Supes avoid redistricting fight

It’s all fun and games until someone gets a laser beam in the eye.

At Tuesday’s special Board of Supervisors meeting on redistricting, board Chairman Curt Josiassen passed out laser pointers to each supervisor so they could highlight areas of concern on a projected map. As he passed out the pen-like devices, he jokingly referred to the board’s past acrimony over the issue, reminding the board not to point their lasers at each other in disagreement.

He needn’t have bothered, as the individual board members seemed to have only a few minor problems with the County Clerk’s Office’s latest attempt at redrawing the county’s supervisorial districts. Gone were the allegations, arguments and vituperative spirit of the board’s last redistricting attempt, which bitterly divided the board and led to a referendum vote, a recall attempt and a spate of costly lawsuits, mostly over Paradise Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi’s ill-fated “Plan B” proposal.

This time, Yamaguchi pulled no new plans out of his hat. He and the rest of the board listened politely to County Clerk Candace Grubbs as she explained the thinking behind the new plan. Looking at a a computer-generated map cluttered with squiggles, lines and numbers, the board struggled mostly over how to divide Chico between Districts 2, 3 and 4.

The biggest problem seemed to be District 4, currently Josiassen’s watch. While it is one of the bigger districts geographically, it has one of the smallest populations, owing mostly to its large expanse of agricultural lands. Since the whole reason for redistricting is to create districts of approximately equal population, the plan calls for extending the district farther into Chico, where it can easily pick up a few hundred residents. But that creates a district that is not only difficult to traverse, but also divided between two disparate groups of constituents, the mostly agricultural residents of the south and the more urbanized Chico residents.

Josiassen admitted that no plan would please everybody. “It’s a fact that Chico’s going to get split, and no matter how you split it, someone’s going to get gored,” he said.

The board took no action on the issue other than to thank Grubbs for her effort and ask her to continue trying to find a fair way to divide the districts.