The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved the formation of a commission to oversee pending analyses and make recommendations on the redrawing of supervisorial districts based on the 2020 Census.
“The commission will look at where some areas have grown and where some have retracted,” Executive Office spokeswoman Lisa Brandl told the board. “In June 2021, they should initiate the redrawing, and by Labor Day, they will make a submission on boundary changes.”
The commission will be composed of each of the five members of the county Planning Commission, supported by a Technical Committee that will be made up of chiefs of staff from each supervisor’s office, along with personnel from the Office of County Counsel, the Department of Information Technology, the Office of the Registrar of Voters and the Transportation & Land Management Agency.
The Census was closed in mid-October, according to Brandl, who said the federal government should be supplying states with data by April 1.
The goal is to hold at least four public meetings to give residents an opportunity to submit their comments on proposed alterations to the boundaries of each of the five supervisorial districts, Brandl said.
The state deadline for completing changes, which have to approved by the board, is Dec. 15, 2021.
“Boundaries need to be contiguous, and there can’t be any drastic changes,” Brandl told the board. “There will be an effort to preserve city boundaries as much as possible. A lot of factors go into drawing boundaries.”
Supervisor Karen Spiegel emphasized the importance of “education and outreach” to involve the public.
“The integrity of this (presidential) election is in question, and now people have less trust in government as a whole,” she said. “Education is critical.”
Brandl said education and outreach campaigns will be among the leading items on the commission’s agenda.
Assembly Bill 849, the “Fair Inclusive Redistricting for Municipalities and Political Subdivisions Act,” imposes procedural restrictions on governing bodies, specifically mandating that they “respect the geographic integrity of local neighborhoods and communities of interest.”
However, most county boards enjoy wide discretion in redefining district lines. All that is required is a majority vote to change them, based on data. The process must be transparent, and public comment is encouraged under state law.
In 2011, the board was guided by a Redistricting Steering Committee, comprised of one representative from each supervisor’s office, the county assessor and an assistant county executive officer.
The issue of redrawing supervisorial district boundaries because of population shifts resulted in multiple hearings after the 2010 Census, which showed the number of residents countywide increasing by 42% — 644,000 people — over the previous decade.
The hearings culminated in testy debates, mostly between then-Supervisors John Tavaglione, representing District 2, and Bob Buster, representing District 1. The pair argued over division of segments of the city of Riverside, concentrated in the Casa Blanca, Eastside and University neighborhoods.
The goal was to abide by apportionment targets set for each district. Two supervisors then on the board, Marion Ashley and Jeff Stone, surrendered whole cities as part of the redistricting. To break an impasse, Tavaglione ultimately relented to Buster’s proposal to envelope several neighborhoods that had historically belonged to the First District.
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