Lines on a map don't mean much, except to an out-of-town driver lost in freeway congestion or to a politician faced with losing some of his biggest contributors or inheriting a bunch of activists through redistricting.
It's the latter case that has county staffers shifting into overdrive to come up with a new supervisorial district map that will reduce North County's overpopulated 5th Supervisorial District by 100,000 residents and keep everyone happy.
The population shift required to bring North County's 5th District back to the half-million population mark required by law has a domino effect on the other four supervisorial districts.
County supervisors are staying clear of the remapping effort until their constituents have had their say. The board members plan to avoid the hands-on, closed-door sessions that landed the San Diego City Council in court over redistricting.
But few constituents have spoken up during the preliminary meetings held in each of the five supervisorial districts this spring.
In fact, few bothered to attend earlier meetings. Attendance ranged from six to 26 at the five sessions, with the Escondido session drawing the largest crowd. Another round of hearings is set to begin next week to review six redistricting proposals by county planners.
The proposals include significant changes in all five supervisorial districts. In some cases, entire cities are shifted from one supervisor to another in an attempt to make each district nearly identical in population in a county with 2.5 million residents.
Board Chairman John MacDonald, whose district spans the North County from the ocean east to the Imperial County line must suffer a giant bite out of his District 5 turf in all six proposals.
Two proposed changes in the North County district up for debate when the second round of public hearings begins in Escondido Tuesday night call for either shifting all of Carlsbad and Encinitas into District 3, Supervisor Susan Golding's district, or transferring the fast-growing city of Escondido out of the North County and into East County and District 2.
Supervisor George Bailey, whose 2nd District covers much of the sparsely populated East County deserts and mountains as well as the cities of Poway, El Cajon, Santee and Spring Valley, stands to gain about 150,000 new constituents from North County under some of the six redistricting scenarios, but he stands to lose a few thousand supporters in the trade-off.
Under some of the redistricting proposals, Spring Valley is slated to move out of Bailey's bailiwick into District 1, Supervisor Brian Bilbray's South Bay turf.
Under all six redistricting proposals, Lemon Grove would shift from Bailey's District 2 to District 4, Supervisor Leon Williams' territory, which now is limited to the San Diego city limits.
Escondido sentiment voiced since the preliminary public meetings in April indicated that residents felt they had more in common with the North County cities of Vista, Escondido and Carlsbad than with El Cajon, La Mesa and Lakeside.
They didn't want to move to an East County district.
A Carlsbad contingent has proposed that their city be divided in half, with the older, northern portion staying with its District 5 neighbors and its southern half joining the mid-coastal communities of Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach in Supervisor Golding's District 3.
A veteran county staffer explained that some Carlsbad officials think the city would have more clout with the county if it were represented by two supervisors instead of just one.
If Golding's district gains Carlsbad and Encinitas, it will have to be pared elsewhere. At least one redistricting proposal calls for moving Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Sabre Springs, Allied Gardens, Grantville and Del Cerro--all San Diego city suburbs--from Golding's District 3 to Bailey's East County district.
County planners who concocted the six redistricting maps say that this shift is likely to be one of the most debated.
Under one of the proposals, Poway would switch from Bailey's East County district to Golding's mid-county district. Another would switch Santee from East County to Golding's District 3. And, if MacDonald's North County district loses Escondido, it will gain Solana Beach and parts of southern Encinitas.
Two Southeast San Diego neighborhoods also are among those suggested for district switches. Paradise Hills would move to Williams' inner-city district from Bilbray's South Bay district, and Logan Heights would transfer to Bilbray's District 1 from Williams' District 4.
The Point Loma peninsula also would change hands under some of the scenarios. It would move from the South Bay District 1 to Golding's District 3.
Public hearings are slated for Tuesday at Escondido City Council Chambers, Wednesday at Al Bahr Shrine Temple, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road; Thursday at the La Mesa City Council Chambers; June 24 at the Chula Vista City Council Chambers, and June 26 at the War Memorial Building in Balboa Park.
After the public debates, county planners will merge the many alternatives into a final map that will go to the Board of Supervisors for another round of public hearings, starting July 23. The supervisors will make the final decision in September.
The remapping must be completed, and new district lines adopted by Oct. 1 under a state law that requires redistricting after each federal census--once every 10 years.
The new district boundaries will be in effect for the first time for the June, 1992, election when Supervisors Bailey and Bilbray will be up for reelection. Golding's seat also may be vacant if she runs for mayor of San Diego.
Bob Lerner, county public information officer, said all deliberations on the redistricting plan will be held in public meetings.
Population redistribution is only one of the aims of the process, he explained. Minority voting strength must not be affected by the changes, and communities with like interests should be grouped within the same district, he said.