Berkeley council may consider 2 campus district maps

Councilman Kriss Worthington’s office created an alternate vision of a student district that adds Foothill, Bowles, Stern, I-House and 11 co-ops.

Councilman Kriss Worthington’s office created an alternate vision of a student district that adds Foothill, Bowles, Stern, I-House and 11 co-ops.

Following pleas to give students more time to get involved with Berkeley’s redistricting process, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to delay its decision on proposed changes to the city’s council districts that are required to balance the population among them.

The council voted in July to select a preferred redistricting map, the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) map, which creates a “campus district” made up largely of student-aged residents who live near UC Berkeley but is otherwise not a radical departure from many of the city’s existing council districts.

In June, Councilman Kriss Worthington‘s office created an alternative map — the United Student District Amendment (USDA) map — which includes 11 co-ops, three dorms and International House that aren’t part of the BSDC map. The USDA map would boost the population of student-aged residents from 86 (BSDC) to 90%. (Worthington said Thursday that currently his district is composed of about 70% student-aged residents.)

Some council members said Tuesday night that the increase, from 86 to 90%, is not worth the impacts to other districts, namely those of Susan Wengraf, District 6, and Gordon Wozniak, District 8. They said a number of neighborhood groups and other communities of interest would be divided by the proposed USDA map. (See the current map of council districts here.)

Currently, this Berkeley Student District Campaign map, authored by Eric Panzer, is the council's choice going forward.

This Berkeley Student District Campaign map, authored by Eric Panzer, was selected by the council as its preference in July.

Mayor Tom Bates made a motion to ask the city manager to review the USDA map to ensure it complies with state and local rules, and to have the city’s agenda committee schedule a session to present both map alternatives at some point in the fall. His motion passed 8-1, with Wengraf the only “no” vote.

Wengraf, in her comments, described the USDA map as “a pretty radical change” for her district, noting that her area has never extended south to Cedar at Shattuck. She also noted that there’s “a whole area of southside south of Dwight” proposed to be removed from the campus district.

“You’re sacrificing one group of students for another group of students; what’s the net gain?” she asked. “I’m not very happy about this.”

Worthington said Thursday that a driving factor behind his office’s June (USDA) proposal is a desire to ensure that the co-ops stay in the student district, as many co-op residents fought hard to be included 13 years ago, and want to remain in the district to ensure their voices can be heard.

“They’re already in the student district, why kick them out?” he said. “They were some of the activists pushing to get a student district. The co-opers are probably more emotional than anybody else.”

One student who spoke Tuesday night before the council also noted that the co-ops bring an important measure of economic and ethnic diversity to the student body and, particularly for that reason, should be included in any campus district.

Numerous student speakers asked the Berkeley City Council to give them more time to consider the two maps and potentially see if a new compromise between the two could be designed. The East Bay Young Democrats, the Cal Berkeley Democrats and the Daily Cal have come out in support of the USDA map. Wednesday night, the ASUC considered a proposal to support the USDA map, but the motion ultimately failed. Safeena Mecklai, external affairs vice president for the ASUC, said the next time the group might consider the maps is when they come back before the Berkeley City Council.

Councilman Laurie Capitelli said Tuesday night that he was uncomfortable considering a map submitted so late in the game, adding: “This process is pretty screwed up.” He said the second map had come “very late to the table” and that he himself would have submitted a map had he known the city wouldn’t stick to its deadlines.

But other council members said there’s a precedent for making late-stage changes to redistricting maps; Arreguín and Worthington said it happened during the last redistricting process.

Ten years ago, said Worthington, four council members sat down together late in the process to try to reach a compromise about redistricting. He suggested a similar approach among council members this time around, adding “I don’t think either version that’s before us is ideal.”

But his idea didn’t gain traction with the rest of the council.

“I’m thinking this is what we’ve got,” said Bates.

