Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yolo County Supervisors; isolated and insulated

As I write this, waiting for the 3:00PM time scheduled for public comment on the proposed Madison re-entry prison site, I can't help but think about a figure I heard this morning at the Board of Supervisors meeting on the new General Plan. One of the presenter said the cities inside Yolo County accounted for more than 88% of the population while they represent only 7% of the county's acreage. Think about that.

Each of the cities, Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento and Winters all have local governments, each representing their citizens. With such representation all ready in place, why is it those same cities, excluding Winters, receives 4 of the five seats on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors? Why not re-draw the Supervisors districts, dividing all of Yolo County geographically between the 5 districts?

The citizens of Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento and Winters have city councils, mayors and a local governments to represent them. They are not going to call on Yolo County to fix their potholes, build a new school, or to protest a new building fee. So why do they have such an over representation on the rest of us living in the other 93% of the county?

I know this is probably a crazy idea, but I would like to see what the process would be to redraw the existing Supervisor's districts. Those of us who live in Duane Chamberlain's 5th District have grow accustom to Duane being the lone voice of reason in a sea of liberal, feel good policies, with Matt Rexroad on our side more often that not. However, the 5th district is huge.

The cattle ranchers, organic farmers, small vineyard operators and orchard owners in the Capay Valley have far different concerns from the large row crop farmers in the middle of the county, not to mention the city of Winters. Why not split up Yolo County's districts to better reflect the County as a whole?

I keep looking at the County's new General Plan and I see that the County seems to talk a good game about the importance of the rural areas.
  • Principles and Objectives
Principle 1: The success of Yolo County depends upon the success of agriculture.

Principle 2: The benefits of open space and natural areas are essential to our quality of life.

Principle 3: Each community is distinctive, but all share the same values and a common vision for the future.

Principle 4: Safe and healthy communities allow residents to fulfill their individual potential.

Principle 5: The safest and most efficient way to move goods and people is through a variety of transportation alternatives.

Principle 6: Technology, information and communications advance our

Principle 7: A strong economy is key to the long-term sustainability of our farms, towns, cities and governments.
If these truly are the principals and objectives of Yolo County, why do we only have one vote on the BOS? Why are the County's decision made by a majority of people who will not have to live with the impact of those decisions? Get the Supervisors out of their cozy neighborhoods and have them mingle with the 'little people' out here in the hinterlands. It would be a great education for them and I am sure we would learn a few things as well.

Crazy? Maybe, but I'm sure removing the barriers of representation between the rural and urban areas will be better for the entire County.

Don't worry, I'll buy a pair of rubber boots for each of the Supervisors out of my own pocket so they can visit their new constituents when its flooding out here in their 'new' districts. I won't worry about Duane, I know he has a good pair of boots, I see him checking his irrigation in the mornings.


Anonymous said...

Actually, we considered dividing up the unincorporated area last time during redistricting.

It was largely the people in the 5th district that wanted to be together.

Lines will be drawn again in 2011.

See you at 3pm.

Joe D said...

it is well after 3pm

John said...

I believe that the districts are based on population. District 5 contains part of Woodland to get the needed population. Any way that the district lines could be drawn would still favor the interests of the cities, that is where the population is located. The only real solution for the rural area would be to separate from Yolo county. One descendant of a pioneer family has suggested that everything north of Cache Creek become a new county, but then he lives north of the creek. I would prefer a split along CR-98. Everything west of CR-98 would be a new county. Unfortunately, this area probably wouldn't be economically viable as a county. I fear that taxes would need to be a lot higher to support services, and that increase probably isn't possible. But the thought of controlling our own destiny is appealing.