Redistricting California: The Environment Needs Your Voice!
California is redrawing its federal and state legislative maps (including losing one congressional seat!). That means that your legislative district might change.
While environmental and climate justice advocates have been building a policy agenda for years, we currently do not have the political power in California to act on these solutions at the rate and scale required. The 2021 redistricting process is a unique moment to make key structural change: not only for the next legislative session, but for this final decade leading to the 2030 climate deadline.
California’s Constitution requires that redistricting preserve “communities of interest”—those economic or cultural ties that bind communities together—to the maximum extent possible. Northwest California is one of those communities of interest. Our coastal-moderated ecosystems share the same ecological history, which in turn has shaped the culture and economy of the area. The threats facing Northwest California are also similar, whether from sea level rise, drought, or climate change. Our environment and economy are best served by keeping Northwest California together.
The redistricting process begins by soliciting input from the public about what forms their community of interest. Unique public comments are very important to the process. There are two ways you can participate!
Participate in a Communities of Interest Public Hearing!
The Citizen Redistricting Commission is holding virtual meetings based on “zones.” Your address is in Zone A. The Citizen Redistricting Commission is hosting a special meeting for our zone on August 23 from 3-7pm, to solicit input. Click here to register for a time slot to speak. Each speaker will get up to 3 minutes.
Need talking points? Check out below for more information!
Draw Your Own Map!
Don’t want to sit through a public meeting? Can’t make the meeting? No problem! Submit your testimony online, by email or by mail.
The Citizen Redistricting Commission has set up a cool website where you can draw your community of interest. Go to DrawMyCACommunity.org and follow the helpful tutorials. (Having trouble? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you through it!)
You can also provide input to the Commission by emailing: VotersFirstAct@crc.ca.gov (CC us at email@example.com too!) or by snail mail: California Citizens Redistricting Commission, 721 Capitol Mall, Suite 260, Sacramento, CA 95814. You can even call in your comments to (916) 323-0323.
At a loss over what to say? That’s understandable. We’re here to help. The Commission needs to know four key things from you about your community. Here are some thoughts to help guide your testimony.
Where is your community located?
State where you are from and that you view your community of interest as, broadly, Zone A (Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake, and Napa Counties). Other terms that are helpful would be “the North Coast” or “Northwest California.”
What are the economic, social, and/or cultural interests that bind your community together?
There are many ties that link our communities together in Northwest California. Here are a few we have thought of. Feel free to use any of these examples or add your own:
Our coastal-moderated forests, particularly the redwoods, form an ecological community that provide a shared economic history and a shared cultural history. Likewise, climate change presents unique challenges for this region (sea level rise, reduced summer fog and increasing temperatures).
Our region shares similar land-based agricultural interests, most importantly wineries stretching north from Sonoma through Humboldt. Climate change is going to affect agriculture in our region, from warmer temperatures to less precipitation. We are better able to mitigate and adapt together.
Although Northwest California is often very rural, we are noticeably different from much of rural California. Environmental protection, love of public lands, and concern about climate change are values shared in Northwest California.
Humboldt is affected by climate change in a similar way to other counties on the North Coast, where sea level rise and changing ocean conditions, mixed with increased wildfire risk, will affect our economies and our natural resources.
Because of Humboldt County’s small size, we often share resources with Del Norte County, which binds our economies together.
College of the Redwoods ties Humboldt and Del Norte Counties together with campuses located in both.
Before the State, we are lumped together with our sister counties along the North Coast. Our air quality is protected by the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District. Our water quality is protected by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The North Coast of California shares a similar climate that defines our ecosystems. The coasts are marked by redwood forests which give way to Douglas fir/mixed conifer forests further inland before making way to prairies and oak woodlands. These lands are bisected by coastal streams and rivers that form their headwaters in the coastal mountains and drain to the Pacific. Unlike ecosystems further inland, our ecosystems are heavily influenced by the pacific ocean and the marine fog which blankets our coastline through much of the summer.
Our climate and environment have helped to shape the economies of the area, whether it is wood, wine, or weed, and we have developed a similar culture that prioritizes a clean, healthy environment. Ocean fishing is another economic community that ties the North Coast together and which separates us from more inland parts of Northern California.
The North Coast contains a uniquely high percentage of state owned public lands. This is due in part to our Redwood State and National Parks. These parks draw visitors from across the world but our community is proud and possessive of them. The North Coast also has a large number of beautiful State Beaches.
Why your community should be kept together for fair and effective representation?
Because our economies and cultures are shaped by our shared natural environment, our interests are best served when we are represented together. Whether it is addressing sea level rise or the threat of a warming climate on our economies, the environmental challenges of the present and future will affect coastal communities in a similar way.
What nearby areas does your community want to or not want to be grouped with?
Northern California’s coast and immediately adjacent areas share a common economy and culture; by contrast, we are less similarly aligned with our fellow residents to the east (such as Tehama, Siskiyou or Shasta County). These areas are more culturally conservative and their economies are still more tied to extractive economies, making them a poor “fit” with our area.