California's Redistricting News
(January 18, 2001-July 23, 2001)

 

 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." July 23, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." July 16, 2001

 San Diego Union-Tribune: "Battle lines are drawn as redistricting begins." May 21, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." May 14, 2001
 Ventura County Star: "Drawing county's new lines critical-Redistricting." April 22, 2001
 Los Angeles Times: "Redistricting Defanged by Energy Crisis." April 22, 2001
 The San Francisco Chronicle: "Contra Costa to redraw supervisorial districts." April 21, 2001   
 Ventura County Star: "Democrats Assess Redistricting." April 1, 2001 
 The Daily News of Los Angeles: "Congress Members Fret Over Districts." April 1, 2001
 Los Angeles Times: "Parties Rush to Overhaul Political Map."  March 31, 2001
 Los Angeles Times (Home Edition): "California to Gain Only One Congressional Seat." February 26, 2001
 PRNewswire: "Study Shows Minorities in California Lost Political Representation When Corrected Census Data Was Not Released." January 18, 2001

More recent redistricting news from California

More redistricting news from California from July 25, 2001-August 19, 2001

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
July 23, 2001

Down in the Valley.

Hoping to capitalize on Hispanic population gains throughout California in the 1990s, two prominent Hispanic groups last week urged the Golden State to draw a new House district into the San Joaquin Valley that would help elect another Latino House Member.

The groups also want to amass large Hispanic bases in the Long Beach-based district of Rep. Steve Horn (R), who is widely viewed as one of the Democrats' top redistricting targets, and the Palm Springs-based district of Rep. Mary Bono (R).

Statewide, the Hispanic population soared by 43 percent in the 1990s. California's 11 million Hispanics now make up 31 percent of its population.

The groups - the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the William C. Velasquez Institute - want to create a new district that would include most of Tulare County and the city of Fresno in the agriculture-rich Central Valley.

Those areas are currently represented by Reps. Cal Dooley (D), Bill Thomas (R) and George Radanovich (R). The region falls just south of the Modesto-based district of Rep. Gary Condit (D), whose political and legal woes are sure to be a major issue for Democrats who control the state's remapping process.

California's 53rd district will come as a result of the fact that the state gained one House seat in reapportionment.

"The San Joaquin Valley is growing dramatically, and a Tulare County seat made good sense," said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the institute. "This area has been historically divided for no good reason. There are no state Assembly members or Congress people who are from Tulare County."

The new district would be nearly 47 percent Hispanic.

Horn's 38th district would also change dramatically under the groups' plan. The 38th would shift the primarily Hispanic cities of Huntington Park, Cudahy, South Gate, Lynwood, Paramount, Bellflower and parts of other nearby cities into one district.

The new district would be about 69 percent Hispanic. Horn won a fifth term last November by just 1 point - by far his closest re-election margin.

The plan for Bono's 44th district would join Imperial County with parts of Riverside County "to unite Latino communities that have been divided" in the southeast part of the state, Gonzalez said. That district would be nearly 50 percent Hispanic.

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
July 16, 2001

Condit's (Redistricting) Dilemma.

The official line among California Democrats last week was that "no one's really thinking about" how Rep. Gary Condit's (D-Calif.) woes will affect redistricting in the nation's most-populous state.

"Don't believe that, not for a second. It's all we're thinking about. It's all we're talking about," said a top state Democratic official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Indeed, few House Members could have a more significant impact on redistricting in California than Condit, whose Central Valley 18th district is ripe for a GOP takeover (President Bush carried it by 9 points) and borders two Democratic-held districts desperately in need of help from party leaders, who control the state's remap.

Specifically, sources say, Democrats were debating how to shore up Condit, who won a sixth full term last year with 67 percent well before most people had even heard of missing 24-year-old intern Chandra Levy, while bolstering nearby Democratic Reps. Ellen Tauscher and Cal Dooley, who recently have faced competitive challengers. Other sources said party leaders are also preparing for Condit's possible resignation, which would allow them greater flexibility in the remap. Condit has said he plans to run for re-election.

Democrats also said they would like to target Rep. Richard Pombo (R), who represents a potential swing seat that borders Condit's to the north.

Meanwhile, Republicans, and some Democrats, have floated names of potential successors to Condit, either for a special election in the current district or in its new configuration in 2002.

State Republicans focused mostly on term-limited state Sen. Dick Monteith, who said he would run for Congress if Condit does not seek another term.

Democratic prospects included former Rep. Richard Lehman, an ally of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), state Sen. Jim Costa and former state Assemblyman Rusty Areias.

Another possible Democratic candidate is state Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, but Cardoza could be hindered by his own resume - he once worked for Condit as his special assistant for local government affairs.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) said Republicans would target the district, but only if Condit is not on the ballot.

"The 18th district is a district that is trending more Republican with every election. If the seat were to become vacant, it would be a huge battleground," Davis said, adding that the NRCC has not conducted a poll there since Condit's troubles began.

San Diego Union-Tribune
Battle lines are drawn as redistricting begins
John Marelius
May 21, 2001

It seemed an innocuous enough suggestion: Why not create just one congressional district that covers California's entire border with Mexico? That way, the representative in that district could devote more attention to the region's distinctive issue.

That was the case argued by former Assemblywoman Denise Moreno Ducheny, San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza Jr. and others in San Diego at a recent hearing on redistricting.

The suggestion was calmly taken under advisement by the state legislators considering how to redraw the boundaries of California's legislative and congressional districts to reflect population shifts identified by the 2000 census.

