ENCINITAS — While the federal census data is not expected to be released until August, a much later timeframe than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Encinitas has begun its preparations for redistricting in the city.
The city will direct the process on its own to draw new district lines after receiving the federal census data rather than going with an independent redistricting commission.
The Encinitas City Council also adopted a proposed timeline that will allow them to meet the legal deadline for drawing new district lines by April 17, 2022.
By July 1, the city says it will update its website with information for the public including a tentative calendar that will include multiple opportunities for the public to give its input on the process.
“Just want to make sure we’re adjusting and adapting and make sure that we’re as open and transparent as possible. And that we’re as innovative as possible,” Councilmember Joe Mosca said.
Mosca continued by saying he hopes to see the community engaged with the process and sending in their own district map proposals for the city to review.
“How can we get them to submit as many maps as possible? I think we had maybe 20 submitted last time, maybe we have even more submitted this time,” Mosca said.
According to the proposed timeline approved in a 4-1 vote, with Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz voting no, the first opportunity for the public to give testimony on redistricting will be September 22. Federal census data is expected to be released on August 16.
Encinitas, which previously voted in an at-large election system, moved to a district-based election system in 2017 and used census data from 2010 to draw district lines.
Some local critics, including former office-holders, maintain the city’s transition from citywide to district elections was less than transparent and tainted with secret maps and gerrymandering.
Kranz, the only council member who preferred to hand the process over to an independent commission and also is strongly opposed to districts in Encinitas generally, looked to the city of Carlsbad as an example of how he would go about redistricting.
“I note that Carlsbad took the direction of the independent redistricting commission as well and I think that is the right way for Encinitas also,” Kranz said.
Mosca countered however by saying the city of Encinitas does not need an independent commission because the city does not have a problem representing all of the people of the Encinitas.
“This is not Los Angeles, this is not San Diego. We do not have disparate groups that we have a problem having representation on our city council,” Mosca said. “However you draw the lines, the same representation is going to exist.”
Another reason the council opted to not go with an independent commission for their redistricting is the cost. According to the city, the cost could be as high as $360,000.
Councilmember Kellie Hinze indicated that the price tag seemed a bit too high.
“Considering we did this so recently doesn’t seem like the best use of our funds,” Hinze said. “And I like the fact that going with the default option allows an all-inclusive way of doing this where every member of the public is equally invited to take part and submit their maps to take part in the conversation.”