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Redistricting overlooked Oceano's Latinos again

I have been a property owner and resident of Oceano for more than 20 years. Oceano is the largest Latino community in the county.

On April 7, 2021, San Luis Obispo County signed a contract with Redistricting Partners LLC to serve as consultants to the redistricting process for county supervisors. In this contract there are lofty claims and golden promises, which, from my personal knowledge, have not been achieved. I called attention to this issue at the Oct. 26 redistricting hearing and have received no feedback from the county or Redistricting Partners. Specifically, there has been an epic failure to outreach to the Latino community in Oceano.

In their contract with the county, Redistricting Partners promises a robust collection of deliverables. To whit, the contract reads as follows (pages 10-11):

"Working in Partnership with Imprenta Communications, Redistricting Partners will provide a robust public outreach program. Imprenta specializes in outreach personalized and curated for the specific community we are reaching. Our community outreach efforts are aimed at truly translating information that is clear, digestible, and personal, making accurate information easily accessible. Imprenta can help support this project by bringing their expert knowledge of reaching the Latino community in a culturally competent and successful manner. Efficient translation outreach moves beyond language and into culture. Imprenta is able to do this by focusing on specific partnerships with community based organizations, community and government leaders to help engage the Latino community in San Luis Obispo. We will use a grassroots/grasstops approach where we rally the grassroots community while additionally identifying trusted leaders from the Latino communities to further amplify our messaging to these specific populations.

" ... In order to efficiently share resources and collaborate with the community and our networks using our 'New Normal' methods and technologies, we have developed a set of alternative strategies:

• Zoom town halls, redistricting meetings, and workshops.

• Partnerships with businesses to provide PSA-type messaging via bilingual posters, flyers, and social posts.

• Business owners, government officials, and local leadership can each host a special webinar with live translations in English and Spanish.

• Webinars hosted by Latino community leaders and trusted voices.

• Church outreach-write-ups, posts or post materials in church newsletters/social media/website or announcements during services."

As far as we can determine, not one single instance of any of the above has taken place in the largest Latino community in the county. In the contract of almost $80,000 signed with Redistricting Partners, $35,000 is earmarked for the above.

The community of Oceano knows very well what it is like to be second-class citizens, to be overlooked, to be marginalized, to have our homes and streets flood, to have our children dodge cars while walking in the streets to school because we lack the basics of curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. And, it appears, the supervisors and their consultants have ignored us again.

The California Coastal Commission staff characterized Oceano as the "poster child for environmental justice on the California coast." I believe the issue raised above is just another example of decades of institutionalized racism, social injustice, and inequitable economic development which has repressed our community. When will it end? Δ

Charles Varni is the vice chair of the Oceano Advisory Council and a member of the Oceano Beach Community Association. Send a response for publication to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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