Redistricting Commission

April 20, 2001 (619) 533-3401

Redistricting the City: Why It's Important and What to Expect

What is redistricting?

Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of the City Council districts in order to equalize the population such that one-eighth of the city population resides in each district. The U.S. Census Bureau's population data is the basis for redrawing the district lines.

Why is redistricting necessary?

To comply with the U.S. Constitution's "one person – one vote" requirement, every city, county, state and some other jurisdictions (e.g., school districts) must redraw their boundaries to account for populations changes and shifts reflected in the latest census. As a result, redistricting is necessary every ten years after the census population figures are released.

Why are these boundaries important?

The districts are used for all elections of Council members, including their recall, and for filling any vacancy in a Council office. The Charter requires that the districts be drawn to provide fair and effective representation for all residents of the City, including racial, ethnic, and language groups. How the district boundaries are drawn can affect who gets elected to make important decisions about City government.

Who is in charge of redistricting?

The City Charter requires the creation of a seven member independent Redistricting Commission at the beginning of each decade. This Commission has the sole and exclusive authority to adopt plans which specify the boundaries of districts for the City Council. The official name of the Commission is: The City of San Diego Year 2000 Redistricting Commission.

Who are the Commissioners?

Ralph Pesqueira is Chair of the Commission. Leland Saito is Vice Chair. The other members are Mateo Camarillo, Charles Johnson, Marichu Magana, Shirley ODell and Juan Ulloa.

How were the Commissioners selected?

The seven members of the Year 2000 Redistricting Commission were appointed by the Appointing Authority, a panel of three retired Superior Court judges, as provided for in City Charter Section 5.1. Appointments were made after the Appointing Authority thoroughly reviewed the applications and nominations submitted by San Diegans interested in participating in the redistricting process. Each Commissioner is a registered voter of the City of San Diego.

Are the Commissioners paid?

No, each Commissioner has volunteered their time and talent to serve on the Redistricting Commission. Additionally, each Commissioner has agreed to not seek election to a City public office within five years of adoption of the final redistricting plan.

What guidelines must the Redistricting Commission use to redraw the boundaries?

Any new redistricting plan must:
Provide for equal distribution of the city population;
Provide for fair and effective representation for all residents;
Maintain communities of interest;
Result in geographically compact districts;
Contain contiguous territory; and
Follow natural boundaries.

How will the Commission accomplish its task?

All Commission meetings are open to the public, and records, data and plans are available, at no charge, for public inspection during normal business hours in the Office of the City Clerk. Copies of records and plans are also provided for a reasonable fee.

The Commission will hold a series of Public Hearings, one in each existing Council district in April and May 2001 to receive public input on how the new boundaries should be drawn. Based on public comment and the rules set forth in the City Charter, the U.S. Constitution, federal and other statutes, the Commission will produce a preliminary Redistricting Plan for the city.

The preliminary Plan must be filed with the Office of the City Clerk at least 30 days prior to final adoption. During this 30-day period, the Commission must hold at least three more public hearings to receive comments on the preliminary Plan. The Commission may, based on the comments it receives, make adjustments before adopting and submitting a final Plan to the City Clerk. This final Redistricting Plan becomes effective 30 days after adoption but it is subject to a referendum by the public. If the final Plan adopted by the Commission is rejected by referendum, pursuant to the City Charter, the same Commission must create a new plan.

When will the new boundaries be in effect?

According to the Charter, the City must be redistricted no later than nine months after the final Federal Decennial Census information is received. Essentially, this means that the redistricting must be accomplished by the end of the year 2001. However, the Redistricting Commission plans to finish its work by August 31, 2001 so that the new boundaries will be in effect in time for the March 2002 elections.

For more information, visit the Redistricting Commission web page at www.sandiego.gov\redistricting or call Commission staff at (619) 533-3401.

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