‘Now is the time to engage’: Berkeley to redraw district boundaries

photo of the Berkeley city skyline
Antonio Martin/Staff
With the decennial district boundaries redrawing taking place, the Independent Redistricting Commission encourages community input from Berkeley residents before final district boundaries are drawn.

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Berkeley residents will have the opportunity to participate in the city of Berkeley’s decennial redistricting process led by the Independent Redistricting Commission.

The process aims to redraw boundaries for equal population distribution across the city’s eight districts based on 2020 U.S. Census population data. While elected officials carried out the process when it last occurred in 2010, the Independent Redistricting Commission, or IRC, was established to lead the city’s redistricting process this year with a new focus on community input.

“The commission is doing a lot of outreach to engage the community,” said IRC Staff Secretary and city of Berkeley Clerk Mark Numainville. “(It) will be relying on the community to tell them about their neighborhoods and communities of interests.”

The commission will be holding a kickoff meeting Oct. 2 to explain the redistricting process and demonstrate how community members can create virtual or paper maps with their ideas for district boundaries, Numainville said.

The public can submit maps from Oct. 2 to Nov. 15, according to Numainville. However, community members are free to submit written comments and testimony until the commission draws the final map, which is expected to be around March 2022, he added.

“If people have thoughts, ideas and preferences about how the boundaries should be drawn or why it’s important for their neighborhood or community to stay together and not be split up into multiple districts, the only way that the commission can know about that is for them to provide that information and feedback to the commission,” Numainville said.

The IRC will aim to proportion about the same number of people in each district and keep communities with similar social and economic interests together, according to a city press release. Numainville added the committee will consider factors such as geography and street layouts.

Ultimately, the commission’s goal is to allow cohesive neighborhoods to stay together in the same district, Numainville said.

Once the IRC draws the final district boundaries, they will give the map to the Berkeley City Council to adopt as an ordinance. The district boundaries decided by the IRC will then be used in the November 2022 city elections, according to Numainville.

While the commission has been engaging in numerous forms of community outreach, Numainville urges all Berkeley residents to share their vision for district divisions while they can.

“This is a process that happens once every 10 years,” Numainville said. “Once the boundaries are drawn, they won’t change until 2032. Now is the time to engage.”

Cindy Liu is an academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.