ACLU attorney: New county redistricting proposals legal

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The ACLU attorney who led the fight against county redistricting plans said this week that new proposals from county staff make only minor changes, but technically comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Lori Shellenberger applauded the county supervisors, who have the final say over the boundaries of their districts, for being willing to go back to the drawing board. However, she also encouraged people in affected communities to go to a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday.

The district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years in accordance with updated census data.

The supervisors were poised to approve a tentative plan earlier this summer, but shelved it when Shellenberger and others pointed out legal issues. When asked by City News Service if the proposals left the county open to lawsuits, she said they “technically comply” with the Voting Rights Act.

County staff “tinkered a little bit” with the boundaries between districts 1 and 4 to come up with a map that has acceptable demographic numbers that meet legal requirements, said Shellenberger, the ACLU's civic engagement attorney.

“It ignores other redistricting principles, like keeping communities together,” Shellenberger told City News Service.

She said the maps to be considered next week split Point Loma, break African-American communities into three districts and dilute Latino voting power in the North County.

The proposed boundaries, available online on the county's website, put areas of Point Loma and Ocean Beach south of Canon Street and Point Loma Avenue into District 1, represented by Supervisor Greg Cox. Neighborhoods to the north will be in District 4, with Supervisor Ron Roberts.

The two proposals, A and B, go further in the border of Districts 1 and 4.

The northern boundary of District 1 in Option A looks like a readout from an EKG, with some neighborhoods east of downtown doing into Cox's district and others into Roberts'.

In Option B, District 1 would claim areas of Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and Grant Hill; while some of the neighborhoods around Skyline and Southeast San Diego would be placed in District 4.

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