would draft versions of maps 101R, 102R, 103R, 104, 105A and 105B that would keep the Eucalyptus Hill neighborhood together with the change not expected to impact the rest of the map in a major way.
The current Santa Barbara map has a population deviation of more than 20% — which Mr. Phillips said would almost certainly make it “presumptively unconstitutional.”
Population deviation refers to the difference in population sizes among districts. Mr. Phillips has said districts should stick to a deviation of less than 10%.
One issue to be considered by the commission as maps are drawn is the Latino citizen voting-age population (CVAP) in Districts 1 and 3.
While most of the plans up for discussion Thursday had District 1 with 50-51% Latino CVAP, District 3 is where it varied.
Iterations of Plans 101-103 had the Latino CVAP at 40-41%. Iterations of Plans 104-105 had the Latino CVAP at 45-46%, in line with the current estimate.
Iterations of Plans 104-105 took East Beach out of District 1 and put it in either District 2, District 4 or a combination of the two.
Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez said she would prefer to see East Beach stay in District 1, noting that community fit more with her district than the others.
“The beaches and parks in my district are the backyards to a lot of the homes in my district because they don’t have the luxury to live in homes with outside areas,” Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez said. “It’s very compacted.”
District 3 Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez said Plan 105B would stop his district at West Mission Street; whereas, it currently comes further up Modoc Road. That area, which would be drawn into District 6 under that plan, contains apartment complexes with undocumented Latinos, he said.
His ideal map would take Plan 105B but add the waterfront area such as in Plan 101R and extend his district further north like in Plan 102R.
Some other notable considerations of the plans:
Plan 101R: Every district except for District 6 would have a piece of the coast, and every district except for District 2 would have a piece of State Street. District 5 and 6 would remain virtually unchanged while District 2 would give up ground in order to allow District 3 to include West Beach. The total population deviation is 6.5%.
Plan 102R: District 3 would move away from State Street so it is completely west of the freeway. It would encompass the whole Westside and Lower West areas. District 1 would also shift away from State Street, but to the east, and take in Laguna. District 4 and District 5 would be essentially unchanged. The total population deviation is 8%.
Plan 103R: District 6 would shift south and include waterfront, from around the East Mesa area to West Beach to East Beach. District 5 would shift east to include all of northwestern Santa Barbara while District 2 would shift west to take in all of southwestern Santa Barbara. The total population deviation is 9.6%.
Plan 104: District 2 would shift east to take in East Beach and Coast Village Road while also keeping West Mesa and East Mesa. District 3 would include lower State Street and part of downtown as well as extend into Bel Air. District 6 would cross the freeway to include the area between Modoc Road and Highway 101. The total population deviation is 7.8%.
Plan 105A: District 5 would remain nearly the same, but District 6 would expand into the upper Eastside and cross the freeway to reach Modoc Road. District 3 would shift east to include part of the freeway and part of downtown. District 2 would have less of the beach but more of the Westside. The total population deviation is 8.9%.
Plan 105B: District 2 would move to the east to include most of the waterfront area with District 4 encompassing part of the waterfront area east of Milpas. District 3 would move east to include part of downtown. The western boundary for District 1 would be the Garden Street. The total population deviation is 8.8%.
“I continue to just generally have concerns that we continue to stray from the established districts that we’ve set up already which erodes the feeling of district community and neighborhoods as they are already,” said District 2 Councilmember Mike Jordan. “There continue to be fingers going east and west and north and south that don’t exist now in all the districts.”
Commission chair Melinda Johnson said Thursday’s meeting was the “largest outpouring of in-person interest” yet.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 9 where the commission will begin “winnowing out these plans,” Ms. Johnson said. email: firstname.lastname@example.org