The wilder side of redistricting

Taxation with too much or too little representation?

A proposed state redistricting plan has added some interesting dynamics to the political representation of the four communities in the Almanac's circulation area.

The first draft of new voting-district maps that will change legislative boundaries was released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission on June 10. The new maps redraw the boundaries of California's congressional, state Senate, state Assembly, and state Board of Equalization districts to reflect the new census population data.

The citizens' commission, mandated by voters in 2008 through Proposition 11 (the Voters First Act), was created to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians.

Local impact

If the redistricting map is implemented in its current form, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, would have her district boundaries shifted.

Rep. Jackie Speier's 12th district would represent most of Menlo Park, while Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley would stay with Ms. Eshoo. No one from her office was available to comment on the record, including on the question of whether Ms. Eshoo would have to move out of Menlo Park so as to reside in her new district.

Meanwhile in the state Senate, depending on factors that include the November 2010 mayor's election in San Francisco, Woodside and Portola Valley could end up with two state senators until 2014, or one, or none, according to Sen. Leland Yee's spokesman, Adam Keigwin. Sen. Yee represents Portola Valley and Woodside.

There is also a scenario in which the "no state senator until 2014" outcome could include Menlo Park and Atherton, Mr. Keigwin said.

As for the state Assembly, the redistricting appears not to have shifted any part of the Almanac's circulation area out of the 21st District, which is represented by Rich Gordon.

Senate roulette

According to Mr. Keigwin, Portola Valley's and Woodside's state Senate representation will depend on 1) whether their new district is assigned an even or odd number, 2) whether their current senator, Sen. Leland Yee, is elected mayor of San Francisco, and 3) if Sen. Yee wins that election, what date Gov. Jerry Brown sets for a special election to replace him in the state Senate.

Important point: A redistricted map would go into effect at the next scheduled general election. For even numbered districts, that means 2014. For odd numbered, it's 2012.

Portola Valley and Woodside are in state Senate District 8, but the new map has them reassigned out of Sen. Yee's district to an as yet unnumbered district, Mr. Keigwin said. But the voters in his district elected Sen. Yee for another four-year term in 2010 and that map is valid until 2014. The only way that map could become invalid is by a special election to replace Sen. Yee, but it would also depend on when that special election is held, Mr. Keigwin said.

The two towns could have two state senators, Mr. Keigwin said, if their new district is assigned an odd number, meaning an election in 2012, and if Sen. Yee is elected mayor of San Francisco, thus necessitating a special election, and if Gov. Brown chooses that the election be held on or before June 5, 2012.

If Sen. Yee loses his bid for mayor and the new district gets an odd number, he would continue to represent Woodside and Portola Valley, but the two towns would also be represented by whoever wins the 2012 general election.

Portola Valley and Woodside could be out in the cold with no state senate representation if Sen. Yee is elected mayor and if some other district gets the number 8 and if, according to state law, a special election to replace Sen. Yee occurs on the official election date of June 5, 2012, Mr. Keigwin said.

There are other possible scenarios, but all result in the usual allotment of one senator to represent Portola Valley and Woodside.

Regardless of whether Sen. Yee is elected mayor of San Francisco, if the new senate district for San Mateo County receives an even number, Menlo Park and Atherton will be without a state senator until 2014, Mr. Keigwin said.

Sen. Yee, if he is still in office, would "adopt" these towns along with with San Carlos and Redwood City, and it's likely that his successor would do the same, Mr. Keigwin said.

In any case, Mr. Keigwin added, the Senate Pro Tem's office will have staff assigned to handle constituents who have been disenfranchised.

Aug. 15 deadline

In contrast to previous redistricting, the Citizens Commission is releasing draft maps long before its final Aug. 15 deadline, giving the public time to collaborate with the commission to develop final maps.

Janis Hirohama, president of the League of Women Voters of California, said the maps are the first round and will be refined after public comment. She encouraged the public to take an active role.

Write to to submit comments online. Comments can be submitted by fax at 916-651-5711 or by mail to: Citizens Redistricting Commission, 901 P St., Suite 154-A, Sacramento, CA 95814.

The commission will hold 11 public-input hearings in June on the draft maps.

Go to this link for the hearing schedule and draft maps.

A meeting will be held June 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. at San Jose City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose.

Sue Dremann of Embarcadero Media contributed to this report.

New voter districts drawn by citizens' commission .

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Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Waggoner
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2011 at 7:15 am

Thank you for encouraging people to get involved in redistricting! There is more information from the League of Women Voters about redistricting here: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Andy Cohen
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2011 at 5:23 am

The solution by the citizens' commission attempts an "apolitical" fix to a political problem that reflects the greater power of state and national political forces by dividing cities and towns in such a way as to dilute the integrity and power of smaller political bodies for the benefit of larger, more powerful entities.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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