Categories
News Redistricting

Orange County Residents’ Voting Power Just Got Reshaped for Next Decade

Orange County Supervisors reshaped the county’s political landscape for the next decade on Monday afternoon, picking new election boundary lines that Costa Mesa City Council members and many coastal and south county residents advocated for.

The new political boundaries, referred to during dais deliberations as map 5A1, keeps Costa Mesa in the same supervisorial district as its neighboring city of Newport Beach.

To see the county’s new election boundaries, click here.

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In keeping Costa Mesa with Newport, supervisors also ensured that the two cities most impacted by noise and air pollution from John Wayne Airport stay cohesive in their voting power.

The map, originally drawn up by various community groups and the ACLU, was modified by Supervisor Doug Chaffee.

Monday’s vote came on the heels of reporting by Voice of OC noting bipartisan opposition over maps submitted by Supervisor Chairman Andrew Do’s office, which were said to target Supervisor Katrina Foley specifically by moving her city of Costa Mesa out of its current coastal district for the first time in decades.

[Read: ‘Everything Has Disgusted Me’: Residents Upset Ahead of Today’s Decision on County Election Map]

While Monday’s vote seemed a direct rebuke of Do’s initiative, the result — as usual with redistricting — featured a mixed bag of winners and losers. 

Supervisor Katrina Foley during the discussion said she had “mixed feelings” over the new map. 

“Of course I feel — I’ll just say it — iced out with these maps … it is unfortunate that while I would love to serve the communities that District 2 will become, and I think I will do a great job, that’s not who elected me … that’s just not why I ran,” she said.

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Supervisor Don Wagner said the new map unfairly splits parts of Irvine, where he used to be mayor. 

Wagner, along with residents who criticized the map in the past public hearings, said the map would lessen the impact of Asian American voters. 

“If you end up drawing the line that 5A1 does, you inevitably separate those Asian voices,” Wagner said. 

Do and Wagner — both Republicans — said the original authors of map 5 were politically motivated to reduce GOP representation in county supervisor elections. 

Wagner said the Huntington Beach women’s Democratic club emailed its members to come out and support the new map.

“The Republican women apparently didn’t do that because we didn’t hear from them,” Wagner said, adding that OC Supervisors aren’t supposed to consider political parties when picking the maps. 

While supervisors’ offered different opinions on maps, they did agree on one thing: 

Drawing new election maps that will change the supervisorial districts for the next decade is tough. 

“No map is perfect. There are lots of issues that you can tweek this way or that way,” Chaffee said. 

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett also echoed Chaffee’s concerns. 

“This is not an easy thing. Every 10 years we have the census and we have to draw new districts,” Bartlett said.  

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Yet some maps were more controversial than others. Namely, Do’s proposed map. 

“No map is perfect, we accept that, but we strove to achieve the most balance,” Do,, said before the vote. “People in my party may even chastise me for coming up with a map fully balanced that it hurts us.”

Before Monday’s meeting, supporters of two separate maps came together to lambaste county supervisors for shortening the public’s review time of the maps. They also alleged supervisors largely ignored their weeks of input.

“Everything has disgusted me,” said Marc Ang, a leading supporter of a now-defunct map proposal, in a phone interview last week.

Ang, who heads up the business community events group, Asian Industry B2B, and formerly served as a leader for the Lincoln Club of Orange County, a prominent Republican fundraising group, criticized the lack of transparency.

“They’re not being transparent about the process. And it’s really amazing that my counterparts on the left feel the same way. It’s actually a very unifying thing at this point,” added Ang, who was a prominent supporter of a previous map supervisors rejected.

Despite rebukes by Do and Wagner over Map 5A1, the redistricting plan pushed by groups like the ACLU won out. 

“Congratulations. Map 5A1 it is,” Do said after the vote. “Congratulations.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Huntington Beach would be in the same district as Costa Mesa. We regret the error.

Categories
News Redistricting

OC supervisors reconfigure voting districts for next decade

New Orange County supervisor districts will soon be in place for the next decade, creating a first-ever Latino majority district, splitting up inland and coastal south county communities and likely setting up competitive races for at least two of the five board seats next year.

The Board of Supervisors chose a new map Monday, after considering and tweaking more than a dozen proposals and listening to pleas and admonishments from residents and advocacy groups at four separate meetings this month.

The map approved in a 3-2 vote creates a new central county District 2 (Santa Ana plus parts of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange and Tustin) with a Latino majority, something voting rights advocates say is warranted as Latinos make up about a third of Orange County residents.

It also divides the previously monolithic south county region into two districts, with inland communities joining Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills, northern Irvine and a swath of unincorporated communities in District 3, while coastal south county remains in a District 5 that gains Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

Board Chairman Andrew Do, who represents District 1, and District 3 Supervisor Don Wagner voted against the majority, instead supporting a map that would have split Huntington Beach between two districts and moved Costa Mesa into District 1 – effectively “icing out” District 2 Supervisor Katrina Foley by putting her in a district not up for reelection until 2024.

The redrawn District 5 stretches from Costa Mesa and Newport Beach to the San Diego County line, but it also includes Coto de Caza, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo – the latter two were especially important to District 5 Supervisor Lisa Bartlett to keep in the district.

That also matters to some residents. In an interview last week, Rancho Mission Viejo resident Roger Parsons said Bartlett has represented the area well, but he worried that his and other unincorporated communities could fall through the cracks depending on how boundaries are drawn because they don’t have a mayor or city council to advocate for them.

“I think most people down here in this area sure feel closer to the coastal communities than the inland communities,” he said, noting that Dana Point is about a 12-minute drive from his neighborhood.

Before the vote Monday, Bartlett said she appreciated all the public input in what she described as a “tumultuous deliberative process.”

