San Diego commission making last adjustments to City Council district boundaries before final vote

A map Dec. 1 shows proposed new boundaries for District 1 (blue), District 2 (gold) and District 6 (purple).
A redistricting map Dec. 1 shows proposed new boundaries for District 1 (blue), District 2 (gold) and District 6 (purple).
(Courtesy of city of San Diego)

As the deadline nears to create new boundary lines for San Diego’s nine City Council districts, the desire of the group District 1 United to preserve as much of the existing council District 1 as possible is being met, bit by bit.

After lobbying against dramatic changes early in the process — such as moving UC San Diego to another council district or creating one “coastal district” where there currently are two — District 1 United is focusing on some lesser changes before the San Diego Redistricting Commission votes on a final map Wednesday, Dec. 15.

The commission will hold more meetings Tuesday, Dec. 7, and Thursday, Dec. 9.

District 1 currently includes La Jolla and UCSD, University City, Torrey Pines, Torrey Hills, Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa and Pacific Highlands Ranch and is represented by City Councilman Joe LaCava.

Redistricting involves redrawing council district borders every 10 years to reflect movements in population, in accord with federal law and the city charter.

At the onset of this year’s process, big proposals were brought up, such as moving UCSD out of District 1 and condensing Districts 1 and 2 into one coastal district. Among District 2’s current communities are Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Point Loma. It is represented by City Council President Jennifer Campbell.

A group of residents formed District 1 United to fight those changes.

In a position paper, District 1 United stated: “The council District 1 communities have a 30-year history of working well together. They share common interests in coastal access, environmental protection, managed growth, outdoor recreational opportunities, cultural activities, world-class education and medical facilities and dynamic economic enterprises that serve people throughout San Diego and the world. These communities have strong community planning groups that communicate well with each other, with local businesses, with developers and with the city and which have overseen critical regional growth and infrastructure connectivity that benefits the whole region.”

After District 1 United lobbied successfully to keep UCSD in District 1 and maintain two coastal districts, the Redistricting Commission approved a preliminary “compromise map” on Nov. 13. That map would move University City and Torrey Hills from District 1 to District 6. The latter district, represented by Councilman Chris Cate, currently includes
Clairemont Mesa East and West, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos and Sorrento Valley.

The plan also would bring most of Pacific Beach into District 1.

Representatives of District 1 United said they supported the change for University City because it would keep the entire community in one district after an earlier proposal suggested splitting it into two. But the group wanted Torrey Hills to stay in District 1.

The preliminary map underwent some small revisions during the last half of November. On Dec. 1, the Redistricting Commission approved putting Torrey Hills in District 1.

According to the city, council districts must be composed of contiguous territory, be made roughly equal in population based on U.S. Census data and be as geographically compact as possible. The districts also must be bordered by natural boundaries, street lines and/or city lines as much as possible.

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.

Under the newest map, District 1 would have a population of about 154,385.

Going forward, District 1 United will look to have all of Rancho Peñasquitos, including the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, in District 1. Representative Janie Emerson said the request “shouldn’t be a problem,” with little population change by integrating those areas.

The attempt to have the preserve in District 1 could be to ensure there is community feedback should any development be planned for the area.

At the Dec. 2 La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting, trustee and District 1 United member Helen Boyden said it is important to have the preserve in District 1 in that “there is a lot of potential for industrial and biotech development.” She did not elaborate.

“We’re not home-free, but ... we’re fairly confident that District 1 is not going to be completely wrecked,” Boyden said.

Emerson said the commission is “moving in good directions. We’ll see. We don’t know anything until the final vote is taken.”

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