Redistricting Panel Approves Plan to Redraw San Jose District Boundaries

San Jose Redistricting Advisory Commission gave its final unanimous approval to a plan for redrawing San Jose Council District boundaries that moves only 22,067 residents and equalizes distsrict populations to within 10 percent of the 95,621 target.

The commissioners met for the last time at City Hall on Thursday, May 26, to review a report that recommends Plan B that will go to the San Jose City Council for final action in August. The report was approved after an unsuccessful attempt by Commissioner Cynthia Cob to convince the commission to take another look at areas in each district to try to equalize the populations to a narrower margin than 9.7 percent.

Some commissioners had expressed at the last meeting that Plan B doesn’t get the districts as close to the populations targets as they’d like, but is the best they can do with direction given to them by Mayor Chuck Reed as well as pushback from the public.

The Advisory Commission’s mission was to find ways to increase the populations of Districts 1, 9 and 10 while lowering populations for Districts 4, 6 and 8. Districts 2, 3, 5 and 7 met population requirements, but the approved plan changes boundaries in all but District 5.

Plan B recommends the following population transfers:

• 2-10(ba): Transfers 3,545 people in an area bound by Branham Lane, Snell Avenue, Chynoweth Avenue and Postron Drive from District 2  to District 10.

• 4-3(b): Transfers 3,107 people in an area that also contains Lowes Store and The San Jose Mercury News from District 4 to District 3. It is bound by Brokaw Road/Murphy and Highway 101.

• 6-1(a): Transfers 7,172 people in an area bound by Winchester Boulevard, Interstate 280, Highway 17 and the Campbell border from District 6.

• 6-9(aaa): Transfers a small area of land with no residents form District 6 to District 9.

• 6-9(b): Transfers 1,227 people from District 6 to District 9 in an area bound by Old Almaden Road, Foxworthy/Hillsdale avenues, Highway 87 and Capitol Expressway Auto Mall

• 7-2(b): Transfers 2160 people in an area bound by Sylvandale, Senter Road, Hellyer Avenue and Highway 101 from District 7 to District 2.

• 8-7(c): Transfers 3,772 people in an area bound by Silver Creek Road, Capital Expressway, Yerba Buena Road and Highway 101 from District 8 to
District 7.

• 10-9(ab): Transfers 634 people in an area bound by Hillsdale Avenue, Capitol Expressway and East Magnolia from District 10 to District 9.

Commissioners also recommended that the audio recordings of the meetings be kept for 10 years so that the next commission can benefit from their work and that the City Charter be amended to allow future commissions and the public more time to develop recommendations. A charter amendment would need to be approved by San Jose voters.

The plan approved Thursday also puts to rest the most contentious issue of the three-month redistricting process revolving around transfers from District 6 to District 9 on the border of Willow Glen and Cambrian areas.

At several meetings, and again at the May 23 meeting, commissioners heard from Willow Glen residents in the Dry Creek Road area that did not want to move from District 6 to District 9.

At the May 18 meeting, commissioners voted to put a transfer proposal known as 6-9e off the consideration list after an overwhelming opposition from residents who in letters and testimony didn’t want their area divided and offered another area as a transfer alternative. Commissioners voted against the 6-9e transfer at that meeting, but reversed its decision on May 19 after Commissioner Judy Chirco argued the importance of keeping intact the neighborhoods in the Cambrian School District, which is considered a “community of interest,” one of the criteria weighed by the commission.

Residents who had been at the May 18 expressed their frustration at the May 23 meeting.

“After the Wednesday meeting we felt pretty confident,” said resident Brigette O’Connor. “We didn’t feel we had to be back on Thursday. But something happened and we’re back as a proposal site.”

Said resident Greg Myers, “After last week’s meeting we felt like the commission had listened to our community. Then Thursday everything changed. We’re a close community and we’d like to stay in District 6. Take Bagby School itself and put it in District 9, but don’t take our neighborhood.”

That is what the commission did in approving Plan B, followed by an attempt to look at areas in all districts to bring the variance lower than 9.7 percent.

“We’ve tried a few tonight and every little piece we tried to move around had some reason not to be done,” said Commissioner Dave Fadness, who represents District 10.