She thinks the map that was ultimately chosen “really addresses a balanced approach to creating districts that work for everyone,” she said, noting that it splits fewer cities between districts than the other options and adding, “There’s no map that’s going to make everyone 100% happy.”

After looking at numerous iterations of maps originally submitted by the public, the board’s decision Monday was between one basic map and several variations of a second one, but most of the variations were discarded because they didn’t appear to meet legal requirements.

Under state and federal guidelines, an acceptable map must include districts that are compact and try to keep together communities of interest, which could include people with a shared language, cultural heritage or economic concerns, and it can’t dilute anyone’s voting rights based on race.

The map also must minimize how many times it splits cities between districts, and the populations of each district must be relatively balanced – there can’t be a difference of more than 10% between the biggest district and the smallest. The target population was about 638,000 residents per district.

During discussion Monday, Do complained about “constant threats every step of the way” that the board could be sued if it picked a particular map. Without naming them, he called out Democrats (Do is a Republican), saying, “the one party that insists on fairness and being apolitical is the party that I face the most threats from,” and that his own party may “chastise me for coming up with a map that is so balanced it hurts us.”

Supervisor seats are technically nonpartisan and the board isn’t legally allowed to consider how new boundaries would affect political parties, but observers are looking closely at potential impacts. For years, Orange County and the Board of Supervisors were dominated by the GOP, but that has gradually changed along with the population – in 2019 Democrats overtook Republicans as the party with the largest share of OC voters.

In 2018, District 4 Supervisor Doug Chaffee became the first Democrat to sit on the board in 12 years, and the party strengthened its foothold with Foley’s election earlier this year.

Nearly all the residents who spoke Monday supported the map the board eventually chose, with some saying it’s appropriate for Costa Mesa to remain in a district with Newport Beach because the cities share a school district, are partnering on a homeless shelter and share concerns about John Wayne Airport. Others urged the board to keep south county cities together as much as possible, since they have transportation issues and other things in common.

The selection of the new map has big implications for supervisorial elections next year. It creates an open seat in the new District 2, where Santa Ana will be “the big dog,” OC-based political consultant George Urch said after Monday’s meeting.

He’s already heard names of a half dozen potential candidates floated, but “they’re in a little bit of a sprint,” he said. “It’s going to take some time to raise the money you need to win.”

Based on how OC residents voted in November 2020, the new District 2 would be solidly blue. Urch said that could make it “hard for a serious Republican candidate to mount a competitive challenge.”

Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said he’s encouraged that Latino residents of Orange County and his city specifically will have more of a voice in county government.

“This will be an opportunity to have somebody to speak on our behalf directly” to advocate for needed resources to address homelessness (the city and county have struggled to keep unhoused people in several shelters rather than on the streets) and health care in a community especially hard hit by the pandemic, Sarmiento said.

The new district lines also reshuffle who can run for the new District 5 seat; Bartlett, the current supervisor, is termed out next year, but Counsel Leon Page told Foley on Monday she will be able to run as an incumbent.

Besides Foley, several candidates in Newport Beach who had already launched campaigns for the old District 2 will now face south county candidates who have been running for District 5. Chaffee’s seat in District 4 also will be on the ballot in June.

Supervisors still must take a procedural vote in December that will cement the new district boundaries until the next census.

Categories
News Redistricting

O.C. supervisors set to approve majority Latino district amid allegations of gerrymandering

A man passes by a mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Downtown Santa Ana Historic District.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)BY HANNAH FRYSTAFF WRITER NOV. 17, 2021 5 AM PT

The Orange County Board of Supervisors appears poised to select a map that creates a majority Latino district for the first time while also giving influence to Asian voters as a once-in-a-decade redistricting process moves closer to completion.

The lines for the supervisors’ districts have long been drawn in a way that makes it hard for Latinos to be elected. It has been 15 years since there was a Latino representative on the five-member board.

The board on Tuesday whittled down its options to five proposals, based on two primary maps.

Even as all five proposals create a majority Latino district, some of them prompted allegations of gerrymandering to shut out Democrats.

Unlike in Los Angeles County, which has delegated this year’s redistricting to an independent commission, the Orange County supervisors themselves will have the final say on the outlines of the districts they will represent if they seek reelection.

The first primary map, dubbed Proposal 4C1, was drawn by Supervisor Andrew Do, a Republican who is Vietnamese American, and creates a district that has nearly 53% Latinos of voting age, including portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange and Santa Ana. The map also creates a district with about 28% Asian voters.

The second map, 5A1, creates a district with 52% Latinos of voting age, including all of Santa Ana and portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Tustin and Orange.

That map, which also creates an “influence district” with nearly 30% Asian voters, was drawn by Supervisor Doug Chaffee, one of two Democrats on the majority Republican board.

Chaffee based his map on a proposal from the Orange County Civic Engagement Table, which aims to promote civic engagement in communities of color and includes Asian American, Pacific Islander, Latino, labor and environmental advocates.

CALIFORNIA

Orange County hasn’t had a Latino supervisor in more than a decade. Will redistricting change that?

Nov. 16, 2021

The biggest difference between the two primary maps is how much of inland south Orange County, which typically leans conservative, is lumped into a coastal district and where Costa Mesa, currently represented by Supervisor Katrina Foley, falls.

Foley, a Democrat, took issue with the map separating Costa Mesa, where she lives, from its neighbor Newport Beach and lumping it with the Asian influence district.

Both Chaffee and Foley are white.

Costa Mesa and Newport Beach share a school district, a homeless shelter and similar community concerns. The two cities have not been separated into different districts in the county’s history, she said.

