New voter districts drawn by citizens' group

First-draft maps were released June 10, with a public hearing scheduled June 25

The first draft of new voting-district maps that will change legislative boundaries was released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission on Friday, June 10.

The new maps redraw the boundaries of California's Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts to reflect the new census population data.

The citizens' commission, which was mandated by voters in 2008 through Proposition 11 (the Voters First Act) was created to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians.

The new districts were created with the idea of being more representative of communities.

"In the past, district lines were drawn behind closed doors, producing districts that divided communities -- sometimes running hundreds of miles in indescribable shapes -- with their only purpose being the protection of incumbents. The commission prepared these draft maps without regard to current districts, incumbents, candidates or political parties," commissioners said in a statement.

The commission held 23 hearings with residents throughout the state, receiving testimony from 1,533 Californians. Thousands more submitted testimony online, by fax and in the mail, commissioners said.

Residents described the characteristics of their communities and what makes them distinct.

"They shared their thoughts on what other communities they would like included in their districts and which communities should not be included.

"These preliminary maps restore integrity to California's Constitutional mandate to redistrict to ensure fair representation. Where possible, the commission worked to keep communities whole to maximize their voices under these proposed districts," the commission said.

The maps, along with the previous district boundaries, can be viewed at

Commissioners said the new districts have three advantages over existing legislative lines:

* Districts are drawn without regard to political incumbents and partisan considerations.

* Districts reflect geographic and "common sense" boundaries.

* The districts balance the needs of different communities of interest across California.

State Sen. Joe Simitian was not able to return a phone call requesting comment on the redistricting. He does not plan to issue a statement, an aide said.

The League of Women Voters of California praised the new maps in a press release Thursday prior to their public release.

"Californians have engaged enthusiastically on the process of redrawing the lines. Unlike redistricting in the past, this process has been open and transparent –- a true citizen-driven process," league President Janis Hirohama said.

In contrast to previous redistricting, the Citizens Commission is releasing draft maps long before its final Aug. 15 deadline, giving the public time to collaborate with the commission to develop final maps.

Hirohama said the maps are the first round and will be refined after public comment. She encouraged the public to take an active role.

"Keep watching as the commission takes more input and revises the maps. This is a historic moment. We need to insure that the public is heard," she said.

Comments can be submitted online at, by mail to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, 901 P St., Suite 154-A, Sacramento, CA 95814 or by fax at 916-651-5711.

The commission will be holding 11 public-input hearings in June on the draft maps. The hearing schedule and the draft maps can be found at the commission's website at

A meeting will be held June 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. at San Jose City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose.

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Like this comment
Posted by Please surprise me
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 12, 2011 at 7:11 am

I predict the dominant power, Democrats, manage to gain more seats. Power begets power.

Let's see. If it is the opposite, I will be pleasantly surprised that a "citizens" redistricting actually worked as planned...

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

I hope you will be able to publish a map soon so that we can see if we want to make comments.

Like this comment
Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

I looked at the rough maps at Web Link. The Congressional districts, while not rectangular, are at least oblong, in our area; the CA Assembly districts, while less so, are IMO an improvement; the CA Senate districts still have bizarre shapes and snakelike extensions. Needs work.

Like this comment
Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

surprise me says: "I predict the dominant power, Democrats, manage to gain more seats. Power begets power... If it is the opposite, I will be pleasantly surprised that a "citizens" redistricting actually worked as planned..."

You are looking at it through a red filter, obviously. Or are you saying the Citizens Commission was a GOP plan? (hint: you're correct if you thought so!)

Are you implying the party in power is influencing the commission?

The commission does not represent blue California at all: look at the registration levels of Dems and Repubs vs the makeup of the commission. "The 14-member commission consists of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four commissioners from neither major party." That isn't anywhere close to truly representing California voters!

Reality is Dem: 45%, Rep: 30%, Ind: 20% not 5/5/4. Web Link

Your filter is off.

Try this lens: California is MORE blue than represented by redistricting of the past, formerly put in place by politicians to protect their own districts at the expense of true representation. Evidence: look at the statewide trashing that McCain and Whitman received. Look at how many statewide offices are currently held by the GOP (a big goose-egg.)

The citizens commission is just balancing it out without concern for incumbent protection. As the facts above point out, the commission is more partial to the GOP than our blue state warrants. Even so, without the wild gerrymandering, California's true (blue) color is more obvious.

Bet ya don't like that lens!!!

California and Illinois redistricting should pick up 8-10 house seats for the Dems, more than offsetting Tom Delay's illegal "mid-census" redistricting of Texas a few years ago. Don't know how it's shaping up in other areas of the country but I guess Dems will lose a few, but more than covered by CA & IL.

Biggest win if these maps hold: McNerney gets a safer seat out of a formerly swing district. Losers? Asians lose a bit of power in SF, Latinos lose a lot across the southland.

Oh yeah, the GOP is further cemented as a fringe party in California, as their unpopular policies are understood by Californian voters.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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