By Karen Brainard
A suggestion that more redistricting options should be developed for the Ramona Municipal Water District was shot down by water board members.
The consulting firm of Shepherd and Staats Inc.presented a redistricting proposal at the board’s Nov. 8 meeting, with the five districts split nearly evenly at approximately 6,700 residents each. Although the board gave preliminary approval at that meeting, Division 2 Director Kit Kesinger expressed concerns about divisions 3 and 5, both of which contain portions of San Diego Country Estates.
Kesinger referred to the redistricting conducted 10 years ago when he previously served on the water board and said, “One of the goals of that redistricting was to have a single board member represent San Diego Country Estates.”
At the board’s Dec. 27 meeting Kesinger clarified that his intention was not to have one large district for the Country Estates.
“The point is the San Diego Country Estates has their own interests...beyond the interests of the rest of Ramona, and the association that includes population that is approximately equal to one-fifth of the community,” he said. “The San Diego Country Estates Association has a unique financial relationship with this district in the sale of recycled water and so there are considerations that go beyond what someone on Main Street or someone anyplace else in Ramona would have that are very specific to that part...The intent was to give them...to give the Country Estates a representative that is very specific to their interests.
“The intent is that they (districts) would be equally divided or as equally dvided as possible in population but that one representative would be completely within the region of the San Diego Country Estates.”
Two speakers addressed the board, saying they did not see any concerns about interests between residents in the San Vicente and Santa Maria valleys.
Ernest Garrett from the San Diego Country Estates commended the board for choosing the consultant and noted that little changed from the redistricting conducted 10 years ago.
Kesinger asked RMWD General Manager David Barnum if additional redistricting options were given 10 years ago, but Barnum said no data was found to show more options, only discussion.
“One of the issues I have is that we hire consultants who bring back a single option,” Kesinger responded.
He added that the board should be presented with multiple viable options.
“You think consultants are going to do this without charging us?” Division 5 Director Red Hager asked.
“No one has established that this would cost the district more money,”
Because RMWD must hold a public hearing on the redistricting proposal before the map can be approved, Division 4 Director Joe Zenovic asked if additional options could be requested, depending on public input at the hearing. RMWD Legal Counsel Sophie Akins said the board has until May to approve the redistricting map.
The board unanimously passed a motion to direct staff to finalize the map as presented by Shepherd and Staats with no other options developed for the board’s review.
The public hearing for redistricting will be probably be held in late January or early February, Barnum said.
In other business:
•The board approved the 2012 meeting calendar, scheduling only one meeting in November and one in December due to the holidays.
Akins said special meetings can be called, if necessary, during those months.
The board will meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of other months at 4:30 p.m. in Ramona Community Center, 434 Aqua Lane.