This is an expanded version of a previously posted story.
By Dave Boyce
Almanac Staff Writer
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has divided Menlo Park into two congressional districts, but the border will be U.S. 101 under the latest proposal released Friday, July 29, not the broad swath that had run through the center of the city under an earlier proposal, running from 101 and stopping roughly just east of Sharon Heights.
If the commission approves the latest proposed map on Aug. 15, the new 18th Congressional District, represented by Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, will include Menlo Park west of U.S. 101, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley.
The Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park and unincorporated North Fair Oaks will be represented by Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, as will East Palo Alto and Redwood City.
"I think that's just a horrible shame," said Menlo Park Councilwoman Kirsten Keith in an interview. "Belle Haven is Menlo Park. (The representation) needs to be all of Menlo Park."
Ms. Keith had already written a letter to the redistricting commission protesting the original plan assigning central Menlo Park and Belle Haven to one congressional district and Sharon Heights to another.
"It doesn't make any sense. I am hoping they will revisit this," Ms. Keith added.
Would grouping Belle Haven with East Palo Alto and Redwood City, cities with similar demographics, give the residents more clout with their congressional representative?
"I don't know," Ms. Keith replied.
"I think it's disgusting, myself," said Belle Haven resident Matt Henry. "Belle Haven is part of the city of Menlo Park. ... Belle Haven always gets cut out."
The redistricting commission had as one of its objectives to comply with the 1964 Voting Rights Act to "ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice." Wouldn't Belle Haven have more of a voice with this realignment?
"To me, it makes more sense for our community to be part of this city. It's better for us," he said.
"We have the same politics as Menlo Park," Mr. Henry added. "We might argue and squabble, but we're the same family. We have the same objectives and financial base. I think this is just another layer of complexity for us. I think it's awful."
As for the redrawn state Assembly and Senate districts, the significant change for this area is that Portola Valley and Woodside, now represented by Sen. Leland Yee, would move to the Senate district that includes Menlo Park and Atherton, and is represented until November 2012 by Sen. Joe Simitian.
Rich Gordon, who represents these four communities in the state Assembly, would continue to under the latest proposal. He would see his long and thin district no longer stretch south to Los Gatos, but stop around Santa Clara and expand westward to include Half Moon Bay, San Gregorio and Pescadero.
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