Redistricting plans focus on student-majority district

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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.

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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.”

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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]

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  • AnthonySanchez

    I really enjoy the Daily Cal’s decision to switch over to a facebook-based comment system. The invective basically disappeared since people had to put a name and face to their comments, and the conversations are now of substance. I use my name because I do strongly believe people shouldn’t hide behind anonymity so they can’t revel in incivility -I don’t have to cower to make my points.

    I do agree, though, that I shouldn’t feed the trolls, but they sometimes make such outrageous claims, it’s not easy. But I agree.

    I’ve noticed lately that you’ve steadily improved your tone, which I applaud. Maybe I should follow suit by ignoring the trolls.

  • The_Sharkey

    As a 17-year Council veteran, Kriss isn’t an enemy of “the establishment,” he is the establishment.

  • We’ve made a conscious decision not to use Facebook for comments for a number of reasons. First, we think the world can do without yet another embrace by such a dominant Internet company. Second, even though there are 1 billion supposed members of Facebook, we believe that commenters on Berkeleyside should not be required to have a Facebook account. We’re confident that there are Berkeleyside readers who don’t have a Facebook account. Third, although pseudonymous commenters sometimes cause us problems, it does provide an avenue for some people to comment who feel unable to use their real name, whether it’s because of their employment or personal relationships.

    It’s something we’re constantly evaluating. But I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever succumb to Facebook on this issue. We’re happy, however, for people to interact with Berkeleyside on our Facebook page.

  • AnthonySanchez

    The Establishment typically means those who wield the power. Given that nearly universal definition, Kriss is in the minority, and certainly not of the Establishment. The notion that Kriss controls the major donors and endorsements that determine seats, such as the Assembly, is…well, false. Anyone wanting anything has to go through the Tom & Loni duo, and, to an extent, Nancy Skinner (she replaces Tom & Loni once they retire) -the Establishment.

    I think I know what you mean by what you’re wanting to refer to Kriss as, but it isn’t the establishment.

  • The_Sharkey

    The toxic environment that developed in the Daily Cal’s comment section occurred because there was literally no moderation of comments at all. If they had bothered to moderate the discussions and delete comments that crossed the line things never would have gotten as bad as they did. The use of Facebook-based systems has lead to a dramatic decrease in the volume of comments and the diversity of opinion expressed in them. I can’t say I’m a big fan of it. The free discussion of ideas is something that I think has value, and without allowing anonymous/pseudonymous commenting many people who work in the public sphere (teachers and educators in particular) can find the comments they make as private citizens coming back to bite them on the butt in their professional capacity no matter how unbiased and neutral they might be in the classroom.

    I totally get where you’re coming from RE: trolls. I hope it was clear that I was just giving you some good-natured ribbing and not trying to give actual criticism.

  • guest

    Anthony, you’re funny.

    I’ve noticed lately that [you, Sharkey, have] steadily improved your tone

    Improved in what sense? He now uses bigger words in his personal attacks? In effect he polices against civil discussion that strays outside of a narrow, reactionary, ideological confine.

    For example, you rightly pointed out:

    If we’ve forgotten, the original story was about redistricting, and my comment was specifically about the balance of incumbency protection and political engineering.

    Compare and contrast that with his contribution in response to your simple assertion that you stand by your words:

    I think [you using your real name] has more to do with your youthful naivite, occasionally manic personality, and inability to control yourself than you standing by your words.

    Which is nothing more than a gratuitous personal attack made in a condescending, slightly tony voice.

    Your principle sins here, Anthony, are that you’ve defended Kriss against the most outrageous slander, and that you work for Jesse. Consequently you are topic and target for the anonymous clique that dominates the comments.

    They’ll be happy either to discourage you from posting by exhausting your patience or else to dilute any informative contribution you make with piles of steaming rubbish like:

    You could make the same points in a much more measured and politic way but sometimes can’t seem to help yourself from the goading and responding to trolls.

    Do you believe for one second, Anthony, that when you draw trollish responses like Sharkey’s it is because of the way you said something? Or is it because you are on the “wrong side” of certain issues?

    You have no partners in civil discussion, with these folks, no matter what they claim to the contrary. It’s their playground.

  • AnthonySanchez

    It’s certainly a balance, but where anonymity does enable to speak when they otherwise wouldn’t, it inevitably enables a level of incivility as well. The very nature of tying words to an identity automatically (in nearly all cases, but not all) provides a level of moderation in terms of tone, assertions, etc.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I totally got that and I enjoyed it -that’s why I mentioned you’re actually more friendly towards me, while still holding my feet to the fire.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Eh, I’ll take Sharkey for who he/she is. Sharkey is naturally snarky, but largely contributes to the discussion, as opposed to a completely anonymous “guest,” who only exists to attack and dubiously derail an argument.

    Compared to before, I like Sharkey. Sharkey will never be a fan of me and my positions, but I do think Sharkey doesn’t wholesale dismiss what I say.

  • Chris

    Yes David – West of San Pablo is where West Berkeley starts in my book.

  • guest

    Sharkey is naturally snarky, but largely contributes to the discussion, as opposed to a completely anonymous “guest,”

    Why do you assume that these are separate or unrelated people?

  • AnthonySanchez

    Not impossible, I’ll cede that, but highly, highly unlikely on the grounds that Sharkey already is an anonymous name, and if Sharkey wanted to destroy my positions, he/she would have no need not to do it under the Sharkey moniker. Sharkey signing in as guest is too much trouble for practically no value.

  • EBGuy

    I have to admit I’m somewhat disappointed that no one tried to make two renter majority districts (I like that term for the community of interest as it is more inclusive than the student majority). The second renter majority district could have added the campus to D4 and annexed the Northside rental area.

  • guest

    if Sharkey wanted to destroy my positions,

    Destroy? No need. Just bury them in noise.

    Sharkey signing in as guest is too much trouble for practically no value.

    The anonymous bloc that we’re talking about has dropped into their comments little references to “4chan” slang (bully trolling culture) and the like. (References that are likely to and probably are meant to go over the heads of the Berkeleyside moderators.) They’re having fun; it’s no trouble for them.

  • The_Sharkey

    Hey Tom. How’s it hanging?

    My comment to Anthony was about the sum total of his comments (on this article and others), not a reply to one specific post in this thread. Try reading the discussion as a whole rather than ignoring the larger context to focus on a specific two-post interaction.

  • The_Sharkey

    In that context I have to agree with you, but Kriss has been part of the political machine in Berkeley for coming on two decades now which makes it hard for me to see him as a real outsider. Established but not part of The Establishment is the best way to put it I guess.

  • Matthew_H

    Very much agree. The problem with using San Pablo as the boundary between districts is that San Pablo represents a kind of center of gravity for the neighborhoods east and west of it. We live just east of San Pablo and our daily lives are far more intertwined with west Berkeley than with anything to the east. I suppose you run into this problem at all proposed district boundaries, but in this particular case, including at least a few of the blocks east of San Pablo in a west Berkeley district would make more sense to me…

  • The_Sharkey

    In my opinion the differences north and south of University aren’t as big as the differences east and west of San Pablo.

  • Biker 94703

    The Gerrymander is alive and well!

  • FiatSlug

    It should NEVER be a concern to protect council incumbency.

    That the City Council members have the unmitigated gall to declare it a requirement shows their arrogance.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Actually, we have district elections because of a citizen’s initiative that was directed against Berkeley’s established political power of the time, the BCA.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Not Tom’s writing style at all.