The map-making for the Santa Barbara County supervisors’ districts has come down to five maps, and the Goleta City Council met on Tuesday evening to choose which to offer as containing the city’s preferred borderlines.
The county’s Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission brings a year’s worth of effort to a conclusion on December 8, after first choosing five maps, or plans, out of roughly 80 that were submitted by November 12. The brief span is why Goleta decided to send a letter ahead of the commission’s next meeting on December 1, advocating for Plan 818 as its first choice, and Plan 821B as the second, judging them the least harmful to the city and its citizens.
The object of the county-wide map-making is to include the 10,000 more people in the North County who were counted in the 2020 Census, said Lanny Ebenstein, speaking during public comment. The resulting shapes enlarge District 4 (Lompoc) and District 5 (Santa Maria) in Plan 408B, have District 4 devouring most of the county’s interior and elongating District 2 from Carpinteria into the Santa Ynez Valley in Map 801C, squish District 5 up into a corner as District 4 balloons in 818 and 821B, or maintains more or less a status quo in Plan 822 — except in Goleta.
Plan 822 was the favorite for Councilmember Roger Aceves, but his four colleagues and a number of public speakers argued it divided the city awkwardly and, like Plan 408B, flipped too many Goletans into a new district, a disturbance the majority of the council felt placed their constituents with a supervisor for whom they had not voted through to 2024. The councilmembers voted 3-2 to affirmatively tell the commission they did not approve of Plans 408B and 822.
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Arguments were made by public commenter Greg Hammel in favor of Plan 408B, which divides the city along Highway 101, as creating an inclusive community of college students; the new District 2 would stretch from Western Goleta, through Isla Vista, to Santa Barbara City College. The council recoiled at separating their city’s political districts along the highway, deciding that their choice had to reflect Goleta’s needs, not those of other constituencies.
Plan 818 divides the city closely along the lines it currently has between Districts 2 and 3, and Mayor Paula Perotte pointed out it was advantageous for the city to have two supervisors to work with on issues, which include the airport, revenue neutrality, and UCSB housing. And, like second-favorite Plan 821B, it kept Goleta’s connection to Santa Barbara and into Gaviota and the Central County.
Of the fifth map, Plan 801C, most of the council declared themselves “agnostic.” Councilmember Stuart Kasdin, however, said it would be a terrible map for Goleta, dividing the city badly. His argument went unsupported. The breadcrumbs sprinkled from Goleta’s parsing of the maps seemed to come down to Isla Vista: District 3 kept its toehold there in the unopposed maps, while it was absorbed into District 2 in the maps most of the council opposed. Advocacy for other areas and issues, such as keeping Santa Maria and Guadalupe together, or which district the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys should be in, will undoubtedly be heard at the Redistricting Commission’s next meetings.
The council questioned why the maps had come down to the wire in this way. Assistant City Manager Kristy Schmidt explained that the map-choice meeting had lasted till 11:30 p.m., and the exhausted commissioners simply chose the five most favorable maps without explaining why. The timeframe was further compressed by delays in getting final Census information because of the pandemic.
More information on the county Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission and its meetings can be found here.