By Steven Tavares
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HAYWARD – When it comes to redistricting, it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy. At the county-level, a set maps presented by an Alameda County ad-hoc committee and a redistricting task force is perpetuating a stubborn intramural rivalry between residents within the region.

An initial county redistricting map presented Tuesday in Dublin brought considerable opposition from officials and residents in Pleasanton for a proposed partition of the city between Supervisor Nate Miley’s District 4 and Scott Haggerty’s District 1.

A duo of alternative maps offered by a group calling themselves the Alameda County Redistricting Task Force would keep Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley whole, but instead, splits Hayward. The newest maps including a fourth proposal quietly taken off the table because it drew district lines outside the homes of two current supervisors brought about equal consternation to a similar meeting Wednesday in Hayward.

“It does more harm to one and does that by preserving a historical east-west conflict,” said Jesus Armas, a former Hayward city manager and current school board member. “As a Hayward resident, I would not support this.”

While there is a clear trend of residents moving east away from the traditional urban centers of the Bay Area, Armas says the eventual maturation of numerous transit-oriented developments in the region will slowly begin to draw people back to the coast. “Soon you’re going to see a return to the older urban core featuring better transportation which the Tri-Valley cities don’t have,” said Armas. At the moment, though, three of the four fastest growing city’s in the county reside in the Tri-Valley, with Dublin increasing its size by a whopping 53 percent.

Diluting a city’s political power among differing districts has long been a problem in Alameda County’s eastern and southern areas. At the state and congressional level, places like Pleasanton, Concord and Walnut Creek have been weakened by representation among up to three different lawmakers. Residents in Hayward and Fremont have also griped about inattention from the county’s power base in Oakland.

“In the past, Hayward has had a trying time pooling resources from the county,” said Hayward Councilman Mark Salinas. “This plan would make it harder Hayward and the South County.”

The growing Latino demographic in Hayward could also face the possibility of losing some of its political punch under a split redistriciting map. There was some argument over whether the power of two supervisors brings more benefits to a city than one, but Armas disagreed. “Conceptually, you might be too small in each area to make any difference.” The latest U.S. Census shows Latinos became the city’s largest demographic at over 40 percent of the population.
Jeff Wald, a representative from the Alameda County Redistricting Task Force, which has created three of the four proposed maps says each should be compact and protect areas of interest and first tackle the county’s largest cities–Oakland and Hayward. Wald defended keeping Pleasanton intact in favor of splitting Hayward, saying the rural nature of the Tri-Valley has little in common with the rest of the county. “What does Dublin have to do with Oakland?” asked Wald, who has long been active in the Alameda County Republican Party.

The group withdrew a more tidy map on Tuesday that neatly tucked four of the five districts along the bay and created a large district for Haggerty’s District 1. Without much notice, the plan, known as Map B curiously disappeared without much notice. Several speakers questioned its disappearance while asking for greater transparency in identifying the makers of each map.

Chris Bazar, the Alameda County community development director, said Wednesday, the map was withdrawn by the maker because it would have displaced two supervisors from their current district. The county counsel in attendance said a supervisor drawn out of their district could still serve until the next election, but would have to run in their new territory, something too unpopular to imagine among members of the board.