Solana Beach holds second hearing in redistricting process

Solana Beach City Hall
(File photo)

Solana Beach City Council members held the second public hearing in a redistricting process for the city’s four council districts on Jan. 12, this time taking into account draft maps submitted by residents and other feedback.

Four public hearings need to be held as part of the redistricting process, according to a city staff report.

“We’ve been through the first of four required public hearings,” said Shannon Kelly of National Demographics Corporation, which has been helping the city through the process. “And this public hearing we’re hopefully going to get some testimony about the existing map and some feedback on any communities of interest, as well as any feedback on the draft maps we’ll be showing in this document.”

The city was divided into council districts a few years ago in response to a letter of demand from an attorney who said that at-large elections result in “the impairment of minority groups’ ability to elect their preferred candidates or influence the outcome of elections.”

“Rather than risking a long, lengthy, expensive lawsuit, council chose to comply with this demand,” Solana Beach City Councilwoman Jewel Edson said.

Even though the current districts were formed a few years ago, the city is required to go through the process again based on the newly released 2020 census data. The state Legislature passed the Fair Maps Act, signed by the governor in 2019 and requires redistricting after the decennial census, in 2019. The data is usually released in the spring, but this year it was delayed several months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The population of Solana Beach is a little more than 12,900, according to the 2020 census data, compared to a count of 12,867 in the 2010 census.

Solana Beach resident Vickie Driver said she wants her homeowners association of 408 homes to be considered a community of interest and geographically contiguous.

“There are community members who are very passionately working on new interactive maps, trying to devise something that will keep our HOA wholly in one district,” she said. “And I ask you to consider this information as you proceed with revised districting procedures.”

Council members also mentioned the possibility of shifting residents in District 3 into District 2 for a better balanced set of districts.

“My overall direction is that we should generally be focusing on shifting from District 3 to District 2 to create balance, since those are the two that are out of whack, at least as far as I can tell,” Solana Beach City Councilman David Zito said.

Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kelly Harless said the goal during the first districting process was “to have as many districts as possible touch as many assets as possible.”

“I think a lot of people have an interest in the train station, I think a lot of people have an interest in the coast, I think a lot of people have an interest up in the San Dieguito Park area and near the school there,” she said. “So I’d like as much as possible to keep that in mind when we decide the final map.”