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By Breeana Greenberg

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) selected a new congressional map for the next decade that will largely keep the state’s 49th Congressional District the same.

Laguna Niguel, which was previously in the 48th District, was added to the 49th, while Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch were moved from District 49 to the 50th District. The Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano, and to the north of the park were removed from the 49th and added to the 40th District.

Following the 2020 Census, the CCRC used new data to redraw the congressional map so that the districts reflect the current population. California lost a seat in the House of Representatives after the latest census. Voters will elect candidates for office using the new district boundaries in the upcoming Primary Election next June. 

The CCRC was created in 2008 with the passage of the Voters First Act. The commission comprises five Republicans, five Democrats, and four non-party members.

“The Commission must draw the district lines in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Californians,” the CCRC explains on its website.

The newly drawn 49th District will now represent 760,066 people.

“We have reached the finish line for the people’s redistricting process in California,” stated Commission Chair Alicia Fernandez in a press release. “When voters approved the Voters First Act, it created a monumental shift in this decennial process.”

“As Californians, my colleagues on this Commission and I answered the call to serve for this great state we honor and love,” Fernandez continued. “We conclude our map drawing responsibilities with pride in our final product. We started this process leaving politics out of the equation in hopes of achieving fairer and more equitable maps. I think I speak for my colleagues when I say, mission accomplished.”

Charles Smith, a professor of Political Science and Law at the University of California, Irvine, explained that the new maps reflect California’s population growth in minority communities over the past 10 years.

“About a third of the new districts are now majority Hispanic or Latino, and that matters because much of the population growth over the last 10 years in California has been in Latino communities,” Smith said. “So, the notion that we are keeping pace from a representation standpoint with the population, that’s kind of a really important thing and a positive thing for democracy.”

In response to the newly drawn congressional districts, Democratic Party of Orange County Chairwoman Ada Briceño stated in a press release that “Democrats can remain confident that this county will be represented by a Democratic delegation at the federal level again soon.”

“We are encouraged and determined to keep moving Orange County forward,” Briceño said in the release. “We have been working with our bench of candidates at all levels of the ballot, we have been engaging volunteers in a year-round canvassing program, and we are opening a new, larger headquarters to expand our operations.”

The Republican Party of Orange County had not responded to multiple requests for comment as of press time.

Smith said that the redistricting might make for an interesting 2022 election, namely for Reps. Katie Porter of the 45th District and Michelle Steel, of the 48th District.

“Katie Porter is moving, and she’s going to run in the coastal district that Steel was in,” Smith said. “And one of the questions is, will Harley Rouda try to challenge Katie Porter in the Primary—I think that’s unlikely—or will he run against Steel in the 45th?”

Congressman Mike Levin of the 49th, a Democrat who represents much of South Orange County and North San Diego, tweeted in support of the new congressional map on Dec. 22.

“The new #CA49 closely mirrors our current district, with the core of our North County San Diego and South Orange County communities intact,” he wrote. “We’re thrilled to run for re-election in this fantastic community.”

Smith also said that the redistricting won’t likely impact Levin’s campaign for 2022.

“For Levin’s district, I think he’s looking pretty good,” Smith said. “I don’t think it’s going to have a substantial impact on him or the way he runs his race. I think that he should be a favorite for reelection, and there shouldn’t be any real drama about what’s going on there.”

The campaign office for Brian Maryott, a former San Juan Capistrano councilmember and congressional hopeful who was defeated by Levin in 2020, had not responded to multiple requests for comment as of press time.

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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