By Joe Tash
Rancho Santa Fe will be split among three state senatorial districts under final maps released Friday, July 29, by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
The community fared better for its congressional and state assembly districts, with the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant falling within a single district for each jurisdiction, said Pete Smith, manager of the Rancho Santa Fe Association.
Meanwhile, the city of Solana Beach will get a new congressional representative, as it will shift from the 50th District, now represented by U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, to the 49th District, where the seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa.
Following a 14-day public review period, the commission is scheduled to vote on the new maps on Aug. 15, according to a commission spokesman.
The commission was established by a public vote, with the California electorate opting to take the job of redistricting away from state legislators, who performed it in the past. Instead, an independent commission is charged with balancing the populations of the state’s legislative and Congressional districts as required to occur every 10 years after the federal census.
“The concern we have, redistricting was supposed to try to protect the interests of communities and try not to divide them up too much,” Smith said, adding that the new configuration of state senate districts is frustrating.
“The good news is we’d be represented by three state senators,” if the final map is approved as drawn, Smith said.
Officials in Solana Beach will be watching the results of next year’s elections to find out which legislators will represent the city.
“It appears re-districting will result in new faces representing Solana Beach in the near future. I hope to develop a good rapport with each to help them understand this section of their districts’ issues and concerns better. For instance, Solana Beach is as passionate about ensuring a healthy environment and high quality of life as they are about fiscal responsibility. We, on the City Council, work hard to balance these and hope to convey these priorities to our new representatives,” wrote Mayor Lesa Heebner in an email.
The city will be in the 39th Senate District, and the 78th Assembly District. (Currently, Solana Beach is in the 38th Senate District and the 74th Assembly District.)
The Rancho Santa Fe Association did improve its state assembly situation during the commission’s hearing process, Smith said. He and other Rancho Santa Fe officials — including Association board member Roxana Foxx and fire district representatives — testified before the commission at a hearing in San Diego.
In earlier draft maps, Smith said, Rancho Santa Fe was at the northern tip of an assembly district that ran to the South Bay, and was the only unincorporated community in the district. Rancho Santa Fe has since been moved to another inland district that includes Poway.
“I think we’re far better off than we were a few months ago when the process began,” Smith said.
Rancho Santa Fe will also become part of the 49th Congressional District now held by Issa.
At the county level, Rancho Santa Fe will remain in the 5th supervisorial district represented by Supervisor Bill Horn.
“Bill has always been very open to hearing concerns from the community,” Smith said.
According to the state redistricting commission’s website, the boundaries are not expected to change before the final maps are approved by the commission on Aug. 15. The deadline for approval was set so election officials have time to prepare for upcoming ballots in 2012.
The commission’s website notes that the redistricting process is more transparent than in the past, as the commission has held 34 public hearings, taken testimony from 2,700 speakers and reviewed some 20,000 written communications since April, when the panel began its work.
Those who want more information about state legislative redistricting can visit the commission’s website at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.