By James R. Riffel
City News Service
San Diego's redistricting commission is poised to approve a preliminary map for City Council districts, the panel's chief of staff said Wednesday.
Midori Wong said commissioners have narrowed their focus to a map known as the "July 19 Plan'' and are expected to vote on it Thursday afternoon.
They were tasked with adjusting district boundaries based on 2010 census data and adding a ninth council district necessitated by San Diego's switch to a strong-mayor form of government.
It used to be that the mayor sat on the City Council and would serve as a ninth — tie-breaking — vote. Since the change, the council has operated with eight members, but 4-4 tie votes have been extremely rare.
Wong said the July 19 Plan is "the commission's best effort'' after a series of meetings that attracted 850 attendees, drew 1,000 comments and a number of plans submitted by the public.
The plan only partly satisfies the wishes of activists who wanted a second Latino majority district and one area that might vote an Asian resident onto the council.
The proposed ninth district would, if approved, run from the College area to Southcrest, with Interstate 15 serving as the western boundary in the southern part of the area. While the district would be 50 percent Hispanic, only 25 percent are registered to vote, according to the commission's demographic data.
District 8, represented currently by David Alvarez, has sent Latinos to the council for years and has a significantly higher percentage of Hispanic residents. His district would remain mostly intact under the plan.
In the northern part of the city, the July 19 Plan would break off Mira Mesa, which has a large Asian population, and attach it to District 6, which also includes another heavily Asian neighborhood, Kearny Mesa.
The adjusted boundaries make the district, currently represented by Lorie Zapf, about one-third Asian.
One feature of the plan that immediately stands out is that downtown San Diego would switch from one of its biggest boosters, Kevin Faulconer, to Todd Gloria.
Faulconer, whose press representatives did not return a message seeking comment, would continue to represent the beach areas, Point Loma and Mission Bay.
Gloria, who would give up part of City Heights in exchange for downtown, would continue to represent North Park and Hillcrest, satisfying the wishes of political activists in the gay community.
Wong said the plan is not final and could be modified following a series of five public meetings scheduled to begin next week. The commission is expected to take a final vote in late August.