What is a Community of Interest, and How can I Participate in Redistricting?
Every ten years, cities and counties must consider the population statistics provided in the decennial census of people living in the United States, to ensure that each District has a substantially equal population. During this process, counties comply with the federal Voting Rights Act and new State laws enacted in 2019 and 2020. These new laws (AB 849 and AB 1276) are designed to encourage public participation and increase transparency in the process. So, to ensure fair representation for you and your community, the County’s Advisory Redistricting Commission and Board of Supervisors are asking County residents and interested parties to tell us about your community, and how your community factors into creating boundary lines for each of the five Supervisorial Districts. A map of the current boundaries is found here: Map of County Supervisorial Boundaries.
What Are Communities of Interest?
Keeping Communities of Interests together is an important part of redistricting. Communities of Interest (COI) are overlapping sets of neighborhoods, networks, or groups that share interests, views, cultures, histories, languages, and values, and whose boundaries can be identified on a map. A Community of Interest can be defined in many ways. Relationships with political parties or elected officials and candidates are not considered communities of interest. And, while race and ethnicity can play a role in defining a COI, it cannot be used as a sole definition.
COIs are self-defined and create a common story. The following provides some examples of a Community of Interest:
- Shared interests in schools, housing, community safety, transit, health conditions, land use, and the physical environment, such as the coast, and farming and agricultural spaces;
- Common social and civic networks, including places of worship, homeowner associations, community centers, and shared use of community spaces like parks, dog parks, and shopping areas;
- Racial and ethnic compositions, cultural identities, and households that predominately speak a language other than English;
- Similar socio-economic status, including but not limited to income, home-ownership, and education;
- Shared political boundary lines from other jurisdictions, such as school districts, community college districts, and water districts;
- Residents who have been working together to advocate for a community issue, such as increasing after-school hours, getting assistance to come back from a natural disaster, or locating a health clinic in their neighborhood.
How Do I Communicate my Community of Interest?
While Board of Supervisors members may know a good deal about their districts, a complete picture of COI’s is known only through communications from people like you! This can take the form of public testimony at an Information Session or Public Hearing. Notices of upcoming sessions and hearings will be posted on this website, so refer back to it often. You can provide a written description that explains what connects people, and why it’s important that they be kept together. An easy to fill-out online form is available to guide your narrative, and it can be found here: Communities of Interest Form.You’ll see that there’s a section on the form that allows you to map your Community of Interest to show the boundaries of your community clearly. This mapping portion is optional – your form will be accepted with or without the map.
You can also map your COI using the free mapping software provided by California’s Citizen Redistricting Commission, found here: Mapping Software.
Finally, you can simply write a letter to the Advisory Redistricting Commission and the Board of Supervisors and send it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to the following address:
Advisory Redistricting Commission
County Administrative Office
701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060