Remapping threatens supervisor position |

Remapping threatens supervisor position

An issue that seemed dead only one month ago has been brought back to life by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors – and the implications could be fairly large for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The issue is redistricting – or redrawing supervisorial maps within the county to allow for changes in population. The idea is to ensure that no one district has a distinct advantage in population over another.

Second District Supervisor Ray Nutting resurrected the debate on redistricting at the county board meeting on Tuesday, doubling back on the position he took in April when he spoke out against the idea.

“Since that time, I have announced that I will not be running for a third term,” said Nutting, whose district includes Meyers and Tahoe Paradise. “I think that it’s very important that Tahoe not lose any of its supervisorial representation, and I want to create those assurances on my watch.”

Nutting’s item passed by a 4-1 vote, meaning that steps will now be taken in county government to gather population information to redraw district boundaries this year.

El Dorado County is divided into five districts, each represented by a supervisor. The idea is to have more or less the same population count in each district, so that one district does not have a voting advantage over another. That is why District 1, which includes the city of Placerville, is much smaller than District 4, in which the population is spread out in the far-flung reaches of the north county.

Currently, the Tahoe Basin is represented by two supervisors – Nutting, and Fifth District Supervisor Dave Solaro (whose district includes South Lake Tahoe and West Shore communities).

But Tahoe could conceivably lose one of its representatives – and thus lose a lot of influence in county government – if the boundaries are redrawn as part of the 2000 census.

The problem for Tahoe is this: Tahoe’s west slope is gaining population rapidly, with El Dorado Hills gaining the most. El Dorado County’s population was at approximately 147,000 as of January 1998. By November, it had increased by about 3,000, to 150,000. According to a recent study by the California Center For Economic Development, the population of El Dorado County is projected to increase to 205,700 by 2010, and 247,400 by 2020. Very little of that growth will be in the Tahoe Basin.

Complete statistics for the Basin are not available, but the city of South Lake Tahoe had grown by only 200 people (0.88 percent) from 1997 to 1998.

Nutting estimates that there are 13,700 voters in the El Dorado County portion of the Tahoe Basin.

“And that number is not likely to increase substantially over the next few years,” he said. “There could be three new supervisors in office by 2000, so it’s up to us to set the groundwork to make sure that Tahoe is represented fairly in the future.

“Tahoe is the crown jewel of the county. It is an integral part of what we do here.”

A county task force made up of the planning department, the surveyor’s office and the elections department is currently gathering information needed to redraw boundaries. The task force will report back to the board the first Tuesday in June.

“One of the prerequisites of the board is that we keep two districts in the Tahoe Basin,” said planning director Conrad Montgomery. “We will try to do that. Some districts have grown substantially, but there are ways of drawing the boundaries that will hopefully not knock things out of alignment.”

Solaro also voted in favor of the early redistricting plan.

“My primary concern is that we continue to have two supervisors representing the Tahoe area,” Solaro said. “That is very important to me. I took a straw poll in the (Tahoe) community recently on this issue, and it was very clear that (Tahoe) wants to maintain its representation.”

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