More than 30 people attended a county redistricting meeting in Alamo on Thursday night to voice their concerns and learn more about changes to district lines and voice their concerns.
The public input workshop was one of 14 held throughout the county to provide residents with an overview of the redistricting process, present map concepts and receive comments that will go back to the board of supervisors for their review. Public hearings on the plans are expected for the end of June and July, though official dates have not been set.
While county Conservation and Development Director Catherina Kutsuris presented seven concepts for the new boundaries -- five from the county, one from the Contra Costa Times and another from the Contra Costa Citizens Redistricting Task Force -- all plans are tentative and could change during public hearings.
"I hear many different ideas, but I wouldn't say I've heard a theme," Kutsuris said of her experience at input meetings. "From any particular place that I could stand, I could argue what the community of interest would be from that point."
What was clear from Tuesday's meeting is that Alamo is a community of interest – and its residents want to remain part of the San Ramon Valley.
"You can't deny the fact that there is an interest in Alamo based on attendance tonight," said Roger
Smith, president of the Alamo Improvement Association. "From the standpoint of Alamo, we have to be part of the San Ramon Valley and be a part of Lamorinda."
Roger and Alamo MAC member Steve Mick both stressed the importance of keeping Alamo in the same district as its southern neighbors because of shared transportation and school district. The MAC has not taken an official position on which concept it prefers.
Diablo resident Maryann Cella said removing Alamo from the rest of the San Ramon Valley will have far-reaching consequences when it comes to development in the Tassajara Valley.
"If we're not in the same district as the New Farm development, then we won't have any influence on that project. If we get someone...that actually lives in this area they'll have to deal with the consequences."
To that end, Cella has gathered 55 signatures from residents supporting the Redistricting Task Force's concept 6, a plan that would separate Diablo from East Contra Costa County.
"We're treated as an orphan community, only plans five and six have us as a part of the San Ramon Valley. When we saw that, we know we had to do something and we had to do it fast," she said.
While plans for new district lines are in their infancy, District 3 will be seeing change no matter what. The county is required to look at its five district boundaries every ten years following the federal Census so that the districts are as "nearly equal in population as may be" and comply with the Voting Rights Act.
Contra Costa's population has grown 10 percent since 2000 to 1,049,025; the change requires each district to have about 210,000 people. District 3 is by far the largest district and needs to shrink by nearly 47,000 residents.