But upon hearing of the idea, Bob Filner, D-San Diego, one of three House members from California whose districts touch the border, hotly denounced it as a "ridiculous proposal."

"If you want to help the border, you want to have as many people as possible representing it, because the problem in Congress is nobody understands the border," he said.

Such conflicting philosophies of representation are argued every 10 years when electoral districts at all levels are reconfigured to meet the constitutional mandate that they be as equal in population as is practicable.

Redistricting may seem an arcane exercise in cartography, but it inevitably turns into political hand-to-hand combat.

The proposed "border district" is a classic example. There may be good-government cases to be made on both sides, but they quickly become subjugated to the colliding ambitions and ill-concealed mutual dislike of two otherwise like-minded South Bay Democratic political figures -- Filner and Assemblyman Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.

Vargas twice has run unsuccessfully against Filner, perhaps on the mistaken calculation that the South Bay's growing Latino population would tip the 50th District in his favor. Would Vargas' congressional prospects be enhanced if the district were redrawn to add overwhelmingly Latino Imperial County to the mix?

"Clearly, this is an attempt by Vargas to undercut me, I assume," said Filner. "What he's really doing is undercutting the constituents and undercutting the border. I'll run in any district they give me, but this is really a stupid idea."

Vargas said Filner has been aggressively lobbying legislative Democrats to leave his south San Diego County district alone. "As one person up here said, 'That ugly guy seems to have one person in mind, himself, in this whole process,' " Vargas said.

"I think he is just one of the most selfish politicians I've ever met, and that's sad," Vargas added.

Combat or compromise?

The decennial battle over redistricting typically involves legislators wrangling behind closed doors for months. Allies become enemies. The minority party wails that it is being done in by a greedy majority. Citizens groups complain their interests are being ignored. And, more often than not, everybody winds up in court.

"It is a process that brings out the worst in almost everybody," said Thomas Hofeller, redistricting director for the Republican National Committee.

This year, California legislative committees are at least beginning the work of reconfiguring congressional, legislative and Board of Equalization districts amid uplifting talk of openness, compromise and conciliation.

"I think it's very possible to think we can achieve a bipartisan redistricting," said Assemblyman Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, vice chairman of the Assembly Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee. "It takes openness and willingness to compromise."

Academic observers of past redistricting wars dismiss such talk as unrealistic.

"I can never in my life believe that reapportionment will be bloodless," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern California. "The culture argues against it. The politics argues against it. History argues against it."

Even so, a combination of political forces, notably term limits and big Democratic gains in recent elections, could combine to make the redrawing of legislative districts a much less contentious process than usual. At the same time, these and other dynamics could set the stage for all-out war over congressional districts.

'Diminishing returns'

Democrats have such commanding majorities in both houses of the Legislature -- 26 to 14 in the Senate, 50 to 30 in the Assembly -- that there is not much more to gain.

"The voters of California have in the last two elections very strongly leaned toward the Democratic Party and put both houses of the Legislature in strong Democratic control," said Assemblyman John Longville, D-San Bernardino, who is directing the redistricting effort in the lower house. "It is at the point where it is of questionable value to try to expand on those majorities. There is a point of diminishing returns."

With some creative line-drawing, Democrats conceivably could pad their majorities by a few seats. But to do so would involve weakening safe seats by shifting strong Democratic precincts into more marginal districts. That, Longville said, could come back to haunt Democrats if the partisan winds shift.

"Not through any altruism on my part or the leadership of the party in general, but purely through self-interest I believe a reasonable and fair redistricting is the way to go," he said.

Nationally, it's quite another matter. Democrats desperately want to erase the GOP's five-seat majority in the U.S. House and are looking to California for help.

"The House is so close to being in Democratic hands that I think there'll be some real skirmishing there," said Darry Sragow, who oversees Democratic Assembly campaigns.

Term limits also are scrambling the conventional redistricting calculations because all the state's legislators are now short-timers. As such, many have much less interest in how their own districts are redrawn than in how overlapping congressional districts are configured.

"Everything is in play now," said Kam Kuwata, consultant to the Assembly committee. "Twenty years ago, people might have been looking just at their own Assembly seats. Now, people are looking at a lot of different options for furthering their careers."

And as the Filner-Vargas feud attests, this phenomenon is as likely to create conflict within the parties as between them.

"Just as a civil war can often be the nastiest, the fight among Democrats or among Republicans can be particularly harsh," said Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Tim Hodson, director of the Center for California Studies at California State University Sacramento, said last year's election of Democrat Hilda Solis of Rosemead to Congress should send the message to House members that term limits have forever altered their comfortable political world.

Solis, a state senator facing term limits, concluded that her best shot at extending her career lay in taking on an incumbent Democratic House member, Matthew Martinez, in the primary. She won easily.

"The idea that a sitting legislator decided to challenge a House member of the same party has not sunk in," said Hodson, a former state Senate redistricting consultant.

The big dark cloud

Then there's California's electricity crisis, which has overwhelmed all other issues in Sacramento.

"This whole energy issue is a very dark cloud hanging over the Capitol," said Republican political consultant Ray McNally. "Anybody in elective office right now is becoming increasingly nervous. I don't think anybody has the stomach to go through some double-barreled reapportionment war."

Gov. Gray Davis has had little to say publicly on reapportionment, but it's widely believed he does not want another fight while he's trying to forge a bipartisan energy solution.

In addition, Davis needs two-thirds legislative votes to pass a budget, a fact that gives badly outnumbered Republicans what little leverage they have.

