We’re getting right up against the redistricting deadline — Dec. 15 — and over the last week, both the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors (which is in charge of local redistricting) and the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (which is in charge of state legislative districts and California’s seats in the House of Representatives) have published draft maps for review. 

Let’s take a look!

Board of Supervisors

At its Nov. 2 meeting, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors took what small input its own ad-hoc advisory committee had to offer and very nearly decided just to run back the existing lines for another 10 years.

But a couple of supervisors had other thoughts. Supervisor Mike Wilson, representing the Arcata-centric Third District, thought that the public was owed at least a couple of alternative choices, perhaps with very slight alterations. Supervisor Rex Bohn, representing the Cutten-Ferndale-Scotia-Petrolia First District, thought that perhaps a very few extremely small tweaks might be made, mentioning specifically the Blue Lake Rancheria, which is cleaved in two by the line running between the Third and the Fifth Districts. 

Most notably, Supervisor Steve Madrone, representing the McKinleyville-based Fifth District, pushed very hard for Blue Lake to be added to his demesne, despite the fact that the Fifth is already overpopulated. To do this, he leaned on the “community of interest” testimony and the recommendation from the advisory committee that Glendale and Blue Lake be placed into the same district. 

He wished for this district to be the Fifth District, based on the idea that Blue Lake was once Fifth District and should be so again. But after a round of raised eyebrows from a couple of his fellow supervisors — the fact escaped no one that adding Blue Lake to the Fifth would give the left-leaning Madrone, up for reelection, a healthy injection of likeminded voters in a contest he won by a hair four years ago — Madrone relented and said, well, how about we see two new maps: One that has Blue Lake and Glendale united in the Third District and one that has them united in the Fifth?

 Those are the ones that were released Wednesday. Here they are, along with population charts:

Supervisors — Blue Lake in the Third
Pop. Diff. Diff. %
1st 26,964 -398-1.5%
2nd 27,329 -33-0.1%
3rd 28,082 7202.6%
4th 26,560 -802-2.9%
5th 27,8755131.9%
Supervisors — Blue Lake in the Fifth
Pop. Diff. Diff. %
1st 26,954-398-1.5%
2nd 27,329-33-0.1%
3rd 26,682-680-2.5%
4th 26,560-802-2.9%
5th 29,275+1,913+7.0%

As you can see, if putting Blue Lake and Glendale into the same district is so hellfire important, it makes much more mathematical sense to place them in the Third District than the Fifth. If you put them in the Fifth, you end up with that district massively overpopulated and every other district in the county moderately underpopulated.

So did Madrone argue himself out of Glendale as well as Blue Lake? Probably not. The Board of Supervisors is unable to vote on these maps at its next meeting — they’ll hear a short presentation about it, but the maps haven’t been circulating long enough to take a vote yet — but it seems more likely that the Board will just plump for the status quo, perhaps with a very small number of very tiny adjustments of the type that Bohn was plumping for.


It was a rocky road at times — see here, and here — but with the publication of draft maps Wednesday it looks as though the California Citizens Redistricting Commission is going to leave the North Coast’s traditional districts for Congress, state Senate and state Assembly more or less intact. (Though be mindful of the proviso issued by our friends at CalMatters this morning — these are still draft maps, and they could still shift.)

One big thing to note, here, Humboldt-wise, is that each of the below maps lop off the northeast corner of the county, the land around Orleans, and give that area to the Republican-dominated Central Valley districts to our east. So a corner of Humboldt would, in fact, likely be represented by the Trumpy Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

Why do this? Well, the commission thought that it was important to keep Karuk tribal territory intact in one district. The tribe’s traditional territory runs from Orleans to Happy Camp up the Klamath, and so to keep it in one district you either have to carve off part of Siskiyou County and add it to the coast, or else carve out part of Humboldt County and add it to the inland districts. The commission opted for the latter; the tribe itself would very much rather have it opt for the former. (See letter from tribal chair Buster Attebery here.)

But apart from that, things are mostly back to normal. In these draft maps, no longer are Rep. Jared Huffman and Assm. Jim Wood threatened to be mapped out of the North Coast, and no longer is all of Humboldt yoked awkwardly to Redding.

Again — these could be tweaked, perhaps significantly, but here is the current state of play:

State Senate
State Assembly