Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Redistricting Process

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  • What is redistricting?

    Every ten years, after the federal census, district boundaries for federal, state and local elected offices are redrawn to reflect new population data and shifting populations. This process is called redistricting. 

    The County of San Diego must redraw the boundaries of its five supervisorial districts. The redrawing ensures that the five County supervisors elected to represent the five supervisorial districts are reflective of the County’s diverse population. How and where district lines are drawn can shape a community’s ability to elect the representative of their choice.

    Each supervisor is responsible for representing approximately 650,000 residents of San Diego County in a specific geographic area. To learn more about the County of San Diego, the County supervisors and their districts, click here.

    To comply with the County Charter, the supervisorial district boundaries must be drawn to include unincorporated territory in at least three of the five districts. Two of the districts must include geographic area that is mainly outside of the incorporated cities.

  • Who is responsible for deciding the new supervisorial district boundaries?

    Under a new state law (Elections Code Section 21550), the responsibilities for drawing the new district boundaries will be led by the County’s Independent Redistricting Commission. Fourteen San Diego County residents willing to volunteer their time will be selected from a list of applicants. The selection process is designed to produce a commission that is independent from the influence of the Board of Supervisors and reasonably representative of the County’s diversity.

  • Why is the IRC redrawing district boundaries and why should San Diegans be involved?

    The IRC is redrawing district boundaries as statutorily required under state law. San Diegans should want to be involved because the county and its districts jointly determine the allocation of over $7 billion in budget, among other reasons.

  • Will all redistricting meetings be identical or very similar?

    The Virtual Education Tour sessions have the same information because we want to give people multiple chances to hear it. However, this is only one kind of meeting the IRC has. As the Commission works through the process, we will be engaging the public through hearings from learning more about communities of interest, to focusing on maps being drawn, and to how those map lines affect communities. It will be an evolving process.

  • How long are the sessions in the “Why Redistricting Matters in San Diego County” Virtual Education Tour? Is each session different?

    All Virtual Education Tour sessions are similar and did not last more than an hour.

  • Is maintaining the number of districts a choice or requirement?

    This is a requirement of the County Charter, specifically Section 400: Number and Apportionment of Districts. “For the purpose of electing Supervisors, the County is divided into five legally apportioned districts.”

  • In late September, we will know which of the current districts must be reduced in size and which must increase in size. Will the raw data be available to the public before draft maps are distributed for input?

    The actual data we use is a database released by the State-wide Database, the official redistricting database scheduled to be released in late-September. That will be the first set of information that will be made available to the public. The same data that we are using will be up and available for the public to see as well. Before we start drawing any maps, we will have to complete 7 public hearings over the summer. We will not start drawing and releasing draft maps before gathering public input. Public input is important for driving this process. We need to hear from the public first, and then start looking at the data to see how the boundaries line up with communities of interest and put those together to start drawing and releasing maps. We expect our first draft maps to be released sometime in mid-October. We must have sufficient time to review all the public input, along with the data.

  • Do the number of districts change?

    The County of San Diego has 5 districts and one supervisor for each. The County Charter specifies 5 districts. Section 400: Number and Apportionment of Districts. “For the purpose of electing Supervisors, the County is divided into five legally apportioned districts.”

  • Is there an opportunity to increase or decrease the number of districts in the redistricting process?

    No. The County Charter (County law) specifies 5 districts. Specifically, Section 400: Number and Apportionment of Districts. “For the purpose of electing Supervisors, the County is divided into five legally apportioned districts.”

  • Will this commission approve the final district maps or the Board of Supervisors?

    The IRC alone will approve the final map of supervisorial districts. The Commission is authorized, and required by law, not only to draw those maps and approve those maps, but to do so with no interference or contact with the Board of Supervisors. This is to provide the maximum opportunity for public engagement on a fair and equal basis, as well as to ensure that gerrymandering does not happen. The Commission will do their absolute best to approve a map that is fair and representative of the communities and of our overall County. In doing so, the Commission will need the public’s help. We are happy to admit that we may misunderstand something,  or may not initially grasp the importance of something, but we will ask questions and seek information. Nothing can replace public input. We will approve the map without the Board of Supervisors interfering in any way. The “I” in IRC stands for independent; we are independent from elected officials. There are also rules about us not running for office, so that we are not doing this to set ourselves up to run for something. We are independent of the politicians.

  • Would rank choice voting have any impact, positive or negative, on gerrymandering/redistricting?

    Regardless of the voting method, candidates will still be elected to represent the voters in supervisorial districts drawn by the IRC.

  • Are you utilizing city public access channels to advertise informational workshops?

