Finally, the Oakland Redistricting Commission decided on a new map
After months of debate, the Oakland Redistricting Commission has decided on a map that sets new boundaries for the city council and school districts for the next decade. But they will have to give their final approval at a hearing next month.
The complex process of developing district maps based on new decennial census data takes place every 10 years. It aims to ensure that each district has approximately the same number of people within its boundary, while avoiding – at least in theory – dividing existing “communities of interest”, such as racial groups and ethnicities, people who speak the same language, people with similar income levels or established neighborhoods.
The resulting distribution of political power is a crucial factor in determining whether or not a particular community is fairly represented on city boards.
Since October, the Redistricting Commission has held more than 20 meetings weighing the pros and cons of several maps, some proposing drastic changes, others more subtle. It was the first time that an independent commission had been tasked with this process in Oakland. In 2014, voters approved a ballot measure establishing the commission, stripping city council of the power to redraw boundaries.
Commissioners were instructed to accommodate diversity and to avoid the division of established neighborhoods and communities of interest as much as possible. Commissioners received more than 1,000 commentary pages residents and community groups, and anyone, including commission members, had the opportunity to draw and submit their own maps for review.
The final map determining new council and school board representation followed a nine-hour meeting that lasted until 1:30 a.m. Thursday in which commissioners tweaked district lines to secure the supermajority vote 9 -3 required. Some of the late night changes have caused controversy, particularly the decision to move the Coliseum complex and the Coliseum BART station to another neighborhood.
After missing its original Dec. 31 deadline, the Redistricting Commission, which is made up of 12 Oakland residents who have never held appointive positions or worked as staff or consultants for the city or school district, made facing the possibility of a state judge stepping in to set the new boundaries if he doesn’t settle on a new map by February.
The map selected Thursday increases the population of black residents in each district, even though over the past decade the number of black residents in Oakland has fallen more than any other racial group. The commission also focused on keeping the arts communities intact and not diluting the strength of the Asian and Latino communities in Districts 2 and 5 respectively.
The hills of Oakland are spread across four districts, unlike another map which would have created a district consisting mostly of hill districts. The District 3 boundary, which covers western Oakland and downtown, crossed over Interstate 580, which many saw as progress and reversing the damage created by redlining.
Lake Merritt was kept in two districts after many felt that a single representative should not control an asset used by people across the city. However, the Adams Point neighborhood near the lake was split into two districts, increasing the black population of District 1 in North Oakland.
Other decisions to divide neighborhoods currently grouped together have upset some residents. But Commission Chair Lili Gangas, who leads community technology initiatives at the Kapor Center, told The Oaklandside on Thursday afternoon that tough choices had to be made at the expense of keeping certain communities of interest together.
“Objectively, it’s a pretty progressive map, although maybe not as drastic as previous maps,” said Gangas, who downvoted the map due to one issue in particular. : the location of the Colosseum, as we will explain below. – but sees value in it nonetheless. “I think overall the map is in good shape. We had to make concessions. In some areas, we had no alternative.
The Colosseum as a sticking point
In the end, the vote narrowed down to where to place the Colosseum complex. For at least two decades, the 120-acre site and nearby BART station have belonged to District 7, bordering District 6. Some commissioners have argued that District 6 residents live closer to the facility and should therefore have an interest in the future. of the property.
A poll by the commission on keeping the Colosseum in District 7, which stretches from the Colosseum area to the San Leandro border, ended in a 6-6 tie. Three commissioners – Shirley Gee, Stephanie Goode and Tejal Shah – then indicated that they would change their vote to move the Colosseum to District 6. This gave the commission the supermajority vote needed to adopt the final map. The map approved yesterday moves the Coliseum complex and the BART station to D6.
Earlier, Gee, a longtime resident of District 2 who has been very engaged in district issues, made a motion that would keep the Colosseum where it is, but realized there was no not enough support. “We clearly don’t have 9 votes as is,” Gee said. “It will go down.”
Because the Colosseum contains no houses, some locals saw the change as purely political. Sometimes the conversation veered into a debate comparing the economies of the two districts. The final boundaries moved the District 6 line to Hegenberger Road.
“It seemed like gerrymandering,” said Sheryl Walton, a District 7 resident, an Oakland native who ran for a city council seat in 2012, and has worked on Coliseum issues and followed the redistricting process. “The Redistricting Commission is not responsible for creating economic engines for any particular district.”
With the Raiders and Warriors leaving and the A’s eyeing Howard Terminal for a new ballpark, the future of the 120-acre Coliseum complex is in flux. A group of black business leaders and investors has secured an exclusive negotiation agreement and offers to build new housing, a black-owned business district and satellite campus, and bring a WNBA team to Oakland .
Gangas told The Oaklandside that she couldn’t support the card’s adoption due to the Colosseum moving. Gangas and curators Amber Blackwell and Gloria Crowell were the three no’s. “I also want to get nine votes, but this process hasn’t been fair,” said Crowell, a D7 resident who works on health and social service issues through the Allen Temple Baptist Church, during the hearing.
“I’m sure a lot of people are going to be very shocked,” Gangas said. “I don’t think we’ve had a chance to talk about the harms of this change. I didn’t want our work to be drawn into politics. This is one of the main reasons I voted no. I think there are damages to fairness that we haven’t been able to properly discuss.
Glenview returns to District 4, but Bartlett will move
Some residents of Bartlett, a residential neighborhood along 35th Avenue below Interstate 580, were stunned when their neighborhood was moved from District 4 (Laurel, Dimond, Redwood Heights) to District 5 (Fruitvale). Otto Pippenger, who lives in the Bartlett neighborhood, said the commission indicated last year that Bartlett was considered a community of interest with the Dimonds and Laurels after hearing from hundreds of residents.
“If you assume their good faith, it is absolutely inexplicable. It’s a blow,” Pippenger told The Oaklandside. Pippenger said the majority of earlier versions of the map kept Bartlett in District 4. completely reversed course on the Colosseum.”
Residents of Glenview are thrilled to join District 4 after being cut out during remapping a decade ago. A plan to divide the areas around Dimond Park into multiple districts has been scrapped. Allan Brill, co-founder of Glenview Area Groups for Action, said his neighborhood’s only complaint is that a strip of Glenview under MacArthur Boulevard was not included with the rest of the neighborhood.
“For some reason someone in District 5 wanted this little band there and we don’t understand why,” Brill said. “It’s clearly an area that identifies with Glenview.”
As we previously reported, the city charter requires the commission to choose a final map by December 31, 2021. Since that deadline was missed due to a lack of supermajority consensus, the prosecutor of the city, Barbara Parker, had to ask a state judge to define the new boundaries of the district. In a motion filed in Alameda County Superior Court on January 7, Parker wrote that if the commission could not reach an agreement by early February, she would ask the court to impose a new map on the city. to be used in the November elections.
The Redistricting Commission will hold a public hearing for the final adoption 14 days after the new map is published and made available for public review. The final version of F4 card should soon be available on the commission’s website.