The Coast News Group
Community Commentary Opinion

‘Blatant gerrymandering’ a blow to New Encinitas

New Encinitas is the big loser in the new election districts map the Encinitas City Council adopted by a 3-2 vote on Nov. 15.

The city’s largest traditional community has been completely disempowered by blatant gerrymandering. Cardiff and Leucadia are in control of the main street that runs through our community (El Camino Real). The north end of our community has been severed and given over to control by Leucadia, the south and west have been given over to control by Cardiff, and nothing in this truncated New Encinitas can be promoted without aligning with the concerns of Olivenhain.

New Encinitas, the largest community in the city, has been made powerless.  It and El Camino Real have been set up to become the dumping ground for all of Encinitas’s problems.  It’s as if this had been the explicit goal in the first place, which it may well have been given the recent revelation in The Coast News that the new map is not a “citizen” map, but the personal product of a coastal council member who benefits politically from the new districts.

As a resident of New Encinitas, this is incredibly disappointing.  It’s one thing to suffer from manipulative gerrymandering at the national scale, but I did not expect to be disempowered through this kind of district manipulation in Encinitas.

Putting the five old, original communities aside for a moment, Encinitas naturally divides itself into two communities: a coastal community with its commercial and social core primarily along Coast Highway and an inland community with its commercial and social core along El Camino Real. 

Anyway you look at it, the only fair way to divide the city is into two coastal districts and two inland districts. As the largest original community, New Encinitas needs to be split to accommodate four voting districts, but in a fair system the second largest original community, Old Encinitas, needs to be split as well with part of it joined with Leucadia and part with Cardiff.

The district system the Council adopted is designed to abuse the inland communities, with the first order of business being dumping the entire housing element revision inland, except where it suits the coastal powers. The idea that Leucadia and Cardiff share interest in promoting New Encinitas because some of it falls within their districts is nonsense.  And the inland residents for whom El Camino Real is the core artery have been deprived of any control over development and traffic on El Camino Real.

This districting plan is nothing less than a coup by coastal communities that will ultimately negatively impact the quality of life and likely the property values in the inland communities.

The system could easily be made fair, as long as districting begins with the principle that we will have two coastal and two inland districts.  Just draw an approximate north/south line that divides the city population in half, tweak it to accommodate the Latino population concentrations and then divide the east and west sides with whatever wiggling east/west lines work for people in the two halves.

If you live inland and you find this power grab outrageous, the City Council needs to hear your complaints now. They generally meet on Wednesday evenings at 6 (check the city website). 

If the city has even one election using this rotten system, New Encinitas will never recover.

Herschel Stern is a resident of New Encinitas


Jim Hesson January 12, 2018 at 12:33 pm

One of the most troubling aspects of this issue for me is that it seems to have played out with little regard to the spirit and intention of redistricting. Throughout California it has served as a simple, inexpensive, and elegant solution to further democratize local elections by leveling the playing field, and creating individual districts so that candidates with less income and resources, particularly more disenfranchised Hispanic candidates could afford to run for office. It’s based on the fact that at-large district campaigns require more resources, and this has led to disproportional representation of Hispanic communities in various cities. In Vista, it has inspired progressive Democrat Corinna Contreras to run for city council, which attests to the fact that it works, while in Encinitas, it seems to me that the maps chosen have only further fragmented the Hispanic vote. If the spirit of redistricting drove this initiative, it seems that one coastal district would have served better to include three areas with a number of Hispanic voters in Leucadia, Cardiff, and Encinitas, yet instead the adopted map fragments the coast into three separate districts. Also, I have heard no reference to the Hispanic community throughout the entire process. I sent a message to the mayor and Tasha Boerner-Horvath letting them know that I believe this is an important issue that I support in terms of empowering Hispanic community but they never responded to my message. Other towns have created neutral commissions to review this process and they didn’t rush to push it through as in Encinitas. I see no evidence that Hispanic leaders and Hispanic community members were consulted in this process. So as a resident of Encinitas, I find the results very disappointing.

Carol Skiljan December 1, 2017 at 11:02 pm

We live in the neighborhood above the Sprouts shopping center that over the 33 years we have lived here is sometimes on the eastern border of old Encinitas or the western border of new Encinitas. Apparently we now live in “new” Cardiff or perhaps “north” Cardiff? It’s the blob in the middle of the map that screams gerrymandering. I’ve spoken to many people who couldn’t decifer the maps because they couldn’t enlarge them to see the street names. Gladys Knight, mary and Fern Miller where do you live. Mr. Stern got it right!

