County residents voiced strong opinions about maintaining the integrity of their supervisorial districts during a series of open meetings held recently by the Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee.
In 2012, voters approved Measure B, which amended the charter to require that county supervisors be elected by voters in five districts, rather than at-large by all county voters. The Board of Supervisors subsequently decided to re-examine district boundaries and allow county residents to participate in that process.
Citizens and groups have since been submitting their own maps for consideration, and now the committee is narrowing down a list of more than 20 different district maps based on public suggestion. Once they are drawn, the new district boundaries will be in place until 2020.
The committee is trying to reduce the number of communities divided by district boundaries, but given the need to divide the county's population evenly, some divisions are inescapable. As long as district lines aren't established based primarily on race or ethnicity, they can be established based on common goals and shared interests.
During a meeting Sept. 11 in Half Moon Bay, the loudest public voice came from Pacifica residents, who adamantly want their city to remain a part of District 3, which is currently represented by Don Horsley, rather than splitting it into two or more districts. So led by District 5 Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, the committee started eliminating all the plans that divided Pacifica or separated it from other coastal communities.
Committee member Hayden Lee, however, was concerned that the committee was going to single out just this one city, Pacifica, and work not to split it over all else.
"What about avoiding splitting South San Francisco?" he said. "I know some South San Francisco residents don't want their city split."
Others pointed out that even plans submitted by South San Francisco divided the city into more than one district, so it would be difficult to make that a priority.
Many speakers emphasized a desire to keep the coastal communities together. Meanwhile, Redwood City resident Julio Garcia expressed a desire to maintain the integrity of District 4's makeup, noting that the communities of East Palo Alto, Redwood City, North Fair Oaks, and East Menlo Park are united by common languages and goals.
He said he appreciated particularly one of the potential maps, known as Community Unity version 2-A, which kept that district together.
The committee is gearing up for its final open meeting Sept. 24, by which time it hopes to make a decision on how to divide the county. Until Sept. 24, residents can submit potential maps through the county's website at smcdistrictcommittee.org.