The concentration of Asian residents in northern San Diego neighborhoods grew by a greater degree during the last decade than local demographers predicted, adding ammunition to a recent push by the Asian community to create a new City Council district in the area.

Following official population counts from the U.S. Census Bureau, San Diego officials have begun the process of redrawing the city’s political boundaries and adding a ninth council district. Asian advocates want the new district to cover neighborhoods around Mira Mesa with a large Asian population, aiming to gain greater influence in city affairs.

“The bottom line is political empowerment,” Mitz Lee, a Filipina former school board member, said last year after the Asian community started to organize its campaign.

Currently, northern neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of Asian residents are divided among three City Council districts, diluting the community’s political power, advocates say. Sherri Lightner represents University City, Carmel Valley and Rancho Peñasquitos, Carl DeMaio represents Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo, and Marti Emerald represents neighborhoods farther southeast. (High concentrations of Asian residents live near Linda Vista, City Heights and Encanto, too.)

So far, Lee and other advocates with the Asian and Pacific American Coalition have pointed to population estimates from Sandag to bolster their push. Sandag estimated that about 45 percent of Mira Mesa residents last year were Asian and constituted the largest racial or ethnic group in the neighborhood, almost mirroring 2010 Census numbers.

But for neighborhoods surrounding Mira Mesa, Sandag underestimated how much the Asian population had grown in the last decade. In census tracts covering University City, for example, Sandag’s estimate was 13 percentage points below the Census, which counted an Asian population of 31 percent. Similar discrepancies are evident in neighborhoods north and east of Mira Mesa, except Rancho Peñasquitos, where the Census found a smaller concentration of Asian residents than Sandag.

Unlike the official Census results, which are based on a survey of the population last year, Sandag’s estimates come from a formula based on the 2000 Census. The further its estimates are calculated from the first year — now a decade ago — the less reliable the numbers become.

To estimate demographic shifts in neighborhoods like Mira Mesa, Sandag uses public documents like birth and death certificates. Then, using another formula based on housing, it predicts how much racial and ethnic groups have likely grown or declined. The numbers aren’t meant to be exact, and demographers around the region say Sandag’s methods are pretty standard for the industry.

Still, the difference in this case means advocates from the Asian community have more reason to push for the new council district to represent northern neighborhoods, Lee said.

“All of our information, when we drew the map, is all based on Sandag projections,” Lee said. “It’s really good news for the community.”

It’s larger and grew more rapidly in the last decade than previously known.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that City Councilman Carl DeMaio represents Rancho Peñasquitos. In fact, he represents Rancho Bernardo and City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner represents Rancho Peñasquitos.

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter:

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