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Opinion: Santa Barbara County’s redistricting hinges on your participation

By   /   Monday, October 4th, 2021  /   No Comments

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By Glenn Morris and Megan Turley

The right to vote is one of our most foundational rights as Americans — we have the right to be equally and fairly represented.

Santa Barbara County is redistricting, which means that we are assessing current supervisorial district boundaries and redrawing all five districts based on the federal 2020 census to account for changes in the county’s population and to comply with the California Fair Maps Act. This process relies on community members weighing in on what the County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors districts should look like. 

Redistricting happens every 10 years following the federal census and requires all voting districts to be roughly equal in population. Measure G, a county ordinance passed in 2018, requires that this decennial process be led by the Santa Barbara County Citizens’ Independent Redistricting Commission, or SBCIRC, a nonpartisan commission made up of 11 Santa Barbara County residents. SBCIRC’s mission is to determine the county’s supervisorial district borders based on community-submitted maps to satisfy the state’s legal requirements, and to accurately represent and enfranchise our county’s diverse communities.

We are honored to be the chair and vice chair of this commission. The SBCIRC’s top priority is to get our diverse communities engaged. We know that it is in the county’s best interest that residents in every neighborhood and community share thoughts on what your supervisorial districts should look like. 

What do you believe are your “communities of interest” — areas throughout the county where the population shares common social or economic priorities? This could be a neighborhood surrounding a business district or school, an area with common interests in a geographic or ecological landmark, or a neighborhood that shares a language other than English.

By defining your communities of interest, your input will help the SBCIRC properly consider the impacts of changes to a district’s boundary. Submit your thoughts on local “communities of interest” via email at [email protected], on SBCIRC’s website at drawsantabarbaracounty.org or during public comment at our hearing on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Betteravia Hearing Room at 511 Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria, or via Zoom.

Get more involved by drawing maps and asking others to do the same! This allows you to have an even more direct impact on this process. It’s easier than you think; residents can use the county’s online mapping tools available at drawsantabaracounty.org or physically draw maps using paper templates that are available at our meetings or can be downloaded from the website and mailed to the commission.

Residents can draw the county’s five districts or just one. These maps, along with the explanation of why residents drew the lines where they did, will help to inform us of your priorities and identities that should be preserved and represented on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Unfortunately, the delays in releasing the census data that informs these maps severely limits the time for reviewing and adopting a final map. We only just received the official data. Despite these challenges, the state set a deadline of Dec. 15 for our county to adopt a final map.

It is a sprint for the next few weeks — that’s all the time you have to draw and submit maps for the commission’s consideration. The deadline for map submissions is Oct. 18, to provide the commission enough time to select a final map by Dec. 15.

The final map will decide a great deal — including how residents vote, which communities they vote with, and which supervisor will represent them following the June 2022 election, and in all elections for the next decade.

We cannot accomplish our goal of creating the most fair and equitable district map without your help. Get started today by visiting drawsantabarbaracounty.org

• Glenn Morris represents the 5th District on the Santa Barbara Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission and is the commission’s chair. Megan Turley represents the 2nd District and is the vice chair.

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