Encinitas Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath was asked at the Oct. 30 council meeting to list her favorite of the 22 maps from which the city would choose to decide its future council districts.
“I looked at the maps that had four districts, and two represented best our initial goals,” Boerner Horvath said. “There was a map, 16, that did that really well, and Map 15 did that really well.”
She was referring to the maps known as “Citizens Map 15” and “Citizens Map 16,” which a divided council ultimately voted as the final two maps from which they would choose for future districts.
The Coast News has learned that Boerner Horvath authored the maps.
The Coast News filed a public records request to learn the identities of the authors of the 16 maps that were submitted by citizens. The maps were submitted by nine residents; two residents authored seven total maps alone.
The City Council is scheduled to choose a map and the election sequence at the Nov. 8 council meeting.
Boerner Horvath authored two; Map 15 and 16, one of which – Map 15 – places her colleagues Tony Kranz and Mark Muir in the same electoral district. Kranz and Muir have been the most vocal opponents of the city’s districting process.
Her colleagues have had mixed reactions to the discovery that Boerner Horvath drew the maps and didn’t disclose it at the meeting. Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she didn’t believe Boerner Horvath had an obligation to disclose it and said that her maps “came from a place of knowledge.”
Kranz and Muir, however, expressed disappointment that Boerner Horvath didn’t disclose that she authored the maps, which they said gives the appearance that she acted in her self interest.
Boerner Horvath on Tuesday acknowledged that she authored the maps, but said that she would have disclosed it if asked at the meeting. She said she struggled whether to disclose it at the Oct. 30 meeting, but didn’t want the fact that she authored the maps to sway the decision making process in either direction.
She said that the city’s legal counsel said they could draw a map if they wanted to.
“There is no conflict in an elected official drawing a map, we were told that just because we are elected officials doesn’t mean that we give away our ability to draw maps, we are still citizens,” Boerner Horvath said. “But when I did it, the process was anonymous at the time.”
Boerner Horvath said that there is already precedent for a city choosing a district map crafted by an elected official: Poway chose as its final map one created by Mayor Steve Vaus, who did not disclose it at the August hearing when his map was selected as a finalist.
Boerner Horvath said that she drew the maps with the intent of trying to keep communities of interest together. Map 15, she said, was a variation of Citizens Map 14, submitted by David Grubb, which she said captured that goal with one glaring exception: The map placed the Olivenhain Meeting Hall in the Cardiff district.
“I liked that map, I thought it was a good map, but you have to have the meeting hall in Olivenhain,” she said.
Map 16, she said, was an attempt to accomplish the same goals.
Boerner Horvath said the fact that Kranz and Muir wound up in the same district in Map 15 was a coincidence and carried over from Map 14.
“Making sure each council member was in their own district wasn’t something I was looking at,” Boerner Horvath said. “Having walked these neighborhoods and precincts during the election, I know where the hills are, I know where the communities of interest are, and that was what I drew from when drawing the boundaries. I tried to keep communities of interest together.”
Boerner Horvath also noted that she wasn’t the only one who selected her maps. Councilman Joe Mosca, who spoke first at the council meeting, selected hers among several others that he wanted to further explore. Blakespear also included the maps in her list.
Blakespear said that she felt better knowing that Boerner Horvath was the author, because she knew it came from a person well versed in the community’s boundaries.
“Tasha’s willing to get her hands dirty,” Blakespear said. “She’s extremely detailed, and really gets into things, and as you saw from the election, she is a prolific precinct walker. She’s a decision maker so I know (the maps) are coming from a place of knowledge.”
Blakespear said she felt the same about Vaus’ maps in Poway.
“I felt that (Vaus) was coming from a place of knowledge and an assessment of a community that he knows about,” she said.
Blakespear said that once she realized that she, Boerner Horvath and Mosca all had Maps 15 and 16 in their final lists, it was easy to narrow the list to the final two.
“You would like to see some buy in from the entire council, but Tony (Kranz) had already said that he wasn’t going to vote and Mark wasn’t prepared so we moved forward,” Blakespear said. “I hope we can put this behind us.”
Mosca said that he didn’t think about the authors when he selected the map and knowing Boerner Horvath had drafted Maps 15 and 16 would not have changed his opinion.
“I don’t think anything was hidden, nor does it change my opinion moving forward,” Mosca said.
Kranz, who has been the most vocal opponent of the city’s move toward district elections, felt the opposite.
“To me it is insulting not to be speaking to your rationale for doing maps, it’s as simple as that,” Kranz said. “I prefer transparency. I would have had the same objections if I were on the Poway council (to Vaus).”
