Editor’s note: This article was updated to include comments from San Benito County Supervisor Bob Tiffany. It also incorrectly stated the Secretary of State Shirley Weber had until Dec. 27 to certify the maps. Last updated on Jan. 3 at 2:03 p.m.
On Dec. 20 the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission completed and approved final maps for the state’s Congressional, Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts. The commission has until Dec. 27 to send the certified maps to the Secretary of State Shirley Weber.
San Benito County is included in the:
- 18th Congressional District that includes the east-half of Monterey and Santa Clara counties. Population by ethnicity: 50.52% Latino, 2.77% Black, 14.01% Asian and 30.81% white.
- 17th Senatorial District that includes Monterey County, the north part of San Luis Obispo County and Santa Cruz County. Population by ethnicity: 27.54% Latino, 2.14% Black, 5.97% Asian and 62.24% white.
- 29th Assembly District that includes the east-half of Monterey and south parts of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. Population by ethnicity: 55.34% Latino, 1.61% Black, 6.1% Asian and 35.10% white.
- 2nd Board of Equalization District that includes the coastal counties from Ventura to Del Norte and neighboring counties such as Trinity, Lake, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara.
San Benito County Supervisor Bob Tiffany, who has voiced his concern with the new maps during supervisors meetings, said his initial reaction to the maps is that it’ll be negative for San Benito County.
“Our voices in San Benito County and more rural areas will get drowned out by the more populated areas of South San Jose,” Tiffany said.
Another of his concerns, he said, are if the county’s rural interest align with the rest of the new congressional district and losing Jimmy Panetta as a representative.
“Jimmy has done a great job for us representing San Benito County and on a broader level representing the rural communities in the Salinas Valley, the farm workers,” Tiffany said.
He added that he is trying to be optimistic about how the new congressional district may provide opportunities for San Benito County to partner with Santa Clara in mutual interest such as transportation.
“It’s possible that there’ll be some benefits there,” Tiffany said. “That may be one of the trade offs that may benefit us but that remains to be seen.”
According to a press release, the California Constitution states that public comment shall be taken for at least three days from the date of public display of any final statewide maps. It also stated the Commission shall not display any other map for public comment during that period.
“We have reached the finish line for the people’s redistricting process in California. When voters approved the Voters FIRST Act, it created a monumental shift in this decennial process,” stated Commission Chair Alicia Fernandez. “As Californians, my colleagues on this Commission and I answered the call to serve for this great state we honor and love. We conclude our map drawing responsibilities with pride in our final product. We started this process leaving politics out of the equation in hopes of achieving fairer and more equitable maps. I think I speak for my colleagues when I say mission accomplished! Thank you to all that participated in this process.”
According to the press release, the Commission drew four Board of Equalization districts, 52 Congressional districts, 40 Senatorial districts, and 80 Assembly districts that were drawn within the permissible population deviation.
Complete maps and statistics can be viewed here.
The Commission said it followed these criteria, in this order, to draw district maps:
- Districts must be of equal population to comply with the U.S. Constitution.
- Districts must comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
- Districts must be drawn contiguously, so that all parts of the district are connected to each other.
- Districts must minimize the division of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities of interest to the extent possible.
- Districts should be geographically compact: such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for a more distant population. This requirement refers to density, not shape. Census blocks cannot be split.
- Where practicable each Senate District should be comprised of two complete and adjacent Assembly Districts, and Board of Equalization districts should be comprised of 10 complete and adjacent State Senate Districts.
In addition, it said the place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate may not be considered in the creation of a map, and districts may not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate, or political party.
The redistricting process occurs every 10 years after the census is updated.
In 2008, California voters passed the Voters First Act, authorizing the creation of the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw new State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization district lines. In 2010, the Voters First Act for Congress gave the Commission the responsibility of drawing new Congressional districts following every census.
For more information, please visit www.WeDrawTheLinesCA.org.