Redistricting Overview

Every ten years, local governments use new census data to redraw their district lines to reflect how local populations have changed. Assembly Bill 849 (2019) requires cities and counties to engage communities in the redistricting process by holding public hearings and/or workshops and doing public outreach, including to non-English-speaking communities. Assembly Bill 1276 (2020) established the priority order for criteria used in drawing new district lines.

What is Redistricting?

After every Decennial Census, districts must be redrawn so that each district is substantially equal in population. This process, called redistricting, is important in ensuring that each board member represents about the same number of constituents. In Santa Cruz County, the Board of Supervisors is responsible for drawing supervisorial districts. The Board appointed an Advisory Redistricting Commission (ARC 21) to assist with this work.

Redistricting is done using U.S. Census data, which is released on April 27, 2021. It is required that the data be adjusted so that the prison population in California is apportioned to their last home address, and then be made available for counties. The apportionment work is performed by the Statewide Database at UC Berkeley. The County estimates that usable data will be available in mid-to-late October 2021. For the County of Santa Cruz, the redistricting process must be completed by December 15, 2021.

Why does redistricting matter to me?

Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a district for purposes of electing a board member. ARC 21 and the Board of Supervisors will seek input in selecting the next district map for our supervisorial districts. You have an opportunity to share how you think district boundaries should be drawn to best represent your community. You can choose among the pages on this website to find out more about how the process works, and where to access online forms to describe and map your community.

What do the existing supervisorial districts look like?

You can find a map of the County’s current supervisorial districts here.

What criteria will our Board of Supervisors use when drawing district lines?

Redistricting is governed by the US Constitution, the United States Voting Rights Act, and the California Elections Code (both the Voting Rights Act and the California Election Codes which govern local redistricting efforts were recently amended). In 2001, the Board of Supervisors adopted four principals that would also be considered. Thus, in priority order, to the extent practicable, district lines will be adopted using the following criteria:

  1. Equal Population
  2. Federal Voting Rights Act, Section 2
State: (AB 1276)
  1. Geographically contiguous districts (each district should share a common border with the next),
  2. The geographic integrity of local neighborhoods or communities shall be respected in the manner that minimizes its division,
  3. Geographic integrity of a city or Census Designated Place shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division,
  4. Easily identifiable boundaries that follow natural or artificial barriers (rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, etc.),
  5. Lines shall be drawn to encourage geographic compactness.
Local: The County affirmed four principals for the 2001 and 2011 efforts, and as permitted under current law, they are:
  1. To the extent possible, the current district boundaries will be preserved.
  2. The public will have all the opportunities provided by law to participate in the redistricting process, and to provide input to the Board.
  3. Communities of Interest will be preserved to the extent possible.
  4. Each Supervisor will have an opportunity to suggest changes to his or her district’s boundaries to the extent that such changes are necessary prior to the public hearings to be held on the redistricting plan

How will our Board of Supervisors notify the public about redistricting?

The Board of Supervisors has created this dedicated website to provide information about the redistricting process, and to inform the public of public hearings and information sessions. In addition, we will reach out to local media to publicize the redistricting process. Also, we will make a good faith effort to notify community groups of various kinds about the redistricting process. All Public Hearings and information sessions will be provided in applicable languages if residents submit a request 72 hours in advance. The Board of Supervisors will notify the public about redistricting public hearings, and post maps online before adoption.

How can I get involved?

The County’s Redistricting Advisory Commission (ARC 21) and staff will be convening information sessions and the Board will be holding public hearings to receive public input on where district lines should be drawn. Dates and times can be found on this website as they become available. You can also submit public comments and information about your community, including suggested draft maps, by accessing various pages on this site, including the Outreach page.

Where can I find out more?

If you have questions, or want additional information, send us an email at