    Not at this time. We have done a great deal of outreach through traditional media (local paper advertising) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor) to distribute information to community organizations, nonprofits, planning and sponsor groups, local governments and redistricting counterparts, libraries, and others. We have also been able to leverage some of these networks to share information about the Education Tour sessions through their broader distribution lists or location postings. Also, recordings of the sessions will be posted on the IRC website for the public to access and learn about redistricting.

Commissioners and Selection Process

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Incorporated Cities vs. Unincorporated Areas

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  • What are the incorporated cities and the unincorporated territory in San Diego County?

    San Diego County includes 18 incorporated cities. Each city has its own municipal government represented by a mayor and city council members. 

    Unincorporated territory is land outside the boundaries of the 18 incorporated cities. Much of the unincorporated territory is in rural areas in the eastern and northern portions of the county. The County of San Diego serves as the primary local government agency in unincorporated areas. 

    Five supervisorial districts cover the county. The incorporated cities govern their own populations, but the County Board of Supervisors is responsible for some regional operations that affect residents in both the incorporated and unincorporated areas. For example, public health, restaurant inspections, street maintenance, jails, etc.

  • What percentage of residents live in unincorporated territory?

    According to SANDAG’s 2020 data, about 15.4% of our county’s population is in the Unincorporated area, with 515,403 residents.

  • What does the unincorporated land call themselves?

    The unincorporated land call themselves the Unincorporated area or unincorporated communities of San Diego County.  There are approximately 37 unincorporated communities in the County, and each have their own community’s name. Some examples of unincorporated communities include Fallbrook, Julian, Borrego Springs, Otay, Rancho Santa Fe, and more! 

Public Input

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  • What is the Community Builder Tool and how can the public leverage that?

    We have implemented the 'Community Builder Tool' on our website, where the public can access it. You will see a map of San Diego County, including existing supervisorial city boundaries and existing jurisdictions. The 'Community Builder' allows you to use a selection tool to select an area that represents your community of interest. You can zoom in and draw a shape that outlines what you think is an important area or neighborhood. It should be made cohesive, as one unit within the supervisorial districts. Once you save that information, you will be prompted to describe the characteristics. It is important to describe your community of interest in a few sentences before you submit the information. We do not want to define any new communities of interest. We would like to preserve them to the furthest extent possible in our process of drawing these supervisorial boundaries. We are expecting the tool to be available towards the end of July on our website. Tune in to our public hearings for the timeline and further details.

  • How will the independent redistricting commission provide access to mapping software for community groups?

    Mapping software is being provided by the IRC’s demographer(FLO Analytics). You can find the Community Builder Tool here

  • How are you raising public awareness of redistricting to increase participation and engagement?

    The Virtual Education Tour is a great opportunity to raise awareness and increase participation, and the IRC has coordinated with an Outreach and Engagement contractor for this task. The IRC website and GovDelivery email subscription service are also good tools to connect with the IRC's work.

    These educational tours are just one example of the type of outreach that we are doing, and we will continue to do them as we move forward throughout the process. We will be having seven additional Pre-Mapping Public Hearings over the summer. In the fall, we will be having additional hearings on the proposed maps and request feedback. We encourage everyone to join our distribution list on the website to get email updates on meeting dates/information to stay involved. Please inform your communities of the Independent Redistricting Commission; this affects every citizen in San Diego County.

    The commission is very much committed to access and how we can broaden the access to our materials. We have discussed the importance of translations, and how we can share accessible tools to collect public input. We are partnered with certain trusted community organizations, to broaden our reach into communities that may not typically participate.

    We have an ad hoc outreach committee that has been doing outreach through traditional media (local paper advertising) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor). We are trying to emphasize that we want public input. We are currently petitioning to have the map adoption date be pushed back from December 15 because we want a robust public comment period.

    Lastly, we hired a contractor to provide demographic services as that expertise does not exist within the IRC. This organization will conduct a more rigorous set of public outreach, communication, and engagement services. We expect in the next month or so. You will be hearing even more about the IRC soon. We are relying on you too! Please spread the word by telling your neighbors and friends.

    There are a wired mix of contractions and nots. I.e., “We’ve” here but I also see We have in other places. I personally prefer to write out all the contractions, i.e., does not instead of doesn’t. But it’s a stylistic preference. We should be consistent though. 

  • Several of the district 2 communities do not have internet access good enough to attend virtual meetings. How is that being addressed? Besides the phone call option, any other options you would like to bring up?

