City of Berkeley redrawing district boundaries, accepting public comment

Photo of a Zoom call
Anthony Angel Pérez/Senior Staff
Two maps are still under consideration, part of a boundary-redrawing process that occurs in the district every 10 years after the U.S. Census is completed.

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The city of Berkeley is in the process of redrawing its district boundaries to reflect the shifts and changes of the city population from the past 10 years.

According to the Berkeley Independent Redistricting Commission, or BIRC, website, the city’s district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years after the U.S. Census is completed. The BIRC is comprised of 13 community members, which hold public meetings and solicit community input to decide how the city’s districts should be redrawn, the website adds.

“The population of the City grew by almost 12,000 residents between the 2010 Census and the 2020 Census,” said City Council clerk Mark Numainville in an email. “The current districts do not serve the public because the population is uneven.”

There were originally four draft maps, but three were eliminated.

As of press time, there are two maps still under consideration: the “Amber” map which has been revised and an entirely new “Violet” map, according to the city press release.

“These maps … create contiguous districts of similar size, strive to keep communities of interest together, use major streets as boundaries when possible, eliminate prior boundaries drawn to preserve a prior councilmember’s residence, include one compact student district,” the press release states.

According to the press release, the version two “Amber” map is similar to the current district map, but has been revised to satisfy the “six universal map criteria.”

The press release adds that the “Violet” map is essentially a modified “Amber” map, but with adjustments including redrawing District 4 in consideration of renters and students and creating two student/renter districts.

“Both of the maps under consideration improve neighborhood cohesion compared to the existing boundaries,” Numainville said in the email. “Some examples of neighborhoods that were split in the old map, but are now better unified include Westbrae, Poets Corner, LeConte, Willard, North Shattuck, and Lorin.”

According to the BIRC website, the BIRC has to adopt a redistricting plan in March, and the first election with the new district lines will be Nov. 8 unless conflicts arise or a referendum is necessary.

Large printed draft maps are currently available at Central Branch Library and South Berkeley Senior Center, and medium maps are at other branch libraries, the press release notes. There will also be a BIRC meeting held via Zoom on Feb. 19 to gather input on the two maps and help decide which will be adopted.

Contact Karen Vo at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @karenvo_DC.