The Berkeley Independent Redistricting Commission is accepting its first-ever round of applications starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, for a group of residents to lead the mapmaking process for council districts beginning next January.

Berkeley currently has eight City Council members, voted into office by residents from their respective neighborhoods, and a mayor who is elected “at-large” by the entire city. The City Council used to redraw the boundaries of each district after the census every 10 years based on community-generated maps, but — after much contentious debate and a lawsuit over a council-approved map — voters approved Measure W1 in 2016 to shift the responsibility to a citizens’ commission.

Most residents 18 years or older can apply, and the City Clerk will randomly select eight commissioners and eight alternates from each council district by January 2021. This group will then select five “at-large” members for a total of 13 commissioners.

The following groups are not eligible for the commission:

  • City of Berkeley employees
  • Qualified candidates for Berkeley mayor or council member (within 2 years of application)
  • Current and former elected Berkeley office holders (within two years of application)
  • Paid staff or unpaid interns to the mayor or council members (within two years of application)
  • Family members of the mayor or council member or their staff
  • Officers, paid staff, or paid consultants for campaign committees for Berkeley mayor or council member (within 2 years)
  • Contractors or subcontractors of the city of Berkeley

The commission will have to follow several criteria for its map after reviewing data from this year’s census, which should be released by the federal government in March 2021, but may be delayed because of COVID-19.

The map will receive final approval from the City Council before the election Nov. 8, 2022. Read more about redistricting in past Berkeleyside coverage.

Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...