Districting Maps and Timing

On Monday, October 30, 2017 we held a special City Council meeting to consider the maps submitted by the public and the sequencing of elections. There were 16 maps submitted by 11 members of the public, two of which were not population balanced. Most had four districts and some had five, and one had even six! Citizen Map 14, which was very similar to Citizen 15, was very good, but put the Olivenhain Meeting Hall in Cardiff and had irregular boundaries on the border between Districts 1 and 2 on the coast. Ultimately two maps rose to the top of our list: Citizen 15 and Citizen 16. We ultimately voted 3-1-1 (Muir voting no; Kranz abstaining) to review these two maps and sequencing of elections at our November 8th Council Meeting.

Retaining An At-Large Mayor
Both maps have four districts and retain our at-large mayor as per the vote of the people several years ago. Again it is important to remember the demand letter for districting is only asking for our Council Members, not our Mayor to move to districts. And I think that is a good thing. I want a Mayor -- who has responsibility for the whole city through agenda-setting and board leadership -- to be elected by and accountable to the whole city, not just a fraction of it. And most people I talk to say if we have to move to districts, they'd rather have two votes -- their district Council Member and Mayor -- than one vote for a district Council Member only.

Retaining Community Character
Additionally maps 15 and 16 seemed to do the best job at retaining community character. Even with five districts, there was no way to retain each of our five communities' current boundaries because of the federal requirement for nearly equal populations. New Encinitas has an above average population; Cardiff below average; and Olivenhain very small. So with Citizen 15 and 16, you will see that the boundaries are blurred, but the core of each community is left in tact, combining Olivenhain with the "core" of New Encinitas. However, it is also important to realize that voting districts will not dilute the community character of our original five communities. They will only add another layer of identity within our city.

Citizen 15 Map

Citizen 15 Map
Citizen 15 combines both Mark Muir and Tony Kranz in District 1. District 4 would be up in 2018 and District 2 would be up in 2020. We will need to decide on November 8 if District 2 would be up in 2018 (and thereby leaving District 3 unrepresented for two years) or if District 3 would be up in 2018, should we decide to go with this map. Here are some key features:

  • Three districts have a stake in the coast
  • All four districts have a stake on El Camino Real 
  • Three districts have a stake in the Encinitas Blvd corridor
  • Two districts have a stake in the Escondido Creek/San Elijo Lagoon watershed
  • Preserves Cardiff School District in one district
  • Preserves most agriculturally zoned land in one district
  • District 2 has over 20% latino population

Citizen 16 Map

Citizen 16 Map
Citizen 16 leaves every Council Member in their own districts. Cardiff is too small for its own district, so it has to either come up through Old Encinitas, out through New Encinitas or up through Olivenhain (our smallest community). This map puts District 3 and 4 up in 2018 and Districts 1 and 2 up in 2020. The key features of this map are:

  • Three districts have a stake in the coast
  • Three districts have a stake in El Camino Real
  • Three districts have a stake in the Encinitas Blvd corridor
  • Two districts have a stake in the Escondido Creek/San Elijo Lagoon watershed
  • Preserves Cardiff School District in one district
  • Preserves most agriculturally zoned land in one district
  • Gives Cardiff a bit more multifamily housing
  • District 2 has over 20% latino population

Poway's Lawsuit Doesn't Affect Encinitas
Some members of the public asked what the impact of the former Poway Mayor's lawsuit may be for Encinitas. Our special counsel informed us that the Poway lawsuit only applies to Poway and may take many years. Until then, there is little impact that it will have on us directly.

An Evolution of Democracy that Benefits Grassroots Organizing
What's important to realize is that districts are just another form of democracy. I like our current system better, but districts have their advantages, too. It will encourage local, grassroots and non-traditional candidates to run and win in local elections. It will downplay the role of money in elections, since a working person can realistically walk an entire district in a few months in the evenings and on weekends. These are good things for democracy and I think either Map 15 or Map 16 will do a good job at ensuring overlapping interests to create natural coalitions and prevent backroom dealings.

In my opinion, at its heart, the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) implies that all cities will move to districts at some point. If it didn't, there would be exceptions like "cities under 100,000 people" or "cities without a minority majority district" or "cities with no empirical evidence of racially polarized voting." But the reality is that the law does not do that. It includes cities under 100,000, sets the bar very low for "evidence" and doesn't omit cities with geographically dispersed "communities of interest." On Monday we also unanimously created a subcommittee of Councilmember Mosca and Deputy Mayor Kranz to draft a letter to our legislators on suggestions to improve the CVRA given the Encinitas experience.