First look at California redistribution shows changes looming for San Diego County
The first maps of California electoral districts show potential changes to the status quo in San Diego, political analysts have said.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission 2020 has been examining California’s political boundaries since last year. The 14-member bipartisan body is tasked with adjusting the state’s electoral lines to accommodate demographic changes revealed by the latest U.S. census.
The commission is made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four members with no party preference. This is the second round of redistribution in which California has convened an independent commission to draw the limits of the votes.
Last month, the commission released maps described as “visualizations” of the new electoral districts for the California Assembly, Senate and Equalization Council seats, as well as US Congressional offices.
The designs offer snapshots of possible federal and federal electoral districts, and are precursors to actual map projects that will be released on Wednesday.
Starting in January, the organization hosted 35 community engagement sessions and received feedback from 1,340 people, including more than 300 from San Diego and Imperial counties, said Commissioner Patricia Sinay, a resident of Encinitas. They used this contribution to get a first glimpse of what the new electoral districts might look like.
Visualization maps can be viewed on the commission’s website, and virtually sorted for different offices.
Rather than trying to redraw existing districts, the commissioners have grouped residents into groups of related communities, Sinay said, so some lines look drastically different from the current boundaries.
âWe started from blank cards,â she said. âThe neighborhoods are different from last time around because we started from the viewing point rather than using the existing maps. “
Although they are far from definitive, observers are trying to make sense of the possible changes.
San Diego Democratic Party President Will Rodriguez-Kennedy said he was concerned about the provisional lines dividing established communities.
âFor many districts in the state where they drew the lines, a sort of beggar belief,â he said. âIf you look at the maps viewed for the Senate districts that divide Hillcrest with (State Route) 163. No local board would do that. You divide the LGBTQ community right in the middle. “
In other cases, he said, disparate communities are clustered together, which could potentially distort their representation.
âSome have both Santee and National City in the same assembly district,â he said, referring to the predominantly white middle-class city and its low-income, predominantly Hispanic neighbor. “In what scenario does that make sense?” Santee and National city couldn’t be more different cities.
The draft maps will represent the first official glimpse of how electoral districts may change, and they must meet specific legal criteria, Sinay said.
Districts for each type of office should have very close or equal numbers, she said. For the 80 seats in the Assembly, it is nearly 500,000 inhabitants. Each of the 40 districts of the State Senate should have approximately 1 million. And the 52 congressional districts will reach represent about 760,000 people.
Neighborhoods should be contiguous, not dividing cities, counties, towns or communities of interest, and should have compact shapes.
The commission should also try to ânestedâ the state districts into equal groups, with two congressional districts in each state Senate district and 10 Senate districts in one seat for the Equalization Board.
For the San Diego area, Sinay said, commissioners are trying to maintain a Latin voting bloc in South County. They also want to keep tribal lands together in Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties to incorporate feedback from tribal governments.
Perhaps the biggest redistribution question concerns California’s loss of one seat in Congress.
California is by far the most populous state with nearly 40 million people, but its growth has stalled compared to other states. For the first time in 170 years of history, he will lose a seat in the US House of Representatives, dropping from 53 to 52.
Since district boundaries will change statewide, it is unlikely that an existing district will simply be removed from the map and deleted. Instead, all lines will shift to accommodate changing demographics.
Some analysts believe the Los Angeles area is the most likely to lose a congressional district; Rodriguez-Kennedy said he thinks San Diego County is unlikely to pull the short straw.
âSan Diego currently has two districts entirely within San Diego (county) and each of the other three runs through Orange or Riverside (counties),â he said. “It is uncertain how many of our districts will cross other counties, but I don’t think we will lose one.”
One of the most striking changes in visualizations is the potential expansion of the 50th Congressional District, the region’s Republican stronghold north and east of downtown San Diego.
âThe proposed map has interesting implications for San Diego,â said Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College. âIt looks like (Rep. Darrell) Issa’s pro-GOP 50e The district will merge with the eastern parts of 51st District and extended to Riverside County, which could make the seat more competitive for Democrats.
âThe commission essentially creates a combined San Diego County East / Imperial County district stretching from Alpine to Arizona and from the border to Riverside,â Luna said.
San Diego County Republican Party officials could not be reached for comment.
The first set of draft maps is due Wednesday, and the public will have two weeks to comment before the commission releases updated versions.
The commission is due to approve the final set by December 27, and Sinay said she hopes to complete them several days sooner. The final cards will be returned to the California Secretary of State, she said.
Rodriguez-Kennedy said residents of San Diegan should call subsequent hearings and voice their concerns or preferences. He said he hoped the Commissioners would take those comments into account as they refine the final maps.
The city and county of San Diego are also working on new electoral boundaries. These cutting commissions have been receptive to public comment, the county Democratic Party chairman said.
“I’ve seen how other (redistribution) commissions work and I feel like commissions generally give a lot of deference to public comment,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said.