Santa Maria Councilman Carlos Escobedo listens as Councilman Mike Cordoro talks during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Santa Maria Councilman Carlos Escobedo listens as Councilman Mike Cordoro talks during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Maria should be divided into two supervisorial districts, City Council members said as they approved several “important factors” they want an independent commission to consider while redrawing boundary lines for the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

The council weighed in on redistricting for the Board of Supervisors, an effort that occurs every 10 years to carve up the county following the most recent U.S. Census count.

In presenting the item on Tuesday night, City Manager Jason Stilwell said Santa Maria’s population of 109,707 means it won’t fit in one supervisorial district and asked the council to provide policy guidance regarding “important factors” for the Citizen’s Independent Redistricting Commission consideration.

The resolution, approved on a 4-1 vote, will be submitted to the commission to consider as official guidance from the city government.

Councilwoman Gloria Soto voted against the resolution in a difference of opinion about Guadalupe’s placement with Santa Maria or Orcutt.

“To me, the first thing is to keep Santa Maria as much intact as we can, and we’re going to lose part of it,” Mayor Alice Patino said. “The magic number is 89,300 and we’re 20,407 over that, so they’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to split us up.”

Stilwell said it would be beneficial for the commission to have guidance from the city regarding the boundaries for the five reconfigured districts, each of which must have 89,300 residents.

Santa Maria’s stance maintains that cities in the county should be considered communities of interest and contained within one district when possible.

The county’s largest city should be divided into two, not three districts, with district boundaries following major thoroughfares, Santa Maria’s resolution stated.

The council also said the Cuyama Valley should fall in a supervisorial district containing a portion of Santa Maria. 

Additionally, the city of Guadalupe should be included with a district that includes a portion of Santa Maria and at least a portion of Orcutt that contains Righetti High School. Students in the Guadalupe Union School District, which has transitional kindergartners through eighth-graders, attend Righetti High.

During the previous redistricting process, Cuyama landed in the First District with Montecito and Carpinteria, while Guadalupe ended up in the Third District with Isla Vista and the Santa Ynez Valley. 

“I don’t know how you can get any more of a contrast between two communities than Cuyama and Montecito. I hope we can encourage them to leave communities that have common interests together,” Councilman Mike Cordero said. 

Previously, Cuyama had been in the Fifth District with Santa Maria while Guadalupe had been in the Fourth District with Orcutt.

“I think it’s important that the communities have something in common as opposed to the way it is now with Guadalupe being in common with Isla Vista. The two are diametrically different, just not the same at all, whereas we have things in common with Guadalupe and we have things in common, I think, with Cuyama,” Cordero added.

Soto argued against Guadalupe being included in a district with Orcutt. 

“I don’t necessarily agree that Guadalupe has similar interests with Orcutt other than the school,” she said, adding that she believed Guadalupe has more in common with Santa Maria than Orcutt. 

Patino said Guadalupe may have to end up with Orcutt and a smaller piece of Santa Maria.

“Personally, I think the most important thing is keeping most of Santa Maria together,” Patino said. “We know that isn’t going to happen, but we don’t want it be divided up into three supervisorial districts, too. I would like to have the biggest chunk of Santa Maria kept in one district and then pulling in Cuyama.”

This is the first time the county has used an independent commission for Santa Barbara County redistricting and stems from voters approving Measure G in 2018 to create an 11-member panel to draw districts for the Board of Supervisors.

“The primary goal when developing election districts is to draw lines that respect neighborhoods, history and geographical elements,” Stilwell said. 

He said the county’s process should be done by December and will move aggressively through November. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.