Berkeley City Council will hold a public hearing at its meeting Tuesday to draft an ordinance reflecting one of two city redistricting plans, both of which include a student-majority district.
City Council is deciding between two of seven resident-created plans. One, entitled the Edge Simplicity Plan, was drafted by Eric Panzer, a UC Berkeley alumnus in environmental science and city planning, while the other, drafted by the Berkeley Student District Campaign, is spearheaded by the ASUC.
BSDC’s proposal seeks to unite the student community, which is split into four different districts, into only one or two, with the goal of giving students greater influence in electing City Council representatives. According to ASUC redistricting director Noah Efron, these include issues like affordable housing, Telegraph Avenue development and student safety concerns.
The proposal is up against Panzer’s plan, which, according to him, contains only one “key difference” from the BSDC proposal: splitting the UC Berkeley Greek community from the Willard neighborhood student community. Panzer’s plan would still provide a student-majority district. He supports the BSDC’s proposal over his own, saying that despite the appealing geometry of his map, “keeping communities of interest together should trump minor geometric concerns.”
But Jacquelyn McCormick, a mayoral candidate in last year’s election, views neither plan as adequately representing neighborhood community interests.
“We believe students need a voice,” McCormick said. “Neighborhoods need to be kept together.”
McCormick is currently gathering signatures for a petition requesting that the Berkeley Neighborhood Council’s proposal, which was discarded because of an oversized West Berkeley district, be brought back into consideration.
The proposal preserves the student-majority district while also maintaining the unity of Berkeley neighborhood associations that the other proposals divide into separate districts.
District 4 Councilmember Jesse Arreguin says it is unlikely the Berkeley Neighborhood Council plan will gain retrospective support from City Council.
According to Arreguin, City Council plans on discussing the possibility of altering the accepted proposal to integrate Northside co-ops and residences to “really unite the student community in one district,” though Efron said he does not see such a plan as possible without diminishing the effectiveness of the ASUC’s current proposed map.
Despite concerns over limited student attendance during the summer recess, Efron said student representatives will continue to support the proposed map.
“We feel that students have shown how invested they are in this issue by maintaining engagement over the whole three-year process,” he said. “You will definitely still see student leaders at the meeting still pushing our issues.”
Tuesday’s hearing will be open to public comment, after which City Council may recommend a plan to city staff for an ordinance to be voted on at a later date.
Contact Micah Fry at [email protected]