Related:
Redistricting meeting sheds light on past process (08.09.13)
Berkeley Council denies last-minute redistricting proposal (07.08.13)
Berkeley council to consider two city redistricting maps (05.08.13)
Redistricting plans focus on student-majority district (04.26.13)
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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  • EBGuy

    Great, we are wasting staff resources on a redistricting map submitted past the deadline. Does this mean I can submit my plan for two “student majority districts”? And while I’m ranting, one only has to glance at the crime blotter maps to know that southside students and northside students are two different communities of interest. VOTE NOW PLEASE.

  • Guest

    The push to create a student district started in 2011. They’ve had two years. How much more time do they need?

  • Biker 94703

    WHO KNOWS WHAT LURKS IN THE HEART OF COUNCILMEMBERS???

    THE GERRYMANDER KNOWS!!!

  • AnthonySanchez

    Responses to Arguments Against the USDA Amendment

    Argument: It’s too late in
    the process to submit a new map now.

    Response: The USDA proposal is an enhancement to the Berkeley Student District (BSDC) plan on which the City Council has focused its consideration. It builds on the work of the BSDC Plan
    with some enhancements that further the goal of uniting the community of interest around the UC Berkeley campus into one district – which further enhances its voice in electing a representative and making sure that its distinct needs and concerns are heard.

    Additionally, the deadline established in the City Charter for adopting new City Council
    district boundaries is December 31st, 2013. Adopting the first reading of a final map on November 12th, 2013 would be effectively no different than adopting the first reading of a final map on September 10th, 2013, since allowing for more discussion and consideration of the USDA proposal would still meet the statutory deadline.

    Argument: The USDA group should have joined the process earlier.

    Response: It is paramount to any public policy process to consider new information that is materially relevant and furthers the intent of that policy. The feasibility of a more complete student district that included North side Cooperative Housing and Dormitories, and that does not considerably impact existing districts was not known prior to the introduction of the USDA map. That being said, the USDA amendment is now before the City Council, so the question becomes: Should we modify the BSDC map to further unite the campus population, our publicly stated goal?

    Argument: The USDA amendment violates the process that Berkeley voters democratically approved when they passed Measure R. By submitting the amendment now, the USDA campaign breaks from the process established by Measure R.

    Response: Measure R only updated the Charter to remove fixed district boundaries to provide the Council the flexibility to draw new lines reflecting changes in population. It instead used criteria to guide the process, but it did not establish a specific process for the city to follow.

    To the extent that voters have addressed process, they approved Measure II in 2008
    to extend the redistricting deadline to the end of the third year after the
    decennial census. City Council ultimately prescribes the process for
    redistricting.

    Argument: Consideration of the USDA proposal is disrespectful, if not unfair, to all the other proposals that underwent a public process.

    Response: The USDA plan is substantively similar to the BSDC proposal and, as such, is more of an enhancement than an entirely new proposal that has not undergone public scrutiny. If one accepts that an amendment to a redistricting proposal is disrespectful to the process, then one must equally accept that ANY Council alteration of a proposal is also disrespectful.

    Argument: There is no procedural precedent for how to even consider the amendment, so it is unclear whether the amendment is legal or legitimate.

    Response: It is the unequivocal prerogative of the City Council to alter its preferred
    redistricting proposal to consider new information or for any other reasons it
    deems appropriate prior to final adoption, as it has done in past processes
    (e.g. 2000 Redistricting). Ultimately, the boundaries are not final until Council
    adoption; they are still subject to change.

    Argument: We cannot consider the USDA amendment as it has not been properly analyzed by staff for compliance.

    Response: Council does not have to adopt the first reading of a redistricting ordinance until November 12th, which provides ample time for staff analysis. This item requests that the
    City Council direct staff to analyze the USDA proposal for compliance with state law and the City Charter and bring back the analysis to Council along with a redistricting ordinance so that we can
    have all the information we need to make an informed decision and ultimately decide between the USDA or BSDC map.

    Argument: The student district’s future would be threatened if we introduce the amendment because not only could the City Council push for a referendum, but other neighborhood
    groups and disgruntled homeowners would push for a referendum.

    Response: There is no basis for this claim. A referendum would be just as likely, or arguably more, if the amendment is not considered.

    Argument: Consideration of the USDA amendment will come at the expense of the BDSC proposal.