“It’s hard for me to sit here and not feel that this is political targeting,” she said. “Under the California Fair Maps Act, one of the criterion is that you cannot politically target even a person that is on the dais.”

Dozens of speakers filed into the county’s chambers Tuesday.

“It is very important to me, the redistricting issue which could affect my community for the next 10 years,” Fullerton resident Alma Chavez said in Spanish, voicing her support for variations of the Orange County Civic Engagement Table proposal that did not move forward. “I support these proposals because they represent all the communities, especially the Latin community in Santa Ana but also in the surrounding cities which could be the most affected ones.”

Supervisors spent more than an hour on Tuesday debating various changes to Do’s proposal, eventually directing staff to come back with four versions of that map.

As Covid-19 cases reach record numbers in the U.S. and California, hundreds gather at the pier in Huntington Beach.

CALIFORNIA

Orange County is still ‘mother ship’ for GOP money, but shift from red to purple accelerates

Oct. 3, 2021

Orange County hasn’t been majority white in nearly 20 years and has become increasingly politically diverse. The county, once a bastion of conservatism, has turned purple, voting against Donald Trump twice and against the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom in September. Its population is 38% white, 34% Latino and 22% Asian.

Julia Gomez, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said many of the proposals, including map 4C1 that the board ultimately advanced, create a partisan advantage for Republican voters in three of the five districts, despite the GOP party registration in the country trending downward.

“The Fair Maps Act explicitly prohibits partisan gerrymandering and provides that the board … shall not adopt supervisorial district boundaries for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against a political party,” she said.

Categories
News Redistricting

Orange County hasn’t had a Latino supervisor in more than a decade. Will redistricting change that?

Nearly a third of Orange County residents are Latino, but the powerful Board of Supervisors has not had a Latino member in 15 years.

One reason is the way the district boundaries have been drawn. An east-west line divides Santa Ana and heavily Latino sections of Anaheim into two different districts.

On Tuesday, the board is expected to approve a majority Latino district for the first time, in a once-in-a-decade redistricting process following the national census.

The board has whittled down the options to three proposed maps, all of which create a majority Latino district as well as a district encompassing many Asian American voters.

Orange County hasn’t been majority white in nearly 20 years and has become increasingly politically diverse. The county, once a bastion of conservatism, has turned purple, voting against Donald Trump twice and against the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom in September. Its population is 38% white, 34% Latino and 22% Asian.

But, as is often the case, political power for growing ethnic groups has lagged behind their demographic strength.

Unlike in Los Angeles County, which has delegated this year’s redistricting to an independent commission, the Orange County supervisors themselves will have the final say. The board, which has two Asian American and three white members, has been majority Republican for years.

For Latinos grappling with rising housing and healthcare costs, overcrowding, homelessness and a pandemic that disproportionately affected them, the outcome will have major ramifications.

While a majority Latino district appears to be a certainty for the first time, the three maps vary in how much they concentrate Latinos in a second district and how much power they give to Asians. Supervisors have also proposed tweaks to the maps under consideration.

“They have been able to keep districts that largely return a very solidly conservative Board of Supervisors, despite the county becoming way more purple, if not purple with a blue tint to it,” Matthew Jarvis, an associate professor of political science at Cal State Fullerton, said of the board. “I think that population growth being what it is, they may be able to draw the lines for the supervisors’ districts in such a way to keep that stranglehold on.”

District lines are not the only barriers for candidates who are trying to appeal to Latino voters.

Latinos who are immigrants can be sidelined by language barriers and a shortage of local political coverage in the Spanish-language media.

By contrast, Asian American communities in Orange County, especially in Little Saigon, are politically engaged and turn out to vote at higher rates than Latinos, advocates say.

But “cracking” — dividing adjacent cities with ethnic majorities, as happened with Latinos in Santa Ana and Anaheim — has been a major factor, said Sonja Diaz, a civil rights attorney and founding director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.

“Orange County has for far too long been dictated by the policy preferences of an aging, white electorate that leans conservative,” Diaz said. “And I say this as a jurisdiction that is increasingly multiethnic and multiracial, with large communities of Asian American and Latino electorates.”

The federal Voting Rights Act requires that boundaries be drawn to give areas with a high percentage of people of color a chance of electing a representative from their community.

“I mean, 34% of our population in Orange County is Latino, so one has to wonder why isn’t there a voice for the Latino community represented on the dais,” said Supervisor Katrina Foley, a Democrat whose District 2 includes Huntington Beach and other coastal communities.

One proposal being considered by the board would create a district that has nearly 54% Latinos of voting age, including portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange and Santa Ana.

The proposal also creates a district with about 37% Asian voters, while spreading out the remaining Latino voters, prompting some criticism that it dilutes Latino power.

Another proposal would create a district where roughly 54% of voters are Latino, including all of Santa Ana and portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange and Tustin.

It would also create a Latino “influence district” including sections of Anaheim and Orange and all of Brea, Buena Park and other communities, as well as an Asian “influence district” including Westminster, a portion of Garden Grove and other cities.

That map, developed by the Orange County Civic Engagement Table, has faced scrutiny from some who say it splits Asian voters among multiple districts.

Representatives from the engagement table, which aims to promote civic engagement in communities of color and includes Asian American, Pacific Islander, Latino, labor and environmental advocates, spent months going door to door.

They asked residents about their neighborhoods and how the districts should be drawn.

“What I really appreciate is we didn’t do this with a political lens. We never thought about who is currently in office or who is running for office,” said Mary Anne Foo, who helped develop the map and is also the executive director of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance. “We did it more with a community lens. It was about people telling us what their needs were and why they wanted to keep certain areas together.”

