Berkeley City Council delays decision on student district

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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Berkeley City Council decided at its meeting Tuesday to postpone further discussion on redistricting to March 11, declining to make a verdict yet on the fate of the city’s long-sought-after student district.

Although the council passed a redistricting map in December that created a district with an 86 percent student-aged population, a successful referendum overturned that map and made uncertain which lines to use for this November’s election. Referendum proponents opposed the passed map for its exclusion of Northside dorms and student cooperatives.

The council now has two options: rescind its decision and choose a new map or put the map it passed on the ballot. Many referendum proponents, including Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin, Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson, want the council to pass a map that includes the contested Northside residences.

“All of us need a new beginning on this,” Anderson said at the meeting.

Arreguin, Anderson and Worthington wanted to rescind the overturned map at Tuesday’s meeting but were in the minority. Instead, the council voted for Bates’ proposal that they revisit the issue March 11. Bates said he wanted to look further at the legal ramifications of the council’s options.

The council has until April 1 to turn in a map that will go into effect by November. Otherwise, whichever district lines they choose will not go into effect in time for the next election.

Bates indicated that if the council does put the map on the ballot, it would best to do so in November rather than in June, when many students are gone for summer break.

Melissa Wen covers city news. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.