The Mono County Board of Supervisors held the 3rd and final review for alternative redistricting proposals on Monday, November 8.
This final meeting was a review of all proposals submitted after the conclusion of the previous review meeting on November 2 and prior to the review meeting on November 8.
County staff also put forth proposals based off of previous comments made by the supervisors and pulling from favorable aspects of previous submissions.
Three new proposals were put forth for the board to consider. Two of these were considered to be Category B submissions, in which four of the five districts incorporate some portion of Mammoth Lakes. The other submission was considered to be Category C, in which all five districts incorporate at least a piece of Mammoth Lakes.
The two new Category B proposals, B8 and B9, were similar to previous proposals in the same category, although each had a slightly different take on how to deal with the Knolls neighborhood of Mammoth.
Both, as noted by Mono County IT Director Nate Greenberg, cut off a portion of the Long Valley/McGee/Crowley Lake from the surrounding district, pulling the population on the west side of Crowley Lake Drive into Mammoth.
The recommendation with both of these submissions “is to not consider any of the aspects of these proposals,” Greenberg said, adding that neither meets the goal of keeping the Highway 395 corridor beyond the town limits intact.
Regarding the Category C proposal, Greenberg said “I do not believe this is the best way to achieve something like that.” He suggested exploring tweaks to the map that would keep more communities intact instead of pulling population from a number of different locations.
The proposal “doesn’t outtright not meet the standards [for redistricting], and I don’t think it is immediately in the spirit of what the board is trying to achieve or what ranking criteria it is shooting to accomplish,” Greenberg said.
He then presented the two staff recommendations, titled Staff Recommendation A and Recommendation B. Greenberg said that these proposals came out of previous conversations with the board and were an attempt to find the most legal and logical way to combine the different approaches that had already been recommended.
“I don’t think this is the be all end all,” he said, adding that it was an “attempt to move the conversation forward.”
For Recommendation A (three districts incorporating pieces of Mammoth Lakes), Greenberg acknowledged the board’s previously stated desire to keep June Lake and the Mono Basin communities intact as one district. Despite attempts to do so, “there is no mathematical way to do it” while only having 3 districts cover Mammoth Lakes, he said.
Staff did combine both June Mountain and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area into the same district to consolidate the interests of those entities under one jurisdiction.
For Staff Recommendation B, Greenberg and co. were able to keep the Mono Basin/June Lake intact, bringing District 3 north and east to capture communities off of SR167.
In this approach, District 4 maintains a presence in Mammoth by wrapping around to the Nevada border and cutting back in along SR120 East, a similar approach to what is currently in place. The goal, Greenberg said, was to follow natural borders/features (i.e. waterways, hills) and roads as much as possible.
“I hope you all would be looking at total population,” said Jo Bacon, leading off the public comment portion of the meeting, “not just the ones who might vote for you.” Bacon asked that the supervisors take into account shifting populations within the county as well as potential future housing developments that may alter districts come the next census.
Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz addressed Bacon’s statements later in the meeting, saying that potential future residents couldn’t be taken into account when proposing new districts as “you can’t count people that aren’t there.”
Geoff McQuilkin was the first in a series of Mono Basin residents to support keeping the Mono Basin and June Lake within a single district. McQuilkin offered multiple arguments in favor: the communities in question are united under a single National Forest ranger district, all have extensive dealings with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as well as Southern California Edison, and all play a role in maintaining Mono Lake.
Former park ranger at Mono Lake Janet Carle referenced McQuilkin’s argurments and expanded adding that the area was “definitely a community of interest” bound together by schools, tourism, and Mono Lake.
In addition to geographical, social, and economic connections, “We’re also emotionally connected,” said Sally Miller, “There’s something really special about the Mono Basin.”
Connie Henderson agreed with Miller, adding “the sense of place and community is really strong as well.”
After hearing public comment, supervisor John Peters proposed eliminating the Category C proposal and sticking with Category B, asking to keep the area north of Conway Summit intact as well as the Mono Basin.
Supervisor Corless agreed with Peters rejection of Category C as it would “would serve to disenfranchise communities in Mammoth”, and said that she was also fine with leaving the Staff Recommendation A as an option.
Corless also addressed the “fear of Mammoth being overrepresented.”
“The reality is, the majority of people in the county live in Mammoth,” she said, “the maligning of Mammoth, the mistrust of Mammoth is completely one way coming from the outside in.”
“Remember that our communities are gonna be stronger together” she continued, “We can’t have a majority of supervisorial districts that don’t include the incorporated town … The town does a lot for unincorporated communities.”
“If we really want this county to thrive,” she concluded, “we’ve got to get over the [sentiment of] ‘I don’t want anything to do with Mammoth, leave me alone out here, I’ll be fine’.”
Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz agreed with Corless’ sentiments: “What I want to say is that the public input is something that we value and it just feels like people want to save their community unity and not split up because of [water districts, schools] … but at the cost of maybe splitting up another community.”
“We’re comfortable putting District 4 down in Mammoth,” she continued, “but not comfortable putting it in the Mono Basin … Something has got to give because you’re asking for your community to have all these things intact and asking other communities not to have all these things intact.”
“Some communities will make compromises and others won’t… we’re splitting my community up by a lot of people and giving it representatives that live in other areas.”
The supervisors voted 3-2 to make a formal motion to eliminate Staff Recommendations A and C from contention moving forward; Supervisors Peters, Bob Gardner, and Rhonda Duggan in favor, Kreitz and Corless opposed.
The final redistricting workshop will take place on November 16 to assess proposals in detail and come up with finalized maps ahead of a vote on December 15.