New group forms to preserve Carmel Valley’s council District 1 in the face of redistricting

The current San Diego City Council District 1 is shown in yellow.
(Courtesy of San Diego Redistricting Commission)

One proposal is to reconfigure District 1 by incorporating UC San Diego and Carmel Valley into District 6.


In preparation for the city of San Diego’s planned redrawing of its nine City Council districts, a group known as District 1 United has formed to advocate for keeping District 1, “the coast and canyon district”, intact. District 1 United has rallied local community planning groups to oppose any effort that would split up District 1.

The redistricting process, the formal redrawing of district boundaries, is done once every 10 years in accordance with federal law and the city charter.

Redistricting Commissioner Roy MacPhail said the need for redistricting comes at the beginning of each decade to reflect movements in population. Their task is to use 2020 Census data to evaluate the nine existing City Council districts and to redraw those boundary lines to make sure each district contains about one-ninth of the city’s population. With San Diego’s population estimated at 1.54 million, that would mean about 171,000 people per council district.

Del Mar Mesa resident Lisa Ross and Kathryn Burton, chair of the Torrey Hills Community Planning Board, have been working since 2011 to keep District 1 whole. During the last redistricting process 10 years ago, a similar proposal was made to “carve up Carmel Valley and stick it into District 6,” Ross said.

“Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa, Del Mar Heights and Torrey Hills have been unwilling pawns in efforts to divide District 1, which also includes the coastal areas of Torrey Pines, La Jolla and University City,” Ross said.

The first of a series of online meetings was held in August to provide an overview of the process and collect feedback from residents. Much of that feedback suggested moving the northernmost communities of District 1 – such as University City, Carmel Valley and UC San Diego – to District 6, its eastern neighbor.

Another proposal to reconfigure District 1 is to create an “Asian empowerment district” by incorporating UC San Diego and Carmel Valley into District 6, which currently includes the Convoy District, which touts itself as “among the largest Pan-Asian business districts in the United States.”

As the proposals surfaced, District 1 United started making its presence known at community group meetings and many of them voted to support its efforts.

Ross said the Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines, Carmel Valley and Del Mar Mesa planning boards have strongly aligned with one another on environmental and development issues and have a 30-year history of working well together.

“Splitting our functioning planning areas is like separating twins at birth,” Carmel Valley Community Planning Board Chair Frisco White said recently about plans to add parts of the communities to an re-imagined District 6.

Burton said that Torrey Hills shares no communities of interest with Mira Mesa or Convoy District: “We’re a coastal district, we’re about beach and canyons,” she said.

Burton said the current District 1 consists of communities of interest that strongly respect environmental preservation. The district’s natural boundaries are Marion Bear Park to the south; San Dieguito River Valley to the north; Del Mar Mesa and Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserves to the east; and Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Marine Reserve and Wind and Sea Beach to the west. Many of these areas are connected by important wildlife corridors, she said.

The Carmel Valley planning board’s letter to the Redistricting Commission touched on many of the same themes.

“Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch communities connect with each other... We are ocean-oriented communities, sharing the influences and geographical forms of the coast, the beauty of our coastal bluffs and unique terrains, our linear transportation corridors and open space canyons, our evolving recycled water infrastructure, the ever-changing traffic impacts, our many common legislative interests, together with protecting our cherished wetlands, views, and climate,” the board’s letter stated. “Los Penasquitos Canyon creates a natural barrier to District 6 in so much as that we have no relationship, shared facilities or common interests to the communities of Mira Mesa and the others in District 6.”

District 1 United believes they have demonstrated that the district has many strong communities of interest which should be preserved including its defining natural and manmade boundaries, shared infrastructure, schools and transportation corridors.

“Communities of like interest should far outweigh slight adjustments of population,” Ross said. “Communities of interest should trump any other consideration.”

In the coming months, a preliminary map will be drawn based on early feedback and follow-up meetings will be scheduled for additional refinement. The final map must be submitted by Dec. 15. To submit comments on the redistricting process, email or visit

A proposed map for City Council District 6, which would include UC San Diego.
(Courtesy of Neighborhood Voices San Diego)