"Davis does not want a budget battle," said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the nonpartisan Target Book, which tracks California congressional and legislative races.

"If Republicans think they are getting (a bad deal) on reapportionment, I think they would do a scorched-earth policy and refuse to deliver any votes. And that would cause headaches that the governor just does not need right now."

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
May 14, 2001

Shouting Thomas, Cont.

Rep. Jerry Lewis Lewis (R-Calif.) abruptly resigned Thursday as head of the state's GOP House delegation, sources said, following a series of flare-ups over how Republicans should deal with the state's Democratic-controlled redistricting process.

Lewis announced his resignation to colleagues Wednesday following a number of heated closed-door meetings, during which several sources said Rep. Bill Thomas (R) had sought to take the lead on plotting their party's remap strategy. The delegation had informally assigned GOP Rep. Gary Miller to be its point man on the issue.

"There was a fairly strong disagreement between those folks over who ought to be saying what. There's been some tension over who should be our spokesman," said Lewis spokesman Jim Specht. "It caused him to realize that he was tired of being in the middle. He felt it was time for someone else to make the effort to pull everyone together."

Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has some background in redistricting. In 1999, he co-sponsored an unsuccessful effort to place a voter initiative on the 2000 ballot that would have shifted control of redistricting from the state Legislature to the courts.

Nonetheless, sources said, Members chose Miller to handle the prickly issue within the delegation because he is viewed as a more agreeable Member.

Nearly two years ago, Thomas berated then-Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson for refusing to endorse or help finance his redistricting plan for California. The House Member's comments so infuriated Nicholson that the RNC chairman fired off a nasty letter to Thomas and forwarded a copy to his leadership superiors.

The most recent skirmish took place earlier this month at a state GOP meeting near Los Angeles. At the meeting, Thomas, armed with a letter from Lewis, demanded that officials give him the floor and overrule a Miller aide who sought to speak on redistricting. State GOP Chairman Sean Steele, a Thomas rival, reluctantly let Thomas speak, angering the Miller aide.

Several GOP sources said Lewis' frustration reached its breaking point Monday when a visibly angry Miller confronted Lewis on the House floor to discuss the incident and ask why he had authorized Thomas to speak for the delegation on redistricting.

House Republicans plan to meet Thursday to consider selecting a new chairman. Sources said Rep. David Dreier ranks as a possible successor.

Ventura County Star
Drawing county's new lines critical-Redistricting: Shared thinking of county and ad hoc committee could prove beneficial.
Editorial
April 22, 2001

It only happens once every 10 years, but over the next few months it will be one of county government's more important exercises -- trying to figure out who belongs to the county's five supervisorial districts. For example, should District 4 Supervisor Judy Mikels, who has butted heads with residents of the Las Posas Valley in recent months, retain control of the Somis area, which old-timers have long maintained has stronger ties to nearby Camarillo than to nearby Moorpark? Should District 2 Supervisor Frank Schillo retain control of Port Hueneme, and the county's valuable deep-sea harbor, when common-sense geography suggests the port might better belong under the umbrella of District 5 Supervisor John Flynn, whose district is already the county's largest? Should the city of Ojai, which former Supervisor Maggie Kildee once said "will always be part of this district as long as I'm supervisor," remain with current District 3 Supervisor Kathy Long, when some have suggested it would make more sense for Ojai to join the rest of the Ojai Valley under District 1 Supervisor Steve Bennett?

Those scenarios might be among many to be discussed as Chief Administrative Officer Johnny Johnston and staff wade through the various factors that will determine the face of Ventura County's elections for the next decade, starting with an important primary next March. By law, supervisorial districts are measured by the number of people in each district, with a goal of equality in numbers. In other words, the county's nearly 754,000 population needs to be divided into five parts -- 150,639 each. Historically, numbers have been the key redistricting element. Demographic and geographic considerations have routinely been secondary. That being the case, from a pure numbers standpoint there's considerable work to be done. -- District 1, which includes Ventura, the Ojai Valley and a pocket of Oxnard, is the smallest district at 139,828 -- 7 percent below the goal. --District 2, which includes Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, half of Newbury Park, part of south Oxnard and Port Hueneme, is 3 percent above the goal at 155,077. --EDistrict 3, which includes the other half of Newbury Park, Camarillo, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Piru, Lockwood Valley, the Rincon -- and Ojai -- has 146,984 people, 2 percent below. --EDistrict 4, which covers Simi Valley, Moorpark and Somis, has 152,269, 1 percent above. -- District 5, which includes most of Oxnard, the county's largest city, and El Rio, has 159,030 -- 6 percent above.

How all of those numbers fit for the overall benefit of county residents rests in the hands of Mr. Johnston, who said last week he will present supervisors with several options, including ones that factor in demographic and geographic considerations. That's good. But the county can also receive important support in its efforts from the Ventura County Redistricting Task Force, a 15-member ad hoc committee that's reviewing boundary lines as they relate at the local, state and national levels. That group, says task force co-chairman Karl Lawson of Oxnard, is studying census and demographic information that he hopes will "encourage decision makers to take an active role in finding out what is meant by communities of interest." Mr. Lawson points out that since 1990, "There have been a whole series of court decisions that have altered the rules for how lines are drawn so that they are drawn today to meet what the court calls communities of interest. "Our committee wants to encourage the decision makers to take an active role to find out what is meant by communities of interest." Mr. Lawson says a number of factors -- not racial or ethnic -- need to be considered, commonalities, for example, that might include schools, economics, where people work, shop and play, voting patterns and the like. Those points, we concur, will be critical to consider, and we're hopeful Mr. Johnston and county demographer Steve Wood will work closely with the Redistricting Task Force for a sharing of information that could prove valuable in the process. Because, given that this opportunity to make the county's supervisorial districts the best balanced and most meaningful only happens once every 10 years, making sure the results benefit the greatest number of residents possible is absolutely the most important point.


