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By Dave Boyce
Almanac Staff Writer
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has divided Menlo Park into two congressional districts, but the border will be U.S. Highway 101 under the latest proposal released Friday, July 29, not the broad swath that had run through the center of the city under an earlier proposal, running from 101 and stopping roughly just east of Sharon Heights.
If the commission approves the final drafts on Aug. 15, the map for the new 18th Congressional District, represented by Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, will include Menlo Park west of U.S. 101, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley.
The Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park and unincorporated North Fair Oaks will be represented by Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, as will East Palo Alto and Redwood City.
"I think that's just a horrible shame," Councilwoman Kirsten Keith said in a phone interview. "Belle Haven is Menlo Park. (The representation) needs to be be all of Menlo Park."
Ms. Keith wrote a letter to the redistricting commission protesting the original plan to assign central Menlo Park and Belle Haven to one district and Sharon Heights to another.
"It doesn't make any sense. I am hoping they will revisit this," Ms. Keith added.
Would grouping Belle Haven with East Palo Alto and Redwood City, cities with similar demographics, give the residents more clout with their congressional representative?
"I don't know," Ms. Keith replied.
The populations of the two districts are listed as within the required range of plus-or-minus one person. According to statistics provided by the redistricting commission, Ms. Eshoo represents 702,906 residents of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, and Ms. Speier represents 702,905 in San Mateo and San Francisco counties.
As for the redrawn state Assembly and Senate districts, the significant change for this area is that Portola Valley and Woodside, now represented by Sen. Leland Yee, would move to the Senate district that includes Menlo Park and Atherton and is represented until November 2012 by Sen. Joe Simitian.
Rich Gordon, who represents these four communities in the state Assembly, would see his long and thin district no longer stretch south to Los Gatos, but stop around Santa Clara and expand westward to include Half Moon Bay, San Gregorio and Pescadero.