Muir at the Oct. 30 meeting said he didn’t feel that the two maps accurately reflected the intent of maintaining the essence of the city’s five distinct communities. He said on Wednesday that he felt that the districts were drawn to place him in difficult electoral positions – in one map, he would have to compete with Kranz, and in the other map, a sliver of Old Encinitas would be separated from the rest of the neighborhood and placed into the Cardiff district. That sliver includes his block.
Muir said that while he wasn’t concerned about himself per se, he was concerned about the next resident from his neighborhood who might want to pursue a seat on the council being placed in an difficult position.
After learning that Boerner Horvath was the author, he said it raises questions about her intent and a level of mistrust in the process from the community.
“It is kind of disingenuous,” he said. “Not that she isn’t entitled to draw a map, but when you don’t disclose the map, it gives the appearance of gerrymandering and self interest, and I am disappointed in that.
“This council has been working on being as transparent as possible, but when you start dealing with issues as important as this one…I think you let people down by not disclosing that you are the author of the maps,” Muir said.
Muir added that if Vaus’ disclosure was in the same manner as Boerner Horvath’s he would also object to it, and he said that just because a bad precedent was set doesn’t mean that it should be followed.
“It’s like saying, ‘well they were speeding too, so it’s fine,'” Muir said. “It doesn’t make it right.”
Boerner Horvath was one of several notable names to draw a map in the district-forming process. Longtime resident and community activist Bob Bonde drew two maps and city parks and recreation employee Crystal Roff drew another.
Encinitas resident Kevin Dolan drew the most maps, with four, and resident Rich Yates drew three.
Citizen 015: Map | Demographics | Submitter’s Explanation
Citizen 016: Map | Demographics | Submitter’s Explanation
Nice article Mr. Burgin and nice job on the FOIA request. My condolences to you if you had to stay for the entire council meeting (5.5 hrs). After reading the article, there is one small item that puzzles me and maybe you or others can help me out. Citizen 014 map, the map that Council Member Tasha Boehner Horvath refers to as the basis for her Citizen 015 map has a NDC publication date of 10/19/17 printed on the bottom of the pdf version. This is the day after the public submission deadline of 10/18/17. Both maps submitted by the honorable council member also have NDC publication dates of 10/19/17. Soooooo….. how would TBH been able to view Map 014 on or after 10/19/17 and then submit her own maps as a “Citizen” on or before the public submission deadline on 10/18/17? Would this have required the use of a time travel device? Thanks again!
Thanks, Aaron, for excellent reporting. More evidence that Boerner-Horvath is willing to do anything to advance her personal interests – get elected and then try to hop up to higher office after less than 1 year, and secretly gerrymander districts to avoid competition if she loses her Assembly bid. So disappointing!! Encinitas deserves better than Tasha.
Let’s just hope the lawsuit against the Shenkman shakedown succeeds in Poway and is applied statewide, so that we can move past all of this divisive and counterproductive districting nonsense and continue with the at-large election system which has served us so well for 30 years.
Politicians should never be entrusted with drawing election maps of any kind. Even if it’s not self-serving, it will always be perceived as such.
Create a commission to create the districts.
Where is the Hispanic community or leaders of the Hispanic community or even city leaders who are voicing their concern for the interests of the Hispanic community of Encinitas in this process? At the heart to these redistricting efforts across the state is the notion that redistricting will create manageable districts that candidates with less financial means, particularly more disempowered Hispanic community members, could afford to run in as opposed running in a more costly at-large district campaign. In Vista, it has energized the Hispanic community and Corrinna Contreras, a progressive Democrat to run for city council. So it is an effective and powerful democratizing initiative when done in the right spirit. The whole process is a simple and elegant solution that levels the playing field and is inherently more democratic. Yet I have not heard the mayor nor a single city council person speak out in support of this intention. I only hear people willing to give into the process so the city isn’t sued or so that certain traditional districts are maintained, but nowhere is there any talk about engaging the Hispanic community or voters with genuine outreach to get them involved in this process. And yes, when city council people are drawing up maps and not disclosing that they authored the maps, it raises questions about impropriety and lack of transparency, which is never consistent with democracy. And it raises the question as to whether they are truly devising maps in the interest of the spirit that motivated redistricting, or whether they are acting in a self-interested manner and gerrymandering. If the mayor and the city council were honoring the true spirt behind redistricting they should pause this process, recuse themselves from drawing up the maps as they have a conflict of interest in doing so, and do a more extensive job in recruiting members of the Hispanic community of Encinitas and more broad representations of citizens in general before pushing this through; otherwise the outcome runs the risk of being a tainted by this lack of transparency and limited involvement by a few who are not impartial to the outcome of this process.
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