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Encinitas council selects new redistricting map 

The downtown Encinitas sign.
(Charlie Neuman / San Diego Union-Tribune/Zuma Pre)

People living in the middle of Encinitas may find that they’re now in a new City Council member election district, but most residents won’t experience a change under new boundary lines unanimously approved by the City Council Wednesday, March 9.

“This map causes the least amount of displacement,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said as she declared why she favored it over the some 40 other options.

Council members used the phrase “light touch” repeatedly as they described their goals for the redistricting process Wednesday, March 9. The phrase was coined rather aptly by city Planning Commissioner Bruce Ehlers at a recent public meeting, Councilmember Tony Kranz said.

Ehlers, a resident of the city’s Olivenhain region, had asked the council to do as much as possible to keep the existing council district lines unchanged because they were originally drawn with the goal of preserving the city’s historic communities of Cardiff, Leucadia, Old Encinitas and Olivenhain.

Encinitas has four council members who represent individual areas of the city, plus a mayor who’s elected citywide. The city is currently divided into three coastal council districts and one inland area, and the new map will preserve this. Known as Map 69847e because it is a revised version of an earlier map proposal, it can be viewed on page 11 of a staff report at https://encinitas.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=7&event_id=3528&meta_id=135785

It changes boundary lines along the eastern edges of the three coastal districts, shaving off part of a panhandle section of District 3 (the Cardiff region) and redistributing portions of it to District 1, which contains the Leucadia region, and District 2, which contains Old Encinitas. Under the new design, the northernmost edge of District 3’s panhandle area is Encinitas Boulevard rather than the previous Via Montoro area.

Cities with district-based voting systems are required to redraw their district boundary lines every decade after the federal government conducts its population Census. The lines must be adjusted to reflect changes in population in the districts. Under state law, districts can have slightly different population figures, but the deviation must be below 10 percent or the districts aren’t considered “presumptively compliant” with Supreme Court case law.

The newly approved map for Encinitas has a 7.45 percent deviation.

Encinitas began its redistricting process last fall and has held four public hearings on the various proposed maps, many of which were created by the general public. The map proposals were reviewed by city-hired consultants to make certain they would comply with state laws, and then presented to the council earlier this year.

Encinitas has had its district-based election system for council members since 2017. Like many of its California counterparts, the city shifted to the system in response to a threat-of-litigation letter from Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman, who contends that at-large election systems dilute the votes of minority voters and thus violate state law.

The new boundary lines will be in effect for the city elections later this year.


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