Group seeks second Latino district in SD

Proposes City Heights be center of ninth district

A Latino group is pushing for the creation of a second Latino-majority City Council District in San Diego.

"The numbers demand a second Latino district," said Alberto Pulido, spokesman for the Latino Redistricting Committee.

The group, about 40 strong, this week submitted a proposal to the city's Redistricting Commission to form a new district featuring heavily immigrant City Heights as its center. The district would also include Southcrest, Golden Hill, Rolando, Fairmont Park, Ridgeview, Mount Hope, Mountain View and Shelltown.

The proposed district would have a 57.8 percent Latino population, according to Pulido, citing 2010 Census figures.

Local Latino leaders will discuss redistricting at the monthly Latino/Latina Unity Coalition breakfast Friday at La Querencia Restaurant, 676 Broadway, Chula Vista. Networking begins at 7:30 a.m.

The seven-member citizens' Redistricting Commission, which is holding public hearings in all districts through mid-May, is charged with creating the city's ninth district, the first to be added since the 1960s. The commission is expected to adopt a final plan later this year.

A coalition of Asian and Pacific Island leaders is pushing for a district to be created in the city's northern area that would give more political power to Asian-Americans. Information on other proposed district maps was not available Wednesday.

San Diego voters last year approved Proposition D, which made the city's strong-mayor system permanent and separated the position from the City Council, leaving only eight members who could vote and the possibility of 4-4 ties on many issues.

Voters ordered the creation of a new district during redistricting after the release of the 2010 Census. Elections to represent the newly created ninth district are to be held in November 2012.

Mateo Camarillo, chairman of the Latino Redistricting Committee, said his group is working with African-American and gay and lesbian leaders to address their interests and concerns. He said it's possible to do that and create a second Latino-majority district. He said the proposed district would take areas with large Latino populations from District 4, which would help increase the percentage of African-Americans in the district.

Camarillo, who has been involved in redistricting issues for decades, said it's time for a second Latino-majority district. He pointed out that Latinos now make up about one third of the city's 1.3 million residents.

"That's what's good about the democratic process," he said. "You can bring about change."

Camarillo served on the board of the Chicano Federation of San Diego County in the late 1980s when it successfully campaigned for district elections to replace citywide ones, which leaders said diluted Latino voting power.

In 1990, the Chicano Federation settled an electoral lawsuit against the city that led to the remapping of District 8, turning it into a predominantly Latino area.

The creation of a new 140,000-resident ninth district will mean existing districts will shrink in size.

The Latino Redistricting Committee is lobbying to keep District 8, which includes Logan Heights and San Ysidro, about 75 percent Latino.

Pulido, an ethnic studies professor at the University of San Diego, said creating a new district with City Heights as its center makes sense because the area is currently part of districts 3, 4, and 7, and lacks the political clout it deserves.

Camarillo said his group will continue to push for a second-Latino majority district.

"Latinos compose almost one third of the population in San Diego. Technically, mathematically we should have three seats," Camarillo said. "Two is possible. That is why we are proposing that new district be a Latino district."


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