While Asian representation is crucial, the Latino community is larger and has lacked a voice on the Board of Supervisors for many years, Foo said.

“Many times they don’t get representatives who are thinking about the issues that are impacting their community,” she said.

Anaheim native Lou Correa was Orange County’s last Latino supervisor, winning District 1, which at the time included Santa Ana, Westminster and a section of Garden Grove, in 2004.

He was the second Latino supervisor in the county’s history after Gaddi Vasquez, who was elected in 1988.

Correa served for roughly two years, leaving for Congress in 2006. He was replaced by Janet Nguyen, the board’s first Asian American member.

When the lines were redrawn in 2011, the supervisors added a slice of northern Fountain Valley to Correa’s first district, creating a population of eligible voters that was 34% Latino and 29% Asian.

When Correa ran again for the board in a special election in 2015, Andrew Do, who is Vietnamese American, beat him by 43 votes.

Do won again a year later against Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez by 643 votes.

Last year, Do’s winning margin further increased when he beat Sergio Contreras, a former Westminster city councilman, by roughly 7,500 votes.

Latino candidates have tried unsuccessfully to capture District 4, which includes heavily Latino sections of Anaheim and Buena Park. The district is represented by Doug Chaffee, who is white and the other Democrat, besides Foley, on the board.

Contreras managed to win a seat on the Westminster school board and then the City Council, despite a politically active Little Saigon population that fields strong candidates.

But the Westminster native was unable to get past Do in the supervisors race last year.

Latino residents would be better served by a supervisor who understands their community, particularly on issues of housing and healthcare, a deficit that has been highlighted by the pandemic, Contreras said.

“Politicians draw those lines, and that’s why Latinos in Orange County do not have a seat,” he said.

Categories
News Redistricting

OC Board of Supervisors draw their own district maps. Is that a problem?

New redistricting lines are being drawn statewide, including in Los Angeles and Orange County. In LA and San Diego counties, as well as for the state of California, independent commissions are required to draw district lines. However in Orange County, the Board of Supervisors draws its own. The Board is about to vote on a new political map for the county, but it’s being criticized from both sides of the political spectrum for a lack of public debate on the decisions it’s making. 

Categories
News Redistricting

OC could gain clout in Sacramento

State Sen. Josh Newman uses an ice cream truck to promote his campaign to retake the 29th Senate District on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 in Anaheim. Newman’s 2022 prospects could be challenging if draft maps of new political boundaries are finalized in December. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)By BROOKE STAGGS | bstaggs@scng.com | Orange County RegisterPUBLISHED: November 11, 2021 at 6:59 p.m. | UPDATED: November 12, 2021 at 8:48 a.m.

Orange County might gain one more voice in Sacramento.

Draft maps of proposed new boundaries for state legislative districts, released late Wednesday by the California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, suggest taking the county from seven to eight Assembly districts to balance out population changes found in the 2020 Census.

But if the proposed boundaries stick, several local incumbents could face tough choices, with some representatives drawn out of their current districts or into new ones that figure to be less favorable to their 2022 re-election.

So, while these maps could change significantly before final maps are due Dec. 27, they’re already causing heartburn for some politicians and their consultants.

“This is the quandary for any legislator,” said State Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, whose district could get much more Republican if draft maps stick. He added that’s why redistricting is “not supposed to be up to us,” referring to elected officials.

The redrawing of political maps, known as redistricting, happens every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information. This cycle, census data shows there needs to be about 988,000 people in each state Senate district and 494,000 people in each Assembly district.

In California, to avoid partisan gerrymandering and to make line drawing more transparent, the process has been handled since 2008 by a Citizens Redistricting Commission, which includes 14 volunteers who represent diverse political views and different parts of the state. They’ve been collecting public input and meeting for months, approving draft maps for all of California’s federal and state districts Wednesday night.

Those maps aren’t great news for Newman, who won the current SD-29 seat in 2016, was recalled in 2018, and won it back in 2020.

Newman’s district now leans solidly blue. But under the proposed boundaries, while he’d still live inside the district, he would lose much of his left-leaning city of Fullerton along with his portions of Anaheim and Los Angeles County. Meanwhile, he’d face voters from the solidly red eastern part of Orange County, from Anaheim Hills south to Mission Viejo.

Unlike House members, who only need to live in the same state where they run, state legislators are legally required to live in the district they represent. That might pose problems for State Sen. Bob Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera, if draft maps stick.

Archuleta represents a largely Los Angeles County district that now also includes a portion of Buena Park. The new lines would add a portion of La Habra, and it would not include Archuleta’s current neighborhood. That means he’d need to move into the newly drawn district or run against fellow Democratic State Sen. Susan Rubio in 2022.https://public.tableau.com/views/CASenateMaps/DraftMap?:embed=y&:display_count=yes&publish=yes&:toolbar=no&:showVizHome=no

Preliminary maps also draw State Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, out of her district, which includes southern Orange County and northern San Diego County. But Bates is termed out next year and can’t run for re-election. She is considering a run for Secretary of State.

Both of the leading contenders for Bates’ seat — Republican Lisa Bartlett, a county supervisor from Dana Point, and Democrat Catherine Blakespear, mayor of Encinitas — appear to live in the district’s proposed new boundaries. But, as drawn, the new district could favor Blakespear, since it might include less of the GOP-leaning portion of O.C.

Prior to the release of the preliminary maps, some voters were concerned that the commission would split Little Saigon into two state Senate districts. Earlier, unofficial preliminary maps did show Little Saigon divided, with some parts staying in an area now represented by State Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, and the rest in new district that would include Garden Grove, Westminster and Seal Beach. Advocates of the Vietnamese community worried that the changes would weaken Little Saigon’s voice in Sacramento.

