RANCHO SANTA FE — As it turns out, Rancho Santa Fe got sliced up in both the assembly and senatorial districts on the recent final maps of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, but local officials are pleased with the outcome.
Not so in July, when representatives from the Association and fire district traveled to San Diego City Hall to testify on behalf of the community that had been drawn into districts with other much larger communities like downtown San Diego and Chula Vista that could essentially remove tiny Rancho Santa Fe’s seat from the table.
Pete Smith, Association manager; Roxana Foxx, Association board member; Tony Michael, fire chief; and James Ashcroft, president of the board of directors of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District, all spoke on behalf of the community.
“We are very pleased to have a community that gets involved and supports the elected officials,” Foxx said. “I think the reason we came out as well as we did is because our members are active. We brought in a consultant to draw maps and (the commission) took it to heart.”
She said that the all volunteer commission was battered by so many people making so many complaints, that the Rancho Santa Fe contingent came not with just complaints but prepared with a solution.
“We walked in with alternative maps,” she said.
As it stood, the school district was divided in half, the water district was divided in half and the fire district was cut in half, so the commission needed to see the issue.
“It was an obvious oversight and they were able to adjust it,” said Smith. “They are good people and they wanted to do the right thing,” he said.
After the final maps are adopted, Rep. Darrell Issa will represent Rancho Santa Fe.
“We are pleased. He is chairman of the oversight committee and is very influential in Washington,” said Foxx who was the chairman of the San Diego Republican Party from 1998 to 2000.
She said in the old days the legislature used to draw the lines.
“They drew the lines to protect themselves, so they be safe either in predominately democratic or republican areas,” she said.
California did an initiative a year ago to get it out of the hands of legislators and put it in the hands of an independently appointed commission.
“They almost did worse,” she said. “They were so inexperienced they had a hard time keeping like communities together. The first assembly redistricting map they drew that included Rancho Santa Fe, started at the Mexican border and came all the way up through downtown San Diego, hooked a right and grabbed Rancho Santa Fe. We had nothing in common with downtown San Diego and the South Bay,” Foxx said.
Smith said Chula Vista was unhappy about having Rancho Santa Fe in their assembly district.
“They did not want us because we have nothing in common with them,” he said.
Another concern, Smith said, was that Rancho Santa Fe was the only unincorporated area in the proposed district, although represented by the county, lacked a layer of representation by a city.
“A lot of others are represented by a city council and county representation that gives them a more direct approach through an elected official. We don’t have a layer of city authority over us, so our needs are a lot different,“ he said.
Smith said the commission was tasked with a huge responsibility determining the assembly, senate and congressional districts for the entire state.
“They were open to public comment but the phenomenal amount of comments going to them was overwhelming,” he said.
Each person could talk for two minutes and testimony lasted until 9 p.m., but then testimony was stopped altogether. If a person did not get there early to sign up for an early chance at speaking, the opportunity may have passed entirely.
“We really averted a catastrophe,” Foxx said.
Still, Rancho Santa Fe officials are not unhappy with the prospect of having three senate seats and two assembly seats representing it.
“Mark Wyland represents all of us through 2014, but then it would be divided up,” she said.
The seats would then be up for grabs in an election.
“We are happy with that because instead of having one assembly person, now we have two we can influence. Both are similar districts,” she said.
Rancho Santa Fe was not the only community to question the new senatorial districts. There is currently a petition circulating statewide to appeal these decisions.
“I think if the petition is successful, it would go before judges who would redraw the lines,” she said.
The final maps were given the go-ahead on Aug. 15.