Every ten years, after the conclusion of the U.S. Census, new boundaries for congressional, state and local districts are drawn in a process, called Redistricting. Have you ever wondered why Oakland’s districts run from the flatlands to hills? These geographic boundaries were developed through the redistricting process, where the process outcome is an adopted redrawn district map of the city to be implemented for the next decade, affecting results of elections and development of city policies and procedures. For Oakland, the 2021 redistricting process will be its inaugural community led process.
In 2014, Oakland voters passed Measure DD, which created a new independent and non-politically affiliated Oakland Redistricting Commission to redraw the boundaries for the City Council and Oakland Unified School Board districts. This measure removed and prevents elected officials from participating in the city’s redistricting process. The Oakland Redistricting Commission is comprised of 15 community members who represent each of the city’s districts, have been Oakland residents for at least three years and were selected through an application process.
A redrawn map of the city should be adopted to represent equal and equitable representation for all Oaklanders. The new districts must be adopted in compliance with federal, state and local laws which specify specific criteria for adoption, in priority order of: (1) To the extent practicable, city council districts shall be geographically contiguous; (2) To the extent practicable, the geographic integrity of any local neighborhood or local community of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division; (3) To the extent practicable, city council districts shall be bounded by natural and artificial barriers, by streets, or by the boundaries of the city; (4) To the extent practicable, and where it does not conflict with the preceding criteria in this subdivision, city council districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness in a manner that nearby areas of population are not bypassed in favor of more distant populations.
A critical part of the redistricting process is to ensure there is adequate public engagement and outreach, especially encouraged to non- English-speaking communities. The public will have full access to maps produced and under the Commission’s review and the ability to submit public comment in multiple formats. All potential maps will be made available for public comment for a minimum of 14 days prior to the Commission voting on the proposal.
The Oakland Redistricting Commission recently released their schedule of public hearing and workshops on the following dates (all times at 6:00pm):
- Wednesday, August 11,2021
- Wednesday, September 8, 2021
- Wednesday, October 13, 2021
- Wednesday, November 10, 2021
The August and September public hearing dates will focus on communities of interest testimony which will help the Commission identify interest groups that should remain in the same district boundary. The October and November meetings will focus on testimony surrounding the proposed draft maps, which will be available in early-October 2021. The Commission’s deadline to approve the new district boundaries is December 31, 2021. To learn more about redistricting and the members of the Oakland Redistricting Commission, visit: City of Oakland | Redistricting Commission (oaklandca.gov).