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Key Sacramento city officials are protesting a plan by California's fledgling redistricting commission to sever portions of eastern Sacramento from the central city in crafting new legislative districts.

Sacramento Councilmen Kevin McCarty and Steve Cohn jointly sent a letter expressing "serious concerns" to the 14-member panel. Interim City Manager Bill Edgar sent a separate letter asking that draft maps be adjusted to resolve the issue.

The controversy stems from tentative boundaries unveiled this month that join central Sacramento with Davis and West Sacramento, but divide portions of the city to extend into separate districts running south through Elk Grove and east into El Dorado County.

Severed from Sacramento's central city under the plan include the communities of East Sacramento, Tahoe Park, Elmhurst, College Glen, Colonial Manor, Campus Commons, Sierra Oaks and the Power Inn area, McCarty and Cohn said.

"Splitting these neighboring communities and separating school boundaries, business activity, economic development, higher education opportunities, hospital synergy and general neighborhood connectivity seems completely contrary to the goals of the (state) to link communities of interest," the two councilmen said.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, a 14-member citizens panel created by voter passage of Proposition 11 in 2008, is drawing the state's legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization boundaries this year for the first time in state history. Legislators previously had that authority.

The commission released draft maps June 10 and subsequently has received scores of letters, e-mails and other public comments seeking changes to proposed boundaries among 80 state Senate, 40 Assembly, and 53 congressional districts.

In drawing legislative districts, the commission is required to consider city and county boundaries along with other factors, including retention of minority voting power, equal populations, compactness, and maintaining communities of interest, which are groups that share social and economic interests.

Sacramento's interim city manager, Edgar, said the proposed split of eastern Sacramento would divert 37,000 residents to other legislative districts.

"The proposed Assembly and Senate boundaries place California State University, Sacramento, and the University of California, Davis, Medical Center - both of which are located inside our city limits - into a district dominated by El Dorado and Placer counties," Edgar said.

Cyril Shah, past president of the East Sacramento Improvement Association, said the draft maps, if adopted, would reduce his community's political clout.

"When you take a core of people and slice and dice it into so many districts, you dilute the representation of that area," he said.

"It's Sacramento, we're not El Dorado County," said Tom Runge of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association.

"It's like moving to a new neighborhood - you'll learn to live with those people, but if there's no reason, why break up with the people you've been working with in the past?" said Jerry Vorpahl of the Power Inn Alliance.

The redistricting commission is scheduled to release revised maps July 12 and must adopt final maps by Aug. 15. Passage requires approval by none of the 14 commissioners, including three Democrats, three Republicans, and three independent or minor-party members.


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