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Elections

Napa County supervisors don't favor radical district remakes

District maps

One of the theoretical supervisor district maps based on 2020 census data on the districtr.org website being used by Napa County to solicit public suggestions ahead of formal redistricting.

Napa County supervisors don’t favor a drastic redrawing of their five supervisorial districts, certainly nothing as radically different as creating an all-urban district in the city of Napa.

The city of Napa — Napa County's most populous city and the county seat — is presently carved up among all five of the supervisor districts. That looks like that will remain the same for another decade.

With about 80,000 people, the city of Napa could have a district all to itself and still have neighborhoods left over for urban/rural districts. Whether that might somehow change the political balance in world-famous wine country is unclear.

But Supervisor Diane Dillon said she’d be concerned about having a district that contained only urban neighborhoods. If one existed, it would be normal for that supervisor to be less concerned about such rural places as Lake Berryessa.

“I think all of us sharing some of the unincorporated area is just essential,” Dillon said.

Her colleagues agreed that a mix is best. Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht said all five supervisor districts should have both rural areas and urban areas.

“I like that we all come down and continue to touch the county seat, which is the city of Napa,” Supervisor Ryan Gregory said. 

The county Board of Supervisors began looking last week at revamped districts for the coming decade in light of Census 2020. At stake is how new districts might affect future elections and who sits on the Board.

Supervisors make land-use decisions for rural areas, which in Napa County includes policies for new wineries and vineyards, groundwater and watersheds. They oversee local health and social services, libraries and jails.

Go to districtr.org/event/Napa_County and look at Board Draft 11-16-2021 to see the county’s draft map for new districts.

Each of the five districts needs 27,659 people to be even. State law allows for a deviation of up to 10% between the largest district and smallest district.

Drawing lines on the Napa County map to meet this standard can pose challenges.

“What you realize is, you squeeze the balloon here, you get to where you want to be, but it pops out there and creates other issues,” Gregory said.

Supervisors are starting with a map drawn up by county Registrar of Voters John Tuteur. Tuteur called it a “minimal change” map that has a deviation of 1.94% between the largest and smallest districts.

All five districts, as today, would have at least a small part of the city of Napa. But there would be changes.

For example, Gregory’s District 2 would no longer cross Highway 29 to take in a neighborhood near downtown Napa. Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht’s District 1, which includes the downtown, would add it.

In exchange, Wagenknecht’s district would no longer have part of Browns Valley. Gregory’s district would have all of Browns Valley.

“I’ve had some heartburn about this, but I can see Browns Valley leaving the 1st District. This puts Browns Valley firmly in District 2,” Wagenknecht said.

Another question before supervisors is how tight to draw the districts. That 10% deviation would make it possible for them to create a District 5 with less than 27,659 people in expectation that American Canyon will grow over the coming decade.

Dillon, whose District 3 stretches from the heart of wine country in Napa Valley to Lake Berryessa, mentioned the situation. American Canyon is likely to grow more than District 3, she said.

Tuteur's draft map doesn't try to predict the future but sticks to the Census 2020 data.

“I don’t think we can plan for growth,” Tuteur said. “The first (criterion) is equal population, because it’s one person, one vote.”

The Board of Supervisors will ultimately make the decision.

Supervisors will discuss the draft map and other proposed maps during a public hearing at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 16. They are to vote on a new map in December.

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You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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