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Political epicenters about to shift north

By   /   Saturday, October 18th, 2008  /   Comments Off on Political epicenters about to shift north

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Although our politicians are fixated on the November election and the changes that are going to be coming from Washington no matter who wins, we’d like to look just a little further out on the horizon.

There’s a national census that will take place in 2010 and for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, it could be a watershed event.

That’s because the tilt in the demographic landscape in favor of North Santa Barbara County will be in full flower by the time the census takers complete their work.

And if all of the heads are properly counted, the political map of Santa Barbara County could be changed forever.
If guestimates coming from economic development types are true, the census will shift the political epicenter of the county to the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

If county supervisorial districts are drawn anywhere near where they ought to be, it will no longer be possible to carve a “swing” district out of the Santa Ynez Valley, Goleta and Isla Vista and create a majority of “slow-growth votes” on the Board of Supervisors.

Yes, the cities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta will continue to direct their own futures as will the planning groups and community associations for Montecito and Hope Ranch.

But by suppressing growth and development along the South Coast, the seeds for a North Santa Barbara County population boom have been planted.
This is not all bad.

Pressure will mount for moving more and more services and county offices to the North County, where housing is much more affordable and where labor costs are going to be lower.

Likewise in San Luis Obispo County, the tilt toward the Atascadero-Templeton-Paso Robles corridor will be in full evidence. Whether this will result in the wholesale shift in county offices from San Luis Obsipo remains to be seen.

But it does appear that the tourism and wine industry boom in North San Luis Obispo County will have a very long-term impact on the political scene.

Given that the city of San Luis Obispo also is adept at suppressing growth, this is another long-term trend.

What happens with the 2010 census will only be a precursor to bigger changes ahead.

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