EL CAJON, Calif. – El Cajon City Council on Tuesday night gave the unanimous green light to its new district map, leaving some members of the local Arab-American community upset with the process.
“The current map is still a great choice for keeping communities of interest together in District 4 and District 2 and District 3 and District 1 when you consider also things like schools neighborhood age, geography, ethnicity,” Councilmember Steve Goble said.
But some Arab-American community members feel the map doesn’t represent them well due to changes in the community.
“We are a huge population of the city,” said Yasmeen Obeid with the Arab Community Center of San Diego. “However, most of the newer immigrant and refugee communities have moved to El Cajon in the past 10 years, which means they were not covered in the 2010 census data and were not included in the current map
“This is why it’s very urgent for us because our communities are not reflected in the current map.”
Members of the Arab Community Center of San Diego produced another map for consideration, but it did not receive a vote by the body. They argue El Cajon City Council violated the Fair Maps Act by ignoring community input during the redistricting process.
“Despite our months and months of engagement and presenting maps, we feel that we have not been heard or included in the process,” Ramah Awad said.
However, the city argues the map created by the Community Center was not compact enough. Leaders also pushed back on the community input critique, arguing the city actually exceeded its obligation for public outreach in holding four hearings on the issue.
“We’ve been through multiple meetings, everybody had their chance to speak up,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said. “The truth is the argument has not been compelling.”
The second reading for full approval is on Feb. 22.