Opinion » Shredder

Facts and facts



"A beach isn't people," according to 4th District SLO County Supervisor Lynn Compton, who dropped this little nugget of wisdom during the county's final redistricting hearing on Dec. 14.


That, my friends, is what I call an actual legal fact. A beach is defined as sand and an ocean, not people, so I guess Compton earned that law degree she holds! Whew, so glad she's on the elected body making decisions that will impact this county for the next decade.

This little beach (aka, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area) in question is dusty, full of actual people and cars, and surrounded by decades of controversy—plus it fronts a pesky, little, oft-forgotten community that conservative Compton's had a lot of trouble with over the years: Oceano. A little town now known for its abundant "advisory committees" and political infighting.

And she was using this little beaches aren't people factoid as a way to defend herself against the criticism she is continuing to receive over the Board of Supervisors' decision to realign many of the county's residents into new supervisorial voting districts. The map she and the conservative majority voted into permanence on Dec. 14 separates this little beach from the community that fronts it and plucks Oceano from the district Compton currently represents.

Annoyingly irritating Oceano problem solved. Knowledge that beaches aren't people shared. Check and check!

She will no longer have to deal with the likes of Oceano resident and perpetual Compton-hater April Dury, who expressed her displeasure with the redistricting process last month.

"My district supervisor doesn't like us," Dury said during the Nov. 19 redistricting hearing. "My supervisor holds a grudge like a fat kid holds a cookie, and we're that cookie right now."

Wow. Very appropriate. What's her problem with cookies, anyway?

Compton was also wondering why everyone accused certain supervisors of having all of these bad intentions with the ridiculous dog-and-pony show that was our local democracy in action—an extremely slow-moving train full of people who hate each other arguing over a foregone conclusion and laws that have yet to be actually tested in court.

"We just think it's a good map," she said. "Is it even possible to look at it that way?"

No shit you guys think it's a "good map." Or you wouldn't be voting for it.

Other people think it's a "bad map." I think it's a bad map, and my opinion is the most important!

The fact that the "Patten map" "fits the criteria" laid out by the state ("as far as we can tell," according to the consultant, covering his ass quite nicely) is just a bonus. The arguments for the map are "disingenuous"—shout-out to Compton's favorite word!

It's not about the city of SLO being in three districts or Cal Poly being in the 5th District. Plus, all electeds (and their consultants) know exactly what the voter makeup of their districts and the new districts are. No one's buying the feigned ignorance, guys and gals.

Admit it: It's a map that favors Republicans. Period. Of course, that admission would make it easier to win a lawsuit against the county because state election code strictly forbids boards from adopting "supervisorial district boundaries for the purposes of favoring or discriminating against a political party."

"I believe we have a fair, equitable, and legal map," 1st District Supervisor John Peschong stated on Dec. 14.

Not to worry, though, 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who's on the severely losing end of the redistricting stick, was sure to use his time to point out Peschong's Republican bonafides, as well as those of the other two Republicans on the board—Compton and 5th District Supervisor Debbie "I have redistricting experience" Arnold.

Ugh! Please. We all know all of this.

Can we just get to court already? Let's go, SLO County Citizens for Good Government! Sue the county already, so we can be done with all the lip service and onto the real purpose of all of this: Testing the state's new redistricting law.

You know what other law could be tested soon? Martin v. Boise. The city of SLO recently filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of criminalizing the homeless community. The suit, filed after the city cleared out several homeless encampments during the pandemic and passed laws banning tents in public parks and unsanctioned shopping cart usage, alleges that the city's treatment of unhoused individuals threatens their health, autonomy, financial stability, and ability to access services, medical attention, and employment.

A quick refresher: Case law set by the ruling in Martin v. Boise basically prevents cities from prosecuting homeless individuals for sleeping outside on public property when adequate alternative shelter isn't available. Activists point to the fact that the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center can only house 124 people, even when the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't limited its capacity to 70. And there are more than 300 homeless individuals in the city.

City Attorney Christine Dietrick takes issue with this sort of simple equation.

"How many of those folks have been offered services and have indicated that they're not interested in the services that the city and county have to offer?" she said.

So criminalizing the homeless is OK if they don't accept the limited services offered? Sounds like a conundrum for the courts. Δ

The Shredder has Court TV on standby. Send case notes to [email protected].


Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Add a comment