Solana Beach School District again moves ahead with by-trustee area elections


The Solana Beach School District has resumed its efforts to transition to by-trustee area for elections, a conversion that was disrupted by the pandemic. Under the new election system, the district would be divided into five geographic areas and one board member living in each area would be elected by the voters who live in that area, rather than the current method of at-large elections.

Solana Beach School District aims to have by-trustee elections with its new five-area map in 2022.

The board selected its new map last February and it was meant to be used in the November 2020 election before the process was delayed. The process picked up where it left off on April 21, when the San Diego County Committee on School District Organization held a public hearing on the proposed map. Action is expected to be taken at a future San Diego County Board of Education meeting—the board next meets on May 12.

The district’s transition from at-large elections to by-area trustee elections was triggered in late 2019 when the district received a demand letter from a local attorney 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.”

The San Dieguito Union High School District underwent the same CVRA districting process in 2017, as did the city of Solana Beach in 2018.

The Solana Beach School District started its process to draw up potential maps with five public hearings held in late 2019 and early 2020. The district’s goals for the new map were equity and inclusiveness, keeping like-minded communities together to promote leadership opportunities and representation while establishing clear boundaries that make sense for voters.

The selected “Orange 2” map consists of five areas with Area 1 including Solana Beach west of I-5 and Skyline School, Area 2 which includes Solana Beach east of I-5 extending out to Calzada Del Bosque in Rancho Santa Fe; Area 3 which includes portions of Carmel Valley and Rancho Santa Fe; Area 4 which serves Carmel Valley, Pacific Highlands Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe; and Area 5 which includes the Carmel Valley neighborhoods of Carmel Creek and Solana Pacific Schools.

Areas 1, 3 and 4 would be up for election in 2022.

The new map was drawn using census data from 2010 and as maps must be redrawn every 10 years following a census, the district will have to draw a new map next year. The district’s map will likely look very different in 2022 as the 2020 census will better reflect the growth that has happened over the last 10 years in Pacific Highlands Ranch.