Michelle Durand/Daily Journal
Joseph Otayde, Michael Guingona, Carolyn Hsu and Robert Rubin look at a map of the newly drawn supervisor districts after the Board of Supervisors yesterday voted on the boundary changes.
Architects behind two preferred but different proposals for redrawing the county’s five districts came together yesterday to recommend a hybrid of the two but the Board of Supervisors passed in favor of a map that splits four cities.
“Our job here is try to do what’s best for the whole county,” said Supervisor Dave Pine. “It’s not just the people in the room. It’s everybody.”
The Community Unity B plan splits the cities of Belmont, Menlo Park, San Bruno and South San Francisco. District Five is left intact as a majority-minority Asian-American district with 52 percent of voting age citizens although only 18 percent of registered voters in 2013 had Asian last names. The district also has the highest percentage of immigrants and a slight majority of residents are ages 20 to 54.
South San Francisco is divided along Junipero Serra Boulevard to Interstate 280. San Bruno is divided along Interstate 280 and Sneath Lane. Menlo Park is divided along El Camino Real. Eastern Belmont is divided from the west starting at Mountain View Avenue in the north, going along Old County Road to Ralston Avenue to a border starting at Ralston Avenue and Chula Vista Drive.
The approved plan is similar to the board’s second choice plan, the Equity B map originally submitted by the Republican Party, which proposed moving Redwood Shores from District Three and splitting six cities about equally among districts.
County staff were also directed to clean up the lines as needed to remove so-called sliver precincts, which are areas too small to justify physical polling places.
After Tuesday’s vote, which stretched late into the noon hour, a crowd gathered around a laptop computer outside the board chambers to better understand exactly where the new lines fall. The lines will stand for the next 10 years until the new census. The next step is getting greater diversity in the electorate and the candidates, Pine said, in reference to the argument that district elections will make running for officer easier and thereby encourage more minorities.
In opting against the recently submitted compromise map drawn by backers of the original community unity and equity plans, the supervisors cited practical considerations like giving the registrar time to double-check the lines, not infringing on the upcoming election cycle by keeping potential candidates guessing on their districts and a Nov. 5 decision deadline imposed as part of the settlement of the voting rights lawsuit that sparked the redistricting.
Voters last fall also 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.
Robert Rubin, a civil rights attorney who helped bring the April 2011 lawsuit, offered on the spot to move the November deadline back but County Counsel John Beiers said that date was far from arbitrary.
Supervisor Adrienne Tissier conceded the map choice — any map choice really — wasn’t going to leave everybody happy but several speakers said the compromise Community Equity was pretty close to it.
Rubin called the new map a “coalescing of interests” with “virtual unanimity.”
South San Francisco Mayor Pro Tem Karyl Matsumoto, who like other Peninsula leaders had been asking supervisors not to split her city, praised the two map camps for coming together with concessions and a final proposal that shares the “pain” of split cities fairly equally.
Although the combined map was new, some speakers said they contained ideas already weighed by the nine-person advisory committee unlike the hybrid designs requested by the Board of Supervisors at its last meeting in lieu of picking one of three on a short list.
For the board to take one of those unvetted versions “would be a shame,” said Daly City Councilman Michael Guingona.
“The public process has to mean something,” he said.
The three recommended maps and the larger pool from which they were winnowed were products of several public workshops and meetings held by the advisory committee over the last year.
Maps were required to split districts as evenly as possible by population but could also consider criteria like race, economics or other communities of interest which are defined as characteristics like similar churches or schools.
No map kept every city intact which led to debate between those who preferred dividing as few as possible and those, like Matsumoto, who favored sharing the challenge.
Prior to the vote, San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson reiterated that any further splits would be harmful to the city. The city has strong ties to both Skyline College and San Francisco because its jail is there, she said.
South San Francisco Mayor Pedro Gonzalez also repeated his stance that he doesn’t want to burden residents with an “unfair” split and backed the equity plan.
Joseph Otayde, one of the voting lawsuit’s six plaintiffs, said the county must take the right perspective on the redistricting.
“We’re not changing things. We’re evolving as a community,” he said.
The new map will govern the District Two and District Three elections in 2014.
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