The latest draft keeps the heart of Little Saigon intact, but moves it to a potential new district now represented by State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine.

Orrin Evans, a political consultant who works on a number of Democratic campaigns in Orange County, said one concern about the new state Senate lines is that the county’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have been divided up between districts, mentioning Irvine and other key places. So Evans said he still sees lots of work to do to ensure the county’s AAPI communities have a strong voice in Sacramento.

On the Assembly side, the biggest hits might come to Assemblyman Stephen Choi, R-Irvine, and Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel.

Right now, Choi’s 68th District includes a slice of east Irvine, where he lives, and heavily red portions of southeast Orange County. But in draft maps, the new district would cover all of solidly blue Irvine plus portions of Tustin and Costa Mesa.

This week, prior to the maps being released, Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim, a Democrat, filed to run for Assembly, setting up a potential battle with Choi.https://public.tableau.com/views/CAAssemblyMaps/DraftMap?:embed=y&:display_count=yes&publish=yes&:toolbar=no&:showVizHome=no

For Davies, her southern O.C. seat has been the the county’s most solidly Republican Assembly district. But the proposed new lines take in portions of blue-leaning northern San Diego County, which could attract new challengers from the left.

For many observers, one of the most perplexing proposals is the creation of a new Assembly district in southeast Orange County.

The cities of Rancho Santa Margarita and Mission Viejo, plus the canyon communities, are lumped into an Assembly district with Murrieta and Temecula, which sit on the other side of the Santa Ana Mountains in southwest Riverside County. While the Ortega Highway does connect the two areas, not much else seems to.

The maps also draw GOP incumbent Janet Nguyen into a coastal district with Democratic incumbent Cottie Petrie-Norris. And they take Little Saigon out of Nguyen’s district and create a new one centered around the Vietnamese community, sparking speculation that Nguyen might move if the proposal sticks.

Evans expects there will be significant changes to the maps before the Dec. 27 deadline, with public comment now open.

Residents can visit WeDrawTheLinesCA.org to learn more about the process and learn how to submit comments in writing or during upcoming hearings, which pick up Saturday, Nov. 13.

Categories
News Redistricting

Proposed maps could roil OC politics

Reps. Young Kim, left, and Michelle Steel share a laugh together in Buena Park, CA on Friday, December 18, 2020. Districts they represent could see big changes through redistricting now underway. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)By BROOKE STAGGS | bstaggs@scng.com | Orange County RegisterPUBLISHED: November 11, 2021 at 12:01 p.m. | UPDATED: November 11, 2021 at 5:01 p.m.

Reps. Katie Porter, Michelle Steel and Young Kim might not live in their congressional districts any more.

What’s more, the political lean of those and other local seats might shift — some dramatically.

And, overall, Orange County might lose one voice in Washington, D.C., with the seat now held by Rep. Alan Lowenthal shifting north and shrinking the number of House seats that touch the county from seven to six.

Those are some of the changes proposed in the draft maps of new state and federal political districts released late Wednesday by California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The maps — which still could be altered significantly before becoming final on Dec. 27– are part of a once-a-decade redistricting process that’s required under federal law. The public is expected to continue to weigh in, and legal challenges are possible. But once adopted, the maps will hold until the next redistricting following the 2030 Census.

As drawn, the new local maps could make the biggest changes to the county’s Congressional delegation. That, in turn, could be a key to the short-term balance of power in the House of Representatives, where Democrats currently hold an eight seat majority.

For example, Porter’s current district, CA-45, could lose part of Irvine and become more Republican, while Steel’s CA-48 might lose Little Saigon and lean more to the left. Political observers raised the possibility that those changes could prompt the two representatives — both of whom are expected to run again next year — to run for different districts in ’22.

And though the proposals that would push sitting House members out of their districts carry no legal weight, since House members aren’t required to live in their district, voters tend to prefer local representation.https://public.tableau.com/views/CongressionalMaps/Compare?:embed=y&:display_count=yes&publish=yes&:toolbar=no&:showVizHome=no

The redrawing of political maps, known as redistricting, happens just once every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information. This year, because California’s population growth is slowing, the state will send 52 people to the House, down from 53, a change that is complicating this cycle of map drawing. Also, population shift within the state will affect the new maps for 40 California State Senate seats and 80 Assembly seats, and the four districts that make up the State Board of Equalization.

The legal mandate for every district is to ensure fair representation. Districts must be contiguous and compact, with communities that share common interests kept together whenever possible.

And, as part of the federal Voting Rights Act, new maps must protect districts with high percentages of minority voters. Under current lines, four House districts that touch Orange County are majority-minority districts, with protected concentrations of Latino and Asian American residents in CA-38, CA-39, CA-46 and CA-47.

In California, to avoid gerrymandering and to make line drawing more transparent, the process has been handled since 2008 by a Citizens Redistricting Commission, which includes 14 volunteers who represent diverse political views and different parts of the state.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Census counts and processing for several months. California’s commission did get one deadline extension for maps, but the courts denied a request to push the final due date into January.

“It’s obviously a massive jigsaw puzzle to follow the directives of roughly equal populations, following the VRA parameters, and keeping communities of interest together — and pleasing the requests from public comments,” said Jodi Balma, a political science professor at Fullerton College who’s been tracking the process.

Despite the sometimes chaotic live line-drawing process, Balma said she’s been impressed with how responsive the commission has been to public comments. She also noted how well they seemed to know Orange County, with commissioners sometimes talking in detail about Little Saigon and even identifying streets that divide towns — “like ‘Chapman/Malvern’ being the start of south Fullerton and a good place to put a boundary line.”

The lines also will be shuffled to represent changes in population.