    Response: Consideration of both proposals is not mutually exclusive, and the consideration of the USDA amendment only ensures that Council is fully presented with the best options for a “Campus District.” USDA is an enhancement of the BSDC plan and builds upon the work done to further the goal of drawing District 7 as a campus district.

    To foreclose on consideration of the USDA amendment would be to foreclose on earnestly evaluating which proposal better accomplishes the publicly stated goal of a “Campus District.”

    Conclusion: Given that the publicly stated goal of the BSDC and City Council is to create the best
    possible “Campus District,” and given that the USDA amendment better accomplishes this goal based on objective criteria, it is incumbent that the City Council, at a minimum, direct staff to analyze the USDA plan for state law and Charter compliance and bring back to the Council both the USDA and BSDC plan so that Council can make a final informed decision between both plans
    based on merit.

  • guest

    On the topic of crime: For one thing some of the students added in by the USDA map are not on the northside. Others, of course, just barely are on the northside. Even those students on the north, though, have a personal stake in the often student-targeted crime that is concentrated most heavily just to the south. The students in the coops on the north do actually venture onto and around campus.

  • Guest

    The arguments against the map should be visibly evident to anyone looking at it. The new proposed boundaries for the Worthington district are absurd, with a ridiculously narrow tendril-like appendage snaking off the bottom of it to encircle his house.

  • emraguso

    For those who are interested — I just got a much clearer version of the USDA map and uploaded it to the story. It makes it a lot easier to see what the proposed lines are.

  • Actual reality

    No rule has been broken. That’s a myth. To this day council is fully free to pass either map or even some third map.

  • AnthonySanchez

    You created an argument that no one has made and that is not applicable given that there is no rule against Council making modifications to proposals.

  • FiatSlug

    The bottom line is that the USDA map was hatched way past the established deadline for submitting maps by both council members and private citizens (March 15, 2013). The very fact that the USDA map is being introduced as an enhancement of a map submitted under the established rules (the BSDC map) means that there are two sets of rules: one for councilmembers and one for everyone else.

    This is duplicitous and an attempt at political self-aggrandizement by Councilmember Worthington. Any councilmember who supports the introduction of this map at this late date should explain why there are two sets of rules: one for councilmembers and one for private citizens.

    (This comment has been moderated. -Eds)

  • AnthonySanchez

    Both maps, and all maps, must include Kriss’ residence. It is Kriss’ location of residence that is causing any “absurd” boundaries, and not necessarily those communities of interests that are attempted to be included.

    Both maps do this, so I am not sure to which absurdity you are referring to that is unique only to USDA. If you referring to the large block to the top left of District 7, that is a meaningless large expanse as it contains the LAB and other UC property where literally only a few handful of people reside. It was included to literally be a “Campus District.”

  • Hildah

    What percentage of the student body actually votes in local politics?

  • AnthonySanchez

    See Above, specifically:

    Argument: The USDA group should have joined the process earlier.

    Response: It is paramount to any public policy process to consider new information that is materially relevant and furthers the intent of that policy. The feasibility of a more complete student district that included North side Cooperative Housing and Dormitories, and that does not considerably impact existing districts was not known prior to the introduction of the USDA map. That being said, the USDA amendment is now before the City Council, so the question becomes: Should we modify the BSDC map to further unite the campus population, our publicly stated goal?

    Argument: There is no procedural precedent for how to even consider the amendment, so it is unclear whether the amendment is legal or legitimate.

    Response: It is the unequivocal prerogative of the City Council to alter its preferred
    redistricting proposal to consider new information or for any other reasons it
    deems appropriate prior to final adoption, as it has done in past processes
    (e.g. 2000 Redistricting). Ultimately, the boundaries are not final until Council
    adoption; they are still subject to change.

  • Reality Check

    Redistricting proposals were due on March 15, 2013.
    It is September, 2013, and Kriss is trying to get a new proposal through.
    They voted against one that was submitted in July because it was past the deadline, so why would they allow this one through?

