Panel hears variety of views at final public redistricting hearing

By Joe Tash

Contributor

Attendees at a meeting of the San Diego Redistricting Commission on Wednesday, May 11, at the La Jolla Woman’s Club got a taste of the complex task facing the panel as it redraws City Council district boundaries.

The seven-member redistricting commission, which was appointed by a panel of retired judges last year, is charged with balancing the populations of the current eight City Council districts based on census data, and at the same time carving out a new ninth council district.

The May 11 meeting was the last in a series of public hearings in which the public was invited to speak on redistricting issues before the commission drafts its first version of a map outlining the new district boundaries.

City Council District 1, now represented by Sherri Lightner, which includes the communities of La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Del Mar Heights, Torrey Pines, Rancho Peñasquitos, and University City, will be trimmed during the process, as it now has the largest population of any council district in the city.

Census data shows District 1’s population at 199,464, and the target population for the redrawn City Council districts is 144,624. In an earlier interview, Lightner said she expects Rancho Peñasquitos to be moved to another district, and that she would like to see La Jolla reunited. La Jolla was split between districts 1 and 2 during the last round of redistricting in 2001.

Lightner told the commission she doesn’t want to lose any of the communities in her district, but understands that change is inevitable.

As the process moves forward, the redistricting commission will sift through the testimony of hundreds of San Diego residents who have attended the hearings in each of the current City Council districts, said Midori Wong, the commission’s chief of staff.

Seven or eight groups have already submitting proposed new maps, some of which focus on specific council districts and some of which cover the entire city, said Wong.

A number of speakers supported the Coast and Canyons map, which keeps most of the current District 1 intact, adding in sections of La Jolla and University City while placing Rancho Peñasquitos in a different council district.

Bill Bowers of La Jolla told the commission that it should keep La Jolla, University City, the Golden Triangle and UCSD together in the same council district. He drew a laugh from the crowd when he said that each time he looks at the golden statue of the angel Moroni atop the Mormon Temple next to I-5, he imagines the figure calling out, “Remember the Coast and Canyons plan.”

Rancho Peñasquitos residents, for their part, told the commission that they don’t want to be placed in a new council district with the communities of Mira Mesa and Kearny Mesa, as advocated in a plan proposed by the Asian and Pacific American Coalition, or APAC. The coalition wants to concentrate Asian voting power in the new district.

But several Peñasquitos residents said their community has much more in common with neighborhoods in the northeast section of the city, which are also part of the Poway Unified School District.

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