Redistricting Committee hears from public
Among the deluge of numbers involved in Mono County’s Redistricting Committee’s work and the Census 2010 figures upon which redistricting will be based, one number can be considered the magic number: 2,840. That’s the minimum amount of voters needed in each district to comply with the state standard.
The maximum number of voters in any district? 2,840 plus 10%, or 3,124.
Mono County’s official redistricting process got underway Monday evening in Mammoth Lakes during the first in a series of countywide public meetings. The Committee, which is charged by the Board of Supervisors with developing three alternatives to bring before the County by July 19, will focus on exploring various scenarios, both internally generated and suggested by the public.
County GIS Specialist Nate Greenberg and John-Carl Vallejo from the County Counsel’s office told Committee members that a perfectly balanced set of districts is not realistic, more of a journey rather than a destination.
Not only population, but also topography, geography, cohesiveness and community of interest factors are all criteria for evaluation, and cautioned that population shouldn’t be the sole basis for any option.
The Committee’s redistricting will end up being very specific, zooming in from the three Block Tracts (north county, south county and Town of Mammoth Lakes) through the 17 community Block Groups all the way down to the 3,000 or so actual “blocks,” basically streets with defined boundaries where most of us live.
Census figures show that while the broader county population grew 4% on average in the past decade, Mammoth, , which includes all or part of 3 districts, increased about 16%.
According to the data, Districts 1 & 5 (Mammoth Districts) have to shed a total of 1,100 voters, and District 3 (part of Mammoth and June Lake) and District 4 (Lee Vining and north) have to pick up about that same amount. District 2, which includes much of the south county including Benton and Chalfant, is only 12 voters shy of 2,840.
The Committee was, however, advised that ALL districts are in play. One other hitch: supervisors must reside within their own districts, meaning if the boundaries change, special elections could be needed based upon how the lines are redrawn.
Most comments on Monday suggested a lesser concern for what Mammoth’s “remix” would look like, largely in consensus the town is “not the center of the universe.” Also downplayed is a radial concept, in which all five districts would split Mammoth, though it’s still in play at least for now. While interesting, there was agreement that it comes with several major drawbacks, one being a potential death knell to any hope of forming a cohesive Mammoth Regional Planning Advisory Committee.
Many seemed intrigued by Sandy Hogan’s analysis that there are two economies: agriculture, which is best represented by District 4, and tourism, which is better defined by the remaining districts. She suggested District 4 be made into a “front range” agriculture district from Walker and points north down to perhaps as far as Chalfant.
Danna Stroud added that perhaps Crowley Lake should be included in scenarios involving Mammoth, since it’s become a bedroom community” to the town, with shared facets including Mammoth Unified School District, among others.
Thom Heller thought there might be a way to package June Lake with Lee Vining and Mono City, though Committee member Rob Morgan thinks June Lake has more in common with Mammoth on a community level. “It’s moved away from Lee Vining,” he said. “June and Mammoth have similar goals and interests.”
One methodology suggestion from Hogan pitched the idea of doing “rough cuts” of scenarios, essentially running the numbers and cursory evaluations, without spending a lot of valuable time on unnecessary fine-tuning.
Whatever happens in District 3, most thought June Lake ideally shouldn’t be “carved up.” The Committee also wants to hear input from the county’s other four districts, especially as concerns the unincorporated areas.
Hogan and Mammoth Town Councilmember Jo Bacon praised the work of County Census Director Rebecca Garrett. “People think the County population is decreasing, that people are leaving, and the data shows we actually went up 16%. She did an exceptional job getting thorough, accurate counts,” the two agreed.
Meetings will take place in all five districts through the end of June, and possibly into the first part of July. The public is encouraged to attend as many meetings as possible, no matter their district. For more on the schedule, visit http://monocounty.ca.gov/redistricting/