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San Mateo County mulls district lines: Board of Supervisors want new hybrid map to consider
October 09, 2013, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

County supervisors heard from residents and officials pleading their case to keep certain cities intact on the new district map before sending a demographer back to the drawing board to flesh out some hybrid alternatives.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday kept two of three recommended maps on its short list and asked for new options that keep the city of San Mateo undivided in District Two.

District Two Supervisor Carole Groom is “troubled” that the two other maps separated San Mateo’s “most diverse part,” moving the northern part into another district and shifting Coyote Point Park.

Board President Don Horsley wants to keep the entire coast whole but said he was concerned about having so much of the unincorporated county all in one district.

Likewise, the proposed maps couldn’t satisfy all the residents, either, because of competing wishes of how to best divvy up the county into five equally-sized districts. Voters last fall chose to change the county charter so that only those living in a specific district can choose a representative supervisor rather than having all voters choose all supervisors. A lawsuit filed in April 2011 also challenged the countywide process.

The requested hybrid maps will be tweaked versions of the so-called community unity and equity maps which were the two drafts most requested by speakers. The community unity leaves northern District Five intact as a majority-minority Asian district but divided South San Francisco and is favored by the backers of the voters’ rights lawsuit that prompted the boundary changes. The equity map, submitted by the Republican Party, moves Redwood Shores from District Three and splits six cities about equally among districts.

Although many city officials asked the supervisors to keep their jurisdictions whole, some speakers backed the equity map as the most fair answer because it is impossible to keep every city undivided. Debate also existed over definition of “communities of interest,” one of the criteria the supervisors can use in drawing the lines. Along with race and population, the map can be drawn in a way to keep such communities — defined as race, church, school or any number of other similar characteristics — together.

“There is no right answer because the definition ... is a broad and ambiguous term,” said Supervisor Dave Pine. “It depends on where you sit.”

Pine is the one who first prompted the board to shelve a vote until the next meeting. The county is obligated to decide by Nov. 5 under the settlement of the lawsuit.

In the meantime, the county Elections Office will also review the proposed maps to clean up precincts and limit “slivers” of districts too small to justify manning a polling place on Election Day.

Daly City Councilman Sal Torres, who also sat on the nine-person map advisory committee, asked the board to favor the community unity map because it cuts the fewest number of cities and keeps communities of interest together in one district. Communities of other interests in the county may already be divided among cities, he said.

South San Francisco Mayor Pedro Gonzalez prefers the equity map because it shares the burden of city splits.

Neither map appeased Menlo Park Councilwoman Kirsten Keith because they both split a city that has already seen a recent congressional division.

Randy Schwartz, the Hillsborough city manager, advocated for no specific map as long as the town stays with Burlingame.

“There is a strong link between our two communities,” he said. “More than 100 years.”

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102



Tags: district, county, because, communities, supervisors, board,

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