San Luis Obispo County Superior Court | Courtesy

A resident coalition and the County of San Luis Obispo debated the county’s new redistricting map over the question of gerrymandering and voter representation in court Wednesday.

The new map was approved in a 3-2 vote in December 2021, as previously reported by Mustang News.

The SLO County Citizens for Good Government filed a lawsuit against the county of San Luis Obispo on Jan. 13, as reported in The Tribune.

Representing the Citizens’ group, attorney Ellison Folk argued that the redistricting map would cause “voter dilution,” where the maps lessen the representation that voters have. Folk cited the Fair Maps Act of 2019, which outlines the process of redistricting and equal representation. She explained the need for voter representation which she claims is lacking in the proposed map.

“The evidence before the board showed that the maps primarily moved Democratic voters into districts that are already heavily Democratic,” Folk said. “And as a result, their vote is diluted… People become disengaged from the process, they don’t think their vote matters. All [of] this is harmful to voters in our democracy.”

According to the SLO County website, redistricting is completed every 10 years as part of the U.S. Census. Redistricting sections a county into districts based on its number of residence and creating districts that represent comparable numbers of people.

Folk said that the process behind the redistricting map, drawn by Republican Arroyo Grande resident Richard Patten, was not clear. In addition, she said that the Board of Supervisors designed the map in preferential partisanship towards Republicans. 

Folk said that there had been little population growth, therefore “the current district configuration does not need to be changed.”


[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” imgwidth=”500px” credit=”San Luis Obispo County | Courtesy” align=”left” lightbox=”off” captionsrc=”custom” caption=”San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved a new county district map in December. The black outline represents the previous map used, and the magenta outline is the new map currently being challenged.” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Mustang News previously reported the changes with the new redistricting map which included moving Los Osos, Morro Bay and Cayucos to different districts. It also puts Oceano into a district with Grover Beach and Avila. 

In response, the attorney representing the county, Jeffrey Dunn, said that there will be no impact on the voting representation. Instead, he claimed that the status quo would be threatened by not following the redistricting map, or implementing “injunctions.”

An injunction “is a court order requiring a person to do or cease doing a specific action,” according to Cornell Law. A mandatory injunction is where the “court directs a person to perform certain acts, as opposed to prohibitory injunction, which seeks to preserve the status quo.”

Dunn said that “courts are not supposed to issue the preliminary injunction unless it’s clear and unequivocal.” Additionally, he spoke to the riskiness of an injunction. 

“We believe that there will ultimately perhaps be a risk that the decision may later … be found erroneous, and that’s something that all parties here on the court want to avoid,” Dunn said.

Court Reporter Jenny Riggs asked that “if the court issues a preliminary injunction, the court indicate whether it is mandatory or prohibitory.”

The case will be submitted for decision by tomorrow on the SLO County Court website, according to presiding Judge Rita Federman.

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