Map D, shown above, would drastically reshape the political landscape in Oakland.

Oaklanders are getting their first glimpse of what City Council and school board districts may look like, following the 2020 U.S. Census. 

The Oakland Redistricting Commission released four proposed maps Monday, redrawing district lines based on the new census data, including two options that would drastically shift existing boundaries between the flatlands and hills. 

Every 10 years following release of the census, local governments adjust district lines based on population changes to ensure elected officials represent about the same number of residents and consider how “communities of interest” may be impacted. 

In Oakland, a 2014 voter-approved ballot measure took control of the process of redrawing district boundaries away from the City Council and established a civilian commission to oversee and approve changes to Districts 1 through 7, beginning with the 2020 census. Residents in each district are represented by a council member and school board director.

Over the past few months, the Redistricting Commission has asked residents for input on “communities of interest”––for example, neighborhood associations or planning zones or where many residents speak the same language––that should be included within a single district. 

Wednesday, October 13 at 5 p.m. is the first opportunity for residents to comment on the proposed maps. Additional hearings are scheduled on Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.

“This is the first time in Oakland’s history that community-led redistricting is taking place, so community outreach and input is critical to make sure all Oaklanders are represented,” Commission Chair Lilibeth Gangas said in a statement. “These draft district maps are intended to start the conversation on what the new boundaries can look like in Oakland.”

The proposed maps range from minimal changes to the existing boundaries to significantly reshaping the political landscape. Overall, population growth over the past decade will result in some boundary shifts, primarily in Districts 3 (West Oakland) and 7 (deep East Oakland), Deputy City Administrator Richard Luna told commissioners at a meeting last month. 

Map A, shown above, would result in minimal changes to current district boundaries.

The map that looks the closest to the existing boundaries does include some notable changes. Under the proposal, District 3 would give up the Adams Point neighborhood and parts of downtown to District 2, which currently includes Chinatown and areas East of Lake Merritt from Piedmont to the Bay. 

District 4 would extend its hills boundary from Montclair to the Berkeley border, an area currently in District 1. There are also boundary shifts along Interstate 580 between District 4 and 5, among other minimal changes. 

Two other two maps–– labeled as Map C and D––share similarities but look very different from today’s council district configuration because they were created without considering existing boundaries. Under these proposals, District 1 would extend further into West Oakland, taking part of the area away from District 3. In these scenarios, D3 would again lose Adams Point but pick up neighborhoods east of Lake Merritt. Those traditionally were part of District 2. 

Downtown and Uptown, it appears, would be split among three districts. 

Another dramatic change would occur in the Oakland Hills. Currently, four districts have a mix of hills and flatland neighborhoods. Under maps C and D, the majority of the hills from the Berkeley border to approximately the Oakland Zoo, would be part of District 4. 

The commission has until Dec. 31 to finalize the maps, which would first be used in the November 2022 election. In addition to providing comments on the four proposals, residents can submit their own map proposals or draw communities of interest by using an online mapping tool. A training on how to use the mapping software can be accessed here

David DeBolt reported on City Hall and policing for The Oaklandside. He spent 12 years working for daily newspapers in the Bay Area, including on the Peninsula and Solano County. He joined the Bay Area News Group in 2012 where he covered a variety of beats, most recently as a senior breaking news reporter. During his time at BANG, DeBolt covered Oakland City Hall, the Raiders stadium saga and the A’s search for a new ballpark, as well as the Oakland Police Department and police reform efforts. He was part of the East Bay Times staff honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.