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Less Dense Student District Wins Berkeley Council Approval

Facing a choice of two alternative student-heavy districts in its once-a-decade redrawing of council districts, a split Berkeley City Council Tuesday night opted for one with 86 percent of college-age residents over one with 90 percent.

Berkeley Old City Hall, where the City Council still meets. Photo credit: Charles Burress
Berkeley Old City Hall, where the City Council still meets. Photo credit: Charles Burress

By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service

The Berkeley City Council has voted to approve a redistricting plan that includes a district that will be comprised mostly of college students.

The plan, which faces a second reading on Dec. 17, was approved on a 6-2-1 vote Tuesday night, with councilmen Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin voting "no" and Councilman Max Anderson abstaining.

District 7, which already is comprised of about 70 percent college-age residents, will have about 86 percent college-age students under the plan that was approved. The plan was backed by the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC), which is associated with the University of California at Berkeley's student government.

Worthington, who represents District 7, said today that he, Arreguin and Anderson favored an alternative plan called the United Student District Amendment (USDA) that proposed that college-age students comprise 90 percent of the district.

The BSDC plan includes the entire UC Berkeley campus as well as the majority of the south side of the campus but doesn't include three dormitory complexes and co-op housing.

Worthington said the reason he supported the USDA plan is that it would have included a majority of dormitories and co-op housing.

Worthington said a majority of UC Berkeley students who spoke at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night supported the USDA plan over the BSDC plan. He said 17 students were in favor of the USDA plan and about 8 students spoke in support of the BSDC plan.

He said co-op housing residents who live on the north side of the UC Berkeley have been in District 7 but will be moved to District 6 under the plan that was approved.

Worthington said he believes the plan will be approved at its second reading in two weeks but co-op residents may launch a referendum campaign to try to force the City Council to reconsider its vote or bring the decision to a public vote.

It would take the signatures of 5,300 people, or about 10 percent of registered voters, to force a referendum, he said.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. – Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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