By Barbara Zaragoza
The Chula Vista City Council unanimously approved the boundaries for 4 election districts on Tuesday, July 14th, a historic moment for the second largest city in San Diego County that has held at-large elections until now.
In 2012, 62.7% of voters passed Proposition B that mandated Chula Vista be divided into four voting districts. The City then created a temporary Districting Commission and appointed seven volunteer commissioners. Ten public workshops were held and lines were drawn based on communities of interest, or COI. By June 8th Commissioners voted on a map and on July 11th they numbered the districts. As a final step, the Districting Commission sent the map to City Council, which could approve the map or vote to send it back to the Commission for revisions.
The victory went to Districts 3 and 4. With a 75.68% Latino population, District 4— located in the Southwest corner of Chula Vista—has been known for its dilapidated infrastructure. Residents of the district will now receive their own representative in 2016.
The biggest victory went to the civically engaged Filipino-American community who advocated to have Southwestern College within district 3 alongside several significant building projects.
Ten community members gave public testimony in support of the District 3 boundary lines, many representatives from the Filipino-American community, including the President of the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO), a former President of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce and Thomas Hom, the first Asian American to serve on the San Diego City Council from 1962 to 1968.
A member of the Filipino-American Senior Citizens Association, Dr. Aurora Cudal told council members, “This final map includes keeping 27% of API’s, of Asian Pacific Islanders in district 3. There was significant community of interest stemming from the Filipino and other Asian community residents to keep
Sunbowl Sunbow, Otay Ranch and the APACE [Asian Pacific American Cultural Economic] corridor in the same district. This is where the majority of the Filipino community live.”
District 3 is also where the Millenia project plans to have a 210-acre community that will include 3,000 multi-family residences, 2 million square feet of office space and 1.5 million square feet of mixed-used projects. Within the Millenia area, the population is projected to increase by 8,500. Construction is already underway.
Another development included in District 3 is a Baldwin & Sons project that will feature the first hotel in eastern Chula Vista as well as 15,000-30,000 square feet of mixed retail and 600 residential units. That’s in addition to the Otay Ranch Town Center’s plan to add 300,000 square feet of retail space.
Finally, Chula Vista wants to attract a four-year university on 375-acres of land in District 3. The city hopes the new University will serve 20,000 students.
In an interview after the City Council’s vote, Districting Commissioner and Chairman Jerome Torres explained that redistricting is going to happen again after the next decennial census, so in 2021 a new commission will be created.
“The disadvantage that we had is that we were actually dealing with five year old data and not taking into consideration a lot of the growth that had taken place in district 3 and some of the infill development that had taken place on the West side. So by 2021 when the next commission convenes, there’s going to be some considerable changes. I don’t think so much to the West side. I think it’s going to happen more on the East side. You might see some minor tweaks to the West side districts, but where it’s really fundamentally going to change is on the East side.”
For the West side, Torres was referring to district 2 where the Unified Port of San Diego plans to open a 750-room hotel as well as 120,000 square feet of commercial recreation at the Bayfront. Pacifica Companies also plans to build 1,500 residential units, 420,000 square feet of mixed-used commercial space, and another 250-room hotel on 35-acres.
While Asian-American residents from district 3 were civically engaged throughout the process, residents from District 2 did not provide public testimony during the June 8th finalization of the map or before the City Council’s vote. Residents from district 1, which now includes Eastlake and the upscale area known as The Woods, remained a quiet, non-unified group throughout the process.