SAN DIEGO —
Suburban neighborhood Scripps Ranch is a stark example of the potential political chaos from redistricting, where boundaries get redrawn every 10 years for seats in the U.S. Congress, City Council, school board and other elected offices.
The latest round of redistricting, which concluded in December, will force the roughly 33,000 residents of Scripps Ranch to deal with what may be an unprecedented amount of political change for any single San Diego neighborhood.
The community will have a new Congressional representative, a new state Senator, a new state Assemblymember, a new county supervisor and a new school board trustee.
Scripps Ranch also will shift from being completely united in City Council District 5 to being divided into two council districts, with the center of the community remaining in District 5 while swaths on the eastern and western edges move into District 6.
And that division puts the home of the neighborhood’s councilmember, longtime Scripps resident Marni von Wilpert, into District 6 — forcing her to either move a few blocks or not seek re-election to her District 5 seat in 2024.
Community leaders say all the upheaval is disappointing and frustrating, primarily because they will have to start over completely on building relationships with their new representatives.
There also may be some ideological discord for Scripps Ranch, which has shifted left politically in recent years after decades of leaning more Republican.
The community is losing County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, a liberal Democrat from Encinitas, and will instead be represented by Supervisor Joel Anderson, a conservative Republican from Alpine.
Scripps Ranch also is losing Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, a Democrat, and will be represented by one of two conservative Republicans vying to represent the new 75th District — Marie Waldron of Valley Center or Randy Voepel of Santee.
Bob Ilko, head of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association and often called the community’s honorary mayor, said it is particularly upsetting to lose Maienschein, who previously represented Scripps on the City Council.
Ilko said he’s less troubled by the shift in state Senator from Republican Brian Jones to whoever wins the open seat in the new 40th District, because community leaders haven’t really forged a strong relationship with Jones since he was elected in 2018.
The shift in Congress from Rep. Scott Peters in the 52nd District to Rep. Sara Jacobs in the new 53rd District won’t come with much of an ideological shift because both are Democrats, but it still might make a difference.
“What’s unfortunate is that we had built pretty good relationships with Peters,” said Wally Wulfeck, chairman of the Scripps Ranch Community Planning Group.
Wulfeck said the overall amount of chaos is upsetting, but the changes were made by panels of volunteers weighing factors as complex as demographic shifts and the political power of ethnic groups.
“It’s frustrating, but I guess it’s the way things are supposed to happen,” he said. “Some decisions were more political than others.”
For example, the shift in school board voting from sub-district B to sub-district A was based on a San Diego Unified School District goal of having more sub-districts where people of color are the largest ethnic group.
Scripps Ranch now will have to wait more than two years to vote for a school board representative instead of voting this year.
The community’s former trustee, sub-district B’s Kevin Beiser, is termed out. But the community’s new trustee after redistricting, sub-district A’s Sabrina Bazzo, isn’t up for re-election until 2024.
Marlon Gardinera, Scripps Ranch High School’s head football coach, had announced plans to run for Beiser’s seat before the lines were redrawn.
Wulfeck said some may have conspiracy theories about what happened to Scripps Ranch during this round of redistricting, which is done every 10 years based on demographic changes found by the U.S. Census.
“I don’t know if unseen hands were pulling strings, but I doubt it,” he said.
Ilko said one theory about why there was so much redistricting upheaval in Scripps Ranch is the community’s location on the eastern edge of San Diego’s densely populated areas.
“I think part of the problem is our geographic location on the end of the island,” he said.
Ilko said he’s most concerned about Scripps being divided into two City Council districts, estimating that more than 90 percent of the things he fights for are handled at the city level.
Ilko said he considered lobbying the city’s Redistricting Commission against dividing the community, but he decided against it mostly because the decision to divide Scripps was part of efforts to create a powerful Asian voting district.
“There wasn’t a heck of a lot I could do to go down and argue against that,” he said. “I would have been the stereotypical old White guy from Scripps Ranch.”
Ilko said the change is frustrating in multiple ways, noting that the only way to reach the eastern edge of Scripps Ranch and StoneBridge in District 6 is to travel through District 5.
Von Wilpert, the neighborhood’s representative on the council, said she plans to move the few blocks east required to be living once again in District 5 so that she can run for re-election in 2024.
“It’s unfortunate the sliver where I live was drawn out,” she said. “It’s just the way it goes.”
Von Wilpert often complains that she rents because she can’t afford to buy a home in Scripps Ranch, but she said one benefit of being a renter is that it will be easier for her to make the necessary move into District 5.
Ilko said it would be absurd to characterize von Wilpert as a carpetbagger for her plans to move back into District 5, stressing that she is a longtime resident of Scripps Ranch whose parents live in the community and the district.
He said community leaders should prioritize having a Scripps Ranch resident on the city’s next Redistricting Commission, which is scheduled to begin meeting in 2031.