Berkeley redistricting referendum effort prevails

Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

An effort underway over the past month to force the Berkeley City Council to revoke a recently adopted redistricting map, or put the council district issue before the voters later this year, has officially collected enough signatures for the referendum to proceed, city staff said Monday evening.

The Berkeley Referendum Coalition turned in 7,867 signatures, which were filed with the Berkeley city clerk Jan. 21.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters examined a random sampling of 429 of those signatures, and found that the group would have more than enough valid names on the list, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. To force a referendum, 5,275 of the signatures needed to be valid.

The successful signature drive means the redistricting ordinance adopted in December is now suspended. Council will consider whether to take back its vote and reconsider the topic, or put the issue before the voters. 


Chakko said it was unknown as of Monday night when the issue might come before the Berkeley City Council.

The referendum coalition hired Bay Area Petitions of Santa Cruz to organize paid signature gatherers for the referendum, according to a financial disclosure report filed Jan. 29, after the council adopted a new redistricting map in December.

That map included a student-majority district centered around Telegraph Avenue, and was known as the Berkeley Student District Campaign map. It concentrated District 7 on the south side of campus and had first been submitted to the city in April.

But Councilman Kriss Worthington, who represents District 7 — along with many of his supporters — described that plan as an attempt to dilute the city’s progressive voice. The adopted map excludes the student co-ops and dorms on the north side of campus, which generally are regarded as progressive, and added fraternities and sororities on the south side of campus, which were described as more conservative.

An intern in Worthington’s office, Stefan Elgstrand, then drew up a new map that shifted District 7 north to include the co-ops and dorms. He submitted the map, known as the United Student District Amendment, in July, as the scheduled redistricting process was concluding. The council did not adopt it, which ultimately triggered the referendum drive.


[Correction: The date of filing for the referendum was corrected after publication.]

Related:
Long-time Berkeley progressives back referendum drive (02.03.14)
Redistricting opponents secure signatures to secure vote (01.22.14)
Op-ed: We don’t need a redistricting referendum (01.10.14)
Tight deadline to get redistricting referendum on ballot (01.03.14)
Redistricting map splits council, community (12.18.13)
Redistricting map approved, referendum idea looms (12.04.13)
Berkeley council may consider 2 campus district maps (09.12.13)
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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