County district lines approved

An exasperated Board of Supervisors majority approved its final redistricting plan Tuesday over the objections of two its members, who insisted again that the compromise proposal does not meet the wishes of the citizens of Templeton.

“I can’t for the life of me see how Templeton is going to be damaged by this plan,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said. “I don’t see how the voice of Templeton is somehow suppressed.”

He joined Adam Hill and Jim Patterson in approving the plan.

Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira said the majority was not listening to the citizens of Templeton, which the trio strenuously denied.

Fourteen people from Templeton asked the board in vain to reject the proposed boundaries, arguing, as they have before, that the new lines do not “keep Templeton whole.” One said the new lines would “destroy the Templeton community as we know it.”

The redistricting plan, which goes into effect Oct. 20, concludes eight months of effort by the county staff, supervisors and the public to redraw the five county supervisor districts in a way that complies with federal and state law.

The final district maps put all of the Templeton Service District in the 1st District.

The county redraws the lines every 10 years, after the U.S. census. It seeks to make the districts as equal in population as possible and operates under other criteria, such as topography and communities of interest.

From its first look at the new county population numbers earlier this year, the county has been making adjustments, tweaking boundaries here and there in an effort to meet the guidelines.

To gather community input, the county held three public hearings, gave presentations in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, held workshops throughout the county and placed proposed maps on the county website.

Almost from the start, some residents of Templeton have asked that the community be kept in one supervisor district. The county made adjustments and allowed a private citizen, Templeton resident Bill Pelfrey, to submit his own redistricting proposal.

In an early September compromise, all five board members — including Mecham and Teixeira — accepted a map whose lines moved residents of western Templeton back into the 1st District. The move left the 2nd District with a smaller population than the 1st District, but it kept residents in the Templeton Community Services District together.

However, Templeton residents continued to insist that they want the school district boundaries in the supervisor district.

They were not swayed by arguments that the school district elects its own members, that a county board of supervisors and a school district are separate entities that rarely interact, and that two other major county school districts — Lucia Mar and San Luis Coastal — are divided into several supervisor districts.

Patterson said the Templeton school district is, and has been for at least 10 years, divided into three supervisor districts, and “we have not heard any expressions of discontent.”

In addition, Patterson said, some of the proposals by Templeton residents did not necessarily work well for Paso Robles, Shandon and San Luis Obispo. “Are you telling us (to) ignore their input?”

Mecham and Teixeira changed their votes for the compromise solution, saying they were motivated by citizen input. In addition to frequent appearances at public meetings, some Templeton residents have emailed the supervisors. Teixeira, who represents South County’s 4th District, said he had received approximately three dozen emails.

But Hill said the dispute illustrated a quandary for elected officials who must decide between “what’s really best for the community” and what “about 20 persistent people say is best for the community.”

He and other supervisors said they have received emails from people in Templeton who agree with the compromise. Hill criticized those who “are unwilling to accept any compromise,” a phenomenon he said is occurring with increasing frequency at the state and national government levels.

Some Templeton residents threatened legal action against the county and political action against individual supervisors.

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.