By Kathy Day
Joe LaCava is a man on a mission.
Recently termed out as the chairman of the La Jolla Community Planning Association and a year out of his role as president of the Bird Rock Community Council, he’s trying to focus La Jollans’ attention on the current process of drawing new lines for City Council Districts.
In addition to satisfying the requirement to redraw boundaries to balance population changes, this year the process includes adding a ninth council district as approved by voters in last year’s Strong Mayor measure. (Similar rebalancing must be done for the county supervisors and congressional districts.)
The city council district realignment is the subject of a public meeting set for 6 p.m. May 11 at the La Jolla Library, where people can have their say, and a three-week old push to get the word out about the impacts.
“It’s difficult to grasp what’s going on and why it’s important,” LaCava said in a recent interview. “
Adding the ninth district, he said, “throws everything up in the air. In the past it was just a matter of tweaking the boundaries of the eight districts.”
At present, La Jolla’s representation is split between Sherri Lightner’s Council District 1 and Kevin Faulconer’s District 2. Lightner’s ranges over the northwest part of the city, including areas around Torrey Pines, Carmel Valley and Rancho Penasquitos; Faulconer’s, to the south of La Jolla as far as Point Loma and Downtown.
First and foremost, LaCava said, La Jolla needs to be brought into one district. Currently, District 1 has a population of about 199,000; with the new boundaries it should have about 144,000. The district is the largest of the eight with more than 33,000 more residents than the next closest in size — Carl DeMaio’s District 5.
LaCava — and others — believe picking up the rest of La Jolla and dropping Rancho Penasquitos into a new ninth district is the best solution. The idea has taken the form of a proposal being called the “Coast and Canyons Plan” that has the endorsement of several North City organizations affected by the changes.
LaCava became motivated after attending the first meeting of the appointed, seven-member Redistricting Commission that was for Council Districts 4 and 8 in the city’s southern reaches. Before the meeting, he said, he heard that the Asian-Pacific American Coalition wanted a new district that would bring together the Asian populations in Mira Mesa (District 5) and Rancho Penasquitos (District 1). Their initial plan sliced Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch out of District 1 and into District 5 with Rancho Bernardo and other communities to the east.
That discussion had already motivated members of the Rancho Penasquitos Town Council and the Rancho Penasquitos Planning Group to say “we want to align with communities that share our common interest,” LaCava said.
They reacted by proposing that they join a North City district that overlaps with the boundaries of the Poway Unified School District — currently represented by DeMaio -—and that the other coastal/canyon areas to the west remain in District 1 along with the southern part of La Jolla.