Residents of Isla Vista and UCSB, in particular, should be aware that in the three remaining Santa Barbara County redistricting maps, current 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson could become supervisor of Isla Vista after 2024 in Plan 818C.
Plan 818C would create a 3rd Supervisorial District comprised of IV/UCSB, the Santa Ynez Valley, and Orcutt. This plan has not ever been considered or vetted by the public and was introduced Wednesday evening for the first time. Voting analysis of the 3rd and 4th districts from 2020 indicates that Orcutt (the most conservative area in Santa Barbara County and a high voter turn-out area) plus the Santa Ynez Valley would outvote Isla Vista/UCSB. Both Bob Nelson and Joan Hartmann would live in the new 3rd District under Plan 818C, and the current term of each ends in 2024. Preliminary analysis, based on 2020 data, indicates that Nelson could defeat Hartmann by about 55 percent to 45 percent in the new 3rd District in 2024.
Redistricting plans are not supposed to take existing elected officials into account. However, that Isla Vista could become represented by a supervisor from Orcutt indicates that this is less than an optimal plan. There is no community of interest among Isla Vista, the Santa Ynez valley, and Orcutt.
By contrast, the second of the three remaining plans, 821C, could district Joan Hartmann out of the 3rd District, because the new 3rd District under 821C would become exclusively Isla Vista/UCSB, perhaps half of Ellwood, and the City of Lompoc, Mission Hills, Vandenberg Village, and Vandenberg Space Force Base, with the Santa Ynez Valley, where Hartmann resides, outside of the district. How this new 3rd District would vote would be an open question. About two-thirds of this new 3rd District under Plan 821C would become the City of Lompoc and the Lompoc Valley (Vandenberg and surrounding areas), and about one-third would become the South Coast. Historically, Lompoc and the Lompoc Valley have voted for conservative supervisors.
The remaining plan, 822C, would place Isla Vista and UCSB in the 2nd Supervisorial District, which makes much more sense from the perspective of community of interest. There is much more contact and identity between Isla Vista/UCSB and Santa Barbara than between Isla Vista/UCSB and the Santa Ynez Valley, Lompoc, Lompoc Valley, or Orcutt.
In addition, Plan 822C would place more than 90 percent of the cities of Goleta and Lompoc with the Santa Ynez Valley in the 3rd District, among whom there is a greater community of interest than under Plans 818C and 821C. In addition, Plan 822C meets the requirements of the California Voting Rights Act.
Another issue that has emerged merits mention. None of the Chumash villages that were historically located around the historical Goleta Slough are included in the 3rd District in any of Plans 818C, 821C, or 822C. These villages were all in the area, and slightly to the east, of the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, which is now and is proposed to remain in all of the three plans in the 2nd Supervisorial District. All three plans have about 10 to 15 historical Chumash village sites within their new boundary lines, including almost all of the historical village sites on the Gaviota coast, with Plan 822C having the most historical inland Chumash villages in the 3rd District as a result of its inclusion of more territory in the vicinity of Lake Cachuma.
Santa Barbara County redistricting occurs once every decade, and the Santa Barbara County Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission has held more than 30 meetings over the past year. The final decision-making meeting is set for tomorrow, Saturday, December 4, at 10 a.m. in the County Planning Commission Hearing Room in Santa Barbara. Participation by the public is encouraged either in person or by Zoom.
Lanny Ebenstein teaches at UCSB and is a past resident of Isla Vista.