City Council moves forward with ASUC-sponsored redistricting map

Stefan Elgstrand/Courtesy
The amended map depicts the creation of a student-majority district.

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Berkeley City Council moved toward approving a new redistricting map at its meeting Tuesday by passing a motion supporting the ASUC-sponsored redistricting map.

The Berkeley Student District Campaign map would create a student-majority district south of the UC Berkeley campus, increasing the chances of a student representative being elected to Berkeley City Council. Final approval of a districting map is expected to be made in September.

By passing the motion, the council also diverted attention from two other plans, the Edge Simplicity Plan and an amended ASUC plan called the United Student District Amendment, proposed at Tuesday’s meeting.

The BSDC map continues to receive support from most council members. At the meeting, however, an amendment was introduced that would change the borders of the planned student-majority district to include more student residences, such as cooperative houses, residence halls and International House. The USDA amendment was proposed by Stefan Elgstrand, a UC Berkeley student and intern for Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Elgstrand’s main concern with BSDC’s proposal is that it does not include students who reside on Northside, which includes nine co-op houses and three dormitories. Elgstrand said he is concerned for those students.

“They are paying thousands of dollars to be living in these areas, so they should at least have a voice in the local government,” he said.

Safeena Mecklai, ASUC external affairs vice president and a representative for the BSDC map, said that her primary goal is to make sure students are represented on the council and not necessarily to support the exact BSDC map.

“We’re in favor of any map that puts forward a student district, that works with the political process and that protects student interests,” Mecklai said. “If students feel that the map represents them, that’s a good thing.”

Several council members, however, said that the proposal of a new plan upsets the political integrity of the redistricting process.

“I feel uncomfortable for having this happen at the very last minute when it could have happened sooner,” said Councilmember Linda Maio at the meeting. “All of these plans went through a public process out in the community.”

Councilmember Kriss Worthington opposed the negative sentiment regarding the new amendment.

“The purpose of a public process is to hear ideas,” he said. “We received new information today that was never provided at previous meetings.”

The council ultimately passed a motion in support of the BSDC proposal with a vote of 7 to 2.

Mayor Tom Bates placed emphasis on the fact that the newly created district will not include all students but will geographically encompass several residential areas surrounding the Berkeley campus.

“I think that I’m planning on supporting the student district (BSDC proposal),” Bates said. “I just don’t want to call it a student district — I want to call it a campus district.”

The council will meet Sept. 10 to continue considering redistricting proposals.

Contact Saachi Makkar at [email protected]