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Newport Beach moves into new coastal supervisorial district, still connected to JWA, Costa Mesa


A split Orange County Board of Supervisors this week selected how the supervisorial district lines will be drawn for the next decade and, under the chosen map, Newport Beach will stay in the same district as John Wayne Airport and Costa Mesa, but will join several southern beach cities in a new coastal-focused district. 

OC supervisors voted 3-2 on Monday, Nov. 22, for the new redistricting map, with Chairman Andrew Do and Supervisor Don Wagner dissenting. 

The new map (identified as 5A-1) places Newport, Costa Mesa and the airport in district five (all of which are currently in district number two), joining Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente and Laguna Niguel. It also brings in portions of Irvine.

It’s been a tumultuous and deliberative process, said Lisa Bartlett, who represents district five, which includes Newport Beach once the new map is implemented early next year.

“This is not an easy thing,” she said. “At the end of this, we’ll probably all be representing areas that we never represented before, but that’s just part of the deliberative process.”

Map 5A-1 has a balanced approach to creating districts that work for everyone, Bartlett said.

“There’s no map that’s going to make everyone 100% happy, it’s kind of impossible to do that,” she said. 

The map not only needs to be compliant with the Voting Rights Act, with a majority/minority district and Asian influence communities, but also considers input from the cities and their various shared projects, she added. 

They’ve received numerous emails and other comments from residents across the county, Bartlett noted. Most of the comments highlight keeping communities of interest together and minimizing city splits. Bartlett noted a number of emails that urged the board to keep Newport Beach and Costa Mesa in the same district. 

Supervisor Katrina Foley (who represents district two, which includes Newport Beach) has supported keeping Newport together with Costa Mesa throughout the redistricting process. 

The two cities have a lot in common, she previously pointed out, and should be in the same district as they share a number of the same resources, systems and issues. Both are under the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, they share a homeless shelter, have combined service agreements and similar airport concerns.

They’ve never been in separate supervisorial districts in the county’s history, she said previously, it would be highly unusual to separate them.

On Monday, Newport Beach resident and Airport Working Group of OC president Mel Beale voiced his support for map 5A-1 for similar reasons.

“We do acknowledge that there’s no perfect map,” Beale said. “There’s pros and cons to each one. However, I strongly believe that 5A-1 best fits the needs of the coastal communities and the areas that support the airport communities, and those that have some of the common interests…(including) keeping Costa Mesa and Newport Beach in the same district.”

Map 5A-1 also keeps JWA in the same district as the communities it impacts the most, including Newport Beach under the departure path, but also Laguna Beach and Dana Point where the aircraft turn from the ocean and go back ashore, Beale said. So, it makes sense all of these communities come together in a single district with the airport. 

There are also a number of existing political relationships and values between the coastal communities and county government, Beale added. 

Costa Mesa officials, including Mayor John Stephens and Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr, also supported map 5A-1 during public comments on Monday.

Newport Beach moves into new map 5A 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Map courtesy of County of Orange

A majority vote of the Board of Supervisors selected map 5A-1 for the new supervisorial districts

Every 10 years, local governments use new census data to redraw their district lines to reflect how the populations have changed. In Orange County, the board of supervisors oversee the redistricting process

Monday’s meeting was the most recent of several public hearings aimed at gathering feedback and selecting one of the proposed redistricting maps

Districts must be substantially equal in population, although some deviations are allowed to accommodate traditional districting objectives (including maintaining communities of interest, creating compactness and compliance with the Voting Rights Act). A total deviation between the largest and smallest districts of less than 10% is presumptively constitutional. 

Based on Orange County’s demographics, the VRA also requires a Latino majority-minority district be created. Several of the maps also contain at least one district with nearly or more than 30% Asian citizen voting age population.

County staff needs about two weeks to prepare the ordinance, which will include a numerical listing of all of the census districts that will populate each supervisorial district. 

The board will consider the actual ordinance for the new district map on December 7. The county has until December 15 to approve an ordinance adopting the selected map.

After the board adopts an ordinance, it will take effect 30 days later, said County Counsel Leon Page.

“From that point forward, that would be the area that the supervisor would serve, would represent,” Page explained. 

Foley will continue to represent district two, which – under the new map – does not include Newport Beach or Costa Mesa.

Wagner suggested switching district numbers two and five on map 5A-1. 

The flip-flop would cause Bartlett, as the district five supervisor, to represent the Santa Ana and southwest Anaheim seat and not Laguna Beach and south OC, for the remainder of her term; while it would allow Foley, as the district two supervisor, to continue to represent Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, and add in Laguna Beach, Dana Point and south OC.

“I have mixed feelings about this,” Foley said. “It is unfortunate, while I would love to serve the communities that district two will become and I think I’ll do a great job, that’s not who elected me.”

The new district two is not the area where she’s currently working on projects and initiatives, Foley pointed out. 

However, Bartlett has done a lot of work in her district and she has a lot of ongoing projects she wants to complete with her remaining time in office, Foley said.

“As an olive branch, my request would be that supervisor Bartlett and I were able to work collaboratively,” on projects and issues in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, Foley said. “I just want to be able to do the work in the district that I was elected in.”

They previously agreed that supervisors will work together on projects that are ongoing in one district and roll over into a new district, Bartlett said. 

“I think that makes perfect sense,” Bartlett said. “That continued collaboration is absolutely essential for the benefit of not only the supervisors and the districts, but the residents there, that are in those districts.”

Ultimately, Foley (along with a majority of the board) didn’t support the flip-flop motion because it could potentially cause issues with requirements on publicizing the map and she wanted to respect Bartlett’s past and ongoing work in the district. 

Although Foley said she feels “iced out” with the proposed maps and she voted for the “lesser of the two” evils. 

“It is going to be odd to represent a district that I don’t really have any involvement in,” Foley said.

In her newsletter on Tuesday, Foley said she’s looking forward to the opportunity to partner officials in the cities she now represents for various needed improvements and changes.

The other map that was on the table on Monday was 4C-1 and variations of it based off of previous supervisor direction.

There are a number of concerns with map 4C-1, including the number of city splits in smaller communities, which is problematic, Bartlett said. Map 5A-1 has the fewest city splits, she pointed out. 

Previous discussions also included some accusations that map 4C-1 purposefully targeted Foley, a Democrat who lives in Costa Mesa and currently represents district two after winning a special election earlier this year. 

Under map 4C-1, Costa Mesa would land in district one with Fountain Valley, Westminster, Garden Grove, Cypress, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and a portion of Huntington Beach. Do, a Republican from Garden Grove, currently represents district one.

While district two is up for re-election in 2023, district one is not open until 2024. So, Foley would not have been allowed to run until then under map 4C-1. 

On Monday, Do emphasized his aim to create a fair and balanced map, and noted that his process was not politically driven.

Under the map supervisors ultimately approved on Monday (map 5A-1), Costa Mesa is included in district five, which is up for re-election in 2023 (Bartlett will be termed out).

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