BERKELEY -- The struggle over redrawing City Council district boundaries is moving to the November ballot.

The council at its March 11 meeting voted 6-3 (with Councilmen Max Anderson, Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington voting in opposition) to place the redistricting ordinance the council approved in December -- the target of a successful referendum -- before the voters.

The map that will appear on the ballot, known as the Berkeley Student District Campaign map, has the greatest influence on District 7, which encompasses the UC Berkeley campus area. The plan drew fire from students who criticized it for excluding those living in dorms and co-operatives north of campus, and from District 7 Councilman Kriss Worthington, who said the map targeted him by removing some of his strongest supporters -- those living in north-of-campus student co-ops -- from his district.

Supporters say this map does the best job representing student interests.

George Beier, president of the Willard Park Neighborhood Association and former council candidate, presented a new "compromise" map at the meeting that would have made some changes to District 7, leaving the northside co-ops in the district and keeping the dorms in District 6, but removing the commercial strip on Euclid Avenue from District 6.

Councilwoman Linda Maio, joined by Arreguin, Worthington and Anderson, sought a two-week delay to allow Beier to further tweak his map.

"I think it's worth it to try one more time," Beier told the council. "I think going to the ballot is a huge mistake."


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Councilman Gordon Wozniak, who had supported Beier's three challenges to Worthington's council seat, criticized Beier's map for removing the Panoramic Hill neighborhood from District 8 and dividing the sororities and fraternities between districts 7 and 8.

"It doesn't make sense," Wozniak said. "Let the voters decide."

The council majority agreed with Wozniak and declined to postpone the decision.

The BSDC map, however, may not be the only one to appear on the November ballot.

On March 10, Councilman Jesse Arreguin filed an initiative with the city clerk that would create a map that retains the north-of-campus co-ops and dorms in District 7, but also redraws District 1 (Maio's district) to include all of west Berkeley below San Pablo Avenue, with a stretch to include some streets east of Sacramento street and north of University Avenue, where Maio resides.

A second initiative Arreguin filed that day would create a nonpartisan Citizen's Redistricting Commission to redraw the council boundaries after the 2020 census. (Boundaries must be redrawn after every decennial census to equalize district populations.)

To place his initiatives on the ballot as charter amendments, Arreguin must gather signatures of 15 percent of the registered voters within 180 days of the city clerk's approval.

One large question remains for the November vote, where seats in council districts 1,4,7 and 8 are on the ballot: What district boundaries will be used for November? The 2010 census indicates that district boundaries are currently out of compliance.

In his motion to place the BSDC map on the ballot, Mayor Tom Bates included permission for the council to hire an outside attorney who would take the question to court. A judge would then decide which district boundaries should be used for the November 2014 election.

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