Challenge to Menlo Park residents – Draw a good map!

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on December 5, 2017

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Menlo Park resident Jen Wolosin posted this on her local Nextdoor and sent it to InMenlo, suggesting it might be appropriate for a larger audience. We agree!
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Do you like maps? Numbers? Puzzles? Democracy?

The City of Menlo Park is empowering residents to draw and submit their own district maps for the upcoming November 2018 election. (Due to a threatened lawsuit alleging California Voting Rights Act violations Menlo Park is moving from “at large” to “by district” elections). The City has posted a tool online that anyone can use to take a stab at drawing fair, contiguous, districts. The City will use these proposed maps that residents draw to figure out the actual maps.

The City (via our taxpayer dollars) has made available this really cool tool and many of you will have fun with this challenging exercise in democracy. Should Linfield Oaks be put with the Willows, or Downtown, or Allied Arts or where? You get to decide (at least for your own proposed map).

You’ll have the chance to make 5-district or 6-district maps. When drawing a 5-district map you have to make sure each district has between 6,085 and 6,725 people. When drawing a 6-district map each has to have between 5,071 and 5,605 people. And your largest district and your smallest district must be no more than 10% apart. In addition to population equity, according to the City’s website on this topic, other district considerations should also:

– Include communities of interest
– Be compact
– Be contiguous
– Have visible (natural and man-made) boundaries
– Include respect for past voter selections
– Plan for future growth

Try drawing a map or two. Some areas are easy and obvious. Others are really hard.  Once you get started drawing it will become very apparent how easy it can be to move a certain census block or street even from one district to another.

Link to City’s webpage with info on drawing maps (give options on how and tutorials):
Link to mapping tool (make yourself a new user)

Map of Menlo Park courtesy of local realtor Juliana Lee

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