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Santa Clara Valley Water District Board approves countywide redistricting plan

Re-drawn districts balance needs of diverse Silicon Valley communities

Contact: Susan Siravo
Office: (408) 265-2607, ext. 2290
Mobile: (408) 398-0754

Date: April 29, 2010

San Jose, CA – Following six hours of deliberation and public testimony on Tuesday, April 27, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors approved a final redistricting plan that divides the county into seven, smaller districts. Their decision comes after a sixteen week public process, led by a board-appointed Redistricting Advisory Committee, which balanced multiple countywide requests for the combination of communities of interest.

The plan includes seven equal sized districts (each representing approximately 244,000 residents). Like all the other maps generated by the committee and members of the public, the approved map divides the county into seven districts, but moves the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill into separate districts, very similar to the current congressional and state legislative districts.

The new districts are designed to meet the one-person, one-vote test to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. The process of redistricting was initiated in November 2009, with the appointment of the redistricting committee, an independent group of seven individuals drawn from communities across the district. The committee members were:

  • District 1: Bill Baron 
  • District 2: Lynda Ramirez Jones 
  • District 3: Rev. Jeff Moore 
  • District 4: Susanne Wilson 
  • District 5: Dr. Michael Chang 
  • North County At-Large: Bob Brownstein 
  • South County At-Large: Roland Velasco

“We are very grateful to the redistricting committee members for their extraordinary service on this committee,” said water district board chair, Richard Santos. “They gave careful consideration to the many diverse populations we serve as well as the wide range of commercial, residential and agricultural interests in the Valley. They heard hours of testimony and examined stream stewardship, flood protection and thousands of pages of documentation. This plan is sensible and does an excellent job of balancing the interests of all water users in the district,” he added.

The adoption of this plan meets the deadline defined by state law that redistricting efforts be completed 180 days before the subsequent election.

The plan approved by the board was developed based on Map Q, which was recommended by the redistricting committee and placed Morgan Hill and Gilroy into separate districts. The adjustments were prompted by letters and testimony received by the board from the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, City of Morgan Hill, City of Gilroy, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, former South County At-Large Board member, Sig Sanchez and other members of the community. The authors of the letters requested that the South County communities have two representatives on the water district board or that Gilroy and Morgan Hill be split into separate districts, click here to view all the letters.

In addition, the plan accommodates the expressed desires of the Latino, African-American and Asian American communities; maintains the majority of all community interests; combines the agricultural community in Evergreen with Morgan Hill; combines the West Valley cities; connects Milpitas, Berryessa and Alviso; retains the Downtown San Jose/Willow Glen area; and creates two South County Districts, all of which were directly requested by the community.

Background:
On October 11, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 466 to amend the District Act. AB466 replaced the current structure of the board of directors with a structure in which all seven board members would be elected from new districts that would be drawn through a formal redistricting process that must be completed by June 30, 2010. The Redistricting Advisory Committee (committee) recommended three redistricting maps to the board for their consideration in order to meet the legislative deadline and the request from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters which has an earlier deadline of May 3, 2010. This deadline allows elections in four of the newly-created districts (Districts 1, 4, 6, and 7) to be held during the November 2010 general election. The remaining three new districts would hold elections during the November 2012 general election.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages wholesale drinking water resources and provides stewardship for the county's five watersheds, including 10 reservoirs, more than 800 miles of streams and groundwater basins. The water district also provides flood protection throughout Santa Clara County.