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SLO County Board of Supervisors vote to redraw county's district lines after full day of public comment

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The Board of Supervisors ended up choosing the Richard Patten map over the SLO Chamber of Commerce map.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a new district map Tuesday that redraws the county's district lines for the next ten years after a full day of public comment.

It's called the Patten map, named after Arroyo Grande resident Richard Patten who initially drew it, and it substantially changes the district lines for SLO County.

The Patten map had been supported by the local Republican Party and was approved by the three conservative supervisors — Lynn Compton, John Peschong and Debbie Arnold — over the objections of the two liberal supervisors, Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg.

The other map in consideration was one drawn by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce and made more minor changes to the existing districts.

The new map splits the North Coast area into three pieces, putting Los Osos in one district and Morro Bay in another.

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The map drawn by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce made more minor changes to the existing districts.

Meanwhile Cayucos, Cambria and the rest of the North Coast region would be in a third district with the city of Atascadero.

The City of San Luis Obispo remains divided between multiple districts in the Patten map, just as it is currently.

During the meeting, Supervisor Bruce Gibson objected to the drastic changes that the Patten map would bring to SLO County, instead arguing that the U.S. Census results do not warrant major adjustments in district lines.

"My position on where we should go with redistricting has been articulated pretty clearly in a couple of previous hearings — and that again our consultant has reinforced today for at least the third time — that there is no need to make major changes to the district boundaries," Gibson said.

But Supervisor Debbie Arnold argued that the Patten map is more considerate of future population growth until the next census and said she believes it does not cause damage to communities of interest.

"I want to say, I am very supportive of the Patten map. It was interesting from the first time I saw it in that it takes into account each city, it tries to keep them whole and in most of the communities [there is] minimal damage," Arnold said.

Julie Rodewald is the Voter Services Director for the San Luis Obispo County League of Women Voters, who supported the Chamber of Commerce map, which is also referred to as the 2030 map. Rodewald took issue with what are called deferrals and accelerations in the Patten map, which refer to voters who would have the years they vote in either pushed forward or pushed back by being put into a different district.

"At the least, voters in Morro Bay, Los Osos, Oceano and parts of San Luis [Obispo] would be denied their right for a vote for a supervisor in 2022. Voters in communities such as Atascadero, San Miguel, Heritage Ranch, areas east of Paso Robles, south of San Luis Obispo and east of Arroyo Grande who would not have voted until 2024 would be accelerated and granted a vote in 2022," Rodewald said.

Andrea Seastrand, a Grover Beach resident and former Republican congresswoman, supported the Patten map.

"It is interesting to note that San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly do have a socioeconomic interest and they should be in one district, and I also — being a resident of Grover Beach for so many years — recognize that Oceano also has more of an interest with Grover Beach than it does with Nipomo," Seastrand said.

The board will meet again on Dec. 7 to introduce an ordinance making the new map official, though opponents of the map may challenge it in court.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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