Two San Luis Obispo County supervisors withdrew their support from a redistricting plan they approved last week, but their three colleagues, who proclaimed themselves “disappointed” by the about-face, went ahead with the proposal.
The plan, which will set supervisor boundaries for the next decade, will go to a final vote next Tuesday. It must be adopted by Nov. 1.
Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira changed their positions at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting. Adam Hill, Bruce Gibson and Jim Patterson stuck with the boundaries the five approved last week.
The dispute centered on the boundaries of Templeton, as it has since the county began its redistricting efforts in February.
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Almost from the start, some Templeton residents objected to the way the county redrew district lines.The county said it has tried to accommodate them, even allowing one Templeton resident, Bill Pelfrey, to submit his own plan along with the several proposals drawn up by the staff.
The county has said repeatedly that under the law it must divide district lines to be as equal in population as possible.
To gather community input, the county held two public hearings, gave presentations in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, held workshops throughout the county and placed proposed maps on the county website.
The focus on Templeton arose from differing interpretations of what, exactly, is Templeton.
The county refined the district lines several times in a way that officials thought would answer that question in a satisfactory way. Two weeks ago, they came up with a proposal that kept the Templeton Community Services District and urban reserve line in one supervisory district.
However, as they have all along, Pelfrey and some other Templeton residents said they also want the school district boundaries in one supervisory district.
Supervisor Jim Patterson and others reiterated Tuesday that the board has little or nothing to do with the schools, which have their own elected governing boards. The county’s other two major school districts, Lucia Mar and San Luis Coastal, are divided among different supervisory districts.
That did not satisfy some Templeton residents, who accused the board of not “keeping Templeton whole.”Yielding to the seven people who spoke Tuesday and many others who he said have contacted him, North County Supervisor Mecham said he will not support the boundaries he voted for last week. South County Supervisor Paul Teixeira echoed him.
“If we are not listening to them now, what comfort do they have that they’ll be listened to later?” Mecham asked.However, Supervisor Bruce Gibson said the county already has relaxed its equal district guidelines, adding that “I don’t agree that Templeton has been split.”
Patterson concurred, adding that the changes Templeton residents wanted would have a significant effect on people who live in San Luis Obispo, who in turn would need to be heard on their suggested new boundaries.
They also said there was a divergence of opinion among Templeton residents, and Hill said it was disingenuous to say the board majority had not listened to area residents.
Under the plan tentatively adopted Tuesday, the North Coast would have 51,398 residents and the North County 53,287. The other three districts are between those poles.
The variance is 4.31 percent, a number the board can live with legally. It had sought, however, to keep the disparity at less than 3 percent.
Broadly speaking, District 1 is the North County; District 2 is the North Coast; District 3 is Avila Beach, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach; District 4 is the South County; and District 5 is Atascadero and much of the east and northeast areas of the county.
All the districts except District 1 currently have a piece of San Luis Obispo. Under the plan tentatively adopted Tuesday, the portion of San Luis Obispo that is currently in District 4 would shift to District 3.
Mecham 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.