Encinitas Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath was asked at the Oct. 30 council meeting to list her favorite of the 22 maps from which the city would choose to decide its future council districts.
“I looked at the maps that had four districts, and two represented best our initial goals,” Boerner Horvath said. “There was a map, 16, that did that really well, and Map 15 did that really well.”
She was referring to the maps known as “Citizens Map 15” and “Citizens Map 16,” which a divided council ultimately voted as the final two maps from which they would choose for future districts.
The Coast News has learned that Boerner Horvath authored the maps.
The Coast News filed a public records request to learn the identities of the authors of the 16 maps that were submitted by citizens. The maps were submitted by nine residents; two residents authored seven total maps alone.
The City Council is scheduled to choose a map and the election sequence at the Nov. 8 council meeting.
Boerner Horvath authored two; Map 15 and 16, one of which – Map 15 – places her colleagues Tony Kranz and Mark Muir in the same electoral district. Kranz and Muir have been the most vocal opponents of the city’s districting process.
Her colleagues have had mixed reactions to the discovery that Boerner Horvath drew the maps and didn’t disclose it at the meeting. Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she didn’t believe Boerner Horvath had an obligation to disclose it and said that her maps “came from a place of knowledge.”
Kranz and Muir, however, expressed disappointment that Boerner Horvath didn’t disclose that she authored the maps, which they said gives the appearance that she acted in her self interest.
Boerner Horvath on Tuesday acknowledged that she authored the maps, but said that she would have disclosed it if asked at the meeting. She said she struggled whether to disclose it at the Oct. 30 meeting, but didn’t want the fact that she authored the maps to sway the decision making process in either direction.
She said that the city’s legal counsel said they could draw a map if they wanted to.
“There is no conflict in an elected official drawing a map, we were told that just because we are elected officials doesn’t mean that we give away our ability to draw maps, we are still citizens,” Boerner Horvath said. “But when I did it, the process was anonymous at the time.”
Boerner Horvath said that there is already precedent for a city choosing a district map crafted by an elected official: Poway chose as its final map one created by Mayor Steve Vaus, who did not disclose it at the August hearing when his map was selected as a finalist.
Boerner Horvath said that she drew the maps with the intent of trying to keep communities of interest together. Map 15, she said, was a variation of Citizens Map 14, submitted by David Grubb, which she said captured that goal with one glaring exception: The map placed the Olivenhain Meeting Hall in the Cardiff district.
“I liked that map, I thought it was a good map, but you have to have the meeting hall in Olivenhain,” she said.
Map 16, she said, was an attempt to accomplish the same goals.
Boerner Horvath said the fact that Kranz and Muir wound up in the same district in Map 15 was a coincidence and carried over from Map 14.
“Making sure each council member was in their own district wasn’t something I was looking at,” Boerner Horvath said. “Having walked these neighborhoods and precincts during the election, I know where the hills are, I know where the communities of interest are, and that was what I drew from when drawing the boundaries. I tried to keep communities of interest together.”
Boerner Horvath also noted that she wasn’t the only one who selected her maps. Councilman Joe Mosca, who spoke first at the council meeting, selected hers among several others that he wanted to further explore. Blakespear also included the maps in her list.
Blakespear said that she felt better knowing that Boerner Horvath was the author, because she knew it came from a person well versed in the community’s boundaries.
“Tasha’s willing to get her hands dirty,” Blakespear said. “She’s extremely detailed, and really gets into things, and as you saw from the election, she is a prolific precinct walker. She’s a decision maker so I know (the maps) are coming from a place of knowledge.”
Blakespear said she felt the same about Vaus’ maps in Poway.
“I felt that (Vaus) was coming from a place of knowledge and an assessment of a community that he knows about,” she said.
Blakespear said that once she realized that she, Boerner Horvath and Mosca all had Maps 15 and 16 in their final lists, it was easy to narrow the list to the final two.
“You would like to see some buy in from the entire council, but Tony (Kranz) had already said that he wasn’t going to vote and Mark wasn’t prepared so we moved forward,” Blakespear said. “I hope we can put this behind us.”
Mosca said that he didn’t think about the authors when he selected the map and knowing Boerner Horvath had drafted Maps 15 and 16 would not have changed his opinion.
“I don’t think anything was hidden, nor does it change my opinion moving forward,” Mosca said.
Kranz, who has been the most vocal opponent of the city’s move toward district elections, felt the opposite.
“To me it is insulting not to be speaking to your rationale for doing maps, it’s as simple as that,” Kranz said. “I prefer transparency. I would have had the same objections if I were on the Poway council (to Vaus).”
Muir at the Oct. 30 meeting said he didn’t feel that the two maps accurately reflected the intent of maintaining the essence of the city’s five distinct communities. He said on Wednesday that he felt that the districts were drawn to place him in difficult electoral positions – in one map, he would have to compete with Kranz, and in the other map, a sliver of Old Encinitas would be separated from the rest of the neighborhood and placed into the Cardiff district. That sliver includes his block.
Muir said that while he wasn’t concerned about himself per se, he was concerned about the next resident from his neighborhood who might want to pursue a seat on the council being placed in an difficult position.
After learning that Boerner Horvath was the author, he said it raises questions about her intent and a level of mistrust in the process from the community.
“It is kind of disingenuous,” he said. “Not that she isn’t entitled to draw a map, but when you don’t disclose the map, it gives the appearance of gerrymandering and self interest, and I am disappointed in that.
“This council has been working on being as transparent as possible, but when you start dealing with issues as important as this one…I think you let people down by not disclosing that you are the author of the maps,” Muir said.
Muir added that if Vaus’ disclosure was in the same manner as Boerner Horvath’s he would also object to it, and he said that just because a bad precedent was set doesn’t mean that it should be followed.
“It’s like saying, ‘well they were speeding too, so it’s fine,'” Muir said. “It doesn’t make it right.”
Boerner Horvath was one of several notable names to draw a map in the district-forming process. Longtime resident and community activist Bob Bonde drew two maps and city parks and recreation employee Crystal Roff drew another.
Encinitas resident Kevin Dolan drew the most maps, with four, and resident Rich Yates drew three.