Los Angeles Times
Redistricting Defanged by Energy Crisis; Democrats and Republicans May Actually Get Along
by Susan F. Rasky
April 22, 2001

If it weren't for the energy crisis, which is rapidly becoming a budget crisis, the subject consuming Sacramento about now would be redistricting. Redistricting season opened officially late last month, when the U.S. Census Bureau released the detailed population figures the Legislature will use to redraw district lines for its members and for members of the California congressional delegation. No process in government is more nakedly or purposefully political. The U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps inadvertently, underscored that point last week in its decision on a long-disputed congressional district in North Carolina. In effect, the court ruled that state legislatures can gerrymander to their hearts' content as long as the purpose is to enhance partisan advantage rather than solely to boost the chances for election of candidates from a particular race or ethnicity. The party with enough votes to decide where the new political lines go can determine the partisan makeup of the Legislature and the House of Representatives not only for the next election, but for the next decade.

That's why the stakes were so high in the 1998 gubernatorial race and in last year's legislative elections. Gray Davis' gubernatorial victory and Democratic gains in both election cycles make California one of 21 states in the country in which both the legislature and the governorship are controlled by the same party, and one of only eight states where that party is Democratic. But the sweet visions of a partisan gerrymander that danced in the heads of Sacramento Democrats for 18 months, and the various schemes for revenge by ballot initiative or court challenge that comforted Sacramento Republicans, have given way to a new, shared nightmare: What if voters angry over skyrocketing energy prices, rolling blackouts and now the threat of higher taxes or budget cuts in popular programs decide to throw the bums out in 2002? And not just the Democratic bums who are supposed to be in charge of the Legislature, but the Republican bums who supported energy deregulation in the mid-'90s? Nothing concentrates the political mind like the prospect of involuntary retirement.

The energy mess is opening the way for a very different kind of gerrymander than anyone in or out of Sacramento expected. As one leading Republican on the elections and reapportionment committee put it, "Given the uncertainty about Gray Davis' strength, and given the uncertainty about blackouts next year, the Democratic definition of a safe seat changes." Consider the current situation in the state capital. Davis may be bearing the brunt of media scorn and voter anger for not delivering on his vows to hold electricity prices down, ensure adequate power supplies or punish energy producers that have manipulated the markets. But the Legislature hasn't got much to show either for a four-month "emergency" session that has produced exactly one new conservation law--two if you count the technical correction of the first one--and a series of measures granting the governor authority to engage in energy-supply purchases that now appear to be costing millions of dollars more than anyone anticipated and eating away the budget surplus. Before the phrase "average cost of a kilowatt hour" entered the political vocabulary, this year's assorted redistricting scenarios shared a few common themes. First, a presumption that Democrats would re-carve the congressional districts artfully enough to shore up swing seats, like those of Reps. Ellen O. Tauscher in the Bay Area, Lois Capps in Santa Barbara and Jane Harman of Rolling Hills. Second, that the essentially Democratic district in Long Beach now represented by moderate Republican Rep. Steve Horn would be redrawn to assure Democratic victory, or more likely collapsed and parceled out to best suit other Democratic needs. Third, that California's new 53rd congressional district would be lodged somewhere in San Bernardino or Riverside and would, however it was configured, result in a net gain to Democrats, who dominate the current congressional delegation 32 to 20.

In the state Assembly and Senate, where Democrats are shy by only a few seats in each chamber of the two-thirds majorities, the decision about where and how to rearrange the map was essentially a calculation about greed. That super-majority is attractive, because it is both veto-proof and sufficient to pass the budget and other important bills--including redistricting plans--without any need for Republican votes. On the other hand, how close to the magic two-thirds number is it worth getting when the governor belongs to the same party, and how brazenly can existing GOP districts be sliced and diced when Republican votes are still necessary to approve this year's redistricting legislation? It all promised to be a delicious political stew even without considering more subtle and vexing issues like dividing territory among rival ethnic groups or power contests between north and south, central valley and coast, urban and rural areas. Those conflicts don't go away because politicians are worried about getting punished by voters for the energy mess, but the calibrations all change. "I think there is an acceptance by all people in leadership that we don't push partisanship too far," said a Democrat closely involved in redistricting strategy. "I think the energy argument has some relevance further down the road, but I don't think the connection between the energy crisis and redistricting has been looked at very widely yet." Such redistricting restraint by Democrats and the possibility for genuine cooperation by outnumbered Republicans strongly suggest we will be looking at something the academics like to call a bipartisan gerrymander. That has kind of a nice ring, but is perhaps better thought of as incumbents' protection act. "A Democrat incumbents' protection act," the GOP lawmakers was quick to point out, "also means safe Republican seats becoming safer, marginal Republican seats becoming safer, and there are more swing seats." As redistricting veterans like to remind mere observers, the most vicious and important fights are not necessarily partisan. They are intraparty, between those who hold seats and those who would like to hold them. That dynamic is particularly complicated in a world of term limits, where the game is less about protecting your current legislative territory than it is about securing a safe district in the seat you aspire to: the one in Congress, which has no term limits.

