Mapping Our Future

If you get bored doing the crossword puzzle this weekend, you can turn to the draft maps released by the Citizen Redistricting Commission on Friday, June 10, 2011. Puzzling over what these will mean to the citizens of California and especially to San Francisco and the Bay Region will give you plenty to think about. You can find links to the draft maps on the Commission’s website and examine the changes suggested in the State Assembly and Senate districts as well as the Congressional districts.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in San Francisco will be a reduction in the Senate seats. At the present time, there are two State Senators representing different parts of the city—Leland Yee in the Western section and parts of San Mateo, and Mark Leno in the rest of the city and part of Marin. The new plan, if adopted, would allow San Francisco only one Senate seat. That could greatly impact the clout the city has in Sacramento—two voices are stronger than one. Furthermore, it will make life even more difficult for San Francisco elected officials who want to move up the ladder from local to Assembly to Senate—and then perhaps seek national office.

Every newspaper in town has been covering this issue. See stories in the Chronicle and the Examiner, probably every day for the next week or so as reporters find new facets of the maps to explore. The Bay Area Citizen has a map showing the old and new senate districts in the area. It’s the kind of map you could study for hours and still think of new impacts it might have on the representatives and citizens of the various regions.

The Commission will be holding meetings over the next few weeks. San Francisco’s turn comes on Monday, June 27 at Fort Mason Center, Cowell Theater, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Citizen’s are invited to attend to give their input and to suggest changes that would help communities to be better represented. You can also send comments online through the Commissions website . But don’t wait too long. A new draft of the maps will be released on July 8 and the entire process should be over by the end of July when the final maps are unveiled. The Commission has worked on a tight schedule and seems to have done an efficient job of completing the mandatory redistricting of the state.

California’s Citizen Commission, established through a ballot measure with the help of the League of Women Voters, is changing the process by which districts are determined. This effort to take the decisions out of the hands of politicians and give it to the citizens, appears to be working well, but making sure that the interests of all groups and communities are served requires the input of individual citizens. Take the time to study the maps and add your voice to the mix.

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