Porter’s 45th District is the only one in Orange County that’s overpopulated based on 2020 census counts, with 53,645 people too many, according to data compiled by City University of New York’s Center for Urban Research. That means the district needs to shrink in size, while every other district that touches Orange County needs to grow — by at little as 10,301 people in CA-49 to as much as 57,554  in CA-46.

The new proposal would shrink Porter’s district by moving a huge swath of Irvine — including the portion where she lives, near UC Irvine — to CA-48. Porter’s district also would move north to include portions of the solidly red cities of Yorba Linda and Placentia, and cross into San Bernardino County to pick up the right-leaning city of Chino Hills.

Those changes would make the inland O.C. district shift from plus 11 points for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election to only plus four. Dave Wasserman with Cook Political Report says it would makes her one of the top 10 biggest “losers” in the draft maps. But Porter also is one of the highest profile members of the House, raising more money last quarter than any other Democrat, which could help her overcome that partisan gap.

On Thursday, Porter’s office sent this statement: “Because the Congressional map is not yet finalized, our campaign will refrain from commenting on where lines are drawn, so as to avoid even the appearance of trying to influence the commission.”

Steel, R-Seal Beach, suffered a similar blow in the new district maps. By picking up the bluest portion of Irvine and losing her chunk of Little Saigon, Cook Political Report says her district would go from plus two for Biden to plus nine based on last year’s election. The maps also carve Seal Beach, where Steel lives, out of the north coastal district and lumps it in with a district that now would stretch to Yorba Linda — an area now represented by fellow GOP Rep. Young Kim.

Those changes could be good news for Democrat Harley Rouda, who lost the current CA-48 seat to Steel in 2020 and is challenging her again in 2022. Earlier pre-draft maps proposed carving Laguna Beach — where Rouda lives — out of what’s now CA-48, but that idea went away in Wednesday’s maps.

In response to the proposed lines, Rouda said in a statement that he’s confident “this seat will remain the most competitive race in the nation once the final maps are approved.”

The biggest change from a geographical standpoint to a local House seat is to what’s now the 39th District, represented by Kim.

The district now includes northeast Orange County plus significant portions of southeast Los Angeles County and Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. But under the proposed map, that district would be almost entirely in Orange County, stretching from Yorba Linda southwest to pick up Little Saigon and reach the coast.

Ironically, the only sliver of north O.C. that wouldn’t be in the district is a chunk of La Habra — possibly including the area where Kim lives. That section of the city would be lumped in with a Los Angeles County district that roughly aligns with one now represented by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Whitter.

“Congresswoman Kim is monitoring the redistricting process, but her top priority right now as always is to deliver results for her constituents,” her office said in response to requests for comment.

Proposed changes to districts represented by Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, and Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, were more minor, only making Levin’s district a bit more competitive for his GOP challengers.

During public input meetings and in written comments, some county residents pushed for one congressional district to represent the entire coastal area, rather than the current split with northern coastal cities in CA-48 and southern cities in CA-49. That idea was included in some preliminary maps but didn’t stick in the drafts.

The changes spark many questions swirling among political observers. Some of the questions raised by political observers, online and in person:

• Could Steel shift to the inland Orange County district, possibly moving to Yorba Linda and running for a more favorable seat? And would Porter consider running for the more favorable north coastal district?

• Where would such moves leave Rouda, who won a competitive district in 2018 and is viewed as a potentially strong candidate in ’22?

• Might Democrats want to keep Porter in the tougher race, since she’s one of few Democrats who might stand a chance of hanging onto such a right-leaning district?

Balma said she expects the preliminary maps will draw more comments and input, with significant changes possible before the Dec. 27 deadline.

Residents can visit WeDrawTheLinesCA.org to learn more about the process and learn how to submit comments in writing or during upcoming hearings, which pick up Saturday, Nov. 13.

Categories
News Redistricting

OC Supervisors may make more changes to maps

One of many variations on district lines the OC Board of Supervisors looked at during the redistricting process. (Screen grab of cob.ocgov.com)By ALICIA ROBINSON | arobinson@scng.com | The Orange County RegisterPUBLISHED: November 9, 2021 at 6:05 p.m. | UPDATED: November 11, 2021 at 9:45 a.m.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately described limits on how redistricting maps can split cities between districts.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors may have up to 14 map variations to choose from when it decides soon on new boundary lines for OC’s five supervisorial districts.

The board is scheduled to meet Nov. 16 and Nov. 22 to consider proposed maps that incorporate the county’s growth as recorded by the 2020 census. The boundaries supervisors choose now will remain in place until after the 2030 census.

While Los Angeles and San Diego counties are legally required by elections code to create independent redistricting commissions, how to run the process in Orange County is left to supervisors’ discretion. Maps creating new districts were submitted by the public, but supervisors can move the lines around as they see fit, as long as the final product complies with the federal Voting Rights Act.

The board narrowed eight proposed maps down to three earlier this month, and then supervisors and their staffs tweaked the three proposals to create six more maps. Board Chairman Andrew Do told supervisors on Tuesday each can submit one more proposal with changes before they meet next week, for a potential total of 14 choices.

Each of the proposals so far would make fairly significant changes to existing supervisorial districts.

Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Westminster are currently grouped together in District 1. Most of the new proposals would carve out a Latino majority voting district including Santa Ana, part of Orange and the western portion of Anaheim.

Irvine is now split between two districts, something several people who spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting wanted to see remedied. Several proposed maps would unite all of Irvine, with some grouping it with coastal cities Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and one adding it to an inland South County district including Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and the unincorporated canyon communities.

Today OC’s coastal cities from Newport Beach northward are in District 2, and from Laguna Beach southward are in District 5, which includes most of southern OC. One proposed map creates a district that runs the length of the county’s coastline, minus Seal Beach, and another draws three districts that touch the sea.

