10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County supervisors struggled to reach agreement Wednesday at their third workshop in as many months to discuss new boundary lines for the county’s five supervisorial districts.

A consultant presented the board with four maps as discussion starting points, but supervisors found faults with each one of them. Two of the supervisors offered their own alternatives at the meeting.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near close at this point in time,” said Supervisor Neil Derry, who presented two maps of his own, by the end of the meeting.

Supervisors agreed that another workshop needed to be scheduled for August.

The new boundaries will be drawn based on the 2010 census, which showed a 19 percent increase in the county’s population. The process must be completed by Nov. 1.

The main challenge for the board is how to come up with new boundaries that reduce the populations of the 1st and 2nd districts and add to the 3rd, 4th and 5th districts to meet a target population of 407,042 residents to make each district equal in size.

Differences centered on three issues: whether the mountain communities should be drawn into one district, which areas of the High Desert should be drawn out of the 1st District, and in which direction the 4th District should be expanded to increase its size.

As at the previous workshop, several residents from the San Bernardino Mountains — which is now split into the 2nd and 3rd districts — asked supervisors to include all of the communities from Crestline to Big Bear into one district.

They said the areas share common interests and would be better served by one supervisor.

Supervisor Janice Rutherford — whose 2nd district stretches from Upland to Devore and includes Crestline — argued that mountain residents were better served by having more than one supervisor advocating on their behalf. She added that residents have told her there are differences between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.

“I think there’s a very strong case to be made there are two distinct mountain communities,” Rutherford said.

But Derry argued for putting all of the communities between Crestline and Big Bear into his East Valley 3rd District, saying that’s what the communities want.

“By splitting them in half, you’re only reducing their ability to elect someone who represents their interests,” he said.

In the High Desert, 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he wanted to keep as much of the Victor Valley as whole as possible. But given the large population his district must cede, he suggested moving Barstow and its surrounding communities to the 3rd District.

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