Solana Beach district reviews new trustee map options

A proposed map scenario for Solana Beach School District.

Board plans to make final selection on Feb. 10


The Solana Beach School District is undergoing the process of revising its trustee area district map to be in compliance following the 2020 census, making considerations to balance population growth, respecting communities of interest and, if possible, respecting incumbency of board members.

The 2022 election will be the Solana Beach district’s first election as a trustee area district.

The district first began the process to transition from an at-large election district to a trustee area district in late 2019 when the district received a demand letter from a local attorney alleging that they were in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). CVRA prohibits the use of at-large elections if it impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or influence the outcome of an election. The district’s CVRA process was disrupted by the pandemic and a new trustee map was approved in early 2021 using 2010 census data. The district must revisit it again using the 2020 data.

“The maps are how we should be elected, not how we would govern,” said SBSD President Vicki King, stressing that while the district may be split by areas, the board members will be committed to representing the district as a whole.

Per the 2020 data, the school district saw overall population growth of 3,995 people or 10.7%, with the greatest growth in Area 4 which includes Pacific Highlands Ranch —the area swelled from 7,115 to 11,088 people in the last 10 years. The growth results in a variance of 51.4%, putting the district out of compliance.

At its Jan. 20 meeting, the board reviewed four proposed map scenarios by the district’s demographer. SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said staff recommended eliminating scenario 4 as it splits Solana Vista School neighborhoods and divides the Carmel Valley community. Staff preferred scenarios 1 and 3, which respected a lot of the work and conversations that went into drawing the district’s map in 2020, she said.

SBSD Clerk Gaylin Allbaugh shared some concerns about how the map breaks up tight-knit neighborhoods around Solana Highlands School in Carmel Valley and requested some adjustments to keep that community intact. In her comments, SBSD Vice President Debra Schade expressed the importance of retaining community representation in Pacific Highlands Ranch and not dividing the voting block of Solana Beach’s Eden Gardens community: “It is important to have representation and a voice for the community,” Schade said.

SBSD Trustee Julie Union preferred scenario 3 because she believed it does the best job of respecting the communities of interest: Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Fairbanks Ranch are not split up and Morgan Run is made a part of Rancho Santa Fe and not east Solana Beach.

“My area of Carmel Valley is the most dense part of our whole district and I’m OK that we have four areas dipping into it in order for Solana Beach, Pacific Highlands Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe to have their own unique areas,” Union said.

The board received one public comment on the proposed maps from Carmel Creek School parent Neha Khetan who described the process as “complex and brain breaking.” She said ideally the board should select a map that gives families in each trustee area the most opportunities to engage and provide input as to what happens at their neighborhood school.

The board plans to review the scenarios and adopt a final map at a Feb. 10 meeting.