In the past decade, North and South County supervisor districts have grown so much that they now contain more people than other districts.
As a result, some of those folks will find themselves with a different county supervisor in a different district by the end of next year as the county redraws lines to make districts equal in population.
The effort is mandated under the U.S. Constitution, which requires a census every 10 years, and the one-man, one-vote Supreme Court decision.
There are five supervisor districts in San Luis Obispo County. Broadly defined, they are: the 1st, North County; the 2nd, the North Coast; the 3rd, San Luis Obispo; the 4th, South County; and the 5th, Atascadero and rural areas stretching out to and including the Carrizo Plain.
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All the districts except the 1st District include a piece of San Luis Obispo.
The slicing of San Luis Obispo has been going on since at least 1910, when it was divided into three districts, according to county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald.
Some in San Luis Obispo believe that having four people rather than one carrying water for the city’s interests at the county lessens the city’s clout.
Those folks will have a chance to make their feelings known about redistricting as the county rolls out its tentative proposals and solicits testimony at 7 p.m. May 26 at the Atascadero City Council chambers.
Subsequent hearings will be held 7 to 9 p.m. May 31 at the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey Ave. in San Luis Obispo; and 7 to 9 p.m. June 1 at the South County Regional Center, 800 W. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande.
The Board of Supervisors will hold hearings July 19, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27.
The county planning staff and administrative office have been working on this since January, using sophisticated geographic information systems mapping.
“There are some great imbalances,” said John Kelly of the Planning and Building Department.
The 1st District, for example, exceeds the target population of 52,438 by 5,560, whereas District 3 is short by 4,234. All the districts face some disparity.
Planners can’t just move people from one district to another willy-nilly until the numbers match; they have to consider numerous criteria, including geography and “communities of interest” — a vague but important phrase that includes shared income levels and culture, among other things.
They cannot consider party registration or anything having to do with politics.
County officials want to hear from the public and are hoping residents show up at the hearings. They plan to present various scenarios for redistricting and eventually post interactive maps on the county website, showing what would happen if a boundary is proposed.
County planners will fine-tune the results of all this and present options to the supervisors, who will make the final call.
The new boundaries will be operational for the 2012 election, when the 1st, 3rd and 5th Districts are up for grabs.