By James R. Riffel
City News ServiceAfter months of public hearings and controversies, the city of San Diego’s Redistricting Commission on Thursday approved a new map for City Council districts.
The final product from the commission represents a radical change from the current boundaries because a ninth district was squeezed in -- the result of San Diego’s change in its form of governance several years ago.
It encompasses the Coast & Canyons plan that unites La Jolla in Council District 1, carried forward by Joe LaCava, former president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association.
The new District 9 will run from the College Area toward the southwest down to Southcrest.
Another major change will be that District 3, represented by Todd Gloria, will include downtown, currently represented by Kevin Faulconer. Faulconer also loses the southern portion of La Jolla.
The commission made only one change to its preliminary map, approved July 21, adjusting the boundaries of districts so that Linda Vista would only be split two ways instead of three.
The commissioners previously rejected pleas from hundreds of residents of the Park Village section of Rancho Penasquitos to stay in a district with the rest of their community, rather than being placed in district to the south with Mira Mesa.
It just makes sense,’' Commissioner Carlos Marquez said of the new map.I think most San Diegans, when they look at our final product, they will agree.’'
Commissioners have held 44 public meetings since last October and weathered a number of controversies and demands from interest groups. District boundaries are adjusted every 10 years to conform with updated census data.
It’s been a long journey,’' Chairwoman Anisha Dalal said.
The Republican Party of San Diego County contended that the process used to select the seven commissioners was flawed because two retired judges made the picks instead of the required three, but their legal challenge failed. GOP leaders also were unable to remove Marquez from the panel despite questions over his residency.
Latino and Asian political activists demanded new majority districts.
Latinos already dominate District 8, represented by David Alvarez. About 44 percent of the new District 9 will be voting-age Latinos.
District 6 will be 34 percent Asian, over 18 years old.
The Asian Pacific American Coalition, in a statement, called it
an Asian-influenced district.’'
After more than 40 years of waiting, APAC is eager to see the return of Asian-American representatives to San Diego City Hall,’' said APAC’s co- founder, Dr. Allen Chan.
The next step will be implementing the new map.
City Council President Tony Young has proposed having council members begin to represent their new areas late next month. However, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith opined that the new boundaries will not take effect until the December 2012, when the District 9 seat is filled.