The heavy bargaining, arm-twisting and bruised-ego massaging that will be required to divvy up the congressional spoils will be handled lawmaker to lawmaker and probably won't occur until late in the summer. Meantime, the preliminaries and the map drawing are being handled by Michael Berman, a famously reclusive Democratic political consultant who has been hired both by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, to do the Senate redistricting, and by Democrats in the California congressional delegation, who have chipped in $ 20,000 each to pay for his services on their behalf. Berman learned his craft at the knee of Rep. Phillip Burton, the state senator's late brother and California's great master of the gerrymander. He himself is the brother of veteran Southern California congressman and former Assemblyman Howard Berman, one of the beneficiaries of Phil Burton's district-carving talent. Cozy as all that may be, consultant Berman faces the daunting task of having to satisfy conflicting interests of three distinct groups: termed-out or soon-to-be termed-out state legislators with their sights on Washington; nervous congressional Democrats who want both protection from ambitious colleagues in Sacramento and safer reelection margins; and national Democratic leaders who look to California to offset GOP redistricting gains elsewhere in the country and help Democrats retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The man who had been expected to be brokering this set of negotiations was Davis, who, at least publicly, has urged all along that Democrats not overplay their redistricting hand. Political translation? The governor would be less than pleased to see fellow Democrats with enough votes to override his veto. Whether he actually emerges from the energy wars to have a significant role in how new political maps get drawn is an open question. The smart money says Davis is still the favorite in the 2002 gubernatorial elections, because no Republican can tout an energy "solution" that differs from what the governor has tried. But Sacramento Democrats seem to be hedging their bets. In that sense, the "bipartisan gerrymander" may say less about the final shape of the redistricting plan than it does about belated consciousness raising. Democrats perhaps have figured out that while they belong to the same party as the governor, they also belong to the Legislature. And despite the ravages of term limits, that still happens to be a separate branch of government.

Susan F. Rasky is senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley


The San Francisco Chronicle
Contra Costa to redraw supervisorial districts; Census shows population increases in east county far surpassing other areas
by Jason B. Johnson
April 21, 2001

Eastern Contra Costa's 40 percent population explosion in the past decade -- which far outstripped other parts of the county -- means more political clout and a new shape to county supervisorial districts. The Board of Supervisors will begin discussing redistricting on Tuesday, and must adjust the five supervisors' district boundaries by July 24. The new maps could result in communities like Bay Point being shifted from the east county District 5 into Contra Costa's central District 4, which is centered in Concord. It could also mean increased visibility for once-overlooked eastern Contra Costa cities. "I'm proud of being in an area where at one time people wouldn't give a second thought to living in, and now they're coming in from all parts of the Bay Area to live," said Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who represents east county.

The newly released 2000 census shows that District 5, which includes Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Byron and Discovery Bay, gained 68,796 people since 1990, giving it the largest population growth in any county. The county's four other districts grew by 7 to 18 percent over the past decade. Under the 2000 census, each of the county's districts are supposed to have at least 189,673 residents. After the 1990 census, each district averaged about 160,000 residents. For decades, the bulk of Contra Costa County's population stretched along its northern border from Richmond to Pittsburg, and down through Concord and Walnut Creek. Growth during the 1970s and '80s saw the San Ramon Valley boom, and the biggest change in this census is in the eastern areas from Antioch to Brentwood. Redistricting could mean a group of cities like Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, which share a common identity and the moniker Lamorinda, could potentially be split into separate districts. "Certainly, Lamorinda's preference is to stay as one unit or stay in one supervisorial district," said Board Chair Gayle Uilkema, who represents District 2, which encompasses those and other cities.

Uilkema said every district will have to change to make sure that the population is evenly divided among supervisors. Because of the growth in east county, the other districts will all be moving eastward or to the south. "We're all going to have to shift to compensate," said Uilkema. "It's like the tube of toothpaste. My district will be pushed in on the west side, and the only places it can go is to the south and to the east." The booming growth in the eastern end of the county follows decades of some east county residents feeling looked down on by their neighbors as smaller and less important than the larger cities of Concord and Richmond, partly because their supervisor represented a more sprawling geographical area and partly because of the region's more blue-collar makeup. Gloria Magleby of the Bay Point Municipal Advisory Council said her community, formerly known as West Pittsburg, would be comfortable to remain as part of east county or move to central Contra Costa. "Bay Point connects to both east county and to the Concord area also," said Magleby. "Matter of fact, our kids go to high school in Concord, and stay there." "We are on the verge of some really great things," Magleby said. "Whoever gets us gets a gem, a jewel."

Growth is the major issue for east county residents, who choose supervisors, mayors and city council members based on their stand on extending BART, widening Highway 4, moving the county urban limit line and bringing jobs to the region. In places like western and central Contra Costa, there is little room left to build new homes, more businesses and easier access to BART and those supervisors do not have to worry as much about demands by their constituents over large new subdivisions or overburdened streets and highways. Glover said his region's growth could increase the chances for improving area roads and drawing more businesses. "Numbers equate to power, or for sure influence," said Glover. "(But) you have to have the cooperation for the communities to work together."E-mail Jason B. Johnson at jbjohnson@sfchronicle.com

 



Ventura County Star
Democrats Assess Redistricting 
by Timm Herdt
April 1, 2001

When House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt stepped to the speaker's platform at the California Democratic Party convention on Saturday, he was introduced just as he had been at the national party convention last summer -- as "the next speaker of the House." It didn't work out that way then -- Republicans retained control of the House in November -- but Democrats believe the Census Bureau has just given them the tools to change Gephardt's job title in 2002. The new population data will be used to redraw all 435 congressional districts -- nearly one-eighth of them in California, where a Democratic-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gray Davis will reconfigure 52 districts and create a 53rd from scratch. The key strategic issue they must decide is how aggressive they want to be. With the defeat of four Republican incumbents in California last fall, Democrats now hold 32 of the state's 52 congressional seats. Have they reached a saturation point? Rep. Sam Farr, D-Monterey, said it will be difficult to expand the party's control of the California delegation. "The voters did the reapportionment themselves last year," he said. "We don't need to be too greedy."

