10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By DUANE GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Hunched over large maps — with markers in hand — Riverside County’s redistricting committee began trying Tuesday to figure out how to divide more than 2 million residents into five equal districts.

The county’s population jumped nearly 42 percent — to 2,189,641 — between 2000 and 2010, meaning each district should have 437,928 residents.

The national census, conducted every 10 years, determines how much states and regions get in federal funding and triggers requirements to redraw districts so residents are equally represented.

Supervisors, who have the final say over redistricting, established a committee last year to draft proposals. The committee will hold community forums to gather public input on April 20, 21 and 27. The meetings will be held in Riverside, Menifee and Desert Hot Springs; final times and locations are not set.

The Board of Supervisors in June will start holding formal public hearings on any redistricting proposal.

With the maps out on a conference table, the committee began looking at possibilities.

“Now we get to start the fun,” said Assessor Larry Ward, the committee chairman.

The committee began with the 4th District, which includes the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County. County staff began by adding portions of North Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs into the 4th District — they currently are in the 5th — to see how that affected population totals.

The 4th District, represented by Supervisor John Benoit, must add 41,349 residents.

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