    The meetings are recorded, so the public can go back to listen to the meetings at a different location, like a public library. We encourage people, if they are having difficulties, to send us an email, give us a call, or write us a letter. If you are having difficulty with access and there are things we can do, let us know. When we conduct public hearings, there is a phone call-in option and future potential for on-site meetings. Clearly, East County is an area where we would potentially want to schedule an in-person meeting to give people the opportunity to come physically. We need to hear from you! If you think that access is important, tell us why? Where would meetings make sense? We are working with our public relations firm to schedule these public hearings. Especially for district 2, we strongly encourage residents to submit e-comments and call into the meetings so that the public outreach and engagement contractor and the full commission can hear your suggestions and ideas.

Communities of Interest

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  • We want to submit comments for a community of interest, do we have to do this separately? The “Community Builder” tool is difficult to use, can we do this as a group?

    There are a variety of mapping services available, public programs that you can access, including the one that is offered by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. The IRC is going to be developing their own online mapping tool. Any maps submitted through the CCRC site, are sent to the state CCRC. It is a reflection of the state Senate, and Assembly seats, Congressional seats, and Board of Equalization. Any data that is provided to the IRC through our site will be used specifically for our county supervisorial districts. You may submit a map individually, or as a group, that is up to you. The “Community Builder” tool is in process, and we are working on making it as easy to use as possible. As far as how to submit comments, as a community of interest, if the question is “do you submit a comment as an individual or whether individuals can organize as a community of interest and submit a comment in that manner?” Both can be done.

  • Can one be identified as religious or along housing types? People living in high density housing projects have very different interest from those who live in vast counties, states, or agricultural preserves.

    Certainly race, ethnicity, and gender are communities of interest. We would entertain anybody’s idea of what a community of interest is. We are not going to define what a COI is; you are going to define what your COI is to us. As far as the high-density housing, remember you are going to have more people in that area per square foot. Those are considerations, but they would not be the only considerations.

    A COI is defined as the characteristics that unify your community. These interests and characteristics are not to be defined by the IRC. Engaging culture, common language, religion, social events, athletics, etc bring our communities together in certain ways, but social and economic interests certainly are the main factors that drive communities of interest.

  • What is an example of a COI?

    One example of a COI is Adams Avenue, because they hold a big fair. Their community can make an argument that they are a COI and would not want to be split between 35th and 36th street, because that community is part of the fair that draws people into the area.

    Another example is Barrio Logan, if they had a problem that they needed to get resolved and went to the supervisor from District 1 or supervisor from District 2, both supervisors could say “it’s not my responsibility, it is the other person’s” and they are left without assistance.

    Another example would be a school district because they rely on the County for information. It is a lot easier to have one supervisor working with that individual district, rather than having to go to two supervisors.

  • What if a COI shares a negative interest like drug use or gangs? Is a majority always, right?

    If there are resources that are needed, it is better to keep the community whole to try to resolve the problem rather than split it up. Even though it is negative, this is something that the County can help with as they are tasked with our Public Health team and are involved in dealing with those issues.

  • What kind of issues were used in forming our current COIs?

    There are many. It could be a neighborhood that is concerned about a lot of residents coming from another county. For example, those living near the Del Mar Fairgrounds may have very specific needs on how they want the County to address those needs.

  • What arguments did Barrio Logan use to be reunited?

    A COI is a community that shares common social or economic interests. Barrio Logan is a neighborhood that possibly shares common goals and priorities.

  • Can age be considered as an interest group? Do we want old and/or young areas?

    Absolutely. For example, if there is a community with residential areas for residents over the age of 55, the Commission would want to find out if that community would like to be split as they have something in common. If the answer is no, we would absolutely consider it a COI.

  • Are interest structure aspects considered (such as water systems, electrical grids, freeways, borders, etc.)?

    These issues are important, and you can certainly make the justification that they are COIs. For example, there are a variety of water districts, and they probably want to stay in one supervisorial district. Some information is hard wired into a demographic analysis and known commonalities in the County. The Commission is looking to hear from community partners on what is important to the community that the Commission might not know about just based off the census information.

  • If I’m in the center of a district, is there any point in contacting IRC regarding a COI?

    Absolutely. You do not know where those boundaries are going to be shifted. For example, in the last census in district 5 and 3, the entire community of Rancho Santa Fe was moved from district 3 to district 5. So yes, even if you live in the center of a district, your voice is important.

  • If a city already has defined a COI, can you use it for your own purpose?

    The IRC Public Outreach and Engagement Services contractor is reaching out to existing communities of interest. However, COIs are not static. COIs are dynamic communities that may appear and then disappear. COIs that spoke up 10 years ago, may or may not still have the same issues and concerns as communities change over time.

Census Data/Census Data Timeline

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Redrawing the Boundaries/District Lines

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County Redistricting vs. Other Redistricting in the State

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