Speakers on Tuesday again emphasized to the board they want a map that acknowledges the growth in the county’s Latino population, now more than a third of OC residents, and one that doesn’t split up or dilute the voting power of Asian American communities with shared political, social and economic interests.

Many commenters brought up the Voting Rights Act, which some said requires the county to create a Latino majority district. Senior Assistant County Counsel Nicole Walsh said that’s not technically accurate – the law prohibits “practices that result in a denial or abridgement” of someone’s right to vote based on race, so a map that appears to violate the law would be open to a legal challenge.

State elections code also requires that districts be contiguous (no islands cut off from their district), and that districts minimize division of cities and census designated places, and that districts are compact, Walsh said.

Any new maps supervisors may draw will be made public ahead of next week’s meeting, when the board could make a decision or punt to the next meeting. Regardless, county officials hope to wrap up the process and see the board take a final vote on everything (including an ordinance that goes with the map) on Dec. 7.

Information on redistricting, the maps proposed so far, demographic data and other details are at www.cob.ocgov.com/2021-redistricting.

Categories
News Redistricting

OC supervisors will talk redistricting, could choose new boundaries Nov. 9

Orange County supervisors are on the verge of choosing a new map setting the boundaries of their districts for the next 10 years that could shake up next year’s elections, when three of the board’s five seats will be on the ballot.

While much attention is focused on Congressional redistricting, all political subdivisions – think state legislatures to city councils – must adjust their boundaries after every federal census to ensure fair and equal representation, and to make sure they comply with voting rights laws.

In OC, the Board of Supervisors has six potential maps, tweaked by the county leaders from submissions by residents and community interest groups, that could be narrowed down to one choice as soon as Tuesday, Nov. 8. Several of the maps would dramatically change which communities are in each district.

Changes to district lines matter because they can strengthen or dilute the voting power of all kinds of groups with shared interests, including neighborhoods, people with shared ethnic or religious backgrounds, and – even though county supervisor seats are technically nonpartisan – political parties.

One key objective is to balance how many people live in each district so everyone in the county gets the same level of representation on the Board of Supervisors.

Because of uneven growth since 2011, when the current district lines were drawn, District 3 (including Anaheim Hills, Tustin, Yorba Linda, canyon communities and part of Irvine) and District 4 (the rest of Anaheim and cities to the north including Placentia and Brea) will need to lose residents and District 1 (Santa Ana, Westminster, Garden Grove and part of Fountain Valley), District 2 (Costa Mesa, Stanton, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Seal Beach) and District 5 (part of Irvine and most of South County) will need to add them.

The goal is to get as close as possible to 638,602 residents in each.

Another goal is to honor geographic and other boundaries. The current lines split six cities between districts, something the board will try to keep to a minimum with any new map.

Whichever map is chosen, it also must comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, which says it’s illegal to deny or weaken anyone’s vote based on their race. That’s why a big focus in Orange County is on how the proposed maps affect Latino and Asian-American residents, whose shares of the county’s overall population have grown significantly over the past two decades.

An analysis of census data by the UCLA Voting Rights Project found Orange County’s White population has shrunk from 51.3% in 2000 to 37.6% in 2020; in the same period, Latinos as a group have grown from 30.8% to 34.1% of the population, and Asians went from 13.5% to 21.9% of county residents. Over those 20 years, Orange County grew from 2.8 million to 3.1 million inhabitants.

Many residents who weighed in at a Nov. 2 public hearing on county redistricting advocated for a map that would create a majority Latino district and avoid dividing Asian American communities in the northwestern part of the county; others who emailed the board asked that beach cities be grouped in one district, that canyon communities in southeast county be kept together, and that cities not be split between districts.

For some residents, redistricting is a chance to fix what they say is the partisan nature of the current boundaries.

In 2011, supervisors drew lines that some think were intended to shore up Republican power on the board, which disenfranchised non-white residents, said Dan Ichinose, research director for the Orange County Civic Engagement Table, a nonpartisan group that created the People’s Redistricting Alliance. The alliance submitted one of the maps supervisors are considering.

Ichinose said the goal of his group’s map is to keep together communities with common interests, such as Vietnamese Americans in Garden Grove and Westminster who share experiences as refugees. It also addresses the fact that communities of color now make up about 62% of the county.

“A fair map, not considering party politics, should really reflect our community’s demographic reality,” he said. “We’re looking at drawing fair maps that look to provide opportunities for communities in need, regardless of their racial and ethnic background, to have a voice in county government.”

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Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do, who represents District 1, said while he’s not going to base his choice of map on which party it appears to favor, “anybody who says that politics doesn’t play a role in the decision making is being disingenuous.”

His goal, he said, is to “draw a map and be as fair as possible and make sure it’s defensible in court” in case it’s challenged.

There’s still time for residents to learn about the process and have their say. People can watch or attend a public hearing starting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, email their comments to board members or submit feedback through the county’s redistricting website, www.cob.ocgov.com/2021-redistricting, which has the proposed maps, demographic data and other information. Find interactive maps under the “Redistricting Proposals Submitted” tab.

While Ichinose would have liked to see more community interest earlier in the process, he said, “we really do hope that folks become more involved. This is the home stretch.”

The Board of Supervisors will hold several more hearings on redistricting this month and expects to finalize new district boundaries by Dec. 15.

Categories
News Redistricting

Public Can Weigh in Tuesday on Proposed Maps Affecting OC Representation for Next Decade

It’s a decision that will reshape political power and community representation for the next decade.

And at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the public will get a chance to weigh in.

