County Supervisors Choose To Form Advisory Board To Redraw Map Of Their District Boundaries | Lost Coast Outpost
The county’s oversight districts will soon change shape – probably not by much, but the new lines could have significant consequences. Some might remember, for example, what happened ten years ago. Rex Bohn was preparing to run for his current First District seat on the Supervisory Board to see his then home in the Pine Hill neighborhood of Eureka come out of the First and Fourth Districts. (He has moved; issue resolved.)
On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Supervisory Board was given a few different options on how to redraw those lines.
Counties, cities and states must perform this redistribution, as it’s called, every 10 years after the federal census enumeration, and this time around California jurisdictions have new rules to follow thanks to a pair of bills passed two years ago in the state legislature – AssemblyBill 849 (aka FAIR MAPS Act) and AB 1276.
At yesterday’s meeting, Chris Chaffee, COO of independent consultancy firm Redistricting Partners, told the board they had several options:
- They could lead the redistribution process themselves, holding a series of public hearings and possibly selecting their own new map, or
- They could decree a redistribution commission, which could be either:
- fully independent (redesign and implement a new map without a map entry),
- advisory (develop and present to the board a recommended card for approval), or
- a hybrid commission, somewhere between independent and consultative, where the council agrees to accept one of the cards proposed by the commission but the commission reserves the right to reject requests for amendment by the council.
Chafee explained that the state has set a firm Dec. 15 deadline for the final passage of the new cards, which puts the county in a difficult position. The fully independent commission would take the longest, he said, so most counties choose a supervisor-led process – and Humboldt County in particular starts late.
Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone was annoyed by this fact.
“My preference would be [to establish] a completely independent commission, ”he said. “I think that’s what the public would probably prefer…” He said he would have liked these options to be presented a year ago. “It bothers me a bit as my choices are limited.”
Some key principles for drawing the boundaries: Each neighborhood should take into account ‘communities of interest’, which means grouping together areas where residents share social and economic interests, use the same means of transport and generally see themselves as a community. . They should also be contiguous (i.e. no small, isolated jurisdictional islands), compact (no odd, wavy peninsulas), and more or less equal in population.
Chaffee said that appointing and forming a redistribution advisory committee – say, with one member appointed by each board member – is “a great way forward. The county is working with the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) to develop resources and engage in community outreach efforts.
After a discussion among council members, Second District Supervisor Michelle Bushnell offered to do what Chaffee suggested: form a five-member advisory committee with council appointees.
The motion was approved unanimously. (Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson was absent for the morning session of the meeting. He was attending a meeting of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management remotely, which was discussing the future of offshore wind energy projects. )
Staff will return next week with an agenda item allowing the board to make appointments to the committee. The schedule calls for the committee to undergo training in September and a series of community outreach meetings to be held across the county in October. There will be five public hearings before the council adopts a final map in December.