San Diego finalizes new map of City Council districts
Speaker 1: (00:00)
It's been a big week for redistricting news, both the city and county of San Diego have approved new maps that will determine who gets to run for which seat in government and which neighborhoods are grouped together. The decisions have big implications for local politics and the voting power of underrepresented minority groups. Joining the, to unpack all this is voice of San Diego reporter Maya Krishin Maya. Welcome. Thanks for having me. Let's start with the city of San Diego. The city's independent redistricting commission approved a final map of new city council districts last night. Can you summarize some of the more significant changes to this map, which neighborhoods are moving into new district? So
Speaker 2: (00:42)
The map reunites several neighborhoods that, um, were split in past redistricting processes like, uh, Claremont, Linda Vista, normal Heights, Rancho mosquitoes, um, it also changed, um, district six, which is the city's Asian empowerment district to, um, stretch from university city to Mira Mesa. It connects specific beach to LA Jolla in district one and district two, which is the second coastal district includes mission beach, ocean beach point Loma Claremont and old town, um, which is a little bit different. The map also splits mission valley and Scripps ranch between districts. It moves Qualcomm into district nine. And then I also made some changes to district south of the eight, like moving, um, communities like shell town and south crest from district nine to district eight and moving communities like Redwood village and Roland park from district four to district nine among other things,
Speaker 1: (01:35)
What kinds of factors have to be considered as the commission was redrawing all of these lines? So
Speaker 2: (01:42)
The commission has to take into account quite a few different factors. Um, one of the primary factors is that the districts have to have roughly equal population so that, um, you know, theoretically everyone's vote counts equally. Um, but the commission also has to weigh a lot of other things like community planning, group areas, natural boundaries, like canyons rivers, or major highways, um, in communities of interest, which can be sort of any group that is making an argument that they should be in a district together because they share certain characteristics or values. Uh, the commissioners also need to take into account the ability of protected racial groups like Latinos, Asians, um, Pacific ISS and black voters to elect candidates of their choice and make sure at districts are not diluting their, their votes through this process.
Speaker 1: (02:27)
There were a lot of folks who were unhappy with this new map and it didn't pass the commission unanimously. It, it passed with a seven two vote. What is behind the criticism of this map? And what did those two dissenters on the commission have to say about why they voted? No.
Speaker 2: (02:43)
So, you know, there's quite a few different, um, areas of criticism that people have had for the maps. Um, a big one, uh, and this is something that both of the commissioners who voted against the map brought up is that, you know, the, the map and, and the commission seem to prioritize the wants of affluent coastal communities over, you know, communities of color and more marginalized communities. Um, but one of the commissioners also who also voted no, um, also cited the division of mission valley and several other things. And there were several people at the final meeting last night who also, um, were brought up issues with scripts, ranch, being divided. And with old town being moved from district three to
Speaker 1: (03:23)
District two independent redistricting commission chair, Tom, he rank defended the final map. Here's some of what he said last night,
Speaker 3: (03:31)
The final map and plan also reunited several communities that had been split in 2010, including Linda Claremont and Rancho Pango. The commission was not able to keep every community whole without violating other redistricting principles and maintaining an equal population balance. And it was necessary to split some of the communities in the final map and plan
Speaker 1: (03:57)
Maya. You've done a lot of really great reporting on, in some of the racial dynamics that have been shaping this whole redistricting debate. And one of those stories you did is on district four, which has been historically the black empowerment district that covers most of Southeastern San Diego things have been changing there. Haven't they tell us more about that?
Speaker 2: (04:16)
Yeah. The demographics in district four have been shifting a lot. Um, the district is still very diverse, but it's been becoming less black and more Latino API and white. Um, much of this is due to the cost of living in San Diego and the gentrification of communities in the district. But it also has to do with other issues like over policing and lack of job opportunities and infrastructure in those neighborhoods that particular negatively impact black
Speaker 1: (04:42)
Residents. Another district that's been changing a lot is district nine. This includes city Heights, Kensington, and the college area. They've seen a similar decline in its Latinx population. And that's made it tougher to maintain that district as a Latinx empowerment district. Tell us about that.
