The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has tentatively adopted a redistricting plan for supervisor districts that would redraw lines in a way that makes the five areas almost equal in population.
To do so, they had to draw new lines that would reassign thousands of residents in the South County’s Fourth District and the North County’s First District.
Under the law, districts must be as equal in population as possible. The county redraws the lines every 10 years, using data included in the decennial U.S. census. Since the 2000 census, the northern and southern areas of San Luis Obispo County grew more heavily in population than the other three districts, which set the reshuffle in motion.
If the board were to make all districts equal in population, each would have 52,438 residents. Currently, the First District is over that number by 5,560, and the Fourth by 2,948. The other three districts are short.
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The vote Tuesday was 3-2, with Supervisor Frank Mecham — who represents the northernmost district— arguing that the boundaries the board chose left Templeton too deeply divided. Supervisor Paul Teixeira — who represents the southernmost district — agreed.
However, Supervisor Jim Patterson — who currently represents the Atascadero area and parts east of there — said the plan the board adopted left central Templeton, including the boundaries of its community services district, intact. Some outlying areas ended up in other districts.
Some Templeton residents have also argued that they don’t want their school district boundaries in different supervisor districts. But County Administrative Officer Jim Grant noted that other school districts, including Lucia Mar and the San Luis Coastal, also were divided among different supervisor districts.
Board Chairman Adam Hill said that equal population distribution is the key factor in redrawing the lines, which drew a protest from Mecham, who argued that community input is more important.
Patterson and Hill — whose district includes much of the South County — replied that Templeton residents had differing opinions about where the boundaries should be.
“There is an ongoing debate in Templeton,” Patterson said, and Hill noted that the community has 10,000 residents.
Templeton, more than any other community, has participated in the redrawing of supervisorial boundaries. Of six speakers at Tuesday’s hearing, four were from Templeton.
Supervisor Bruce Gibson — who represents the North Coast — joined Patterson to form the board’s majority vote.
The county, led by Administrative Analyst Leslie A. Brown and employees from the county planning department, administrative office and Clerk-Recorder’s Office, has been working for months to redraw the lines. They have held workshops throughout the county and placed proposed maps on the county website, among other actions.
In addition to equal numbers, the staff considers other factors, including topography, cohesiveness and contiguity, which means each district should be a single mass rather than “multiple unconnected areas.”
The staff also seeks to ensure that neighborhoods and cities “should not be divided into separate districts when unavoidable.”
Broadly speaking, District 1 is North County; District 2 is the North Coast; District 3 is Avila Beach, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach; District 4 is South County; and District 5 is Atascadero plus much of the east and the northeast part of the county.
All the districts except District 1 currently include a piece of San Luis Obispo. Under the plan adopted tentatively Tuesday, the portion of San Luis Obispo that is currently in District 4 would shift to District 3.
Mecham currently represents District 1, Gibson District 2, Hill District 3, Teixeira District 4 and Patterson District 5.
Mecham, Hill and Patterson all are up for re-election next year, under the new district lines.
Should the supervisors adopt them in September, the new lines would take effect Oct. 27.