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June 14, 2011 > Redistricting: Who will represent you?

Redistricting: Who will represent you?

Submitted By California Citizens Redistricting Commission

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first round of draft maps for Congressional, Assembly, State Senate and Board of Equalization Districts. The maps are online at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.

California voters created a Citizens Redistricting Commission in order to be able to elect more accountable Legislative and Congressional representatives. In the past, district lines were drawn behind closed doors, producing districts which divided communities, sometimes running hundreds of miles in indescribable shapes, with their only purpose being the protection of incumbents.

Now a Citizens Commission is drawing districts in a transparent process, adhering to a rank-ordered set of criteria that is designed to produce sensible and fair districts. The Commission has held 23 input hearings throughout the state, receiving testimony from 1,533 Californians. Thousands more have submitted testimony online, by fax and in the mail. The Commission prepared these drafts maps without regard to current districts, incumbents, candidates or political parties.

The Commission has heard people in every corner of the state describe the characteristics of their communities and what makes them distinct and unique. They shared their thoughts on what other communities they would like included in their districts and which communities should not be included. A constant theme was their hope that the Commission succeeds and delivers on the promise of true reform.

The first preliminary district maps are based on balancing the needs of all Californians. These maps have three advantages over existing districts:

1) Districts are drawn without regard to political incumbents and partisan considerations.
2) Districts reflect geographic and common sense boundaries.
3) The districts balance the needs of different communities of interest across California.

In contrast to previous redistricting, the Citizens Commission is releasing draft maps long before its final August 15th deadline, giving the public time to collaborate with the Commission to develop final maps that truly represent California. That is why the Commission will hold another round of public input hearings in June and will welcome written comment by e-mail, fax and mail.

The Commission decided that in drawing the draft maps there would be a population deviation of no more than 5% from the optimum population desired for the district. In preparing preliminary districts the actual population deviations are much less. Note that as population deviation is minimized, the number of city, county and community splits will increase. For example, where the population deviance in Congressional districts must be +/- one person, the number of community splits will be higher. Legislative districts offer the Commission more flexibility to keep communities whole.

With release of the first draft maps, the Commission is asking for public testimony specific to the proposed lines for the 53 Congressional, 80 State Assembly, 40 State Senate and 4 Board of Equalization districts. To ensure fair representation and reasonable access to elected representatives, the Commission considered boundaries such as mountains, rivers, deserts, bridges and other transportation corridors in drawing the lines.

For additional information and the complete list of public hearings, visit www. www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov. Local hearings scheduled for the Bay Area are shown below:

Saturday, June 25
City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara Street San Jose
2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Monday, June 27
Fort Mason Center, Cowell Theater
Marina Blvd. and Buchanan St., San Francisco
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

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