East Bay population shift to shake up BART districts

Mike Koozmin/The ExaminerBART's board of directors will review proposed changes to the nine representative districts affected by population shifts recorded in the 2010 census.

Population growth in the East Bay is shifting BART voting districts away from San Francisco, but board members from The City said the new alignments won’t have a major impact in the next elections.

BART is one of just three transit agencies in the country to have a publicly elected board of directors. Today that body will review proposed changes to the nine representative districts affected by population shifts recorded in the 2010 census.

The biggest changes will come in districts 2 and 5, portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties represented by directors John McPartland and Joel Keller.

Because population growth in those sprawling eastern districts has been so steady, both will have to be pared down, which could lead to a ripple effect where districts will be redrawn in a manner that shifts toward the
southeast.

San Francisco has three BART districts, but District 7 — represented by Lynette Sweet — contains only a sliver of the eastern portion of The City, with the rest of her district comprising East Bay cities such as Richmond and Berkeley. With BART districts shifting southeast, the East Bay portion of District 7 could expand, meaning the San Francisco portion will shrink.

Sweet, a San Francisco resident, said the redistricting won’t have a huge impact in her 2012 election campaign. Five directors, including Sweet and fellow San Francisco representative Tom Radulovich, will have to defend their seats next year.

Like Sweet, Radulovich said the proposed redistricting in San Francisco isn’t significant enough to merit major strategic changes for the election. He said he was actually surprised that population shifts in the East Bay weren’t greater.

However, it’s clear that more people are relocating to suburban towns in the East Bay. Bob Franklin, BART’s board chair who also is up for re-election next year, said the current trends could eventually result in San Francisco being represented by just two districts.

“San Francisco’s population just doesn’t grow as fast as Alameda and Contra Costa counties,” said Franklin. “As a result, we’ll continue to see a shift east in the districts.”

Today’s special board meeting on the redistricting changes will only be a discussion for the agency’s board. They’re expected to vote on approving the proposed redesigns at a meeting in December.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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