With the release of the 2010 Census, Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors faces its decennial ritual of redistricting, and the launch of a concerted effort to involve its diverse constituency.
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday heard a report from Dennis Bozanich of the County Executive Office, who laid out the findings of the 2010 Census and discussed plans for outreach as the board solicits input from the community on new district lines. Chair Joni Gray moved to accept and consider the report, and the motion passed unanimously.
Allen described the demographic trends that have marked the last decade in Santa Barbara County, which as a whole saw 6.1 percent growth over the last 10 years. Growth was modest or negative in Districts 1 through 4, although District 5, and Santa Maria in particular, saw significant population growth.
As a whole, Santa Barbara experienced growth similar to that of other towns and cities on the Central and South Coast. That growth was handily outpaced, however, by inland counties like Tulare and Placer.
In facilitating community involvement in the redistricting process, the County Executive Office announced its plan to employ several traditional and new media approaches. A more conventional direct mail campaign will be accompanied by a number of online initiatives, including a new Web site and a Twitter account.
The Web site has a new, simpler address (countyofsb.org/ceo/redistricting2011) and will feature maps and census data (available in Excel spreadsheets) and other tools to allow visitors to think through the redistricting process. According to Allen, the Web site will be available within one week.
Allen unveiled a schedule of seven community meetings to be held in various locations throughout Santa Barbara County. They are staggered by location and time so as to allow community members more opportunities to attend.
Several (but not all) of the meetings are scheduled as bilingual in English and Spanish, which invited criticism from the board. Supervisor Janet Wolf suggested that the community meeting in Goleta, which was originally scheduled as English only, be bilingual.
Supervisor Salud Carbajal went one step further, recommending that all of the sessions be bilingual, citing the fact that the county already owns the necessary equipment. Allen demurred, saying that hiring skilled translators would only add to the $40,000 redistricting budget, but that the CEO would look into it.
The Board of Supervisors addressed several other issues, including the necessity of another $3,500 license for the county’s GIS software and the tightness of the proposed redistricting timeline. Community member Andy Caldwell reiterated these points in a public comment. The board ultimately moved unanimously to consider the CEO’s report with the redistricting effort beginning in earnest in mid May.