Encinitas will go to four districts and an elected mayor in future elections, the city council decided Nov. 8 after selecting one of two maps submitted anonymously by council member Tasha Boerner Horvath.
Boerner Horvath announced at the decision-making meeting that she submitted the two maps that the council dwindled their options down to Oct. 29. She added she did not announce she wrote the maps earlier because all maps were submitted anonymously, and decided to announce Wednesday, Nov. 8, to allow for transparency.
Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz said he did not believe Boerner Horvath was being transparent at this point. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t have that information at the last meeting,” he said. “But it’s hard to call this transparency at this point.”
Boerner Horvath’s Citizen 16 map — which the council approved 3 to 2, with Kranz and council member Mark Muir dissenting — divides the city into four districts with an elected mayor. Representatives for districts three and four would be voted on in 2018, and districts one and two would be decided in 2020.
The map, which council expects to officially adopt Nov. 15, would put a sitting council member in each district but would pit Muir, who lives in New Encinitas, against a potential candidate in Cardiff.
Muir, however, argued he believed he would be fine since he is well-known in the city but said better map options could be considered. “I’d rather do this right than right now,” he said.
Muir added his own map, which joins Cardiff with Olivenhain, but because the rendering wasn’t submitted within seven days’ notice of the meeting, it could not be considered, city staff said.
Boerner Horvath, who lives near the border between Leucadia and Old Encinitas, said she did not look at council member locations when developing her maps. She said she was most concerned to have three council representatives on the coast, three near El Camino Real and two in the Escondido Creek area. She also wanted to keep the Cardiff School District intact.
Her other submitted map, Citizen 15, put Muir and Kranz in the same district, while a district covering the Cardiff region would initially have no council member.
Council member Joe Mosca, who lives in Olivenhain and motioned for Citizen 16 to be adopted, believed it was the best option because it “balances communities of interests and preserves all five communities,” as well as keeps Olivenhain mostly together.
Since a possible move to districts was first announced in August, after the city received a threat of litigation regarding its current general election process, residents and council members have been wary that the change could affect the five community characters.
Blakespear has said she believed the communities would retain themselves and not identify with their districts. She has also said the move to districts was a good decision to avoid expensive litigation.
Currently, Encinitas residents are asked to vote for two at-large candidates for city council and one candidate for mayor every two years. In the past, the mayor was a rotating position.
The city received a letter July 20 from Santa Monica-based attorney Kevin Shenkman, who threatened to sue the city if it did not move to district elections.
In his four-page letter, Shenkman said Encinitas is diluting the votes of minorities with its current at-large election system, thus violating the state’s Voting Rights Act of 2001.
He also accused Encinitas of being discriminatory against Latinos, saying the city has a long history of hostility toward Latinos as evidenced by the fact that its first mayor repeatedly made racist statements during council meetings in the late 1980s.
Shenkman has targeted many cities around California to move from at-large elections to district elections. In San Diego County, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Poway and Vista recently made the moves to district elections to avoid litigation from Shenkman.