But the pressure from national party leaders to bring in still more seats from California will be intense, said Democratic consultant Mary Hughes of Palo Alto. That is because population shifts have created new districts in Republican-tilting states such as Arizona and Texas, and gains in California will be needed to offset potential losses there, she said. Asked if there is room to gain still more seats in California, Gephardt said, "We do think we have a chance." Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said redistricting will make next year's congressional elections the most contested in years. "In 2000, there were about 25 seats in play," he said. "Next year, I think 100 seats will be in play." McAuliffe said the national committee has committed $13.5 million to assist state legislatures, the largest financial commitment it has ever made to redistricting.

In California, the national effort to aggressively redraw districts for national partisan advantage will be compounded by at least two factors: Davis' trademark caution and the personal political interests of state lawmakers. Sen. Jack O'Connell, D-San Luis Obispo, said Davis has sent a clear message to lawmakers: "Don't get too greedy, don't get too creative." Davis does not want to sign a redistricting bill that appears blatantly partisan, or one that will be rejected by the courts because of gerrymandered configurations. There is another wild card in 2001 that did not exist in decades past: legislative term limits. "Because of term limits, there is much more interest by legislators in congressional districts," O'Connell said. "It used to be that was left pretty much to Washington." Assemblyman Herb Wesson, D-Los Angeles, agreed. "There was a time when people in the Assembly did not give diddly-squat about even a state Senate district, let alone a congressional district," Wesson said. "The new people are going to be much more strategic."

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said he believes redistricting could yield as many as three new Democratic seats in California -- a new seat in the Inland Empire and shifts of Republican-held seats in Sacramento and Long Beach. Rep. Sam Horn, R-Long Beach, was narrowly re-elected last fall. "When you lose a seat by 2,000 votes and you control the redistricting and you can't solve that problem, something's wrong," Sherman said. Sherman and most others interviewed said they do not believe a new Democratic-dominated district centered around Oxnard can be created. Oxnard's population of 170,358 represents more than a quarter of a congressional district, and voter registration in the city is 54 percent Democratic, 27 percent Republican. That makes it a Democratic redistricting plum, but there appears to be no way to make a new district on the Central Coast without threatening Democratic incumbents Farr of Monterey and Lois Capps of Santa Barbara. "Most people believe that Oxnard is either going to go to Lois' district or mine," said Sherman, whose San Fernando Valley-based district includes Thousand Oaks. Which way it goes, he said, will be determined by how urban districts in Los Angeles are redrawn. "There is more power in L.A. going out than in Ventura County going in," Sherman said. -- Timm Herdt's e-mail address is herdt@insidevc.com.


The Daily News of Los Angeles
Congress Members Fret Over Districts; Reapportionment Could Reshape Communities' Clout
by Bill Hillburg
April 1, 2001

The Democrats have the raw power. The Republicans have the raw numbers. But the final shape of congressional reapportionment is anybody's guess. The first returns from Census 2000, which will be used by the Democrat- dominated state Legislature to redraw boundaries and make room for California's new 53rd District seat in the House of Representatives, show most Southern California incumbent Republicans with an excess of constituents and most Democrats below the ideal district population of 630,088. That ideal figure is derived from the state population of 33.9 million divided by 53, the number of House representatives the state will have based on the 2000 Census. Federal law requires state reapportionment plans to adhere as closely as possible to the ideal, to provide equal representation in Congress.

Sources close to the process say that, even though districts will have to be redrawn statewide, it's a forgone conclusion that the 53rd District seat will be created somewhere in Southern California, the epicenter of the state's population growth in the 1990s. Insiders also say that Democratic line-drawers may face two tough choices when it comes to taking advantage of the GOP's excess numbers. They can use them to carve out a new Democrat-safe seat in the Southland, or parcel them out to strengthen existing Democratic districts that are well below the population average. That second scenario could leave current districts generally intact and might lead to the creation of a new district in a major growth region such as the Inland Empire - Riverside and San Bernardino counties. "I think the new district will be somewhere in the Inland Empire," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills. "There is a lot of sentiment to move that way. Right now, with the population growth, Inland Empire House members represent an average of 20 percent more constituents than the rest of us do. That's not equal representation."

"We have more people in our district than we are allowed," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, who exceeds the ideal by 60,438 constituents. "I am resigned to the fact that my district will change. But I hope that the new plan will see to it that communities of interest like Santa Clarita are kept intact and together." Those sentiments were echoed by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, who will also see changes in his district. He has 38,102 constituents fewer than the new ideal total. "This reapportionment process is still somewhat of a mystery to me," said Schiff. "And it's a long process that will inevitably face court challenges. "My preference would be to keep the same areas we have now and simply grow," Schiff added. "My district has a distinctive character and many shared concerns. Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and surrounding communities also cooperate on a lot of projects like improving education." Sherman said his fellow Democrats, wherever they live, should feel comfortable with the reapportionment process. "There will be change," he said. "But a Democratic governor and Legislature are going to see to it that Democratic neighborhoods are put into Democratic districts." He also noted that the Democrats' two House wins in November - which saw Schiff beat GOP incumbent James Rogan and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Torrance, ousting incumbent Steven Kuykendall - may have taken pressure off the party's remappers.

