Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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
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
How many people apply to become commissioners in the Independent
From May 18, 2020, through July 31, 2020, the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors received 291 applications to serve on the IRC. Of those, 231 applicants met the qualifications listed.
Can each commissioner explain why they wanted to be a commissioner? What
is your purpose in the IRC?
Please refer to meeting recordings for responses from individual Commissioners. For additional information, refer to the Commissioner’s Bios where Commissioner applications are posted.
Was there an IRC in 2010? How were Commissioners selected in 2010?
County redistricting in 2011 was done by the Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC), a group of five appointees of the Board of Supervisors. The RAC made a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Supervisors adopted the final map.
Do applicants have to be a party member for any specific amount of time?
Some individuals switch around periodically.
CA Elections Code Section 21550(c)(2) requires that Commissioners: “Be a voter who has been continuously registered in the County of San Diego with the same political party preference or with no political party preference and who has not changed his or her political party preference for five or more years immediately preceding the date of his or her appointment to the commission.”
Are Commissioners ever pressured by interest groups? How do they cope?
The Commission adheres to bylaws that describe and dictate behaviour and indicate that if someone contacts or puts pressure on individual Commissioners, they need to disclose it in a communications log and put it in a public record for that manner. For example, if a Commissioner’s neighbor said, “I really think that our neighborhood should be a COI,” it would be that Commissioner’s obligation to then ask them to submit that information into one of the public hearings, via mail, or draw a map using the Community Build a Map tool, and the Commissioner would need to disclose it as well. Commissioners do not communicate with the County supervisorial candidates, supervisors, staff, or their families. They are independent and try their best to be unbiased.
Incorporated Cities vs. Unincorporated Areas
What are the incorporated cities and the unincorporated territory in San
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!
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.
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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
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
Due to COVID-19, how accurate is last year’s Census?
San Diego County had amazing outreach efforts. There were over 100 different organizations working with SANDAG to make sure people received and filled out their Census. The San Diego community put in a lot of effort to make sure that the data was collected.
The Commissioners attended a seminar/workshop and learned that San Diego County outperformed the last census obtaining a greater response. The Census data that the Commission will be using is going to be a reliable source of information.
Illegal immigrants have been reluctant to provide census data. Are there
any provisions made for that on the mapping?
If someone does not identify themselves in the Census, it is very difficult for us to be able to identify them separately. We must use the census data that is provided. The census is intended to count every person that lives in the United States of America.
Why is the census data so late?
The census data is late partially because of the pandemic. There were administrative reasons why the Census Bureau could not process the data and get the data to the states in a timely fashion.
Do cities get their census data directly from the County or from the
Cities will receive the data from the state-wide agency that will be processing the data. The Census Bureau sends the data to each of the states, and then the states distribute it to the jurisdictions. The IRC will be receiving county data for our redistricting purposes.
If the current district census data is very different compared to last
data, can something be done as a COI? Does the County look into it?
The primary source of data is the census data. Given community efforts, San Diego County seems to have one of the highest participation rates. There were over 100 organizations working across the County to make sure census forms were turned in. The census data should be reliable as there is nothing that indicates otherwise, and no concerns have been raised that the data will be questionable.
If the official data is delayed, how much of the process can be
completed prior to receiving the official data to complete the process
of drawing the maps?
We cannot start drawing draft maps until after we have received the official database from the Census as adjusted by the State for the prisoner population. We can gather input from the public on COIs until the data is ready.
Is the Marine Corps Base counted in the district?
Yes, everyone residing in the County is counted in the district. Every individual.
Redrawing the Boundaries/District Lines
Who decides how many individuals will be included in each district? Is
it just the total population divided by 5?
It is the total population divided by 5. However, it is not exactly equal, so we do have a 5-10% margin.
The population of the city of San Diego is huge, how can it compare to
the rest of the County? How can it not be split into 2 districts?
Right now, district 4, which is primarily the City of San Diego, is the largest district with 20,000 residents. The other districts are under 7,000. The smallest districts are going to be the 2 districts that have the predominant rural areas. The way it was done in 2010, was to keep the City of San Diego intact and recognize that they were going to have a larger population, but still an acceptable range. That was done in 2010, and it is hard to say what will happen in this redistricting cycle as the data is not available yet.
It seems that only those areas that are on the fringe between 2 or more
districts would be impacted. Is that true?
People who are on the rim of the districts are the ones who experience more change; however, it is not known yet how the population has shifted. Boundaries could change in ways that they haven’t previously. For example, Rancho Santa Fe went to district 5 and Escondido to district 3. This depends on how the population has grown or shifted.
Where do you see shifts in district 2, and what evidence do you have?
This all depends on the data that we are getting from the census and input from the public on communities of interest, that exists now in district 2. The evidence will be fact based, and data driven.
The population of San Diego has really increased over the last 100 years. The lines may shift a bit, depending on how populations shifted, but each of those 5 districts have increased in population.