Speaker 2: (05:00)
Yeah. So district nine was, um, a new district that was created in 2011. And, you know, in 2011, the intention of commissioners and the community members and advocates who, you know, fought for district nine to be the way it was, um, back then was that it would be a second Latino empowerment district. Um, historically district eight had been the district where Latinos could represent, uh, or could elect a representative who would represent their in interest. Um, but as the city's Latino population has been growing, people felt like they needed another seat at the table, but again, in part due to cost of living and, and gentrification issues, the Latino population, um, and particularly the Latino population that can vote in that district has grown more slowly than the white voting population in surrounding areas. And in addition to that district four and district eight, which border district nine, um, also haven't been growing as fast as some communities north of the eight. And so, you know, there was a lot of trading of census tracks and things like that to ensure those districts all got up to the population that they needed to. Um, and ultimately what this meant was that a lot of communities and census tracks that were more highly white were added to district nine and that sort of changed, um, and decreased the Latino voting population in district nine. Um, when compared to where the district was before, um, this redistricting process,
Speaker 1: (06:29)
Let's talk about the county, the San Diego county has its own independent redistricting commission, and they approved a map this week for the five counties, supervisor districts. What were some of the significant changes there?
Speaker 2: (06:40)
The new county map, uh, created a district one that is a majority minority Latino district. Um, so that includes parts of south San Diego like bar Logan and Logan Heights. And it also includes Imperial beach, national city and Chula Vista. Um, there's also now, uh, coastal district district three that runs from Coronado to Carlsbad. Um, district two continues to be the east county district and includes, you know, much of the unincorporated back country. Um, in addition to cities like El Cajon and Sani district four in includes part of the city of San Diego as well. Um, and also now includes cities like lemon Grove, LA Mesa, and parts of the unincorporated county, like Rancho San Diego paradise Hills and, um, spring valley. Um, and then district five, the north county district includes a lot of the, um, cities along the 78 corridor, including Eske and Marco Vista and Oceanside. Um, it also includes camp Pendleton and incorporated areas like Fallbrook and, um, valley center.
Speaker 1: (07:46)
I've been speaking with voice of San Diego reporter Mayish, re Maya, thank you for your reporting on this. And thanks for joining us. Thanks
Speaker 2: (07:53)
For having me.
Speaker 4: (08:01)
San Diego's independent Redistricting Commission on Wednesday finalized a new map of City Council districts that unites some neighborhoods into a single council district, but splits up other neighborhoods into two or more districts.
Among the major changes to the map are moving Pacific Beach from District 2 to District 1, moving University City from District 1 to District 6 and splitting Mission Valley between Districts 3, 7 and 9.
The map was approved on a 7-2 vote. Commission Chair Tom Hebrank said the map struck a fair balance, and that trade offs were inevitable.
"The final map and plan also reunited several communities that had been split in 2010, including Linda Vista, Clairemont and Rancho Penasquitos," Hebrank said. "The commission was not able to keep every community whole without violating other redistricting principles and maintaining an equal population balance, and it was necessary to split some of the communities in the final map and plan."
Activists strongly criticized the commission for its decision in October to reject their proposed map that would have merged La Jolla with Pacific Beach and Point Loma to create a single coastal district with major population centers. That map, the activists said, allowed the commission to accomplish nearly all their other goals of unifying neighborhoods and creating more districts that empower minority communities.
Commissioner Justine Nielsen, one of the two "no" votes, said rejecting the activists' map was a mistake.
"And as a result, we were forced into making tough decisions and sort of pitting those (disadvantaged) communities against each other, rather than making those tough decisions in those historically advantaged communities," Nielsen said.
The final map approved Wednesday also splits the UC San Diego campus into two districts. The portion west of Interstate-5, which houses mostly undergraduates, remains grouped with La Jolla in District 1. The eastern portion, which houses mostly graduate students, is paired with the more diverse University City and Mira Mesa in District 6.
Students had been organizing for months to separate the entire UCSD campus from La Jolla, which they say often works against their interests of adding more affordable housing and density close to campus.