‘Blatant gerrymandering’ a blow to New Encinitas

New Encinitas is the big loser in the new election districts map the Encinitas City Council adopted by a 3-2 vote on Nov. 15.

The city’s largest traditional community has been completely disempowered by blatant gerrymandering. Cardiff and Leucadia are in control of the main street that runs through our community (El Camino Real). The north end of our community has been severed and given over to control by Leucadia, the south and west have been given over to control by Cardiff, and nothing in this truncated New Encinitas can be promoted without aligning with the concerns of Olivenhain.

New Encinitas, the largest community in the city, has been made powerless.  It and El Camino Real have been set up to become the dumping ground for all of Encinitas’s problems.  It’s as if this had been the explicit goal in the first place, which it may well have been given the recent revelation in The Coast News that the new map is not a “citizen” map, but the personal product of a coastal council member who benefits politically from the new districts.

As a resident of New Encinitas, this is incredibly disappointing.  It’s one thing to suffer from manipulative gerrymandering at the national scale, but I did not expect to be disempowered through this kind of district manipulation in Encinitas.

Putting the five old, original communities aside for a moment, Encinitas naturally divides itself into two communities: a coastal community with its commercial and social core primarily along Coast Highway and an inland community with its commercial and social core along El Camino Real. 

Anyway you look at it, the only fair way to divide the city is into two coastal districts and two inland districts. As the largest original community, New Encinitas needs to be split to accommodate four voting districts, but in a fair system the second largest original community, Old Encinitas, needs to be split as well with part of it joined with Leucadia and part with Cardiff.

The district system the Council adopted is designed to abuse the inland communities, with the first order of business being dumping the entire housing element revision inland, except where it suits the coastal powers. The idea that Leucadia and Cardiff share interest in promoting New Encinitas because some of it falls within their districts is nonsense.  And the inland residents for whom El Camino Real is the core artery have been deprived of any control over development and traffic on El Camino Real.

This districting plan is nothing less than a coup by coastal communities that will ultimately negatively impact the quality of life and likely the property values in the inland communities.

The system could easily be made fair, as long as districting begins with the principle that we will have two coastal and two inland districts.  Just draw an approximate north/south line that divides the city population in half, tweak it to accommodate the Latino population concentrations and then divide the east and west sides with whatever wiggling east/west lines work for people in the two halves.

If you live inland and you find this power grab outrageous, the City Council needs to hear your complaints now. They generally meet on Wednesday evenings at 6 (check the city website). 

If the city has even one election using this rotten system, New Encinitas will never recover.

Herschel Stern is a resident of New Encinitas

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