Voting boundaries shift with changing demographics

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On Dec. 15, the county of San Diego received final maps detailing exactly how neighborhoods will be split between supervised districts for the next 10 years, with some major changes in place since the last time those lines were redrawn in 2011.

The county is still broken into five districts as it has been since 1889, however the Independent Redistricting Commission ultimately responded to residents who called upon them to draw lines in a way that would protect demographically similar groups by keeping their voting power together while splitting voters into about the same number of constituents per district.

The IRC relies heavily on the national census for quantitative population data, but listens to local feedback on how best to apply that data in a qualitative fashion and draw district boundaries that amplify cohesive community voices.

For example, advocates for large refugee communities in El Cajon repeatedly called on the IRC during public hearings asking to be kept as one voting block. Historically, advocating for similar groupings has worked— Barrio Logan, once split between Districts 1 and 4, was regrouped together under District 1 in 2010 due in large part to community input. Ostensibly, grouping voters together in cohesive groups leads to more informed representation.

This go-around shows District 1, which is currently supervised by Nora Vargas, now includes Spring Valley but no longer includes Coronado, which was shifted to the more coastal District 3 under Terra Lawson-Remer. Those changes mean District 1 constituents now represent a Latino majority, which could drive representatives to vote more thoughtfully toward that population on county-supervised decisions.

However, some neighboring districts with a similar cultural make up have invisible differences that might affect their economy such as Chula Vista’s population, where twice as many residents hold a B.A. or higher as neighboring National City, yet both have populations that travel over 25 miles on average to get to work. National City has almost twice as many residents living below poverty level.

District 2 now extends further up the I-15 corridor, so one of the most traveled commuter freeways is now contiguously included in a single district from Escondido to San Diego, as well as a wider stretch of State Route 52 that runs from Santee to La Jolla, which could potentially affect the county’s approach to long term, transit-oriented development.

Other changes with this mapping shifted La Mesa and Lemon Grove from mostly-rural District 2, currently under Supervisor Joel Anderson to the more urban District 4 with Board Chair Nathan Fletcher as their representative.
Chair Fletcher said he is excited to get to know a few communities better under the new lines.

“I have some great relationships with elected leaders in both La Mesa and Lemon Grove and have worked closely with some of the community leaders from those areas, but I am excited to become more directly involved with both communities on a regular basis,” Fletcher said.

Residents can visit sandiegocounty.gov for maps and more information on the new districts.

The new district lines take effect immediately.

Voting boundaries shift with changing demographics