District Maps: A Bevy of Confusion

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County supervisors will get their first official look today at the 14 proposals for redrawing district boundaries at a public hearing that promises to be, if nothing else, lively.

The boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to reflect changes in the population according to the census. This year, the hot debates center on Santa Ana (which may finally wind up all in one district), Irvine (which may get split between two districts) and how the boundary changes will affect the future of the proposed El Toro airport.

For Newport Beach, the redistricting may be a good thing--for both anti-airport Supervisor Tom Wilson and the city's pro-airport constituents.

"Obviously, it's disappointing to lose a city such as Newport Beach, but my district is moving south in terms of head count," Wilson said. "It's been kind of a tenuous relationship, but we've gotten through that, I think."

Mayor Gary Adams agreed.

"I know that in Newport Beach we have been a little disappointed that we have a supervisor that doesn't see eye to eye on the need for us to have another airport," he said. "But . . . he has been a good supervisor other than the difference on that issue."

A redistricting committee made up of representatives from each supervisorial office has been studying the maps--some submitted by special-interest groups--since October. Some were "summarily dismissed," said James Campbell, an aide to Supervisor Chuck Smith and chairman of the redistricting committee, but they will still be available for the public to view.

"Nothing has emerged, at least in public, as a basis for discussion," Campbell said. "So far, there is not one proposal that has gathered consensus or garnered enough support among committee members."

There is one point of consensus in the maps, however: All place Santa Ana in one district. The city, the largest in the county and one with a dominant Latino population, is now divided among three districts.

Many of the maps put all South County cities into one district, an idea Supervisors Wilson and Todd Spitzer say they will not support.

The committee is expected to recommend about half a dozen of the maps to the board. Supervisors will vote on a final map July 17. An ordinance outlining the new district boundaries is scheduled to be approved Aug. 21.

Spitzer is bothered by the fact that 10 of the maps were submitted by current or former supervisors. Smith's office submitted eight, board Chairwoman Cynthia P. Coad submitted one and former supervisor Don Saltarelli submitted another, which was drawn up four years ago.

Spitzer said the idea for the redistricting plan was to "solicit public input . . . not board input." He said he was honoring the public process by waiting until the public has given its input before he submits plans of his own.

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