County Redistricting vs. Other Redistricting in the State
We hear that many redistricting efforts are simultaneously going on and
are seeing that it can also impact county district 4 residents. How are
the other districts or changed efforts related?
The IRC is only responsible for drawing the boundaries of the five districts for the members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Each local jurisdiction is responsible for its own redistricting and draws its own boundaries in a separate process with its own requirements under the law.
There is a statewide Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) that draws State Senate and Assembly, Congressional districts for the House of Representatives and State Board of Equalization districts.
The current Supervisorial District 4 includes the City of San Diego, which is one of the jurisdictions that has its own independent redistricting commission and they are going through a similar process. The IRC is in contact with their commission since there’s overlap. However, the two processes are separate.
Does the IRC address different levels of public office other than
county-level/supervisorial? City Council? Special District? School
Board? State Legislature? Senate?
No. The IRC only draws the boundaries between the 5 supervisorial districts. Each local jurisdiction is responsible for its own redistricting, and there is a statewide California Redistricting Commission (CRC) that draws State Senate and Assembly, Congressional districts for the House of Representatives and State Board of Equalization districts.
How does the County Redistricting process inform the State and city
redistricting process? Are you working together, or do we need to
participate with all the different efforts?
Each jurisdiction draws its own boundaries in a separate process with its own requirements under the law. The San Diego County IRC is only responsible for drawing the Supervisorial District boundaries in San Diego County.
How does counting/redistricting affect the city of Carlsbad
redistricting this year?
They are separate. The Commission is required to keep cities and known communities together. For the city of Carlsbad, it would take an extraordinary circumstance for the Commission to draw a county supervisorial district that cuts Carlsbad in half. Cities need to be kept intact as much as possible. The Commission should also follow, as much as possible, natural boundaries. Sometimes highways are a boundary that would be used to draw a boundary between two districts.
How are these 10-year maps used in addition to supervisorial elections?
The City of San Diego has an independent redistricting commission; they are working on drawing the maps for the city council boundaries. The state of California independent redistricting commission, called the California Citizen Redistricting Commission (CCRC) are drawing the maps for several different types of boundaries. They draw the maps for Congress, but they are also responsible for drawing the maps for assembly districts, senate districts, and the equalization board districts.
Is there any promotion of the IRC format for the rest of the country?
Yes, if the question is “are there groups working to move jurisdictions from politicians drawing the lines to citizens drawing the lines?” Yes, that happened in the state of California. There is a state-wide redistricting commission, a City of San Diego redistricting commission, and there are other states that have moved to independent redistricting commissions. For example, the League of Women’s Voters, were one of the organizations that were instrumental in moving this forward into the state of California and they are working on doing the same in other states.
How will this commission follow the California Independent Redistricting
Commission to ensure voting rights acts will be complied by establishing
a committee for this purpose?
The Commission is mandated to adhere to the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 in this process. A Committee can be established if needed, but the Commission is attentive to the unique opportunity of bringing in 14 people with diverse backgrounds working effectively to implement redistricting while adherence to the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 requirements. The decision to form a committee is the decision of the Commission as a whole. On the local level, we will see what other Commissions are doing on the County level and on a state level. The Commission will do what makes the most sense to make an informed and publicly engaged decision. Our Commission is willing to spend the time needed through extra meetings, homework, or trainings, to make that happen. The Commission has also recently hired a demographer to look at the census data and has Counsel (attorneys) to better understand the Federal Voting Rights Act and the duties under this law.
Members of the public are encouraged to view the Training Continuum, a database of resources used to review the training received by the IRC. The Training Continuum includes videos in 4 different phases: orientation, education, implementation, and adoption.
Can you email us the presentations?
The presentations are posted on the redistricting website.
Where can we get a summary of this presentation?
We strive to be transparent as a public organization and provide the public with the information they need. The slides and a recording of this educational tour, and the previous educational tours in the other districts, are posted HERE.
Will slides be available for participants so we can review again?
Yes, the slides and recordings of these educational tours are posted on the redistricting website.
Do you reach out to community planning groups during public comment time?
We included the County’s planning and sponsor groups in our outreach with information about the Educational Tour sessions. Representatives from these groups are welcome to share feedback with the IRC during public comment time at IRC meetings or at any time.
Does tax revenue play a part (such as property and sales tax)?
This is not part of the IRC decision making and is not a criterion considered. It ultimately does play into how a supervisor works within districts. San Diego County has many rural areas in the Eastern part of the County and the County Charter specifies at least 2 supervisorial districts must be in rural areas, so each district has an unpopulated area and some very rural areas.
How do you deal with a highly fluid and changing migrant population
coming to our County?
This is not something dealt with by the Independent Redistricting Commission but can be captured through the census count. There are some adjustments that are made by highly qualified technical demographic specialists and is a point in time count.