Within the struggle of terms and jargon in California Redistricting there is the often-overlooked technique of repetitive spin mantra (RSM), which is employed to deflect the observer from that most holy of all standards: common sense. RSM is clearly seen in the case of my city, Concord, where there has been an arranged chorus that would seek to divide Concord in two districts. Let us take a look here at the vile refrain: “It only makes sense to divide the largest city: Concord.”
It is proposed that County districts have a population 209,000. Were we to have a city of 245,000 it would appear to be logical that you would have to divide that city in order to make the division. However, would you scream in unison of drumbeats to divide the largest city if there were three made up of 50K, 51K and 62K?
Clearly there is a relationship between the size of a city and the district size that brings about a common sense approach. The geographic and communities of interest also would play into account, one might think. In fact, when you dig a little further into the nationwide approach to redistricting, the mention of dividing the largest city in a district *typically a congressional district*, is applied to large metropolitan cities in the size of which rival the congressional requirement, not the size of what we have here where there are three widely separate “cities” of 100k, 101K and only 122K representing substantially smaller segments.
Additionally there are several general issues against dividing Concord that remain rather unique:
1. Never in Contra Costa history has the largest municipality needed to be divided because of unusual size relative to the district limit, nor has political (un)niceties conspired against the largest city historically.
2. Concord has had an intense community of interest involving the Concord Naval Weapon Station and its development. An interest and participation that has involved the entire city and that impacts the city as a whole. Dividing the Reuse Area into a northern district with Pittsburg is to violate the community of interest there and throw the influence over the Weapon Station into a focus that is not within the city that has developed it and associated historically with it. It is after all the CONCORD Naval Weapon Station, not Pittsburg’s.
3. There is no pressing voter rights issue on racial or ethnic grounds that would justify such an extreme matter as dividing Concord.
4. There is no reasonable division of community make ups that are so stark in comparison as to divide the city either East-West or North-South to justify a County district separation.
5. There are no sub sets of county districts that even provide a glimmer of divisions: Concord is in a single school district, has its own single sanitation set up independent of the county district, is even totally contained in its basically own health district, a trifecta of community focus not found in adjacent areas.
The question has been raised as to the possibility of dividing the city by nibbling at the north end at High Way 4. The arguments against this are:
A. It is not needed. The main rational is to provide a continuous patch of land so that the ‘contiguous’ district requirement can be met by dragging District 5 from Pittsburg through Bay Point to Martinez and beyond. This can be done by simply using the Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTC) base that has no people to provide the land link. This would leave the village of Clyde (population ~750) to remain linked with Concord’s district, after all there is no way out of Clyde accept through Concord.
B. The concept that the warehouse, office space, light industrial area north of Hwy 4 in Concord should have some community of interest with Martinez and Bay Point is incorrect. While our Supreme Court has determined that virtual organizations such as Corporations have First Amendment Rights, we have not descended so low as to define something which is devoid of residents as a Community. There is no open realistic reason to strip from a city its business area. It would be as if to take the business areas along the BART tracks and create them as a community of interest with the tracks as their contiguous linkage.
C. The stated interest of the City Council of Concord by unanimous vote 5-0 was to inform the Board of Supervisors that all of Concord and that includes both the former Concord Naval Weapons Station Inland area and the Tidal area (alias now the MOTC) should remain together with Concord.
D. As one of the oldest cities in the County (over 100 years), a community that has such a history should not be so casually separated.
Many of the reasons to keep Concord whole in District 4 are also shared with other cities that are threatened with division. These need not be repeated here but no doubt are echoing in the various letters and back room chats that are piling up in the Board of Supervisor’s offices. The questions remain whether there will be a whole ‘sum’ triumph or a less than wholesome solution?