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UC San Diego stays in La Jolla’s District 1 in first draft of S.D. Redistricting Commission map

The first draft of a preliminary map shows San Diego's City Council District 1, which includes La Jolla, in blue.
The first draft of a map, which is subject to change, shows proposed changes to San Diego’s City Council districts. District 1, which includes La Jolla, is in blue. District 2 is in yellow and District 6 is in purple.
(Courtesy of city of San Diego)

University City east of Interstate 5 would move to neighboring District 6.

An initial map of San Diego’s potential new City Council district boundaries, drafted during the city Redistricting Commission’s Oct. 21 meeting, shows many of the current lines for District 1 — which includes La Jolla — remaining, with UC San Diego staying in the district but University City east of Interstate 5 moving to the neighboring District 6.

The change would connect University City politically with Mira Mesa and the Convoy area in a district that would be 38.3 percent Asian.

For the record:

2:11 p.m. Oct. 27, 2021This article was updated to correct that Clairemont Mesa East and West are part of District 6.

Many UCSD students have been lobbying to be part of such a heavily Asian district, but the Redistricting Commission’s initial map leaves the university in District 1. In addition to La Jolla and University City, District 1 currently includes Torrey Pines, Torrey Hills, Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa and Pacific Highlands Ranch. The proposal also would shift Torrey Highlands from District 5 to District 1.

However, the map is considered “a starting point” and “far from finalizing anything,” according to Commissioner Lora Fleming. The map will be available for community feedback, and commissioners have the option to submit potential changes in coming weeks.

The tentative map was produced after four hours of public testimony and an hour of commissioner deliberations. The map has been posted at portal.sandiego-mapping.org/submission/p5870.

It was produced as part of a whittling process. First, commissioners took public feedback and accepted submissions for potential district boundary changes. Then, four maps were produced based on feedback received at meetings by consultant Haystaq DNA.

Those four maps were reviewed and commissioners took public feedback before narrowing them down to one tentative map.

Bradley Wieneke, Haystaq DNA’s senior vice president, said the redrawing of council districts is needed to reflect changes in population. The commission used 2020 Census data to evaluate the nine existing City Council districts and redraw the lines to ensure each district contains about one-ninth of the city’s population.

According to the data, San Diego has about 1.39 million residents, so each of its nine council districts will need about 154,400 people. However, District 1 currently has a population of about 166,600, representing a 12.8 percent increase from the 2010 Census and almost 8 percent over the desired number.

In addition to population, council districts must be composed of contiguous territory and be as geographically compact as possible, according to the city. The districts also must be bounded by natural elements, street lines and/or city boundary lines as much as possible.

Three of the four proposed early maps showed UC San Diego moving to District 6 in accord with the wishes of students who have spoken at meetings saying they have more in common with neighborhoods to the east. Asians, at 29 percent, are the largest ethnic group at the university.

But Commissioner Val Hoy said he has a hard time moving UCSD out of District 1, “which has been its district and its cradle and its birthplace. I’m sensitive to the notion of the Asian empowerment district and would like to support that, but I’m not sure whether that weighs more heavily than the connection between UCSD and District 1.”

District 1 currently is represented by Councilman Joe LaCava. District 6, represented by Councilman Chris Cate, currently includes Clairemont Mesa East and West, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos and Sorrento Valley.

The idea of putting the university in District 6 is in conflict with the wishes of a residents group called District 1 United.

La Jolla Shores resident and former District 1 Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said: “By assuring that council districts are composed of whole neighborhoods and planning group areas, it makes it much easier for the council member to be responsive to the community and represent their interests. … I respect the importance of compactness, contiguousness and the ability to move from one population center from another in the district.”

She said the effort “to rip UCSD from District 1" would destroy the “compactness of the remaining district.”

Lightner said she supported the efforts of District 1 United, which submitted a position paper outlining its reasons for keeping District 1 as is and submitted two maps to the commission: one with the current boundaries and an alternative.

Representing District 1 United, University City resident Andy Wiese said the group’s maps “honor all the criteria for redistricting and solve many of the problems of the proposed Haystaq DNA maps.”

He said the alternative map uses an “incremental approach” to adjust population for “5,000 people, an order of magnitude smaller than that of the Haystaq proposal, which imagines shifting 50,000 or more residents out of University City, with cascading changes of similar magnitude elsewhere.”

Among the group’s changes would be to move about 5 percent of the University City community planning area and the southeast corner of the La Jolla community planning area to District 2, which includes Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

Seemingly moved by the public testimony, commissioners made revisions to the draft map over more than an hour. The panel decided to consider it a starting point to be revisited at the next meeting.

The commission next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, online. Learn more at sandiego.gov/redistricting-commission.

In early November, the commission will vote on a preliminary map to submit to the city clerk. There will then be five public hearings for the city to accept feedback on the map.

On or around Dec. 15, the commission will vote on a final map to submit to the San Diego County registrar of voters.

— San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer David Garrick contributed to this report.