San Diego County creates independent body to redraw district boundaries
As San Diego County plans to move its district boundaries to accommodate changes in population this year, the lines will be drawn for the first time by an independent redistribution commission.
“The US Constitution says that every 10 years we’ll take a census, and then right after that we’ll look at how the population has changed to consider equal and fair representation,” said David Bame, a retired US diplomat who chairs redistribution. commission.
“What is different this time around, compared to 10 years ago, is that we have an independent redistribution commission … We are drawing a map, and this is the map that will come into effect for the Next 10 years. “
Independent redistribution commissions are designed to rule out political calculations of border demarcations. Until recently, most of these efforts were overseen and approved by elected lawmakers whose own jurisdictions were subject to change.
“Because this process (…) typically involves political actors whose careers depend on how the lines are drawn, the two main political parties have used the process to unfairly deprive voters of their voice,” Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan legal organization in Washington DC, said on its website.
California adopted an independent commission in 2010 following the previous census and is resuming the process this year, based on the results of the 2020 census.
The San Diego County Redistribution Commission is established under California state law, Bame said.
So far, the 14-member San Diego County commission has held nine public hearings and received hundreds of written and oral comments from residents.
Some are seeking to divide existing county districts along new lines, while others are urging commissioners to keep communities together.
The new limits will adapt to demographic changes revealed by the census. The boundaries must maintain a “reasonably equal population,” comply with voting rights law, be contiguous and geographically compact, and avoid dividing cities, neighborhoods and “communities of interest,” according to the commission.
It covers “everything from communities like the communities of the Asian Pacific Islands, to communities drawn to shared experiences as immigrants and refugees, to economic and social ties across geographic features, such as coasts or even road corridors. Bame said.
In a recent comment to the commission, Paradise Hills resident Makhfira Abdullahi urged commissioners to keep southeast San Diego in one district, citing residents’ shared experience as immigrants.
“Our community has shared languages, cultural practices, food and common goals for our families, children and community members,” wrote Abdullahi. “Given the diversity of our region, the Spanish, Tagalong, Oromo and Somali languages are often spoken in my community as we also celebrate events and holidays together. We are immigrants, refugees, or children of immigrants and refugees.
Likewise, Rebekkah Naputi called on the commissioners to keep the Northern County communities together in one district.
“I strongly oppose the redistribution of the northern county area, which, if separated, is a source of major concern and risks creating many problems throughout the community,” Naputi wrote. “North County has many different towns, unincorporated areas, ethnicity and cultural diversity; however, it is a community.
Encinitas resident Mark O’Connor said he would like coastal towns to be grouped separately from inland areas.
“Living in a coastal community, I find that many of the needs here are different from those of inland communities,” O’Connor wrote. “I would like this commission to look at creating districts that stretch along the coast, north-south as opposed to west-east. “
The commission is operating on a shortened schedule to draw and finalize the maps, as the pandemic has delayed the census data needed to redraw the boundaries.
San Diego County has seen a 6.6% increase in population over the past decade, according to the census, with the addition of 203,301 residents. But some districts have seen more growth than others. No district in San Diego County has experienced population decline.
District 3, represented by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, experienced the most significant change, with an increase of 8.6%. Next is District 5, where Supervisor Jim Desmond’s square footage increased 7.5%.
District 4, represented by Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, experienced the weakest growth, 4.9%.
The commission and its demographer should draw the lines to equalize populations within districts, while taking into account public comments on how the changes will affect local communities. Moving the boundaries of one district may require adjustments for others, Bame said.
“It’s not that different from putting together a really complicated puzzle,” he said.
Important dates are coming.
The commission will present some options, or draft maps, at its Oct. 14 meeting, and it will hold two public hearings on Nov. 2 and Dec. 2 to gather comments before approving a final map on Dec. 15, Bame said.
Members of the public can also submit their own card proposals using digital tools on the commission’s website. The deadline for members of the public to submit card proposals is December 2.
The 14-member commission is made up of six Democrats, four Republicans, and four independent or “no-party” voters, which is proportional to the supporter ratios of registered voters in San Diego.
Democratic members include co-chair Amy Caterina, an investor relations and corporate communications consultant in the biotech industry; Sonia Diaza, nonprofit manager with Kitchens for Good; Elidia C. Dostal, business lawyer; Kenneth Inman, a retired executive; Arv Lawson, electrical engineer and computer scientist; and retired Admiral Fernandez “Frank” Ponds.
The Republican members are retired California State Auditor Colleen Brown; energy industry consultant Chris Chen; Barbara Thompson Hansen, retired educator and non-profit director, and John Russ, retired naval officer and mechanical engineer.
Non-partisan members include Bame, English teacher Carmen Rosette-Garcia, bioinformatics scientist Kristina Kruglyak and town planner Ramesses Surban.