Cupertino is perfectly happy where it is in county supervisorial District 5, so said the City Council on Tuesday night, just in time for the final deliberations of a county redistricting committee meeting on Thursday.
Plans to redraw district boundaries--which will determine which Santa Clara County Supervisor represents Cupertino’s residents--include possibly moving the city out of District 5 into either Districts 1 or 4.
Cupertino’s large neighbor to the east, Sunnyvale, has been lobbying hard to be placed as a whole in District 5. Due to rules about population numbers remaining approximately equal in each district, any move by Sunnyvale into District 5 would force both Cupertino and Saratoga out.
“My first choice is to stay in District 5,” Mayor Gilbert Wong said during a special meeting held immediately after the regular Council meeting, a sentiment that was echoed by the rest of the Council.
Of the five maps under consideration by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, Cupertino Council members said they support maps 1, 3 and 4. They said Map 2 and 5 are both “unacceptable.” Map 3 was actually voted out by commissioners recently, replacing it with Map 4.
One of the Council’s top concerns was being split off from the Lehigh Southwest Cement Plant and Quarry, which sits in District 5. Under current proposals being considered the company would remain there, no matter where Cupertino lands.
Being separated from the District 5 Supervisor could limit the city’s ability to lobby its interests when it comes to the neighboring quarry. Cupertino residents would not be able to support or campaign against candidates based on their views on Lehigh’s operations, which have been the subject of some .
The Council members voted unanimously to send the commission a letter outlining their desire to remain in District 5, before commissioners begin final deliberations at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at the county’s headquarters, 70 W. Hedding Street, San Jose.
Commissioners said at a that they want as much public input as possible before they send a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
The commission has been meeting since it was appointed in March after the 2010 Census figures were released, to study new boundaries for each of the five supervisorial districts. It’s a federally mandated job that must be done once every 10 years to reflect the change in population.
From the start, Sunnyvale leaders have been pushing the commission to put all of Sunnyvale in District 5. Because of it’s large size--140,000 residents, making it the second largest city in the county--the commission cannot move all of Sunnyvale without displacing smaller cities, namely Cupertino and Saratoga.
At the last commission meeting, Sunnyvale’s mayor, vice mayor, and a council member all advocated Map 5, that would push Cupertino and Saratoga into District 1, along with cities to the south, like Morgan Hill and Gilroy.
“In my opinion Map 5 is gerrymandering,” said Councilmember Barry Chang. Gerrymandering is a term that refers to drawing boundaries based on protecting or thwarting the political powers of politicians, parties, or communities of interest. It sometimes results in odd boundary configurations and conflicting citizen interests being grouped together.
Councilmember Orrin Mahoney said he was actually fine with Cupertino in District 1, since the city shared a few similar issues with other cities currently in that district, mainly around being next to unincorporated hillsides.
But other members pointed out that District 1 cities face many agricultural issues Cupertino does not share. They argued Cupertino should be grouped with similar cities, either to the north with Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto, or with cities like Saratoga, Los Gatos and Campbell in the West Valley area.
The citizens commission will vote on a recommendation at Thursday’s meeting, then present it to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors at 1:30 p.m., on Tuesday, June 7. The Supervisors will hold two public hearings, and then make a final decision on the boundaries by August 15.
Editor's note: It's worth noting that redistricting is also occurring state-wide as well to determine boundaries of its Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts. A public input hearing will be held Monday, May 23, at 6 p.m. at Mayfair Community Center, 2039 Kammerer Ave., in San Jose. For more information visit the California Citizens Redistricting Commission website.