    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/07/08/berkeley-council-denies-last-minute-redistricting-proposal/

  • Guest

    I am referring to bizarre strip between Telegraph & Regent that splits the community with a peninsula.

  • emraguso

    I asked Councilman Worthington about this and he cited two reasons.
    He said, first, in this case, “the item officially appeared on the agenda weeks in advance so there was no question at all that it was allowed to be considered.
    Second, he cited “the immense breadth and depth of support that it has built” from the various students groups and others who have signed on to endorse it since then.

  • Reality Check

    Is his first point accurate? I have seen no reportage saying that he got his proposal submitted by the deadline and am loathe to take his word on the issue.

    The second is a classic logical fallacy that has no place in educated public discourse.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

  • AnthonySanchez

    You’re referring to a non-binding process. No rule broken, and Council has always reserved the right to modify any plan, as they have done in the past (including 2001). To claim it cannot be considered is to cop out of having to vote against, which is why you see no credible arguments being put forward and the frustration of Councilmembers having to be put in the spot of voting against something they claim to be their goal. Begs the question: why are certain Councilmembers so set on the BSDC? The USDA proves that it certainly isn’t about the best Campus map.

  • AnthonySanchez

    BSDC does that, too, but with a bit more meat around that “peninsula.” Both proposals have an extension along telegraph to capture Kriss’ residence and I am failing to understand that effective differnence other than one peninsula has a bit more girth than the other. Both are reflect a requirement to include residence.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I am for that, but not if Council gets to decide the districts. If that were the case, a Council majority to simply draw out those they do not like; if someone is to be kicked out of office, it should be by the voters, not a clique on Council.

    If we are to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians (which I strongly support), I would be more than ok with taking out incumbency, but when our office tried to work out Measure R with other Councilmembers, there was no willingness by anyone to cede that control. Hence, the necessity of incumbency protection absent independent redistricting.

  • Guest

    If you can’t see a difference between a district boundary that has a finger that’s half a block wide slicing through a neighborhood and one that at least makes some small attempt at capturing more of the area you’re blind.

  • Guest

    Agreed. All the proposed new districts are awful and cut up areas of interest, dividing some neighborhoods while lumping other dissimilar neighborhoods together.

  • Guest

    No one else’s proposals would have been accepted this late in the process. It is unfair for Worthington’s proposal to get special treatment just because he sits on the Council.

  • AnthonySanchez

    My vision is fine. I happen to recognize that logical boundaries that encapsulate communities of interest are by necessity strained by the location of Kriss’ residence, and both maps do the same thing. However, the BSDC simply adds a few buffer blocks so it looks logical, but it does not make it so.

    The same thing happens in District 4 where a small island must be drawn to include the residence of Jesse. I don’t hear complaints about that or a call to add more blocks to obscure the fact that Jesse’s residence dictates an elongation of district simply to capture him, whereas if he lived somewhere else, the boundaries could be compact and logical.

    I see both cases as similar and necessary, and one cannot make a stink about one and not the other without admitting to inconsistency and the possibility that their sentiments about Kriss are dictating their criticisms.

  • like it is

    Guest, I’m sure the council majority agrees:

    They are looking forward to giving the people of Berkeley a big, fat finger.

  • Shannon A.

    I’m all for a plan that moves most of LeConte out of Worthington’s student district!

  • Tizzielish

    I’ve made this comment, more or less, a few times now, varying it each time. Imagine if the City Council were basing voting districts on wealth — guaranteeing a district that would elect folks with a certain level of high income, and creating a district guaranteeing a majority of seniors, a district maximize the Latino vote, etc.

    It is biased/bigoted to stack the deck in favor of students. Jesse Arrequin got elected to our city council at age 24 — that sure suggests to me that students can get involved in Berkeley politics and get elected. Jesse may have technically graduated but he got elected the first time at age 24 because he had been very active in Berkeley politics for years. Jesse is my rep and I am proud that I can say that. I eagerly look forward to future students with an interest in politics contributing to Berkeley boards, task forces, planning committees – as Jesse did and as virtually any politician does to rise in the world of politics.

