County supervisors were careful not to draw themselves out of their district when revamping boundaries last year but are now finding that at least one appointed commissioner wasn’t so lucky.
Although the number of appointees affected are limited, the Board of Supervisors have had to vote on waiving district residency requirements and discuss whether doing so is only a short-term fix. The board had no problem maintaining the faces already in those seats for now but there is some difference in opinion about whether removal is unfair to the appointing supervisor or maintaining an out-of-area representative is unjust to that particular jurisdiction.
“We have talented commissioners but don’t you think they really ought to live in their districts?” Supervisor Carole Groom asked her colleagues at a late January board meeting.
Groom agreed with that agenda’s request to waive residency mandates as a matter of public interest for the Arts and Parks and Recreation commissions if necessary until successors are picked. However, she questioned how long to do so.
“At some point, we should think about how long they should stay if they’re not in the district,” Groom said.
Supervisor Adrienne Tissier said she’s comfortable with the current exception and that removing her appointee would be “a disservice to me because I think he’s served me very well.”
Once she leaves office, Tissier said her successor should certainly choose appointees from the district.
Although the board was willing to grandfather in members where necessary, Groom said her appointee to the Measure A oversight committee was replaced prior to its first meeting because he now sits in Supervisor Don Horsley’s district.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors continued its residency cleanup by waiving the requirement for county Planning Commissioner Steven Dworetsky who joined in 2004 as a member of District Five — Tissier’s District — but now resides in District One, that of Board President Dave Pine.
In a memo to the supervisors, County Counsel John Beiers noted that Dworetsky’s home is in “an area as geographically near as practical to District Five” which is otherwise left without an appointee on the Planning Commission.
His term expires in 2017, the same as Tissier’s.
Beiers had county staff review all of the boards and commissions to see which required residency in the district of the appointing supervisor shortly after the Board of Supervisors finalized the new lines in October 2013.
“It is kind of a practical problem,” Beiers said at the board meeting.
Beiers later said the waivers are a way to get ahead of any issues and offer future flexibility if somebody moves or the district lines get changed.
The new supervisorial districts are a result of a voter-approved charter change moving from at-large to district elections. The ballot measure was spurred largely by a civil rights lawsuit against the county resolved by both sides after the election.
The new map, known as the Community Unit B plan, split four cities — Belmont, Menlo Park, San Bruno and South San Francisco — and kept District Five as a majority-minority Asian-American district. The county also cleaned up the lines as needed to remove so-called sliver precincts, which are areas too small to justify physical polling places. The lines will stand for the next 10 years until the new census and will govern this year’s two supervisor elections in districts two and three.
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