From left to right: Saliyo Usman, Hindia Tahiro, Nur Aden and Karima Tura are advocating for more language access in the redistricting process. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Redistricting is a complex process that involves redrawing city council, state legislative and congressional districts. The jargon and acronyms used can confuse even most political observers, let alone those with language barriers.

Nearly a dozen Somali- and Oromo-speaking residents from San Diego called into a recent state redistricting commission meeting to ask commissioners to ensure that they can still participate, reports Maya Srikrishnan in a new story examining the push to help San Diego’s African communities meaningfully take part in the process. The state commission that oversees redistricting has decided to accommodate the state’s top 12 non-English languages, which doesn’t include Somali or Oromo, and advocates worry they’ll be further shut out of the process this year without translation.

“People can’t show up to the Census office and demand they be seen, but we can show up to redistricting commission meetings and make sure these communities stay together,” said Jeanine Erikat, a community organizer with Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans. “They need to be able to draw their own maps, so they don’t get split. Almost all the Somali community in San Diego at this point are citizens who can vote, but unfortunately a lot of the African communities have been disenfranchised and had their vote diluted.”

For languages that don’t fall into the top 12, the commission said it will still try to provide interpretation, but may end up relying on community-based organizations like PANA for help.

Region Could Lose Thousands of Low-Cost Homes

The San Diego City Council is looking into ways to make housing more affordable in San Diego, but one of the region’s largest philanthropists is on the verge of selling thousands of homes that have no formal price restrictions but are largely affordable because of their age.

KPBS’s Andrew Bowen reported Tuesday that the estate of Conrad Prebys, a deceased real estate professional, is selling its portfolio of nearly 6,000 homes, triggering fears not only that their current residents could be displaced but that a new buyer will look to flip the properties, raising their rental level in the process.

Mayor Todd Gloria, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and state Sen. Toni Atkins wrote a letter requesting the estate select a buyer that will make decisions with affordability and tenant protections in mind.

But an estate spokesperson said the bidding process is now complete, and they’re working to select a winning bidder. He said the proceeds of the sale would benefit the foundation’s philanthropic efforts in the region. The Conrad Prebys Foundation has provided major grants in the past to groups like the San Diego Zoo, KPBS and San Diego State University.

Local Vaccine Roundup

More than 425,000 San Diegans have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. Data from the county shows 507,390 total doses have been administered with nearly 200,000 more shipped to the region.

  • The former Palomar Medical Center in downtown Escondido is now a one-stop shop for coronavirus testing, vaccines and antibody therapy. (Union-Tribune) 
  • KPBS spoke to expecting mothers about getting the vaccine. While doctors and medical experts agree the vaccines are likely safe for pregnant women, some say they’re not ready to get them without more data.
  • The University of San Diego reports about one out of 10 on-campus students has tested positive for COVID-19. A spokeswoman said students returning from break after not following health guidelines could explain the spike. About 500 eligible students, faculty and staff have received the vaccine. (CBS 8)
  • County Supervisor Joel Anderson asked the rest of the county board to support prioritizing local law enforcement for vaccines, but his request was voted down 3-2, with the board’s Democratic majority opposing it. (10 News)

In Other News

  • The city is paying out $2.5 million to settle a case of alleged excessive force and false arrest by a police detective in 2016. According to court documents, security footage showed Gregory McNally was pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground at the Fashion Valley trolley station after someone other than McNally threw an iPhone charging block and it landed near detectives. (Union-Tribune)
  • Robert Brewer, the U.S. attorney for the federal court district that covers San Diego, will step down at the end of the month, his office announced Tuesday. It’s a common practice for U.S. attorneys to resign their posts when a new presidential administration takes office.
  • The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday agreed to distribute $52 million of rental assistance to county residents outside of Chula Vista or the city of San Diego, CBS 8 reported. The state funding combines with nearly $50 million of federal funds the county accepted last month, giving it nearly $100 million to help county residents impacted by the pandemic to make rent.

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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