The craziness of the current 15th Senate District, created by the legislature in 2001, was one of the chief arguments in favor of the creation of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Twisting along a narrow route from Santa Clara County all the way down into northern Santa Barbara County, the 15th District cuts the City of Santa Cruz off from most of Santa Cruz County and the rest of the Monterey Bay, cuts Salinas and the Salinas Valley off from the Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur, and follows a crazy-quilt pattern through Santa Clara County, grabbing some towns and neighborhoods, while leaving others behind (for reasons that clearly had more to do with the party affiliations of the residents, than with any notion of geographic or demographic common interest).
It was hoped that the Citizens Commission would draw up something more sensible. While no one really expected to return to those simple days when the Senate District consisted of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties and was defined by the county lines, a district centered on the Monterey Bay region seemed a reasonable expectation.
But no … the “first draft” released by the Commission yesterday actually grows the length of the 15th District, extending it all the way south to the shores of the Santa Barbara Channel and north to the San Mateo County line. It cuts still more of southern Monterey County out of the District and, by adding most of Santa Barbara County, shifts the political weight of the District even farther south. On the bright side, it does bring the City of Santa Cruz back into communion with the rest of the Monterey Bay and does remove some (though certainly not all) of the Santa Clara County gerrymandering.
The Commission is now soliciting public comment on the draft districts …
Let the fireworks begin!