In two separate attempts to redefine Santa Barbara County, a North County group is petitioning to split the county in two and another group has filed suit against the present district county lines.
The Citizens for County Organization (CFCO), a North County group, has proposed splitting the county because they believe the north and the south have cultural, economical and philosophical differences.
Another group, consisting of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, the Coalition for Community Interest and five private citizens – including a UCSB student – filed a lawsuit against all five county supervisors and Ken Pettit, the county clerk-recorder-assessor, arguing the boundary lines created last spring disenfranchise voters, most notably the Latino population.
Creating Mission County
CFCO, formed in 1999, is currently attempting to gather signatures from 25 percent of the North County registered voters to put a measure on the November 2003 ballot. The measure would take the land north of the Gaviota Pass to the San Luis Obispo County line and create the proposed Mission County, which would be home to nearly 200,000 people.
A similar attempt to split North and South counties failed when it was on the ballot in 1978. CFCO Chairman Jim Diani said there is a better chance the measure would pass now due to a larger population in the North County.
“Due to reasons like the cost of living in South County, more people are moving to North County. The population in Santa Barbara County is now half in North County and half in South County,” he said.
According to a survey done by Economic and Planning Systems, the proposed county would be about $12 million in debt if it were created. Diani said although Mission County would be in debt, the proposed county is still feasible if they decrease county expenditures.
“The study concluded that the proposed county would be economically feasible. In order to pay the debt the new county would incur, we would want to do business in a less expensive way than Santa Barbara County,” Diani said.
Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall said the creation of the county would create problems the North County citizens would not appreciate.
“Going into a new governance with a deficit would be hard. I don’t know how anybody would consider new governance feasible with $12 million debt,” Marshall said. “Many citizens from the North County are fiscally conservative people. How do fiscally conservative people think this debt is OK?”
The Los Angeles federal court will hear a redistricting lawsuit against Santa Barbara County, after a Santa Barbara County judge decided last week that redistricting county lines falls under federal court jurisdiction.
COLAB executive director Andy Caldwell said placing I.V. in the 3rd District does not allow residents to address important issues on a county level, because it places residents with different political ideologies in the same district.
“When you redistrict you’re supposed to enhance people’s power versus politician’s power. Isla Vista is a community of renters that should be in the 2nd District with community college students. Goleta and Lompoc should be in the 3rd District. These cities have half-Democrat half-Republican population, and they are medium-sized cities,” Caldwell said. “The law says district boundaries are supposed to help people. I.V.’s needs are not currently met by the redistricting situation.”