Redrawing Riverside County supervisorial district boundaries could go different ways, including a hybrid of current proposals, based on maps that the Board of Supervisors previously approved and will consider again Tuesday, following what is expected to be final public testimony on the concepts.
It will be the sixth hearing on the redistricting process that began in mid-September, and county Executive Office staff set a goal of Dec. 7 as the decision date, with the consent of the Board of Supervisors.
The deadline could be pushed farther out, depending on the board’s determination, though going beyond 2021 would likely place the matter before the Riverside County Superior Court for final adjudication.
At the last hearing, on Nov. 16, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries acknowledged that some residents will “leave here mad” because of how districts are sliced up.
“We are looking at splitting up unincorporated areas, and that is inviting potential conflicts,” the supervisor said.
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.
The supervisors signed off on three potential maps, now designated 5.1, 7.2 and 7.3.
Since then, a “community draft map,” named 1.4, was added to the list. It was the result of public input.
The boundaries of 1.4 would severely constrict District 2, represented by board Chair Karen Spiegel. The proposed new lines would split the city of Riverside, leave Jurupa Valley in District 2 , but would halve Corona — Spiegel’s home town — between District 2 and District 1, which is represented by Jeffries.
Most of the balance of Jeffries’ district would remain whole, while District 3, represented by Supervisor Chuck Washington, would continue to encompass southwest Riverside County, but then acquire Banning and Beaumont, currently in Supervisor Jeff Hewitt’s District 5, which would be left much narrower.
Supervisor Manuel Perez’s District 4 would expand west, acquiring several mountain communities now in Washington’s district, stopping at Whitewater.
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Cabazon last month emphasized the need to keep the San Gorgonio Pass together, which 1.4 would do. In fact, all of the proposed maps appear to accomplish that goal.
Map 5.1 would be the most generous to Spiegel’s district, expanding it from Jurupa Valley all the way south along the Interstate 15 corridor, ending at the southwest county pocket of District 3, moving Lake Elsinore and surrounding communities out of District 1, including Jeffries’ home community of Lakeland Village.
District 4 would extend to the outskirts of Cabazon and expand farther across the mountain areas, ending at Valle Vista, according to 5.1. There would be comparatively minor changes to Districts 3 and 5.
Under 7.2, District 2 would hold all of northwest Riverside County, with most of Riverside and portions of the Interstate 215 corridor remaining in District 1, but the boundaries would be much more compressed. District 3 would expand to the I-15 corridor, taking Lake Elsinore and the Temescal Valley, a division that did not sit well with a number of speakers at the last hearing. They asked to keep the I-15 corridor together, all the way north to Corona.
District 5 would extend south into Hemet, keeping Banning-Beaumont intact, and District 4 would acquire the mountain communities, ending at Cabazon to the west.
Map 7.3 is largely the same as 7.2.
Washington said last month that it would be necessary to “tweak the maps to where we have the strongest case for keeping communities together.”
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.
More details regarding countywide redistricting are available at rivco.org/about-county/county-boards-committees-and-commissions/county-redistricting-efforts.