June 8, 2001

Editorial

County Redistricting Committee Set to Submit Decennial Redistricting Plan

Once every ten years, after the census count is taken, the law requires the Board of Supervisors to change the existing supervisorial district boundaries. This is done to divide the districts into sections that are roughly equal in population. As the ebb and flow of county migration occurs, and as babies are born and people pass away, the actual population of an individual, supervisorial district changes. Disparities in the number of people that a supervisor represents may limit his ability to serve his district.

The impact on funding for a district may also become so skewed that the monies are no longer available to service the district. Likewise, a lack of staffing or financial resources may lead to inadequate representation of a district. On the other hand, some districts my lose residents, resulting in an over-abundance of staffing and resources. The redistricting mandate is an attempt to equalize the districts in population; an attempt to provide equal representation for all the residents that live in the county of San Diego. The unfortunate problem that arises with redistricting is that the process revolves around politics. Generally, creating districts that are equal in population is not a difficult problem. The difficulty arises in the politics of representation. There are political reasons why the wealthy, who by and large live in exclusive enclaves, do not wish to have less affluent or poor citizens added to their district. The wealthy live in areas where their homes occupy large tracts of land that are too high priced for the average citizen. They want and get `exclusivity.' They want a supervisor who will represent them, and one who will serve their class needs regardless of the social consequences that the lower economic classes might suffer. They demand that their district be gerrymandered to where only the wealthy or near-wealthy will reside in their supervisorial district. Naturally, because `money talks,' they will hold sway over what the board approves or disapproves.

Unfortunately, there are those who wish to control the Mexican American, Black, and Asian communities, most of whom live in barrios, ghettos or working-class neighborhoods. Their motives are suspect. The dispossessed live in land areas that have become dumping grounds for poor folks who are excluded from access to the fruits of our country's wealth. Their neighborhoods are the worst toxic dumps in the county. They are the frequent prowling grounds for the city, county and state police forces. These are the powerless districts; the districts that lack enough money to buy the politicians who will cater to their needs. Although they are the most populated areas of the county, no one wants to represent them, and the wealthier areas refuse to be co-joined with them.

Gerrymandering should exist not only to bring population equity, but to bring wealth, land and educational balance to the various districts. Barrio Logan, Encanto and San Ysidro, to name a few, could benefit if they were co-joined with areas like La Jolla, Del Mar, University City, East Lake, Otay Mesa, Rancho Del Rey, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Santa Fe. The pairing of districts that have historically not had the wealth or the influence to make changes, with the ones that have, could result in changes that would make our cities and counties the envy of the nation.

Is it too much to hope that the County's Redistricting Commission and our Board of Supervisors will act on this "impossible dream"?

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