Roughly a year after the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved a district map one of its own members called flawed, a state lawmaker introduced a bill that would require a citizens redistricting commission to draw new boundaries in 2030.
State Senator Angelique Ashby introduced SB 314 on Feb. 6, aiming to increase transparency and citizen input in the once-in-a-decade redistricting process for Sacramento County supervisor districts.
Ashby, who served as a Sacramento City Council member from 2010 to 2022, said she wrote the bill because she believes elected officials should not draw their own district lines. She supported the city’s Independent Redistricting Commission Act in 2016, a measure the voters approved. The act took away the council’s power to establish and change council district boundaries, giving the authority to an independent commission.
“It's time for Sacramento County to join the ranks of government entities that are not drawing their own lines,” Ashby told CapRadio.
A commission drew new district boundaries for the city in 2021. At the same time, a statewide citizens commission created new district maps for the state legislature, California’s congressional seats and the state Board of Equalization.
But the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved its own district lines following the release of the decennial U.S. Census results. Supervisor Patrick Kennedy voted against adopting the final map and called it flawed during a December 2021 meeting.
“When I reflect upon the community that I’m hearing and the concerns that they have with our process, I have to say that it makes me uncomfortable,” Kennedy said at the time. “I will be voting no on this map because I do not feel that we adequately addressed community concerns.”
Kennedy cited concerns the board received from LGBTQ and Asian American organizations. During a November 2021 redistricting hearing, multiple people gave public comments, asking supervisors not to divide Asian American Pacific Islander communities in the south county into separate districts.
The speakers asked to keep Elk Grove, Florin and Vineyard together to ensure AAPI communities living in those areas don’t have their voting power divided. The approved supervisor district map split that area into Districts 2 and 5, which are represented by Kennedy and Supervisor Pat Hume, respectively.
California counties with citizens redistricting commissions include San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside, according to SB 314. There is also precedent for a state bill mandating a county to create a commission: The Legislature in 2016 approved a bill requiring a Los Angeles County citizen redistricting commission.
SB 314 isn’t the only proposed bill dealing with creating a commission, either. State Senator Maria Elena Durazo in December introduced a bill that would require the city of Los Angeles to establish a citizens redistricting commission.
Ashby said the Sacramento County districting bill is headed for the rules committee, which will decide what committees will hold hearings on it.
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