Boundary panel considering new changes for Old Town, Mission Valley, Scripps Ranch, Stockton – The San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO — 

Old Town, Mission Valley, Scripps Ranch and two neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego — Stockton and Mountain View — are the focus of some last-minute changes proposed for San Diego’s new City Council district boundaries.

A volunteer panel redrawing the boundaries based on new census data voted Wednesday night to consider those changes before the panel votes on a final map sometime before Dec. 15.

The panel also approved Wednesday a separate set of changes they requested the week before. Those changes include moving Torrey Hills into District 1, moving Torrey Highlands into District 5 and uniting all of Kearny Mesa in District 6.

Those changes, while considered important steps forward, created a troubling population gap between Districts 2 and 5 that may require shifting Old Town from District 3 to District 2 and moving more of already-divided Scripps Ranch into District 6.

The panel, the city’s Redistricting Commission, said the population gap was alarmingly large, and some action probably needs to be taken.

“That’s getting into the amber-slash-red zone for me,” said Commission Roy MacPhail.

Latest changes to city map.

The panel widely embraced moving Old Town into District 2. Members noted that Old Town, which has only about 1,200 residents, had been in District 2 until it was shifted into District 3 the last time boundaries were re-drawn in 2011.

The panel also continued its efforts to boost the Latino population of District 9, which could include moving eastern Mission Valley out of the district and replacing it with either Stockton, Mountain View or both.

Stockton, a neighborhood north of Logan Heights, is 85 percent Latino. Mountain View, east of Logan Heights, is 77 percent Latino.

A city-hired consultant will analyze all the changes proposed this week before the panel’s next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.

The analysis will evaluate how the changes affect population balance among the nine districts, how they affect the Latino population of District 9 and whether they have any unintended consequences.

In recent meetings, the panel has focused on helping to ensure San Diego has two City Council districts where Latinos dominate the voting rolls.

Mount Hope in southeastern San Diego was moved from District 4 to District 9 last week to help increase the percentage of Latino residents in District 9 to 41.46 percent.

But Latinos would make up only 29.25 percent of the citizens in District 9 who are old enough to vote, a ratio the volunteer panel has called too low.

Outside counsel hired by the city has also expressed concerns that this issue could make the new map vulnerable to legal challenges.

The commission is trying to solve the problem of a shrinking Latino population in District 9, which had to be significantly redrawn during this redistricting process because that part of the city has grown less rapidly than other parts.

San Diego’s other Latino district is District 8, which includes Barrio Logan, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. District 8 is 76 percent Latino.

In unrelated moves, the panel also requested analysis of moving Montgomery Field into District 7, putting all the Los Peñasquitos Preserve in District 1 and adjusting the boundary between Districts 6 and 7 near Mesa College.

Those changes aren’t expected to create any problems because they each affect very small numbers of people.

While residents across the city continue to offer criticism and suggested tweaks, the proposed boundary map the commission is finalizing has many strengths, officials said. For example, it unites Clairemont, Linda Vista, Normal Heights and Rancho

Peñasquitos — four neighborhoods divided the last time new boundaries were drawn in 2011.

The panel’s final two meetings are scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. For details on the boundary drawing process and to contribute feedback, go to the redistricting commission website.