At the close of their fifth hearing on redrawing supervisorial district boundaries based on the 2020 Census, Riverside County supervisors Tuesday approved three potential maps that attempt to balance represented populations, though it was generally acknowledged that no amount of adjustment will make everyone happy.
“Some folks will leave here mad. There is no way around it,” Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said. “We are looking at splitting up unincorporated areas, and that is inviting potential conflicts.”
The principal goal remains having 483,637 residents per district. However, there are other considerations, including adhering to components of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibit “racially polarized voting,” mandating that communities of color not be divided up so as to lose their influence in elections.
Three maps — F, H and 1.3 — were approved on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Jeff Hewitt in opposition due to his ongoing concerns about the San Gorgonio Pass, part of his District 5, being split in two.
That issue also troubled members of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Cabazon, several of whom appeared before the board to urge that all efforts be made to keep Morongo “whole.”
“I know your work isn’t done yet, but please keep the tribe in one district,” Carolyn Horseman said.
Among the roughly 20 other speakers were residents of Temescal Valley, citing concerns about removing the community from representation within the Interstate 15 corridor.
Map H would prevent that.
Jeffries, whose First District currently encompasses Temescal Valley, said his preference is “to hold as many communities together as we can.”
Supervisor Chuck Washington, who represents the Third District, agreed.
“We need to tweak the maps to where we have the strongest case for keeping communities together,” he said.
Map F would abridge his district, moving Hemet and San Jacinto into Hewitt’s district, while ceding Idyllwild, Mountain Center and Pine Cove to Supervisor Manuel Perez’s Fourth District. Jeffries would lose Lake Elsinore, where he resides, as well as multiple other communities that would go into Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Spiegel’s Second District.
In addition to maintaining Temescal Valley’s contiguity with the rest of Southwest Riverside County, H would keep the Pass area together. But it would significantly curtail the First District boundaries.
Map 1.3 would maintain most of the First District boundaries, with the exception of the city of Riverside, which would be split between the First and Second districts. The Second District would also be compartmentalized, with some of Corona falling inside the First District. The San Gorgonio Pass would be severed.
According to census figures, the county grew 10.4% over the last decade, with the population increasing from 2,189,641 in 2010 to 2,418,185 by 2020, a net change of 228,544. Under the county’s balancing policy, three districts — 1, 2 and 4 — are in a deficit, while Districts 3 and 5 have surpluses.
State and federal law require that the districts remain contiguous, meaning no gerrymandering or broken lines to fit cities and unincorporated census-designated communities into pockets of one district or another. District 4 has the largest deficit at 26,173, while District 1 has the smallest at 11,079. Spiegel’s District 2 is down 17,579, according to the county Executive Office.
The U.S. Constitution requires a decennial Census, and in addition to local political boundaries being redrawn, federal ones are also modified, impacting congressional representation. However, that job will be left to a statewide committee.
Municipalities will decide for themselves how to divvy up wards.
The county’s last scheduled public hearing, which will likely entail debate over a hybrid of all three maps, is set for Dec. 7.