That’s when the county is holding its first hearing on proposed maps for redistricting the powerful seats of Orange County supervisors – who decide on billions of dollars a year in health, law enforcement and social safety net spending.

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The supervisors themselves will ultimately decide which communities will go in which district – with new state laws placing limits on considering incumbency, candidates and political parties when redrawing the maps.

They’ll be considering eight proposed maps from the public, available for review here.

Paul Mitchell, a leading redistricting analyst and consultant in California, said shifting demographics now call for a majority Latino district in Orange County – a shift from the current map approved in 2011 that splits Latino-majority cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana.

“I do believe in Orange County that they have a responsibility to draw a majority-minority Latino district around Santa Ana. And I think they should be drawing a district that’s an opportunity district for the Asian-American community to the west of that,” said Mitchell, the owner of Redistricting Partners and vice president of Political Data Inc., in a phone interview last week.

“If I was to look at maps and not see both of those elements, then I would probably feel that plan is falling short.”

While the process is legally aimed at keeping communities together and not politicians’ election chances, questions have mounted about whether supervisors are aiming to trade parts of their districts to engineer safer re-elections by jettisoning areas that didn’t vote for them, and adding in areas that are more favorable at the ballot box.

Areas getting particular attention among county insiders are whether supervisors will move the heavily Democratic communities of Santa Ana, UC Irvine and Laguna Beach out of Republican supervisors’ districts and into nearby districts represented by the board’s two Democratic supervisors.

The only supervisor who returned previous calls for comment about that issue was Doug Chaffee, who said he wasn’t aware of any such plans.

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It’s crucial for the public to get involved in the process, said Mitchell.

“I think the public needs to be engaged. And if they’re engaged and the [Board of Supervisors is] being pushed to follow the Voting Rights Act, and [supervisors] do it in an honest way, they should draw maps that are in the interest of the public and not get them sued.”

So far, one map is known to have generated support among community activist groups – one the county labeled “Proposal 5.”

Activists are calling it the “People’s Map,” saying it’s based on extensive outreach to ask residents which communities they want to be represented with.

“We did quite a bit of work going door to door … canvassing and talking to community members – not just those who are politically represented or those who have quite a bit of power,” said Mary Anne Foo, executive director of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA).

“This was done with everyday community members, to hear their voices about what they wanted. And what resulted was the map we’ll be presententing.”

The groups supporting that map include OCAPICA, the ACLU of Southern California and Orange County Civic Engagement Table.

Supervisor Katrina Foley said she’ll be making sure the laws are followed as the maps are redrawn.

“The redistricting process is designed to serve the public by empowering communities that share common bonds so those communities can be heard with as strong a voice as possible. As a County Supervisor, I’m committed to ensuring this process is fair and transparent and respects all federal and state laws that relate to redistricting,” she said in a text message Friday.

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Supervisor Don Wagner said some of the proposed maps are “good starting points.”

“I’m not sure any of them can or would get adopted without some tweaks,” Wagner said in a text message Friday.

“I absolutely encourage the public to weigh in on those maps on Tuesday. I don’t think Tuesday will be the end of the process. We have some work still to do and encourage further public participation.”

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she was still reviewing the maps, and encouraged residents to participate.

“The voice of the public is an important component in the redistricting process,” Bartlett said in a text message Friday to Voice of OC.

The other two supervisors didn’t return messages for comment about the redistricting process.

Redistricting is inherently political, said Jon Fleischman, an OC-based conservative activist who formerly served as executive director of the California Republican Party.

“I see redistricting as fundamentally a political process. Other people may see it as something else. But these are the drawing of political boundaries, and I don’t see how you get any more political than that,” he said in a phone interview last week.

“Most of the time voters are picking their politicians. This is the one time every 10 years where politicians get to pick their voters.”

The new state laws against using political factors for redrawing the lines stand in contrast with how this actually works, Fleischman said.

“I don’t know how realistic that is,” he said of the new legal limits.

“It’s naive to think you can divorce politics from the process. It just doesn’t happen that way.”

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OC Democratic Party Chairwoman Ada Briceño said there should be both a Latino district and an Asian American district on the Board of Supervisors.

“I also think there is an important factor that needs to be looked at while creating this district, and that’s the income level and home ownership – whether it’s rental or home ownership ratio,” Briceño told Voice of OC last week.

“So would Little Saigon have more in common with a wealthier community like Huntington Beach, or more working class communities like Stanton and Buena Park?”

Messages for comment were not returned by Orange County GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker and Executive Director Randall Avila.

The last time OC supervisors redrew the boundaries, they handed off the process to their own political aides and focused on protecting their own seats.

“Continuity of representation” was the way supervisors put it in their goals for redistricting a decade ago.

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During the 2011 redistricting, Latino and Vietnamese resident groups criticized the county for not doing much of its redistricting work in public.

Voice of OC reported at the time that at their few public meetings, committee members heard public concerns and then, with little discussion, voted for the maps already drawn by the supervisors’ offices.

The final map approved in 2011 split Orange County’s sizable Latino community into two districts.

And it redrew the supervisors’ district boundaries in a way that a local Republican Party leader said guaranteed GOP victories in all five seats.

The next few years did go on to yield solid wins for the GOP, with Republican candidates winning all county supervisor elections in the seven years after the maps were redrawn.

After Tuesday’s hearing, there’s another public hearing a week later on Nov. 9 where supervisors could decide on a map to move forward with.

Or they can hold a third hearing on Nov. 16 and pick a map then.

Then, the chosen map goes for a final public hearing on Dec. 7, and supervisors have until Dec. 15 to lock in their final approval of the map.

The maps will be used for the June primary next year, and will be in effect for the following decade.

Correction: This article has been updated to include comment from Supervisor Don Wagner.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.