"Those two districts were going to be key targets for reapportionment," said Sherman. "But we achieved our goals at the polls instead of with a marking pen." Another possible reapportionment scenario, according to some observers, would involve creating a new district in the eastern San Fernando Valley. Assemblyman Tony Cardenas, D-Mission Hills, who is facing term limits, has spoken of the possibility of running for Congress. Some speculate that such a district could include parts of McKeon's constituency in Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley. The remap scheme might also shift Sherman's district west farther into Ventura County while pitting McKeon and Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Oxnard, in a newly carved-out GOP district. Gallegly said Democrats would be better served using excess constituents to shore up incumbents' seats, and said they should leave his current district alone. "Reapportionment never ceases to amaze me, but I believe my district should stay intact," said Gallegly. "It's important to me to continue to represent the specific and important interests of the people of Ventura County."


Los Angeles Times
Parties Rush to Overhaul Political Map; Redistricting the Decennial Battle over Legislators' Turf Promises to Be Even More Troublesome Because of Term Limits and Shifts in Ethnic Populations
Miguel Bustillo and Nicholas Riccardi
March 31, 2001 

Now that the numbers are out, the jockeying begins. The release of the 2000 census data officially inaugurates redistricting season--a mad scramble by political parties and pressure groups to carve up California to suit their needs. The state's population grew more slowly than it has in decades, meaning that there will be only one additional congressional seat in California--the smallest gain in 80 years--to accommodate an increasingly diverse array of interests. Democrats, who are firmly in control of the statehouse and therefore of the redrawing of California's political map, will have to decide how aggressively they want to act to increase their power in Sacramento and Washington. In the past, the party in power has resorted to tactics such as collapsing two districts held by the opposing party into one, forcing popular incumbents to run against each other. In Los Angeles, the school board, county Board of Supervisors and City Council could all be rejiggered to represent shifts in population favoring increasingly Latino and Asian neighborhoods.

Similarly, Orange County has seen largely white communities transformed by large influxes of Asians and Latinos, potentially setting the stage for political changes to come in that long-standing bastion of the Republican Party. Each of those possibilities is freighted with potentially weighty ethnic and political implications, however, as one group's gain often comes at another's expense. The Assembly and state Senate must complete redistricting by September. For the first time, the census data are available online to anyone with a computer, and the Legislature is drawing up plans for the required public hearings. But much of the work will be done behind closed doors, as experts in the arcane art of reapportionment scramble the state's political map. "What we have is a situation where we have to figure out 53 sets of lines for the House, 40 for the Senate and 80 for the Assembly," said veteran Democratic political operative Kam Kuwata, who has been hired as a redistricting consultant for the lower house. "There is a degree to which you have to tear it all apart before you can rebuild it."

The two biggest factors, analysts agree, will be term limits and California's new designation as a state without a racial majority. During the last redistricting, in 1991, term limits had just been approved by voters and the impact was still several years off. But now many of the legislators redrawing district lines will be forced from office and may be looking ahead to their next elected position--which could influence how they redraw political boundaries. Assemblyman Bill Leonard (R-San Bernardino), one of the few Sacramento legislators who was around for the prior redistricting fight, predicts that term limits will place this one in the record books. "I always thought it was vicious before, but this is going to make the past wars look like the WWF," he said. "For the first time, senators will be looking at the Assembly plans, Assembly members will be looking even more at the Senate plans, and both will be looking at the congressional plans. The people in Washington will be looking at Sacramento with fear."

The state's complex racial breakdown makes this redistricting round potentially even more dizzying. "The significant changes in California's population increase competition among minorities for political power, and how the lines are drawn are going to have an impact on that," said Allan Hoffenblum, a GOP political consultant and publisher of the Target Book, a district-by-district guide to state races. "There will be more ethnic tensions this reapportionment than probably we've ever seen before." Sizing up the new census numbers, some experts come to the opposite conclusion. Some hope that divvying up the state between an increasing number of racial groups could be more harmonious than expected. "People are going to have to play a new role here, because no one group is going to be able to dictate what happens," said Geraldine Washington, president of the Los Angeles branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. "We don't have any majorities here."

The census found that Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in California. Nancy Yu, a research associate with the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Center in Los Angeles, said the main focus of her group will be "with the increasing ethnic diversity in California, creating districts in all communities." The most significant political force in the redistricting game may be the growing number of Latino politicians who are well-positioned to expand their ranks, possibly by capturing districts that long have been represented by whites or blacks. Latinos hold six of California's 52 House seats, 20 of 80 Assembly seats, and seven of 40 state Senate seats. But according to the newest census data, they represent 29% to 32% of the state's population. "Therefore, no, we don't have direct representation," said Amadis Velez, California redistricting coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Velez would not go as far as to say he expects the new congressional seat to be drawn for Latinos, but did add: "We don't think right now the way the landscape lies offers full and fair representation for Latinos."

