New: Redistricting: An Open Letter to the Berkeley Community from the Berkeley Neighborhood Council (Comment)
Not so very long ago, Berkeley proclaimed itself to be a “City of neighborhoods.” Not so much now. Under the quiet and persistent guidance of the present Mayor and Council, policy and practice emphasis has steadily shifted away from neighborhoods and their well-being and preservation to individual buildings and their height and bulk.
This point was driven home on May 7, 2013 when the Council approved a motion by Council Member Gordon Wozniak (seconded by Darryl Moore) to eliminate from Council consideration the map submitted by the Berkeley Neighborhood Council (BNC). This was done even though there was no question that the BNC map was the only redistricting map submitted which was based on the dual principles of creating a majority student district and keeping neighborhood groups together under one Council representative. It was clear that keeping neighborhoods together strengthens neighborhood input; splitting neighborhoods between representatives results in no one on the Council being accountable.
The Wozniak/Moore motion focused Council consideration of redistricting on just two maps. The Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) creates a student supermajority in one Council District (7), a majority in another District (4) and a near majority in a third District (8). The other accepted map, Edge Simplicity, was submitted by Eric Panzer and selected because Council Members liked its “clean” lines even though its author stated it was just an exercise and he favored the BSDC map. Since the BSDC map was clearly the one most favored by the Council, this statement will focus on the strengths of the BNC map compared to the BSDC map. -more-