Assembly redistricting keeps Sonoma Valley split
Those who hoped that Sonoma Valley would be unified under the newly drawn state Assembly District boundaries were disappointed last week when the latest iteration of maps showed the region still split into separate districts.
On Dec. 8, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission released the latest versions of its maps with portions of the Valley in Assembly District 4 and portions in Assembly District 12. The CCRC is the 14-member body charged with redrawing the state’s congressional, state Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization voting-district lines based on population data from the most recent 10-year census.
Under the newest map, Assembly District 4 would place the more urban portions of the Valley – including the City of Sonoma, El Verano and the Springs – in a district that includes Napa, Lake and Yolo counties. Assembly District 12, would fold the eastern side of the Valley – from Kenwood to Glen Ellen to Sears Point – into a district that includes Petaluma and all of Marin County.
Sonoma Valley being split into two Assembly Districts is nothing new. Currently, the Valley is divided largely along north-south lines, with the City of Sonoma and areas south within District 10, represented in the state legislature by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), while areas north of the city limits are in District 4, represented by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar Curry (D-Davis).
However, prior to last week, the latest maps from November depicted a united Sonoma Valley placed within a single district running from Kenwood to the Golden Gate Bridge.
For state-politics watchdog and Sonoma City Councilmember Sandra Lowe, the reversal of course was particularly frustrating.
“It was close to being just fine,” Lowe said of the November map which placed Sonoma Valley in a single Assembly district. “I don’t know why they changed it; it’s unfortunate.”
Lowe is no fan of the current boundaries which divided the Valley into separate districts following the 2010 census and, she said, “now they’ve made it worse.”
Lowe said that by splitting a region into separate representational boundaries dilutes its influence in Sacramento.
“(What Assemblymember) would put an office in Sonoma, where’s there’s only 10,000 people?” asked Lowe, rhetorically. “They’ll put it in Napa or Davis.”
And what about getting a Sonoma Valley resident elected to the state Assembly? “If we’re all in a (single) district, it’s possible someone from the Valley could get elected to the Assembly,” Lowe said, citing former state Assemblymember Valerie Brown’s tenure in the 1990s. “But now that’s never going to happen.”
Lowe is encouraging Sonoma Valley residents to review the draft maps at wedrawthelinesca.org and submit comments prior to Dec. 18, when the Redistricting Commission holds its next “line drawing meeting.”
According to Jane Anderson, chair of the CCRC, the commission intends to finish all maps by Dec. 20. After allowing three days for public review, the commission hopes to formally approve the maps on Dec. 26 and deliver them to the state Secretary of State on Dec. 27 at which time they become certified. The state Constitution allows an additional 45 days after certification for legal challenges.
Any specific changes to the maps will be the result deliberations during the map-drawing meetings, said Anderson in an email to redistricting stakeholders.
“(New) iterations (of the maps) are based on feedback given to the line-drawing team by the commissioners as well as public input received,” said Anderson. “These will be fine-tuned until we reach final maps.”
Those interested in whether Sonoma Valley is in a single Assembly district, or divided in two, should provide feedback as soon as possible, stressed Lowe.
“Talk about its importance to community and avoid politics,” advised Lowe, a political consultant.
Lowe wondered if the drastic boundary changes from November to December were some sort of oversight.
“We thought what they’d do was take the (November) maps as they were, take a look at the current population and make adjustments,” said Lowe. “But they just threw everything out.
She added, “They’re taking a hatchet to these districts.”
Email Jason Walsh at Jason.email@example.com.