San Diego’s new political boundaries have finally taken shape.
The Redistricting Commission’s preliminary map for the City Council creates the city’s second majority-Latino district and draws Council Members Todd Gloria and Lorie Zapf out of the districts they represent. This week, the commission begins gathering public feedback on its map, which it may still tweak before its final Sept. 15 deadline to complete it.
Here’s an up-close look at some of the changes in store. In the graphics that follow, the black outlines and circled numbers indicate current districts, while shaded areas and numbers indicate the proposed districts.
San Diego’s Second Latino Majority: District 9
One of the biggest changes is the city’s new 9th District, which will include City Heights at its center and have a majority Latino population, at just more than 50 percent. But many are immigrants and just a fraction of that majority is eligible to vote, meaning much of the electoral power will be in the hands of majority-white Kensington-Talmadge and College Area residents, who will also live in this new district.
The LGBT Community Tightens Its Grip. Todd Gloria Left Out: District 3
LGBT leaders in the city’s uptown neighborhoods are happy that the 3rd District is losing City Heights, because it will expand west and south to include the gay-friendlier neighborhoods of Mission Hills, Old Town, Bankers Hill, Golden Hill and downtown. That shift solidifies the gay community’s hold on power there.
But cutting out City Heights also means cutting out the district’s current councilman. Todd Gloria lives in City Heights. He’ll have to move west of Interstate 805, the district boundary, if he wants to continue representing the city’s uptown neighborhoods. Their large LGBT community is a main base of support for Gloria. Last week, Gloria said he would continue representing District 3, even if he had to move.
The Beaches Lose Downtown: District 2
The city’s 2nd District, represented by Councilman Kevin Faulconer, will lose downtown and become a more firmly coastal district. Residents of the beach communities lobbied the Redistricting Commission to remove downtown from their district because of all the attention they believed it got from their councilman, at the expense their own neighborhoods. To make up for it, the district will gain the communities of Bay Ho, Bay Park and Morena, which were in District 6.
Lorie Zapf Out. Asians’ Best Hope: District 6
With District 6 losing Bay Ho, it means bad news for Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who lives there. Suddenly she’ll live in District 2. She can still represent the 6th District until her term ends in 2014. But she’ll have a decision to make: Run for the seat vacated by Faulconer in 2014, or move to try her luck in another district.
District 6 will see some of the most dramatic changes of any of the existing eight districts. It will lose Mission Valley, Linda Vista and Serra Mesa in the south and gain Mira Mesa and part of Rancho Peñasquitos in the north. Those additions will bolster the district’s Asian population. A group of Asian leaders lobbied heavily for an Asian-friendly district. The new district achieves a 33 percent Asian population, though leaders had hoped for closer to 40 percent.
Shrinkage: District 1
District 1, which includes La Jolla, University City, and Carmel Valley, saw the largest population growth in the last decade with the development boom in newer northern communities. So it had to lose the largest number of people. It will give up its western communities of Black Mountain Ranch, Torrey Highlands, and Rancho Peñasquitos. It is represented by Sherri Lightner.
Even Ranchier: District 5
Black Mountain Ranch, northern Rancho Peñasquitos and Torrey Highlands will become part of the city’s 5th District, which had to gain population after losing heavily-Asian Mira Mesa to the 6th District. It is represented by Carl DeMaio.
Shift North Puts Emerald on Edge: District 7
The city’s 7th District, which currently spans both north and south of Interstate 8, will now be entirely north of the freeway. It will lose the College Area and a portion of City Heights south of the freeway and expand west to include Linda Vista, Serra Mesa, and Mission Valley. The loss of the liberal-leaning College Area and City Heights will be a blow to incumbent Democrat Marti Emerald. She has sold her home in Tierrasanta but hasn’t decided whether she’ll move out of the district.
Still a Safe Black Seat: District 4
The 4th District, represented by Council President Tony Young and considered the City Council’s safe African-American seat, will lose the southern portion of City Heights, but it will now include the College Area’s southernmost neighborhoods: Rolando Park and Redwood Village. That proposal has stirred some anger among active residents of those two communities, who feel they have more in common with the College Area.
Most importantly, the district hung on to the northern neighborhoods of Oak Park and Webster, which are home to a large proportion of the district’s civically active African-Americans.
A Safe Latino Seat: District 8
Finally, the city’s 8th District will remain mostly unchanged. It is a majority-Latino district that includes the communities of Barrio Logan and Greater Logan Heights southeast of downtown, and the South Bay communities of San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Nestor. It will lose Golden Hill to District 3, and a couple of small neighborhoods east of Logan Heights to the new 9th District.
The redistricting process has illuminated some interesting neighborhood-level stories as residents of various parts of the city have lobbied to be included in certain districts but not others. In the coming week, I’ll be examining some of those lobbying efforts and what they reveal about the dynamics of San Diego’s neighborhoods.