Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sacramento Bee: City Council redistricting dispute continues

Redistricting compromise fails to satisfy many at Sacramento council meeting

Published: Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
 © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
In what some described as a compromise, the Sacramento City Council decided early Wednesday to keep the tiny residential neighborhood of Med Center and the Sacramento Charter High School campus in the council district both have shared with nearby Oak Park for 40 years.

But the plan also will sever the sprawling UC Davis Medical Center campus from Oak Park's council District 5 and place it in the district covering Elmhurst, Tahoe Park and other neighborhoods on the city's southeast side.

The move did not please a majority of an overflow crowd at City Hall, who urged Tuesday night that the hospital campus remain with Oak Park. It also angered Mayor Kevin Johnson, who told the audience, "We have let you down as a public."

Johnson and council members Jay Schenirer and Angelique Ashby voted against the plan. Council members Sandy Sheedy, Steve Cohn, Rob Fong, Kevin McCarty, Darrell Fong and Bonnie Pannell approved the plan.

The council has until Sept. 6 to finalize its redistricting map.

McCarty lobbied heavily for the UC Davis Medical Center to be moved to his district, saying his constituents are affected by traffic and other issues related to the hospital. The massive medical complex sits on the same side of Stockton Boulevard as the rest of McCarty's District 6.

But most of the crowd at City Hall disagreed, saying that by removing the hospital from its current district – District 5 – the council was separating Oak Park from a vital economic engine.

"The people up here took out the most important asset to Oak Park," the mayor said. "These acts will not go unnoticed. They can't."

More than 400 people attended the tense council hearing, with 103 testifying on the proposal.

The city clerk received more than 600 petitions in recent days opposing the plan.

Of the 103 people who testified, 79 indicated on speaker forms that they were against the move. Many held signs reading, "Keep Oak Park Whole."

The map approved Wednesday gives McCarty only part of the new territory he had sought. The Med Center neighborhood, which includes Sacramento Charter High School, will remain in the Oak Park district represented by Schenirer.

Johnson fought hard to keep the Oak Park district intact. The fight was intensely personal for him. Sacramento Charter High School is operated by a nonprofit organization founded by Johnson.

In the past two weeks, the mayor had made keeping the high school and Med Center – both the neighborhood and the hospital – with Oak Park his top priority, helping to organize an email campaign and sending staffers into the neighborhood to generate opposition to the plan.

For a look at the proposed City Council district maps, go to

No comments:

Post a Comment