Public Comment

Keep Neighborhoods Intact – Redistricting Berkeley

By Vincent Casalaina
Monday October 31, 2011 - 02:36:00 PM

When I looked at most of the plans that were put forward for redistricting Berkeley's Council districts, I was taken aback by the way the lines were drawn. I believe the most important thing to consider in redistricting is the preservation of neighborhoods (communities of interest) within Council districts. 

There is no question that Berkeley's population has grown dramatically in the last 10 years after years of steady decline. Even though the ordinance says we need to maintain the original district boundaries as much as possible, there have to be some major shifts in the Council district lines if we are going to maintain one person / one vote in Berkeley. That’s clear from all of the redistricting proposals put forward. 

The most intense growth has taken place in District 7 and District 4. Both of those districts need to lose population. Large swaths of those districts needed to move to other districts and the question was how to decide on a city wide basis what the rationale would be for the changes. What is the philosophy that will be used to divide up the City into Council districts? 

If you've lived in Berkeley for very long, it's relatively easy to identify communities of interest in Berkeley and to see how those communities of interest usually came into being around a particular problem be it land use, violence, or a shopping area that the community uses. In Berkeley, many of those communities of interest can be identified from the neighborhood associations that have grown up. 

When neighborhoods are split amongst several Council districts that leaves neighbors unable to coordinate their efforts to elect candidates that support their particular interests. 

Starting with that premise and the idea that major arterials (streets) often define the boundaries of those communities of interest, I developed a redistricting plan that would keep as many neighborhoods whole as possible and would include almost no strange bumps and twists. 

Here is my proposed map for redistricting Berkeley. It shows the blocks that are moved from one district to another outlined in red. You can see that they represent only a small proportion of the total blocks in the City. Almost all the blocks that moved are adjacent to major arterials and that the major arterials form the primary boundaries of all the districts. 


When you analyze my proposed map, you see that the most significant shift was to include the Northside student housing that had been in D7 (Worthington) and D8 (Wozniak) into D6 (Wengraf). It never made sense to have this arm of D7 and D8 stretch across campus just to pick up students. 

To balance that, the northern section of D6 (Wengraph) moved to D5 (Capitelli) (everything North of Marin and West of Grisley peak- using the arterials as the dividing line). 

D8 (Wozniack) also lost the East edge Willard to D7. This is one half of the change to put the Willard and LeConte neighborhoods in one district. 

To balance that D8 (Wozniak) added the Bateman neighborhood from D7 (Worthington) This change is similar to the plan submitted by the Bateman neighborhood themselves. The change is bounded on the North by Ashby, the East By College, the South by the Oakland Border and the West by Telegraph. 

D7 (Worthington) also gained most of the West edge of LeConte down to Shattuck from D3 (Anderson). This is the second half of the change to put the Willard and LeConte neighborhoods in one district. 

To balance that D3 (Anderson) added the Halcyon neighborhood from D7 (Worthington). This change is similar to the plan submitted by the Bateman neighborhood. Again, the neighborhood is kept whole and not broken up into random sections in order to meet the one person / one vote standard. 

D7 (Worthington) still needed to shed more residents and so most of the northern end of the district was shifted to D4 (Arreguin). 

D4 (Arreguin) needed to lose residents and gave up most of the south end of its district to D3 (Anderson). 

D4 (Arreguin) also gave up some residents to D1 (Maio), 2 (Moore) and 5 (Capitelli). As much as possible those changes followed the major arterials. 

It’s true that there is no student majority district, but students form a significant voting block in more Council districts under my proposal. They still have very significant numbers in D4 (Arreguin), D7 (Worthington) and D8 Wozniak. They have increased numbers in D3 (Anderson) and D6 (Wengraf). Their numbers remain essentially unchanged in D1 (Maio), D2 (Moore) and D5 (Capitelli). 


2010 actual
2010 Equal
2010 prop
2010 dev

Finally my track worksheet shows that the average deviation for my plan is .06% with the largest variation being 100 residents. 

I hope this plan will help you envision a City where neighborhoods are kept whole and the entire City can move forward together. 

For those who would like a more detailed explanation. I have a copy of my proposal map as a photoshop document that has a layer for each of the blocks moving from one Council district to another. I also have the full track block sheet that breaks down the changes by each census block that is moved. 

I'd be happy to send that along to anyone who'd like it. You can reach me at: 


I've put up the maps of additions/subractions for each of the Council Districts as a Power Point Presentation