With the 2010 redistricting process just around the corner, political analysts in Sacramento have been crunching the numbers, running computer models and making some projections about what new districts might look like, especially if the new lines (as now scheduled) are drawn by a new Citizens Redistricting Commission, operating under guidelines spelled out in 2008's Proposition 11.
Among their conclusions, according to sources:
-- There is a 99 percent that Oxnard, which is now in a Senate district with Santa Monica, Malibu and portions of the San Fernando Valley, will be placed in a district with most of the rest of Ventura County -- or essentially a district that looks much like the 19th District now represented by Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark.
-- There is a 95 percent chance that Oxnard, now split between two Assembly districts in coastal strips that jut up to Santa Babara and down to Santa Monica, will be placed in a district that looks much like the existing 37th District, now represented by Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark.
The reason is that Proposition 11 calls for giving great deference to existing political boundaries, and keeping to a minimum the practice of splitting counties and cities.
The challenge along the south-central coast is that there enough bodies north of Ventura County to make for tidy districts in the San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County region. Assuming the final census figures are generally in line with the state's own population estimate of about 39 million people, that will mean that each of the 40 Senate districts will have to have about 950,000 people and each of the 80 Assembly districts about 475,000 people.
The drawing of districts typically begins at the north end of the state and moves south. Ideally, it would be possible to draw a district that takes in all of Monterey County (pop. 436,000) by grouping it with its sister county of Santa Cruz (272,000) and some of southern Santa Clara County (1.9 million). But even if one were to start a new district at the Monterey-San Luis Obispo County border, there are not enough people in San Luis Obispo (273,000) and Santa Barbara (434,000) to make a Senate district. Since neither of those counties has any natural connection to areas inland of them (separated by a mountain range with no major connecting highways), the spillover would have to come south into Ventura County. That could mean, for example that Ventura, Santa Paula and Ojai could be grouped with the counties to the north.
Or, if San Luis Obispo County is somehow joined in a district with Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, a Senate district line starting at the Santa Barbara County's northern border would have to also include all of western Ventura County.
Finally, a district to the north that split Santa Barbara County would likely mean a district that included southern parts of Santa Barbara along with most of Ventura County -- with either Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley then placed in a district that extends into Los Angeles County.
In any event, the chances are very good that Oxnard will be grouped much of the rest of Ventura County. That's significant because Oxnard has 200,000 people and is strongly Democratic.
It could make for a very interesting scenario. Tony Strickland and Sen. Fran Pavley (whose district includes Oxnard, but who lives just across the Ventura County line in Agoura Hills) might have to consider running against one another. Pavley will have options, because she and her husband, Andy, have long owned a condo in Oxnard's Mandalay Bay and often spend weekends there. She could choose to make that her official residence. Or, if a district line followed the Ventura-L.A. County border in the Conejo Valley, she could remain in Agoura Hills and run in an L.A. County-based district.