SLO County’s Redistricting Problem

Aaron Ochs
6 min readDec 2, 2021
SLO County Government Logo

Every ten years, San Luis Obispo County revisits the district map to determine what changes should be made to it. This happens every time the U.S. Census releases new population data. Elected officials will also look into other factors beside Census data for adjusting the district map, including communities of interest. These are communities with common policy concerns and interests that would benefit from being grouped together in one district.

At their Nov. 30 meeting, SLO County Board of Supervisors voted 3–2 to select the Patten Map. This map will put 100,000 residents into new election cycles and districts. Considering our population is around 283,000+ people, that’s undoubtedly a significant shift. According to the County consultant Redistricting Partners, 48,622 voters would be have their election cycles moved up (“accelerated”) under Patten’s map, while 49,418 would have their election cycles delayed (or “deferred”). According to a private study commissioned by District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson, 41.4% of Republicans in all districts would be having their election cycles accelerated whereas 46.9% of Democrats would see their election cycles being deferred. This gives Republicans a significant advantage.

Why else would the SLO County Republican Party hold training sessions on the Patten Map?

SLO County GOP email to ssupporters
SLO County GOP email to supporters

“Learn what to write [and] what to say.”

They even provided a convenient talking point example. Of course, they got one of their points wrong as the City of San Luis Obispo remains divided with the Patten Map. It’s not “kept whole” as the City will continue to be shared between two district supervisors. Accuracy isn’t exactly their strong suit.

But there’s something conspicuously absent from their example, which happens to be a rather large inequity in the Patten Map.

The Patten Map

Currently, Cayucos, Los Osos and Morro Bay belong in District 2. The Patten Map will split the district into three. This is a district that…

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Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.