Joan Gosewisch December 1, 2017 at 11:03 am

As a 33 year resident of New Encinitas I find Mr. Stern’s article spot on. He’s right, initially we were to be the ‘dumping ground’ for affordable housing. I have attended every Housing Committee meeting and each time more and more units were designated for New Encinitas while the folks in Cardiff have had their numbers diminished. Don’t even get me started on Olivenhain. The districting to split my community into three leaves us with NO CLOUT with the Council on any project. Why would they? The number of New Encinitas voters in each of their districts will be quite small. I supported most of this Council’s run for office, not any more. The only bright spot for me is that my Council Member in the new scheme is Tony Kranz. He voted against this plan and since he’s been on the Council he’s only had the entire city of Encinitas as his priority. He’s the grown up in the room!! That is not something that can be said of others on the Council.

Lorri Greene December 1, 2017 at 11:00 am

Herschel: I understand your concerns. However, the City Council had a choice, as per the following article ( whether to allow this attorney to sue us and probably win, or to go to districts. There were many maps put on the City’s website. Some were drawn by staff and others by citizens. The map selected was from Citizen 16. The Coast News also learned that this map was done by one of our City Council members, Tasha Boerner-Horvath. There were 5 public hearings where any citizen could express their concerns. Council member Tony Kranz wanted to fight it, and Council member Mark Muir wanted it to go to a vote of the people. However, Mayor Catherine Blakespear, and Council members Joe Mosca and Tasha Boerner-Horvath didn’t want us to be the test case, possibly running up millions of dollars and losing. The maps will have to be redrawn in 2020, after the census. Some wanted 5 districts, and others said, since we had already voted on a Mayor, we only needed 4. If I lived in New Encinitas, I would not be happy either, so i do understand your point. But, at this time, there is really nothing the citizens can do, except make your voices heard at the ballot box in 2018. Two Council member terms are up, which are Kranz and Muir. The Mayor’s term is also up. Tasha is running for Assembly in our district, and she is running from a safe seat, as her term is not up until 2020. The same applies to Mosca, who was appointed after Mayor Blakespear ran for Mayor and vacated her seat on the City Council. I haven’t heard of anyone who really likes this. It just seemed more expedient than a lawsuit.

Herschel Stern November 29, 2017 at 4:59 pm

If you follow the history of the need to revise the housing element, the original attempts basically involved dumping massive, multi-family housing onto El Camino Real. The at-large election system allowed the inland Encinitans that use El Camino Real regularly to apply enough political pressure on the city council to stop that assault on El Camino Real and the neighborhoods that surround it. After the election failure of the compromise housing element plan last year, the city still needs to come up with a housing element to satisfy the state. The way the city has just been gerrymandered with three coastal districts and only one inland district, the three coastal council members will be free to dump all that irrational development onto El Camino Real without electoral repercussions, since inland Encinitas will never be able to muster a majority on the city council. Ever. Gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral districts to achieve outsize political power and that is exactly what the coastal community has done.

mary November 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm

What I don’t understand is why you are upset now? How many community and board meetings did you attend about this redistricting… there were many scheduled over many weeks? There has been ample opportunity to rally residents to your position prior to the final Council vote. Waiting until after a map was voted in seems a little late to the party.

Lisa Nava November 28, 2017 at 12:29 pm

I too am concerned about New Encinitas as it relates to Districting. I don’t have good solutions and did not submit a map to aide in the decision making efforts. Olivenhain and it’s residents are affluent and powerful and citizens concerns over preserving the enclave there will always influence outcomes more than the middle class, transient populations concerns in New Encinitas. Council member Joe Mosca is our representative currently under this plan. I believe he knows some of the problems we face in our corridor and will be receptive to understanding more complex issues and representing them fairly on the council. That being said, I am not sure that our council sees underrepresentation as an issue that needs to be solved through redistricting, and I believe that is the first problem with creating any of the maps. I encourage everyone to call the council members and speak directly to them to understand why Map 16 was the choice they made. BTW Thanks Herschel for voicing your concerns and being public about it, it is only through this type of discussion that we can understand the issues and move forward to solve them.

Fern Miller November 27, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I would like to know what is “new Encinitas”. Too much information left out of this article for any clarity as to what writer is saying. I agree with Gladys Knight . You need to rewrite this from the beginning, and clearly explain what you are trying to communicate and stating facts.

Gladys Knight November 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm

You took the time to write a whole article, Hershel, and failed miserably in your primary goal – to communicate a problem and how it might affect the reader. What is it you don’t like about the divisions as proposed? Are the populations unfairly split which will result in one side or the other benefitting? I have no idea, and your article isn’t clear why you are upset. Do you understand the term “gerrymandering”? What about the divisions leads you to believe that a certain area will be “given over to control” by any other? Why is this plan bad for inland communities? Why do you think the Council will make decisions to favor one area over another? This article feels like it was dictated into a phone after a few cocktails.

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