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Tuesday night could be the last chance for the public to give input on the city’s redistricting maps, even though another map was added to the mix on Friday.
The newest map is a merging of the two maps brought to the table July 26 by Councilmembers Sandy Sheedy and Steve Cohn.
Cohn said he and Sheedy decided to merge their maps, since they were so similar.
Redistricting will likely be the biggest topic of discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. at 915 I St.
“This is the best opportunity for people to provide public testimony,” said Scot Mende, the city’s new growth and infill manager.
Currently, the council is looking at the four maps submitted by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Redistricting, the merged map from Cohn and Sheedy (pictured above) and the maps submitted individually by Cohn and Sheedy. The latter two maps likely won’t get much consideration, if any, in light of the new one.
“The council could, in essence, say, ‘This is the map we want. Staff, please prepare the ordinance and bring it back for adoption in two weeks,’ ” Mende said Monday.
Cohn said that is what he wants to see from the meeting.
“My goal would be to narrow it down to one map,” he said. “That would still give us time to make refinements and tweak it.”
The deadline to redraw the districts is Sept. 27.
At the contentious July 26 City Council meeting, Cohn said he introduced his map because he didn’t want to break up the neighborhoods, which he said was a problem with the four maps submitted by the advisory committee.
“I would say all four maps have problems, frankly, but the one that seemed to have the most support on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Redistricting was Map D,” Cohn said Monday.
He added that he used Map D as a starting point for his map and then altered it to bring some neighborhoods in North Sacramento and Del Paso Heights back together.
“It still keeps all of downtown and Midtown together (in District 4), but the River District and the railyards go in District 3,” he said. “That has the advantage that whoever is the council member in District 3, which is me at the moment, will have more time and will be able to focus on railyards more. The council member representing downtown and Midtown will have their hands full.”
Cohn said he and Sheedy worked together to come to the current merged version of their two maps.
Sheedy did not return phone calls Monday.
The new map came as a surprise to Nick Avdis, a neighborhood leader who lives in Valley View Acres, which is currently in District 1, but which under the new map would be put in District 2.
“I would say it’s a little bit of a concern that something arose like this sort of at the last minute before the hearing,” he said.
He added that the approximately 450 residents in the neighborhood identify more with Natomas in District 1 than neighborhoods in District 2, and issues such as levees and the possibility of nearby land annexation – both in District 1 – impact them.
“We feel our interests are better-aligned with District 1,” said Avdis, who partook in the redistricting meetings the city has held over the past five months and even submitted a map himself.
He speculated that the reason his neighborhood was put into District 2 in the new map is because Cohn and Sheedy were trying to lessen population deviation between districts.
Cohn acknowledged that the new map he and Sheedy put together isn’t perfect, adding that it’s not possible to make one that will satisfy everyone.
Currently, the merged map has a population deviation of 11.9 percent between districts. Original guidelines for the citizen-submitted maps called for deviations of 10 percent or less, but Mende said that’s not a law, and if there are reasons for the deviation that are justified, it can still be used.
The law requires that districts be evenly split by population, but it does allow for some variation. Mende added that a 10 percent deviation is a rule of thumb used as a guideline.
“I’m fairly confident that any of those seven maps would pass legal muster,” he said. “There is no perfect solution.”
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.