A panel of volunteers redrawing the boundaries of the San Diego City Council district took steps to increase Latinos’ voting power this week and are considering other changes that would affect Kearny Mesa, Torrey Hills and Torrey Highlands.
The panel, which is due to finalize the new limits by Dec. 15, denied requests from UC San Diego students to reconsider the separation of La Jolla University so that the school can be part of a strongly Asian district in the east.
The San Diego District Volunteer Commission also declined to consider proposals to move Mission Beach to District 1 so it can stay connected to Pacific Beach.
One of the most significant changes included in a preliminary map the panel approved on Nov. 13 moves Pacific Beach, a long-standing component of District 2, to District 1 along with La Jolla and Carmel Valley.
The preliminary map leaves the rest of the city’s beach communities – Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, and Point Loma – in District 2 and replaces the lost population of Pacific Beach by adding the entire Clairemont neighborhood.
To ensure San Diego has two city council districts where Latinos dominate the voters lists, the panel voted 8-0 on Tuesday to move Mount Hope in southeast San Diego from District 4 to District 9. .
The move increased the percentage of Latino residents in District 9 from 40.25% on the preliminary card to 41.46% on the new card approved on Tuesday.
On the new map, Latinos would make up 29.25% of District 9 citizens who are of voting age. This is up from the 28.63% of the preliminary card.
Commission member Ken Marlbrough, who lobbied for the relocation of Mount Hope and its nearly 5,200 residents, said he was somewhat disappointed with the results.
“It didn’t get him moving as much as I had hoped, but it’s a starting point,” he said. “There may still be work to do. “
The commission is trying to solve the problem of the declining Latin American population in District 9, which had to be significantly redesigned during this redistribution process due to the declining overall population in this part of the city.
San Diego is to redraw the board’s boundaries once every 10 years when new US Census data becomes available. The panel must create nine districts that are almost evenly populated, while trying to keep communities connected together.
One of the challenges this year has been the shrinking population in District 4, forcing the panel to relocate some neighborhoods from District 9 to District 4.
To replace this population, the panel had to relocate neighborhoods in District 9 from less ethnically diverse areas of District 3 and District 7, including parts of Mission Valley and Normal Heights.
Below the existing city limits created in 2011, District 9 has a Latino population of 48.2 percent. Latinos make up 35 percent of the citizens in District 9 who are of voting age.
The other Latin district in San Diego is District 8, which includes Barrio Logan, San Ysidro, and Otay Mesa. District 8 is 76 percent Latino.
Much of Tuesday’s meeting focused on resolving minor issues with the preliminary map, particularly its move from Torrey Hills from District 1 to District 6 and its move from Torrey Highlands out of District 5.
Residents of Torrey Hills say they have much more in common with Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights in District 1 than with Mira Mesa in District 6. Residents of Torrey Highlands say they are connected in many ways with the neighborhoods of District 5 Black Mountain Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos.
Commission members said they would like to reverse these changes, but there was less agreement on how to deal with reverb effects. Torrey Hills has a population of approximately 7,000 and Torrey Highlands has a population of approximately 9,000.
A proposal from UCSD students would reverse these changes by also moving the university to District 6 and dividing the college town of 52,000 residents in Rose Canyon. The committee decided not to have this option analyzed by its consultant.
Commissioners also rejected the consultant’s analysis of the relocation of Mission Beach to District 1. Some expressed support for this, but said the impacts elsewhere would likely be too great despite Mission Beach having less than 5. 000 residents a year.
Another proposal would reverse the changes in Torrey Hills and Torrey Highlands by dividing Pacific Beach, which has a population of 41,000, into east and west halves at Lamont Street or Ingraham Street. The commissioners expressed strong objections to this, but chose to ask the consultant to study it anyway.
Other changes the consultant will explore include reversing the changes in Torrey Hills and Torrey Highlands and uniting all of Kearny Mesa into District 6.
The last three panel meetings are scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on the following dates: Wednesday, December 1; Tuesday, December 7; and Thursday, December 9.
For more details on the boundary drawing process and to provide your feedback, visit the Redistribution Commission website.