Asian-Pacific Islander community seeks seat at the table

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego's growing Asian-Pacific Islander community wants a voice in city government, and they've set their sights on the yet-to-be-drawn 9th City Council District. That was the topic at a luncheon in Kearny Mesa on Tuesday. KUSI's Steve Bosh was there and files this report.

There's a large concentration of Asian-Pacific Islanders in the northern region of the City, along the I-15 and Hwy 56 corridors. Rancho Penasquitos and Mira Mesa are at the heart of this proposed new district, along with the western parts of Miramar and Kearny Mesa, and a part of the UTC area.

“We think that those communities should be combined and united together as one unit in one City Council district,” says Dr. Allen Chang of the APAC Coalition, “rather than have them divided into several different districts and have their voices diluted.”

But not everyone there is speaking with one voice, and public testimony at the redistricting commission's hearings is critical. Along with making sure every council district has virtually the same number of residents, you have to make your case that you're a ‘community of interest.'

“What common interests do you show with your neighbors and communities around you?” asks Commission Chief of Staff Midori Wong. “These are things we can't divine from census data, which is why the committee really is relying on resident input.”

Every district will shrink because of the addition of a 9th council district. “Different places have grown at different rates,” says Wong, “and we do redistricting to make sure that at the end of the process each district is as close to the same size as possible.”

District 1 added the most residents since the last census, so they're likely to shrink the most. Districts 4 and 8, because they're in geographical areas not easily carved out, will likely shrink the least. Both the state and the city have independent commissions to draw new boundaries. There will be no more gerrymandering by politicians. The districts will be what the residents want them to be.

“The city commission and the state commission are obligated to actually make findings,” says Latino advocate Vince Hall, “they actually have to defend every line they draw on the map, based on the community input that is provided at the hearings.”

The Asian-Pacific Islanders are happy with that, they've been heavily involved in the process.

“I think we have a pretty good chance that the majority of the people in the district will be represented this time as one City Council district,” says Chang, “instead of being divided into several districts like always.”

There are going to be surprises in almost every council district when this is over, and it's possible a council member could end up resigning in another district.

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