The Solana Beach School District board is deciding between five potential maps as it prepares to transition to by-trustee voting areas for elections. The board members’ goals in drawing the maps are to keep like-minded communities together and to have residents clearly know who their representative is on the board.
Three maps (green, purple and orange) were presented to the board at its public hearing on Jan. 16 and two more were added following board input. All of the maps are available on the district’s website at sbsd.k12.ca.us/cvra. The board plans to adopt the new map on Feb. 13 and if approved by the San Diego County Office of Education, it will become effective in the November 2020 election in which two board seats will be up for grabs.
In the green and purple maps, Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch would be in one area together. In the orange map, a portion of Rancho Santa Fe would be included in area 2 with a portion of Solana Beach and Fairbanks Ranch and the rest of Rancho Santa Fe would be included in an area that includes Pacific Highlands Ranch and Carmel Valley.
In the Purple II map, Rancho Santa Fe is split between two areas—one area is shared with Solana Beach east of I-5 and the other in an area with Fairbanks Ranch, Pacific Highlands Ranch and Carmel Valley.
In the Orange II map, Rancho Santa Fe is a part of three areas.
The change was prompted when the district received a demand letter from local attorney Craig Sherman alleging that they were in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The CVRA prohibits the use of at-large elections of governing board members if it “impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.” A violation of the CVRA is established if it is shown that racially polarized voting has occurred in a district’s governing board election.
After a complaint is filed a governing agency has to pass a resolution within 45 days, starting a 90-day litigation-free safe harbor period.
Demographer Doug Johnson, president of National Demographic Corporation, acknowledged that the district is undergoing a “weird process at a weird time.”
Currently using the data from the 2010 census, the district will have to redo the process in 2021 after the 2020 census. They are also in the process of appointing a new trustee following the resignation of Rich Leib and the board wants to have an idea of what area that trustee would represent.
At the Jan. 16 hearing, the district only received one written comment on the posted maps and there were no speakers.
Another public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. at the district office.