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A reference map of existing boundaries forms part of the redistricting packet

Berkeley is seeking redistricting plans for the city’s eight council districts. Since 1986, Berkeley redistricting has been constrained to boundaries resembling the 1986 lines. After the passage of Measure R in November, those geographic constraints have been removed.

Redistricting plans must be submitted by March 15. A community meeting and two public hearings will be held in the spring and summer of this year, leading to the City Council considering a redistricting ordinance at its September 10th meeting. If the announced redistricting process calendar is adhered to, the redistricting ordinance will become effective on October 20, 2013, and the new districts will be used in the 2014 election, when seats for districts 1, 4, 7 and 8 will be up for election. 

In the 2010 census, Berkeley’s population increased by nearly 10,000 to 112,580. Redistricting requires that council districts be equal in population, which would mean 14,073 in each district. The current districts range from D5 (Laurie Capitelli’s district) with only 12,709 inhabitants, to D7 (Kriss Worthington’s district) with 16,623 inhabitants.

The other main requirement for redistricting is that no councilmember’s residence can be “drawn out” of his or her district. In the map above, the residence of each councilmember is indicated by a dark dot. Beyond those two criteria (equal population and no redistricting out a sitting member), the language is broad:

Districts must take into consideration topography, geography, cohesiveness,contiguity, integrity and compactness of territory of the districts, as well as existing communities of interest as defined in California Constitution Article XXI, section 2(d)(4), and shall utilize easily understood district boundaries such as major traffic arteries and geographic boundaries to the extent they are consistent with communities of interest.

Much of the debate in the last two years over redistricting focused on the potential for a student-majority district. The 1986 requirements made that a near-impossibility. Areas with high concentrations of students are currently split largely between districts 7 (Worthington) and 4 (Jesse Arreguín). The new requirements, which don’t demand an adherence to the old boundaries, makes a student-majority district more likely.

“I believe we can use the existing district boundaries as a real guideline,” said Councilmember Arreguín. “Communities of interest don’t only include age groups, but could include neighborhoods.”

Arreguín pointed out that many residents have lived in the same district for over 20 years. His district, with a population of 15,605 on the current boundaries, will lose around 1,500 people however the new district is drawn.

“I think it’s great that we’re inviting the public to participate in the process,” Arreguín said. “It’s very important that citizens have a role in this process.”

Redistricting packets are available from the city clerk’s office, either in person or online. The packet includes the necessary data, the requirements, maps and the necessary forms for submission. A community meeting will be held at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, at 6 p.m. on January 24 to explain the process, timeline and requirements for submissions.

City defers redistricting, plans charter amendment [01.18.12]
Cal students file redistricting proposal with the city [09.30.11]

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...