Public Comment

Berkeley’s District Elections: The View from West Berkeley

By Curtis Manning
Friday March 29, 2013 - 08:58:00 AM

The redistricting of Berkeley’s eight voting districts, which is currently underway, is in response to population changes evident from the 2010 Census. Groups and individuals have been solicited by the City to submit proposals ( see f or information). District maps are constrained by ordinance to have nearly equal numbers, and current Council members may not be drawn out of their districts. 

Recent efforts by the Council Majority to re-conceive West Berkeley on the sly (Measure T), emphasize the necessity for a true Ocean View, or West Berkeley Council district. This division of our “community of interest” has effectively suppressed our political voice in Berkeley. The idea of having one West Berkeley district was presented to the Berkeley Neighborhood Council (BNC) in a March 9 meeting at the Hillside Club. 

The BNC is a confederation of neighborhood groups and interested individuals whose mission is to improve the quality of life for all by creating a unified neighborhood voice for promoting livability of our neighborhoods. The BNC map sub-committee strove to produce legally compliant boundaries that do not divide any established neighborhood groups. The sub-committee, chaired by Jacquelyn McCormick, produced one map that did not incorporate the unification and another that did. When it was brought to the BNC meeting of March 9, the vote was to adopt only one of them. 

In a unanimous vote of 15 (yae) and 3 (abstensions), the BNC voted to adopt what is called the West Berkeley Map as their submission to the City’s redistricting process. As described in the adopted map, District 1 includes everything west of San Pablo, but north of University it goes inland to pick up Councilperson Linda Maio, just below MLK. It does not do everything we would hope for, but it is all that could be done within the law. The map represents the support of representatives of major neighborhood associations from all over Berkeley. 

The period for submission of maps is now over. Submitted maps will be presented on April 29 at North Berkeley Senior Center (6:00 P.M.), and a public hearing will be held on May 7 at Council Chambers, time unknown. Technical corrections will be allowed up until May 17, followed by another public hearing on July 2, 2013. The process of defining new districts will conclude by the end of the year. 

Persons or neighborhood groups interested in the BNC plan, or in joining BNC may make contact at