Census may change supervisorial districts | SierraSun.com

Census may change supervisorial districts

NEVADA CITY – New census numbers mean boundary changes for Nevada County’s five supervisor districts.

Boundary lines are redrawn to balance population among the county’s districts and ensure “fair and equal representation,” said former Nevada County Supervisor Karen Knecht.

If the 5th District had fewer people than the 3rd District, Knecht said, the 5th would come out on the short end of the stick as far as splitting the county’s revenues goes.

Districts have to be evenly balanced so revenue sharing is equally distributed, Knecht said.

The lines as they are drawn now represent equal populations based on 1990 census figures, said 3rd District Supervisor Sue Horne.

“So if there’s an influx in a specific area, the numbers have to be balanced to accommodate for growth,” she said.

Nevada County’s population grew from 78,510 people in 1990 to 92,033 in 2000, a 17.2 percent increase.

The county’s largest influx of growth came in Truckee, which is part of the Fifth District. The population there jumped from 8,912 to 13,864, a 56 percent increase.

Some say Truckee should have its own supervisor district, said Geographic Information Systems specialist Brian Peasley.

And 1st District Supervisor Peter Van Zant said, “The driving factor is to have an equal number of people in each district.”

Truckee doesn’t have the population for its own district, Van Zant said, “so it would have to be Truckee and some other unincorporated areas.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Van Zant said Grass Valley has requested a district of its own to include much of the city’s sphere of influence – those areas targeted for annexation by the city.

“But the population of the sphere could exceed one-fifth of the county’s population, which we can’t do,” Van Zant said. “That’s the constitutional requirement.”

Though county officials say it’s too early to tell how district lines will be redrawn, changes are expected around the Grass Valley area.

Boundary shifts in the 3rd District are likely due to annexations by the city of Grass Valley and could have a domino affect on the other districts, Peasley said.

“I think all of (the boundaries) will change some,” he said.

Van Zant said some “oddball boundary splits” were made during the 1990 redrawing of district lines, which need to be dealt with.

For instance, Van Zant said the county airport is split between Districts 1 and 3, Alta Sierra is divided between Districts 1 and 2, and some Grass Valley neighborhoods fall into the Penn Valley area’s 4th District.

“If we can resolve these oddball splits and keep the districts balanced, that would be the logical thing to do,” Van Zant said.


panel to meet

In anticipation of the new census numbers, Nevada County began preparing for the shift in supervisor boundaries in May 2000 with the formation of a Technical Advisory Committee on redistricting.

The committee is charged with researching and test-mapping software systems to assist in realigning the county’s districts.

“Maptitude for Redistricting” software was purchased for $2,500 with money from the Elections Office budget earmarked for redistricting purposes.

Before advances in computer technology, county officials spread all the maps out on a table and pieced together the county’s districts the old-fashioned way, said Supervisor Barbara Green.

“It was a cumbersome process that took a lot of time,” Green said. “With the new GIS software, we can do it all on computer.”

The new software will allow the county to do “‘what-if” scenarios in redrawing district boundaries, said Supervisor Peter Van Zant.

“So we can shuffle districts around and see how it’s going to look and if it meets the constitutional test,” which requires balanced populations, Van Zant said.

In February, the supervisors appointed themselves to a committee that will alter the districts’ boundaries.

Van Zant said there’s sure to be controversy over the process because some people want to be in one district or another.

“It’s the nature of redistricting,” Van Zant said. “We’ll redraw the boundaries in a way that’s appropriate for the county and its communities.”

The redistricting process, which will be open to public review, is scheduled for discussion at the April 17 supervisors meeting at the Rood Administrative Center.

The advisory committee recommends that new district boundaries be approved before Aug. 15.

This will give the GIS department and the Election’s Office time to redraw voter precinct lines to reflect redistricting decisions before the filing period for supervisor candidates, which begins Sept. 28.

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