FOR SIERRA COUNTY had its last public hearing on November 16th during a special Board of Supervisors’ meeting held remotely at 6 p.m. County Counsel Scott McCleran led the discussion and reminded everyone redistricting takes place every 10 years based upon the census data from the Federal Government. He talked about Voters Rights Act in which the law favors keeping the status quo unless there is a justifiable reason for the change. 2020 Census Population for Sierra County is 3,236. Allowable 10% deviation is between 582 to 712 residents in each district.
McCleran discussed the three options brought about by County staff and are as follows:
• Option 1 shifts the properties zoned residential on the north side of Hwy 49 from District 3 into District 2 (population of 10) and shifts 3 census blocks located in the southwest corner of the City of Loyalton which includes Hill Street, Gulling Ave., Taylor Ave., Granite Ave., and Patterson Ave. (population of 106) from District 4 to District 5. District 1 – 646 District 2 – 651 District 3 – 709 District 4 – 623 District 5 – 607 Total = 3236
• Option 2 is identical to Option 1, except for shifting 100 Hill Street (Senior Apartments) from District 2 to District 5 (population of 60) District 1 – 646 District 2 – 591 District 3 – 709 District 4 – 623 District 5 – 667 Total = 3236
• Option 3 shifts the properties zoned residential on the north side of Hwy 49 from District 3 into District 5 (population of 10); the residential properties south of Hwy 49 (Loyalton Pines area) from District 2 to District 5 (population of 36); and shifts 3 census blocks located in the southwest corner of the City of Loyalton which includes Hill Street, Gulling Ave., Taylor Ave., Granite Ave., and Patterson Ave. (population of 106) from District 4 to District 5. District 1 – 646 District 2 – 605 District 3 – 709 District 4 – 623 District 5 – 653 Total = 3236
Supervisor Sharon Dryden asked what happens to a Supervisor if moved out of their District with these options. McCleran stated any elected official would not be changed with any changes to redistricting during their term of office.
The Public Hearing was opened and Cindy Ellsmore of Sierra City sent the Clerk a power point presentation. She felt District 2 was poorly drawn and understood the reason but thought it was time to change. Ellsmore came up with two options, adding it wasn’t an attempt to be political. She stated District 2 was a crazy configuration to include Sierra City with Verdi and Long Valley. Solution 1 merged Calpine and Sattley with District 2. Solution 2 merged District 2 with Sierraville. Ellsmore felt they really needed to have fair maps and hoped to solve the problem for District 2.
Sylvia and Cig Ostrom of Sierra City appreciated Ellsmore’s effort adding it was a big district to try and help all the areas and a lot to put on one person. Sylvia felt some of Supervisor Peter Huebner’s health issues were due to this. She wanted Sierra City and Sierraville to come together and felt they had more in common as Big Springs was just purchased and plan to put in a yoga studio and Sierraville has the Globe Hotel and hot springs. Carl Butts commended Ellsmore on her hard work and felt either of her two options would be viable, and much better for representation.
Supervisor Paul Roen stated these options would split the fire district. He attended multiple meetings with Huebner and felt he represented his district well.
John Mitchell of Calpine didn’t feel the existing map was unfair. He said there were logical reasons for why the map is drawn. Mitchell respected the different points of view, but added people needed to time to digest this before making a decision to significantly change a district. Ellsmore stated there was no census data to work with until last meeting. She said it was frustrating and would have liked to have something to work better, adding they have nothing in common with Verdi, and Long Valley. Planning Director Tim Beals explained Verdi and Long Valley are the only two areas that are in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, adding no matter what district you place them in they will feel remote. He felt there was a lot of common ground between those two regions and stated the reasons for drawing District 2 are being well served.
Huebner stated when first elected in 1998, he had Alleghany and Pike in his district. He said he always felt he was not just a supervisor for his district, but a supervisor for all of Sierra County. He felt his district was well represented, adding “you can do a lot today on the internet and phone. “ He believed Option 3 prepared by County staff had the best representation for District 2.
Board Chair Lee Adams stated the law favored status quo he’d wanted everyone to keep that in mind. He said with the two maps Ellsmore presented, the districts would be split by three mountain passes and also split ranching communities. Verdi and Long Valley both feel the pain of Reno and Washoe County pushing in on them. He added these districts are not created for our convenience and shouldn’t be creating lines to make it convenient for us. Verdi and Long Valley are always going to be outliers, and stated there was no perfect way to “split this pie”.
Ellsmore said it was about representing people not geography and thought t it would be better to be represented by two supervisors than one.
Dryden respected Huebner and felt he was a great public servant. She felt Option 1 and Option 3 prepared by County staff made the most sense.
Supervisor Terry LeBlanc added he had no problem giving some of his “marbles” to Dryden with the County prepared options and echoed Huebner’s comments they represent the entire county.
McCleran said the Board was not approving a final map at this hearing and Huebner made a motion of intent to adopt Option 3. The motion failed due to a lack of a second.
McCleran stated the Board could consider Option 1 or Option 3.
Roen made the motion to have Option 1 or Option 3 to be considered by next meeting December 7th where a more deliberate action will be taken. Motion passed unanimously.