New maps show UCSD question is key to San Diego redistricting possibilities

Crowds of students walking on the UC San Diego campus
Students walking on the UC San Diego campus in 2019. Some students are proposing moving the campus from the city council district that includes La Jolla to another, more heavily Asian district, as part of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process.
(Gary Robbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A student effort to sever ties with La Jolla could affect many nearby neighborhoods


Proposed maps unveiled this week show San Diego’s once-a-decade effort to redraw City Council district boundaries will be focused on UC San Diego, Clairemont, Scripps Ranch, Mission Valley and several other areas facing possible changes.

Four proposed boundary maps created by a city-hired demographer show the key to the process will be whether UC San Diego remains united with La Jolla or gets shifted into a heavily Asian district.

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That decision will help shape the entire process, including whether Scripps Ranch shifts to a new district, Mission Valley becomes united into one district, Carmel Valley stays connected to coastal areas or Clairemont gets chopped up.

A nine-member panel of volunteers overseeing the process is scheduled to select one of the four proposed maps on Nov. 15 or possibly create a hybrid version. After gathering feedback, the panel is slated to take a final vote Dec. 15.

The panel will begin the process of gathering feedback with a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

Neighborhoods facing uncertainty in the process include Old Town, Golden Hill, downtown and Mount Hope, which all could switch council districts based on the proposed maps.

The maps also leave undecided the fate of Mountain View, which could become divided between Districts 4 and 9, and the Park Village neighborhood in Rancho Penasquitos, which could end up in either District 1, 5 or 6.

The maps appear to settle the fate of several neighborhoods. In each of the four maps, Normal Heights would be united in District 9, Kearny Mesa would shift from District 6 to District 7 and Redwood Village and Rolando Park would move from District 4 to District 9.

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The key uncertainties are in University City, Clairemont and Carmel Valley, which face significantly different fates based on how the panel decides the UCSD question.

If UCSD is severed politically from La Jolla, which is supported by a vocal group of students, major changes must take place in north coastal District 1 and north central District 6.

On one map, Clairemont would leave District 6 and join up with La Jolla in a radically different District 1. On two other maps, Clairemont would be split between Districts 1 and 7. And on a fourth map, the neighborhood would be split between Districts 6 and 7.

Two of the maps send University City from District 1 to 6 along with UCSD, but two others would divide the community at La Jolla Village Drive between Districts 1 and 6.

Carmel Valley would either remain in District 1 or move to a newly created District 6.

The proposal to shift UCSD away from La Jolla is strongly opposed by many La Jolla community leaders, who point to their longtime ties with the university and geographic connections created by canyons and wildlife reserves in the area.

Students at UCSD, where Asians are the university’s largest ethnic group at 29 percent, say they want to create a heavily Asian council district. They contend they have more in common with inland areas than with high-income La Jolla.

Each of the three maps where UCSD would be separated from La Jolla would result in a council district where Asians make up more than 40 percent of the population. On the map where La Jolla and UCSD stay united, the district with the highest Asian population is only 32.5 percent.

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The UCSD decision could also affect Scripps Ranch. That community would stay in District 5 on three of the maps, but it would shift to District 7 on the other map.

Mission Valley could be united. One of the proposed maps leaves the community divided between Districts 3 and 7, but three of the maps unite Mission Valley in a newly drawn District 3.

Old Town and downtown might remain in District 3, or both neighborhoods might get shifted into District 2.

Golden Hill might remain in District 3 or move into District 8. Mount Hope could remain in District 9 or move to District 4.

Several other neighborhoods would get at least part of what residents have sought.

Linda Vista would be united after spending the last decade split between District 2 and District 7. One of the maps would put the united neighborhood in District 2, while the other three maps would shift it into District 3.

Webster and Ridgeview would be united in southeastern San Diego, but one of the maps puts those neighborhoods in District 9 and three of the maps put them in District 4.

Shelltown and Southcrest would leave District 9 on all four maps. On one map they would move to District 8, but on three other maps they would move to District 4.

Census data received last month show that there have been large enough population shifts since 2011 to require significant changes to San Diego’s council boundaries.

If the lines were left alone, the most populated district — northern coastal District 1 — would be 13 percent larger than the least populated district — southeastern District 4.

Based on recent court cases focused on voting rights, the difference between the largest and smallest district must be smaller than 10 percent. The last time San Diego drew its boundaries, the largest difference was less than 4.6 percent.

Each of the four maps unveiled this week has a differential of less than 3.1 percent.

For details on the boundary drawing process and to contribute feedback, visit the redistricting commission website.