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Laguna Beach

 Volume 14, Issue 96  |  December 2, 2022

Laguna Beach joins Newport in new coastal supervisorial district


A split Orange County Board of Supervisors this week selected how the supervisorial district lines will be drawn for the next decade and, under the chosen map, Laguna Beach will bring its northern neighbors into a more coastal-focused district. 

OC supervisors voted 3-2 on Monday, Nov. 22, for the new redistricting map, with Chairman Andrew Do and Supervisor Don Wagner dissenting. 

The new map (identified as 5A-1) keeps Laguna in district five with Dana Point, San Clemente and Laguna Niguel, but separates from Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo and Lake Forest. It also brings in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and a portion of Irvine. 

It’s been a tumultuous and deliberative process, said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who represents district five. 

“This is not an easy thing,” she said. “At the end of this, we’ll probably all be representing areas that we never represented before, but that’s just part of the deliberative process.”

Map 5A-1 has a balanced approach to creating districts that work for everyone, Bartlett said.

“There’s no map that’s going make everyone 100% happy, it’s kind of impossible to do that,” she said. 

The map not only needs to be compliant with the Voting Rights Act, with a majority/minority district and Asian influence communities, but also consider input from the cities and their various shared projects, she added. 

They’ve received numerous emails and other comments from residents across the county, Bartlett noted. Most of the comments highlight keeping communities of interest together and minimizing city splits.

“South County is just different than the rest of the county,” Bartlett said. “The 11 cities down there, for the most part, they’re kind of like children that grew up together. They all got incorporated about the same time, they have a lot of things in common, they share one freeway – not a myriad of freeways, there’s a different traffic pattern, there are just different things that pertain to South County that are different from the rest of the county.”

She understands the reasoning for not wanting to split those communities up.

Bartlett noted that the board also received a lot of emails about keeping Newport Beach and Costa Mesa together and everything they share and have in common, like the school district, water district, parks, homeless shelter and airport issues. 

“I think it’s important to just take all of this into consideration when we draw the lines for the new maps,” Bartlett said. 

Laguna Beach joins Newport map 5A 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Map courtesy of County of Orange

A majority vote of the Board of Supervisors selected map 5A-1 for the new supervisorial districts

Every 10 years, local governments use new census data to redraw their district lines to reflect how the populations have changed. In Orange County, the board of supervisors oversee the redistricting process

Monday’s meeting was the most recent of several public hearings aimed at gathering feedback and selecting one of the proposed redistricting maps

County staff needs about two weeks to prepare the ordinance, which will include a numerical listing of all of the census districts that will populate each supervisorial district. 

The board will consider the actual ordinance for the new district map on December 7. The county has until December 15 to approve an ordinance adopting the selected map.

After the board adopts an ordinance, it will take effect 30 days later, said County Counsel Leon Page.

“From that point forward, that would be the area that the supervisor would serve, would represent,” Page explained. 

Districts must be substantially equal in population, although some deviations are allowed to accommodate traditional districting objectives (including maintaining communities of interest, creating compactness and compliance with the Voting Rights Act). A total deviation between the largest and smallest districts of less than 10% is presumptively constitutional. 

Based on Orange County’s demographics, the VRA also requires a Latino majority-minority district be created. Several of the maps also contain at least one district with nearly or over 30% Asian citizen voting age population.

The other map that was on the table on Monday was 4C-1 and variations of it based off of previous supervisor direction.

There are a number of concerns with map 4C-1, including the number of city splits in smaller communities, which is problematic, Bartlett said. Map 5A-1 has the fewest city splits, she pointed out. 

In a November 15 letter to the board, Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen wrote that the city council previously voted to communicate their shared desire to “keep the entirety of the city of Laguna Beach within a contiguous coastal community of interest to include Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and portions, if not all, of Huntington Beach and portions of Irvine.”

Whalen also urged the board to reject 4C-1, as it would disconnect residents north of State Highway 73 from the remainder of the city and place the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve into a wholly separate supervisorial district. 

“This dismemberment of our residents from the rest of our city is not conducive to our community of interest and is a disservice to their representation at the Board of Supervisors,” Whalen wrote.

Public speakers also largely favored map five, with some specifically pointing out issues with map 4C-1. 

In a November 16 email to the board, longtime Laguna Beach resident Anne Caenn objected to 4C-1, saying it might violate the California Fair Maps Act and politically target a sitting candidate. 

Along with another previous map proposal, Caenn wrote that she supported map 5, as it gives a “voice to a large AAPI community as well as the Latino community and keeps as many cities together as possible.”

Previous discussions also included some accusations that map 4C-1 purposefully targeted Supervisor Katrina Foley (who represents district two, which includes Newport Beach), a Democrat who lives in Costa Mesa and currently represents district two after winning a special election earlier this year. 

Under map 4C-1, Costa Mesa would land in district one with Fountain Valley, Westminster, Garden Grove, Cypress, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and a portion of Huntington Beach. Do, a Republican from Garden Grove, currently represents district one.

While district two is up for re-election in 2023, district one is not open until 2024. So, Foley would not be allowed to run until then under map 4C-1. 

Under the map, supervisors ultimately approved on Monday (map 5A-1), Costa Mesa is included in district five with Laguna Beach. District five is up for re-election in 2023 and Bartlett will be termed out.

On Monday, Do emphasized his aim to create a fair and balanced map and noted that his process was not politically driven.

Wagner suggested switching district numbers two and five on map 5A-1. 

The flip-flop would cause Bartlett, as the district five supervisor, to represent the Santa Ana and southwest Anaheim seat and not Laguna Beach and south OC, for the remainder of her term; while it would allow Foley, as the district two supervisor, to continue to represent Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, and add in Laguna Beach, Dana Point and south OC.

“I have mixed feelings about this,” Foley said. “It is unfortunate, while I would love to serve the communities that district two will become and I think I’ll do a great job, that’s not who elected me.”

The new district two is not the area where she’s currently working on projects and initiatives, Foley pointed out. 

However, Bartlett has done a lot of work in her district and she has a lot of ongoing projects she wants to complete with her remaining time in office, Foley said.

“As an olive branch, my request would be that Supervisor Bartlett and I were able to work collaboratively,” on projects and issues in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, Foley said. “I just want to be able to do the work in the district that I was elected in.”

They previously agreed that supervisors will work together on projects that are ongoing in one district and roll over into a new district, Bartlett said. 

“I think that makes perfect sense,” Bartlett said. “That continued collaboration is absolutely essential for the benefit of not only the supervisors and the districts, but the residents there, that are in those districts.”

Ultimately, Foley (along with a majority of the board) didn’t support the flip-flop motion because it could potentially cause issues with requirements on publicizing the map and she wanted to respect Bartlett’s past and ongoing work in the district. 

Although Foley said she feels “iced out” with the proposed maps and she voted for the “lesser of the two” evils. 

“It is going to be odd to represent a district that I don’t really have any involvement in,” Foley said.

In her newsletter on Tuesday, Foley said she’s looking forward to the opportunity to partner officials in the cities she now represents for various needed improvements and changes.


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