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La Jolla groups satisfied with S.D. Redistricting Commission’s final map for new council district boundaries

The newly redrawn District 1 (in blue) includes all of Bird Rock and Pacific Beach.
The newly redrawn District 1 (in blue) includes all of Bird Rock and Pacific Beach in this map approved by the San Diego Redistricting Commission.
(Courtesy of San Diego Redistricting Commission)

District 1, which includes La Jolla, will now include Pacific Beach but will lose University City.

New boundaries that a volunteer redistricting panel approved this week for San Diego City Council District 1 met with approval from Bird Rock leaders and from a La Jolla-based group that fought to keep UC San Diego in the district.

“We’re prepared to support the new map,” said Chris Nielsen, president of District 1 United. “It’s a compromise and a fair way to move things around in big-picture terms. We’re OK with the situation.”

The San Diego Redistricting Commission has met for months to collect feedback and draft potential new maps of the nine City Council districts, which is required every 10 years based on U.S. Census data. The commission approved a new citywide map Dec. 15 on a 7-2 vote.

Nielsen said the process of attending commission meetings, drafting feedback and responding to proposed changes over the past few months has been “long and fairly intense at times.”

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

Significant changes in the new map include moving University City to District 6 to help create a heavily Asian district stretching to Mira Mesa. In addition, Pacific Beach will move to District 1 from District 2, which includes other coastal communities such as Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

The Dec. 15 vote launched a 30-day period in which residents can raise objections before the map becomes official.

LaCava’s office said he would not comment about the map during that period.

District 1 United lobbied successfully against a couple of big proposed changes — moving UC San Diego to District 6 or creating a single “coastal district.”

Many students at UCSD wanted the university to leave District 1 because they feel they have much more in common with people in District 6. In a guest commentary published by the La Jolla Light in November, Aidan Lin, associate vice president of local affairs for the Associated Students of UCSD, wrote that District 1 politics “are run by affluent single-family homeowners in La Jolla,” who he said have been unconcerned about students’ needs, particularly for affordable housing.

The Redistricting Commission ultimately rejected the idea of moving UCSD out of District 1, though commission Chairman Tom Hebrank noted that University City, where many UCSD students live, was shifted into the largely Asian district the students desired.

District 1 United supported shifting University City to District 6 (represented by Councilman Chris Cate) because it would keep the entire community and its community planning group intact, whereas a previous plan called for splitting it into two council districts.

According to the city, council districts must be composed of contiguous territory, be made roughly equal in population based on 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 compared with the 2010 Census and almost 8 percent over the desired number. District 1 will now have a population of about 154,385.

District 1 United member Janie Emerson applauded the Redistricting Commission for doing “this much work in such a short time.”

She said her primary concern at this point is making sure the agreed-upon boundaries outlined in a report associated with the new map are correct. “They are going to have to be very careful with some of the lines,” said Emerson, who is president of the La Jolla Shores Association.

Bird Rock reunited

The small portion of Bird Rock on La Jolla’s southern end that is in District 2 is being reunited politically with the rest of the community in District 1.

In September, Bird Rock Community Council member Barbara Dunbar said “we would like to get that back into District 1. It’s really important to have a single representative for all of La Jolla and certainly all of Bird Rock.”

District 2 is represented by City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell.

BRCC President John Newsam conducted a straw poll of those attending the group’s Sept. 7 meeting to determine who wanted to stay in District 1 and move all of Bird Rock to District 1. The idea was supported unanimously.

Of the approved map that extends District 1 through Bird Rock and Pacific Beach, Dunbar told the Light via email that “at the beginning of the redistricting process, we felt it was important to have the neighborhood of Bird Rock and the entirety of the Bird Rock MAD [Maintenance Assessment District] in a single council district and not split between two districts. I think that we have better representation, service and advocacy if the neighborhood is represented by a single council member.”

With that request met, she said, “I am appreciative of the efforts of the redistricting commissioners ... and thankful that Bird Rock and the Bird Rock MAD are reunited into a single council district and that it is council District 1. The efforts of the District 1 United group, who advocated for Bird Rock, is appreciated.”

Pacific Beach

The idea of transferring Pacific Beach into District 1 wasn’t embraced by all PB leaders. Town Council member Eve Anderson said last month that she worried that issues such as homelessness, which PB shares with the other beach communities in District 2, will get short shrift in a district dominated by the more affluent and influential La Jolla, where such problems aren’t as prevalent.

“La Jolla is going to rule,” Anderson said. “We’re going to be the orphans.”

But Karl Rand, the Town Council vice president and chairman of the PB Planning Group, said “the current map is acceptable. It’s not ideal because we’re split from Mission Beach. But it’s acceptable because it keeps us whole.”

San Diego Union-Tribune reporter David Garrick and freelance writer Steven Mihailovich contributed to this report.