    I object to stacking the deck in favor of any one group. Nothing is stopping students — Worthington says 70% of his district is students. If students in that district were motivated to have a student on the council, they already have the percentage they need.

    If any student interested in Berkeley politics actually gets involved, stacking voting districts in student favor is an unfair, and I would say, unconstitutional advantage.

    I know, I know, voting district gerrymandering is as old as the country. Look at how the Repugnuts have gerrymandering congressional districts to keep loonie tunes-but-republican-loons in office.

    Wrong is wrong. It is wrong to deliberately construct voting districts specifically to enable student politicians. Let student politicians participate in politics and they will rise if they have the talent and desire to do so . . like Jesse Arrequin did.

    Jesse was involved in lots of cool city things before he ran for office. He earned it, he didn’t need a guaranteed district to win.

  • Tizzielish

    I think all voting districts, local, state, federal, should be determined by computers. I know using compouters is rife for manipulation but we could use security measures to prevent stacking the deck. Creating voting districts based on number of residents, period. type of housing, income, activity (such as student), families — irrelevant. All registered votered should be treated equally and voting districts created based solely on balancing the numbers city wide.

    And guarantee the currennt council member can’t have his or her district changed away from his/her home is baloney. Many cities ignore such considerations — and they thrive. It’s healthy, actually, to not set up council members guaranteed incumbency for life, the way it seems to work in berkeley. Changing the council is healthy. Allowing the council to set the districts has many built in biases and unfair advantage.

    Why is Worthington weighing in on the plan? No city council member should vote on it. Let a computer do it.

  • EBGuy

    But you vote is worth more in a student district…

  • guest

    Explain why there are two sets of rules: one for councilmembers and one for private citizens.

  • John Panzer

    Because The Berkeley City Council is above the law, as they demonstrate with their behavior. Don’t be fooled – The Berkeley City Council won’t make the mistake with Berkeley students San Francisco made converting to district representation that allowed Harvey Milk to be elected by the citizens of the Castro – homo’s like me!

    Anthony Sanchez’s assertion that redistricting must include the sitting Council members home….to students at University of California – at Berkeley, where we employ a socratic method of reasoning and apply it to our Democracy is so absurd, I’m surprised he’s not embarrassed to attempt it.

    Kids – you stick together in your contiguous unbroken student district where you are naturally gathered together in great numbers on the South side. That is your homeland, take it. Don’t let them divide you like palestinians around gaza, isolated from each other. As a gay man, I am not born into my tribe, no gay people are. We have to leave our homes and families to find our tribe – where we aren’t beaten and hated for being different, where we can gather together in safety that comes from numbers. The castro is still the gathering place from which our power comes. Harvey Milk said, “I don’t need politicians, I don’t want politicians, give me a hundred fighters in the street.”

    You too, as students, leave your families and towns and gather together here and while I am a student at Berkeley like you are, I live here. I’m not leaving in 4 years and my concern is the same as many residents in Berkeley. I don’t want kids playing political science special projects, 4 units pass/no pass, with a seat on the City Council and watch you pass a $50,000,000 municipal bond measure to provide free beer for district 7. Not going to happen. A few of you, and usually women not guys, were tough enough, committed enough to stand in the front line and take the Billy Club of change during the occupy movement. You I have respect for, the rest of you like political grandstanding and want to be famous, fuck off.

    The District has to include the sitting council member’s house….they actually said that? aloud? was it a reporter from the onion? This isn’t a feudal society, Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Worthington’s house nor City Hall is Versailles. Students – as Billy Crystal says in the Princess Bride, “Have fun storming the castle.” It would be over in about 7 seconds and you would have district 7. So then what?

    This isn’t the gaza strip, and kids there want to go to school so desperately they risk getting shot at and go anyway. So tell me students, share with us we citizens of Berkeley: Why? What do you feel you need or want that you’re not getting or can’t have, that representation as your own district with a vote on the City Council would bring you? You can’t just not show up when you have exams or get a job at Google. Love you guys, I support you, I’m one of you, but I’m not ready to share responsibility with you for my town, when you can’t get up for an 8 o’clock class. So hit me up, if interested.