Supervisor districts will be reorganized after new census results
Ventura County supervisors have begun the process of determining the boundaries to be drawn for the five districts they represent, a key exercise tied to the latest U.S. Census results.
Political scientist Tim Allison said how the lines are drawn can influence who gets elected to the oversight board and the kinds of decisions they make.
“Right now you have a very interesting board,” the assistant professor at CSU Channel Islands said on Wednesday. “It’s basically pretty split down the middle. If the board of oversight draws the lines in favor of the Democrats or the Republicans, you could impact the balance on the county board.”
The council establishes the boundaries of the five districts every 10 years after the publication of the census results. The process is meant to ensure that each of the five supervisors represents approximately the same number of residents, prevent political boundaries from being manipulated to produce certain election results, and prevent communities from being divided into separate districts where their influence will be diminished.
Officials will use 2020 census data expected to be released by mid-to-late September to generate draft maps for the five districts, project manager Chris Stephens said Thursday.
Supervisors expect to make the final decision on the new district lines by mid-November, a month ahead of the state’s Dec. 15 deadline for all counties, cities and special districts. In the weeks leading up to it, they ask the public for comment at community meetings that begin August 31 and at public hearings in the fall.
County officials said data and draft maps will not be available by the time community meetings begin, in part due to pandemic-related delays that have delayed the delivery of census results. But residents will be asked to identify their “communities of interest”.
A “community of interest” is a contiguous population that shares common social and economic interests that should be included in a single district to ensure fair and effective representation, officials said.
Standards established in state law state that districts should share common borders with other districts, neighborhoods and local communities should be contained within a single district, towns should be held together to the extent possible, that boundaries should be identifiable features such as highways and rivers, and that districts should be compact. Finally, borders should not be drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party.
First session on August 31
Community meetings will be held remotely in English and Spanish. They should be posted at ventura.org/redistricting.
The hours are from 6 to 8 p.m. on August 31, September 2, 9 and 13. A daytime meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on September 11.
The first drafts of the new district maps are expected to be released on October 8. A final decision could be made by the council on November 9 or 16.
Although the council is a non-partisan body, the composition of the five districts varies by party and ethos.
Ventura-based District 1 and Oxnard-based District 5 have elected Democrats as supervisors for decades. Camarillo-based District 3 has been in a state of flux in recent years — voters twice chose conservative Kelly Long after moderate Democrat Kathy Long decided to step down from the post she had held for 20 years.
Voters in District 4 have consistently elected Republicans to the seat representing the Moorpark and Simi Valley areas. Thousand Oaks-based District 2 is split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans, but more than 20% registered with no party preference, based on numbers released shortly before the 2020 general election.
Oxnard’s growth presented the greatest challenge when the board redefined the boundaries 10 years ago.
Each district is believed to contain around 20% of the county’s population, but Oxnard-based District 5 had grown by nearly 30,000, giving it 22%. The council balanced the numbers by moving the RiverPark area to Ventura-based District 1 and bringing more of South Oxnard to Camarillo-based District 3.
The new boundaries are expected to be in place about six months before the June 2022 primary for two hotly contested races for the board of overseers. Seats are opening in District 2 based in Thousand Oaks, where incumbent Linda Parks has reached the end of her term, and in District 4 based in Simi Valley, where Bob Huber is retiring.
Incumbents Matt LaVere, Kelly Long and Carmen Ramirez are up for re-election in the other three districts in 2024, assuming they seek new terms.
Members of the public can comment on where they think the new boundaries should be drawn in person, on paper and online.
Options include visiting ventura.org/redistricting or emailing [email protected]
Community members can also visit branches of the Ventura County Library System, Oxnard Libraries and the Blanchard Community Library in Santa Paula, beginning September 1 to provide feedback. They can use the library computers or submit written comments in the libraries.
Comments on redistricting and district boundaries can be mailed to Redistricting, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura, CA, 93009-1940. Residents can also book an appointment in person by calling 805-654-2998.