The Santa Barbara Unified School Board unanimously approved the district map Tuesday, submitted by the Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and the student group Future Leaders of America, in collective efforts to preserve the voting power of Latine and other protected class populations.
“It’s your responsibility to speak up, to be informed, and to put yourself out there,” said boardmember Virginia Alvarez, in response to the dozens of public commenters, including many students, who have been vocal at every stage of the redistricting process. “I commend you for doing that.” The final approval will come after the map is presented to the county committee on February 28.
The board had three scenarios to consider at Tuesday’s meeting, but Scenarios Five and A, which both propose five districts, were the main focus. The significant difference between these two maps was the boundary lines for the Eastside, Westside, and Isla Vista, three areas with the highest Latine populations. Proponents of Scenario A, which was finally selected, argued that these areas are important to consider when drawing district boundaries, and dividing these areas up would diminish the voting power of the Latine populations of Santa Barbara and Goleta.
Scenario Five would create one district to include all neighborhoods west of Carrillo and north to Goleta. Eastside districts would combine neighborhoods above Santa Barbara Street with those in Montecito and on the Riviera. Scenario A drew boundary lines between these areas, allowing the Eastside and Westside to not be lumped together with their neighboring districts. Scenario A would also not divide Isla Vista between two other district areas, instead unifying downtown Isla Vista with Old Town Goleta.
Board members, even those who had previously been in favor of the seven-district scenarios, spent little time considering the other two maps, unanimously agreeing Scenario A provided the best opportunity for equitable representation. “I’m proud of this process and the unity the outcome will produce,” said boardmember Kate Ford.