How Will Nathan Fletcher’s Resignation Affect Downtown SD Politics?

After redistricting, the disgraced outgoing County Supervisor’s District 4 constituency actually now only includes a portion of 92101
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher will resign from District 4. Who was his constituency? (Photo by Sal Giametta)

It’s widely known that allegations of sexual harassment and assault led to Nathan Fletcher’s announced resignation as District 4’s elected representative on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. He’s currently scheduled to step down on May 15.

A lawsuit filed by a former San Diego Metropolitan Transit System employee against Fletcher has been the political talk of the town since late March. The salacious accusations leading to his fall from grace are in every local newsfeed.

A political detail that’s not common knowledge: Up until last year, Fletcher’s oversight of District 4 included all of downtown San Diego. Due to redistricting efforts that went into effect in 2022, most of downtown San Diego’s 37,000 residents are no longer part of District 4.

According to redrawn Board of Supervisor boundaries:

  • 92101 residents living in parts of Bankers Hill and Balboa Park (north of Interstate-5) are still within District 4.
  • Residents of Little Italy and the Marina District now fall into District 3, making them constituents of Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.
  • Most of East Village, Cortez Hill and the Gaslamp Quarter are now part of District 1, under the jurisdiction of Supervisor Nora Vargas.

What does this mean for downtown residents, most with closer day-to-day (if any) connection to city government?

There don’t appear to be any immediate dire implications, except to makes downtown politics even more confusing and less accessible.

Downtown San Diego Partnership president and CEO Betsy Brennan says she’s had positive meetings with teams from Supervisor Vargas and Supervisor Lawson-Remer’s offices.

“So far we haven’t skipped a beat,” Brennan says.

Spencer Katz, communications manager for Supervisor Lawson-Remer, says it’s too early to tell, but he opines that having downtown San Diego split into three Supervisorial districts could be an advantage.

“It could ensure that all three are hearing about the challenges, especially regarding homelessness, and are reacting to it, as well as hearing about best practices,” Katz says.

This map compares old and new San Diego Supervisorial Districts. (From the Independent Redistricting Commission Final Report)

Here’s a primer on city/county political divisions:

  • During the pandemic, San Diego County Board of Supervisors redistricting efforts received peripheral attention. The process occurs every 10 years, to account for shifts in population and demographics.
  • According to the 2021 Independent Redistricting Commission’s Final Report, one goal was to create five districts with similar total numbers of constituents (roughly 650,000). 
  • The City of San Diego was deemed too large to be a single district. It’s the only city in the county that’s divided by political oversight by the Board of Supervisors.
  • The city is already divided into nine council districts that have more day-to-day political impact, such as filling potholes.
  • All of 92101 is within the boundary District 3 City Councilmember Steven Whitburn. 
  • As far as division of tasks, city government is responsible for brick-and-mortar costs. For example: The city would be the entity to fund or purchase a homeless shelter. The county would then be responsible for providing wraparound services for those residing in the shelter. Much of the county’s funding comes via state and federal sources.
  • When Fletcher vacates the county’s District 4 seat, the board will have to decide if a successor will be appointed, or if a special election will be held. Elections are district-wide. That means for downtowners, only Bankers Hill and Balboa Park residents would get a ballot.

Dividing The County

Here’s how the county’s political lines are drawn, as of redistricting in 2022:

District 1. A majority Latino district represented by Supervisor Nora Vargas, with 61.4% of the total population identified as Hispanic/Latino. In general, District 1 includes the cities of Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and National City, portions of the City of San Diego, and unincorporated areas including the communities of Bonita and La Presa, Spring Valley, Sweetwater and Otay.

District 2. Represented by Supervisor Joel Anderson, generally includes the cities of Poway, Santee and El Cajon, portions of the City of San Diego, and 20 unincorporated communities including Alpine, Boulevard, Campo, Jacumba, Jamul, Julian, Lakeside, Pine Valley and Ramona.

District 3. Represented by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, generally includes the cities of Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Carlsbad, parts of the City of San Diego and unincorporated communities including Elfin Forest, Fairbanks Ranch, Harmony Grove and Rancho Santa Fe.

District 4. Temporarily represented by Supervisor and Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, generally includes the cities of Lemon Grove and La Mesa, parts of the City of San Diego, and unincorporated communities including Casa De Oro-Mount Helix, Rancho San Diego and Spring Valley.

District 5. Represented by Supervisor Jim Desmond, generally includes the cities of Escondido, San Marcos, Oceanside and Vista, and 10 unincorporated communities including Bonsall, Borrego Springs, Fallbrook, Rainbow and Valley Center. SDSun

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