Redistricting plans focus on student-majority district

Caption goes here
Berkeley’s existing eight council districts, with incumbent councilmember homes indicated by a dark red dot.

A student-majority district in Berkeley moved a step closer with the release of redistricting plans on Thursday. Six individuals and community groups submitted redistricting plans, with most of them concentrating on creating a student-majority district 7, which currently is represented by Kriss Worthington.

Berkeley’s redistricting is spurred by the 2010 census, which showed a population increase of nearly 10,000 to 112,580. Population changes and demographic shifts had made the existing council districts highly unequal in population, from D5 (Laurie Capitelli’s district) with 12,709 to D7 with 16,623. The other vital wrinkle in the current redistricting was the passage of Measure R last November, which removes the severe geographic constraints mandated in Berkeley since 1986. 

As a result of Measure R, redistricting plans had to meet four simple criteria: new boundaries could not result in having two sitting councilmembers in the same district, populations of districts needed to be nearly equal, boundaries needed to be easily understood, and boundaries needed to take into account cohesiveness, contiguity, compactness and communities of interest.

Seven submissions were received, six of which were compliant with the requirements. The City Council will hold two public hearings on the redistricting plans, on May 7 and July 2, and the schedule calls for the new districts to be approved by the council in September and become effective in October.

Map from BSDC
Berkeley Student District Campaign’s redistricting map

The highest profile of the submissions is from the Berkeley Student District Campaign, run from the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). ASUC leaders have been campaigning for a number of years for a student-majority district, and the BSDC map focuses on concentrating university students in a newly drawn District 7. The contorsions to keep Worthington in D7 and Jesse Arreguín in D4 can be seen by the added doglegs in each of those proposed districts.

Caption here
Berkeley Neighborhoods Council redistricting map

The plans from the Berkeley Neighborhoods Council — submitted by Jacquelyn McCormick, Dean Metzger and Shirley Dean (the materials cite “over 30” people and neighborhood groups as having participated in the formulation) — also concentrates students in D7. But it marks a major change as well by expanding D1 (Linda Maio’s district) across all of West Berkeley, moving D2 (Darryl Moore) into a slice of South and Central Berkeley, pinned between the west, Downtown and D3 (Max Anderson). The submission cites as a driving principle to “keep neighborhoods together.”

caption here
Alejandro Soto-Vigil’s “jurisdictional plan” for redistricting

The submission that sticks most closely to the current boundaries is from Alejandro Soto-Vigil, which he calls the “jurisdictional plan.” Soto-Vigil is an aide to Worthington. Although students are still strong in numbers in the proposed D7 in Soto-Vigil’s plan, it extends the district further into the hills than, for example, the BSDC map, and further south than the Neighborhoods Council map.

Kristin Hunziker

Kristin Hunziker’s proposal is described as the “most student-friendly map possible under the Charter’s current guidelines.” Hunziker is an aide to Councilmember Gordon Wozniak. She calculates that 90% of her D7 would be students. According to her submission, she chose to downplay the requirement for easily understood boundaries in order to focus on the student community of interest.

Eric Panzer’s “simplicity plan” for redistricting

Eric Panzer submitted two plans, but one of them was non-compliant (both Worthington and Gordon Wozniak resided in D8 in the non-compliant plan). He said the non-compliant plan was intended to show what is possible without the unusual restriction on incumbents. “It’s possible to create simpler districts that promote better cohesion of neighborhoods,” he said. The compliant plan by Panzer, dubbed “simplicity,” has slightly modified boundaries compared to the BSDC plan, which Panzer supports.

Alfred Twu’s redistricting map

Alfred Twu’s redistricting proposal features very simple boundaries and, like the Neighborhoods Council map, extends D1 across West Berkeley. Twu’s submission, however, has the greatest variance of population among the districts, with D7 nearly 30% above the mean and D8 almost as much below the mean.

It its analysis of the submissions, city staff compared the total perimeters of the boundaries as an indication of the simplicity of the plans. The numbers were not wildly different, ranging from a high of 55.91 miles in the Neighborhoods Council plan to a low of 51.68 miles in Panzer’s Simplicity plan.

Berkeley could face most dramatic redistricting in 27 years [01.11.13]
City defers redistricting, plans charter amendment [01.18.12]
Cal students file redistricting proposal with the city [09.30.11]

Would you like a digest of the day’s Berkeley news in your inbox at the end of your day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.