After months of public hearings that resulted in dozens of possible new supervisorial district maps, a nine-person advisory committee this week narrowed the possibilities down to three drafts.
The Board of Supervisors at its Oct. 8 meeting will consider the trio of maps — and actually can technically consider any of those not on the short list, too — before choosing how it will redraw the district boundaries for future supervisor elections.
Making the cut is the so-called “community unity 4” plan which leaves northern District Five intact as a majority-minority Asian district and lumps into District Four Redwood City, East Palo Alto, east Menlo Park and North Fair Oaks. Committee Chair Adrienne Tissier, Vice-chair Warren Slocum and public member William Nack abstained from voting but the six other members made this map their top choice. The backers of the April 2011 voters’ rights lawsuit which sparked the boundary changes also favor this map.
The second most popular map was submitted by the county’s Republican Party and will be renamed the “equity” map. The third was Nakamura 1G, one of several submitted by James Nakamura. Those two maps also move Redwood Shores from District Three to District Four and split Menlo Park between the two districts.
San Mateo County, the last holdout county in the state with at-large elections, is changing its method in response to a lawsuit which claimed the system violated the California Voting Rights Act by diluting minority votes and precluding Latino and Asian candidates from securing county office. In November 2012, county voters also chose to change the charter and switch to district elections. The new system requires that only voters within one of five specific districts can elect a supervisor who must also hail from that same district. Previously, voters countywide elected all five supervisors even though each lived and represented a specific district.
The challenge of redistricting has been trying to split the five districts as equally as possible by population while also weighing other factors like race, socioeconomics and voter “diluting.” As the nine-person advisory committee held a series of workshops and hearings, cities proposed for splitting cried foul and cartography experts said there was no possibility of keeping every one intact.
Prior to Tuesday night’s final redistricting recommendation meeting, Slocum told the Daily Journal he expected the Board of Supervisors to have a lengthy discussion before deciding but did not anticipate it requiring more than one meeting.
Once the Board of Supervisors chooses its map, the change should be immediate, according to county spokesman Marshall Wilson.
Along with Tissier, Slocum and Nack, the advisory committee members named by the Board of Supervisors are Daly City Councilman Gonzalo “Sal” Torres, East Palo Alto Councilwoman Laura Martinez, Hayden Lee of Millbrae; Raymond Lee of San Mateo; Barbara Arietta of Pacifica and Rebecca Ayson of Daly City.
More information on the proposed district maps and process is available at www.smcdistrictcommittee.org.