San Mateo County’s redistricting process is nearing a close after the county Board of Supervisors unanimously backed a district map with minimal changes which they argue best gives voice to communities and their individual concerns.

Supervisors entered the second round of map deliberations on Tuesday split between two maps, a modified version of one proposed by the Unity Coalition or a minimal change map titled the Communities Together Map that keeps districts largely as they currently are after adjusting for population growth.

As initially proposed, the Unity Map kept coastal cities in one district but balanced that out by splitting multiple cities, creating only three districts along the Bayside and pulling San Bruno from the Bayside into the coast as well. The modified version considered by the board returned a portion of that city to the Bay and while keeping the coast whole and retained four Bayside districts.

Alternatively, the Communities Together Map split a similar amount of cities but kept the coastside whole and retained four districts along the Bayside.

Members of the Unity Coalition spoke out against the county’s changes to its original map and public speakers implored supervisors to reconsider adopting the Unity Map as it was proposed. Among those in support of the map were Miriam Yupanqui, executive director of the nonprofit Nuestra Casa, and Rita Mancera, executive director of the nonprofit Puente De La Costa Sur.

“While I’m supporting this map as an individual, my support is informed by my work in the communities of Pescadero, La Honda, Loma Mar and San Gregorio. Having cities together is important but not more important than keeping communities of interest together and the Unity Map thrives at that,” Mancera, also a Pescadero resident, said.

Both maps create only one majority-minority district with Asian residents making up more than 50% of the population in District 5 which both include Daly City, Brisbane, Colma and a portion of South San Francisco and San Bruno.

David Canepa

David Canepa

But David Canepa, president of the Board of Supervisors, argued that the Unity Map substantially reduced the number of minority voters in multiple districts while increasing the number of white voters, potentially creating challenges for a person of color to be elected supervisors.

“Based on the data, it shows me the Communities Together Map paves a greater path forward for people of color to join the Board of Supervisors,” Canepa said.

Supervisors ultimately sided with the minimal change map despite being met with criticism for not accepting one of the maps drafted during the redistricting process, accusing the board of using the process for “lip service” and “checking a box.”

After new U.S. 2020 Census data was finalized, the county was required to draft a new district map that reflected population changes and opted to appoint 15 community members to a District Lines Advisory Commission.

The commission held numerous meetings and reviewed community surveys which led them to recommend two maps for board consideration; the Unity Map and the Espinoza Map which was drafted by DLA commissioner Rudy Espinoza Murray. The Espinoza Map created five minority-majority districts and kept most cities whole but removed Pacifica from the historical coastal district while placing much of the south county into the district instead.

Supervisors said they were unable to support the map because it failed to keep areas grouped by pivotal issues such as the coastal cities and rural communities which face risks of sea-level rise, flooding, coastal erosion and extreme wildfire.

But supervisors also disliked that a large number of cities were split in the Unity Map, noting cities should be considered communities of interest that should remain as whole as possible.

Canepa also noted that neither map received a strong majority of support from the advisory commission with both maps being pushed forward through a joint motion with an 8-7 vote. The vote to recommend a minimal change map to the board failed in commission with a 7-8 vote.

Supervisor Warren Slocum also defended the board’s decision by noting his district, which includes East Palo Alto and Redwood City, has long been represented by diverse leaders.

“I don’t think we’re afraid to change,” Slocum said. “I think we’re looking at overall the big picture and what’s in the interest of the county.”

Board Vice President Don Horsley assured the public change was coming with four new supervisors coming to the board within three years.

Staff will return to the board on Dec. 7 with a resolution crafted around adopting the Communities Together Map. A second reading will occur on Dec. 14, one day before the board’s map adoption deadline.

In other business, the board supported a measure proposed by Horsley and Supervisor Dave Pine to dedicate more than $200,000 to a Gun Buyback Program. The Sheriff’s Office is supporting the program with a $100,000 allocation and a community group, Citizens for a San Mateo County Gun Buyback has raised an additional $67,000 to support the effort.

The program builds on previous gun buyback events the county has held in 2018 which saw about 1,300 firearms turned over to the Sheriff’s Office. The new events will take place through 2023.

“I believe that together we can reduce gun violence while respecting the Second Amendment,” Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said during the meeting.

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(3) comments


They do, through their elected representatives. You can’t draw maps at the ballot box. All you can do is approve or reject a map…which will have been drawn by a small group of people. Unless you let a computer do it. In which case the programmers will have drawn it 😀.

Maps are political. There is no escaping that. So why not let the representatives we bind by law and hold accountable at the ballot box make the call? A bad map will be challenged in court or lead to their removal from office.


Conflict of interest by all. Let the voters decide.


There is an applecart in San Mateo County. Please don't disturb it.

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