A Proposal to Redistrict California: the Bay Area

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on the Bay Area.

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The North Bay

CA-6 (Teal):

Population – 68.4% white, 1.9% black, 21.4% Hispanic, 4.7% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 3.1% other

California’s sixth congressional district is barely changed from its previous incarnation. As in the past, it consists of a Marin County-based district which then stretches north into Sonoma County. It is also surprisingly Hispanic. The wealthy, somewhat rural communities here have a distinctive nature: if one is on a quest for hipster companionship, California’s 6th congressional district is probably the place to go.

CA-7 (Dark Gray):

Population – 43.3% white, 11.2% black, 26.5% Hispanic, 14.0% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 4.6% other

Majority-Minority District

This is an ugly district. It basically puts together all the leftovers that weren’t placed in other Bay Area and Central Valley districts. The core of the population is in Solano County. Substantial population also comes from the northern parts of Contra Costa County. The district finally reaches an arm into Central Valley, between Stockton and Sacramento, to scoop up left-over population from CA-3 and CA-11. The communities do have some things in common, but not much.

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San Francisco and the East Bay

CA-8 (Slate Blue):

Population – 46.3% white, 5.9% black, 13.4% Hispanic, 30.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.7% other

Majority-Minority District

San Francisco. Enough said.

CA-9 (Cyan):

Population – 36.3% white, 16.5% black, 21.2% Hispanic, 21.1% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 4.6% other

Majority-Minority District

This is another one of California’s great melting-pot congressional districts. It’s composed of a core of inner East Bay Area cities: Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond. Generally these cities are considered the “poorer” parts of the Bay Area, although in reality they are richer than the national median. Indeed, there are pockets of great wealth here. Finally, these communities are famous (or infamous) for their liberalism, second only to San Francisco.

CA-10 (Deep Pink):

Population – 57.2% white, 5.4% black, 19.7% Hispanic, 13.4% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 4.1% other

This district is composed of East Bay suburbs, including the Tri-Valley. This region, one of the richest in America, has long been carved up, for political purposes, into separate congressional districts. Here, for the first time, they will be in one compact district.

CA-13 (Dark Salmon):

Population – 33.0% white, 13.7% black, 29.8% Hispanic, 19.5% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.7% other

Majority-Minority District

This district is somewhat of a hybrid between the two districts above. Part of it is composed of the inner East Bay: Hayward, San Leandro, and part of Oakland. The other part is composed of East Bay suburbs: Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore.

To be honest, the East Bay suburbs and the the inner East Bay cities should be in separate districts. Unfortunately, trying to actually put those communities where they belong creates some very awkward-looking districts.

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The South Bay

CA-12 (Cornflower Blue):

Population – 39.6% white, 2.3% black, 21.5% Hispanic, 32.8% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.7% other

Majority-Minority District

This district is somewhat difficult to see, since it’s not fully in the picture. It goes from South San Francisco into San Mateo County, which is the core of the district. Silicon Valley is the main word associated with this district.

CA-14 (Olive):

Population – 42.7% white, 2.6% black, 20.5% Hispanic, 30.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.6% other

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

Like CA-12, this district is the center of Silicon Valley. Its extremely wealthy San Jose suburbs are home to many of the technology industry’s most famous companies.

CA-15 (Dark Orange):

Population – 23.1% white, 3.2% black, 18.8% Hispanic, 50.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.8% other

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Asian

Here we encounter the first district in which whites do not compose the largest racial group. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to the largest population of Asian-Americans in the United States, and this district is intentionally drawn to be majority Asian under the VRA. Over 99% of the population lives in the western half of the district; the eastern half is simply mountains whose purpose is to make the district look more compact.

One ought to note that although Asians are the majority of the district’s population, the actual electorate will almost certainly be majority-white (given low Asian voter participation, registration, and citizenship rates). However, because Asians are very spread out in the Bay Area, it is impossible to increase the Asian percentage much further without very obvious gerrymandering.

CA-16 (Lime):

Population – 33.7% white, 2.8% black, 38.4% Hispanic, 21.9% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 2.9% other

Over-18 Population – 37.2% White, 34.2% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

The second district in which whites are not the largest ethnicity, CA-16 is plurality Hispanic (and there are many more districts like it to come). Like CA-15, this district intentionally draws Hispanics together. However, the over-18 population is still plurality white; there are just not enough Hispanics in the South Bay to effectively create a compact, Hispanic-controlled district. The district itself is essentially composed of downtown San Jose.

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Here is a picture of the overall Bay Area:

The next post will take a look at California’s Central Valley.

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One Response to A Proposal to Redistrict California: the Bay Area

  1. Ed says:

    I worked out my own redistricting proposal, but it mostly tracks the one you put out here. I will just make a few comments on the differences in the Bay Area. I found the South Bay/ Santa Clara portion the hardest to draw.

    The biggest difference is that I deliberately created an ugly district (CA 14) that combined the mountainous coastal portion of San Mateo County, the wealthy white and mountainous parts of Santa Clara County, inland Alameda County, and a few parts of San Jaoquin and Contra Costa County. The district was almost separated into two halves by the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara, with the only connection being around Gilroy.

    The reason for this monstrosity was to make the rest of the districts more compact and to stay more within county and municipal lines. Doing this solves the problem of where to put the leftover part of San Jaoquin County, and allows for compact districts on either side of San Leandro Bay, in San Mateo County (CA 12) and Alameda County (CA 13).

    San Jose, Santa Clara, and neighboring communities are then divided into an east side Asian plurality district (CA 15) and a west side Hispanic plurality district (CA 16); San Jose is too large to be contained by one congressional district and has irregular municipal boundaries. It is hard to get an Asian majority district without drawing the map the way you did, but since Asians are not a protected minority there is no VRA requirement to do that.

    This also allows a more regular shape for the Solano County based district (CA 7). Sometimes you have to draw one weird district in a region to soak up the leftovers from the more compact districts and still maintain equal populations. And the weird district in this case is defensible on community of interest grounds.

    I also noted that one of the districts in the San Francisco Bay area essentially migrated to the east, the same thing happened with Los Angeles County.

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