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Editorial: Congressional district shift won't hurt Belle Haven

Original post made on Aug 10, 2011

When the boundaries of congressional districts represented by Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier were released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, howls of protest went up over a decision to split Belle Haven away from Menlo Park, despite its long history as a key part of the city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 12:00 AM

Comments (10)

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Posted by Rebecca Ripley
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

Seldom have I seen a more idiotic argument in print than the one presented in the editorial 'Congressional district shift won't hurt Belle Haven'. The writer seems to think that Belle Haven would be included in a homogeneous district with areas more similar to us than to the rest of Menlo Park. One look at the redistricting map in the Statewide Database blows this proposition to shreds. The proposed district includes Hillsborough, South San Francisco, San Mateo, Belmont, Pacifica, and Half Moon Bay - none of which areas have any more in common with Belle Haven than does the rest of Menlo Park. The proposed split remains a gratuitous insult, regardless of whether it results in injury.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

With respect, Anna Eshoo's district would include Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley, all of a similar demographic to Hillsborough, while Jackie Speier would also represent Redwood City and East Palo Alto, cities with demographics similar to the Belle Haven neighborhood.

Does Eshoo have such demographics -- other than Belle Haven -- in her district? Where are they located, geographically? Doesn't that matter?

If Belle Haven was thus isolated with Eshoo, and this is on a Congressional level, not a state assembly or state senate level, I for one do not see why this realignment is a bad thing.

What is the substantial difference between being represented by one moderate Democratic Congresswoman versus another moderate Democratic Congresswoman? Where is this change going to show up in national legislation or earmarks? Why would Jackie Speier not welcome these communities to her district?

Why would Belle Haven miss being what amounts to a stepchild in a Congressional district that is overwhelmingly of a different demographic?

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

My email to the Redistricting Commission this morning

Dear Redistricting Commission,

I am a resident of Menlo Park and was disheartened to learn that Menlo Park was being broken into 2 Congressional Districts (14th & 18th). Belle Haven is an essential part of Menlo Park. It is physically seperated from the rest of the City by U.S. Highway 101. The Belle Haven residents, rightfully feel, as if they are not considered a part of Menlo Park due to this physical separation.

To put Belle Haven in a different Congressional District makes them feel as if they have been abandoned. Menlo Park residents all want Belle Haven to be part of our city, not a forgotten annex with a Congressional Berlin Wall.

I respectfully request that the Redistricting Commisssion place Woodside and Portola Valley in the 14th Congessional District and that Belle Haven and East Palo Alto be placed in the 18th Congessional District. This will keep our communities together.

Please keep our city unified. Belle Haven is Menlo Park.

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Posted by racial profiling
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

This editorial that Belle Haven has more in common with East Palo Alto than with the rest Menlo Park sounds pretty racist to me. If Belle Haven gets split into a separate congressional district, the city government will just have one more reason to ignore the needs of Belle Haven.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 15, 2011 at 9:22 am

A Congressional Berlin Wall? Does that make Jackie Speier Walter Ulbricht?

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 15, 2011 at 10:33 am

Members of Congress are proscribed by law from having any inputs into the making of Congressional Districts. So that does not make Jackie Speier anything pejorative. She simply was not part of the redistricting process. What it does do is indicate that the Redistricting Commission is somewhat obtuse in formulating the boundaries. They are not racists or Nazis-- they are merely over their heads and do not understand the different socio-economic strata in each CD and thus make decisions that are not in the best interests of the people in each CD due to the Commision's lack of knowledge.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 16, 2011 at 8:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Perhaps the non-partisan, non-political California Citizens Redistricting Commission was simply recognizing a sad reality that many local residents understand but don't wish to acknowledge - that east and west of 101 are two very different places that receive very different levels of service and of attention.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

To call is racist is ridiculous in re to racial profiling's comment. EPA & Belle Haven do have a lot in common, demographically. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this change. But saying EPA & EMP DON'T have things in common is simply ignorant.

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Posted by Harry
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

This proposed move appears to be a tacit admission that the Redevelopment Agency has failed in its mandate to remove blight from the Belle Haven neighborhood.

The homeowners of the neighborhood are understandably upset, as this suggests that the City has broken yet another promise to act in the best interests of Belle Haven. And this time, using property taxes collected in part from the neighborhood itself.

This move is akin to "throwing in the towel" and admitting defeat, when a more viable approach would be to implement specific recommendations coming from homeowners. Belle Haven does not see itself according to its past or its present, but according to what it can become. We seem to be the only ones with this perspective.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I'm curious how a decision made by a disinterested non-partisan group of volunteers in Sacramento who considered several criteria that obviously involve conflicting interest groups, how a decision like this says anything at all about the people who live in Menlo Park and their role in this.

The commission had a complicated and possibly thankless job, but we all decided to take this decision away from politicians. Menlo Park is not alone in being divided, according to the article. And the division has a certain logic.

Menlo Park was unlucky. That seems to be the long and short of it. If it's unlucky to have two voices in Congress instead of one. The city also is intact in the both houses of the state legislature and in its local legislatures.

Make the best of it. That's what I'd recommend. The Menlo park council and other people of influence should stop whining and write to Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo and welcome the joint jurisdiction and let them know that the town is looking forward to working together for the betterment of the community.

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