Many of the areas in which the Latino population has burgeoned have been traditionally represented by black or white leaders. In the black political community, which struggled for decades to elect African Americans to state and federal office, there has been audible concern about seeing political power diluted by demographic shifts, such as could happen in the 37th Congressional District in southern Los Angeles County. There, Democratic congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, who is black, represents increasingly Latino neighborhoods in Compton, Wilmington and north Long Beach. Her district, which was 34% black in 1990, has been inundated with new Latino residents. Similar trends are at work in some of Los Angeles' traditionally African American City Council seats. Latino groups say they do not want to increase their political clout at the expense of other minorities. "I think what you're going to see with Latinos and African Americans is an attempt to work together to make a win-win for both communities," said Alan Clayton, a redistricting expert with the County Chicano Employees Association.

Democrats do not hold all the cards, even though they control both houses in Sacramento. Any reapportionment plan needs a two-thirds vote to ensure that it cannot be challenged in a referendum. It will require GOP votes to reach that mark, as it will to garner the two-thirds majority to pass a budget or legislation dealing with the energy crisis. That could force Democrats to be a bit more accommodating than would usually be the case. "That's the only power Republicans have, and I expect some hardball politics will be played on that," Hoffenblum said. "In the midst of this utility crisis the last thing Gov. Gray Davis wants is a scorched-earth fight on his budget. So at some point, the Republicans say, 'Hey, listen, Mr. Governor, we'll get you a budget on time, but we need a, b, c and d. And one of those is don't screw us on reapportionment.' "


Los Angeles Times (Home Edition)
California to Gain Only One Congressional Seat
By Mark Z. Barabak
February 26, 2001

California will gain just one congressional seat as a result of the 2000 census, the smallest number in 80 years. Still, with 53 members, California will have the largest House delegation in history. The delegation already is overwhelmingly Democratic, as is the state Legislature. With the party controlling redistricting, the question is whether Democrats in Sacramento will seek to increase their majorities and further hobble California Republicans or decide merely to protect incumbents and preserve the status quo. Complicating matters are term limits, which make legislators keen to enhance their options, and the tension between incumbents and restive Democratic allies--most notably Latinos--who are hungry for a share of power.

"In many ways, Democrats have maxed out," said Leo Estrada, a UCLA professor of urban planning and a consultant to the Legislature and minority groups involved in reapportionment. "If Democrats want to expand [their power], they will have to expand outside Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area into places that are more competitive." That is because much of California's growth over the last decade has come in the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and the region between Orange County and San Diego, all more conservative than the two big cities. The overwhelmingly Democratic strength in California is in contrast to the pattern in the rest of the country, where the two major parties are much more competitive. That could increase pressure on Democrats in Sacramento to draw congressional lines here as favorably as possible, to offset a loss of seats elsewhere.

Party strategists may try to carve out a Democratic seat stretching north from the Central Valley, put the one new seat in friendly territory covering parts of the Inland Empire and Imperial Valley, and collapse the districts of two or three Republican incumbents. Those vulnerable are David Dreier of San Dimas, Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley, Gary Miller of Diamond Bar and Steve Horn of Long Beach. Democrats have a problem, however, within their own party as Latino groups push for greater representation. Creating new districts with Latino majorities could come at the expense of incumbents in such places as the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere around Los Angeles. "That could require three or four [incumbents] to restructure their districts in fairly dramatic ways," said Estrada, something self-interested lawmakers are loath to do. The changes may be less dramatic--and less painful--in the Legislature because there are few places left in California with significant Democratic registration that are not already represented by Democrats. One wrinkle is the state's electricity crisis. "It puts the governor in an interesting position," said Tony Quinn, a GOP analyst. "He has to decide if he really wants to pick a fight" over reapportionment when he may need Republican support to solve the energy mess.


PRNewswire
Study Shows Minorities in California Lost Political Representation When Corrected Census Data Was Not Released
January 18, 2001

A study released today by the Presidential Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board found that minorities in California lost voter representation in eight legislative districts and one U.S. Congressional district when corrected census data was not released from the 1990 census. The study can be viewed at http://www.cmbp.gov. The study, conducted by Dr. Allan Lichtman, one of the nation's preeminent election experts, analyzed the ten states with the largest undercount in the 1990 census to find if the use of corrected census data would have affected the opportunities for minority voters to fully participate in the political process and elect officials of their choice.

Given the history of the undercount, the study could indicate a significant loss in minority voter representation if adjusted census data is not released in 2001. "The implications of these findings speak directly to the future voting opportunities for minorities in California. Without the most accurate picture of the state, equal representation is much harder to achieve," said Gilbert F. Casellas, Presidential Co-Chair of the Monitoring Board. "California is among the most affected states because of the tremendous undercounting of minorities," said Lichtman. "The undercount in Los Angeles County alone comprised some 306,000 persons, 37 percent of the total state undercount and 53 percent of the population of a congressional district in California."

Lichtman said the use of corrected data would have enhanced minority voter opportunities by increasing the baseline of majority-minority districts against which the next redistricting plan will be measured. California Lt. Governor and Census Monitoring Board Member Cruz M. Bustamante added, "One reasons I sponsored the legislation that launched California's massive census outreach campaign in California was to fulfill the promise of the Constitution: one person, one vote and equal representation under the law. Dr. Lichtman's study shows that if we aren't able to use data that reflects the most accurate portrait of our State then we will have broken that promise." The U.S. Census Monitoring Board, established by Congress in 1997, is a bipartisan board that monitors the Census Bureau's conduct of the 2000 Census. Its findings are reported every six months to Congress. For more information on the Board, visit: http://www.cmbp.gov CONTACT: John Chambers of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, 301-713-6672



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