Berkeley's Revised Census Data Varies Little From Past

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After much haranguing, city officials got their revised census numbers Monday, but the undercount they allege took place the first time remains uncorrected.

It came as little surprise to those in city hall that the total Berkeley population was not increased by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But they are nonetheless miffed that the bureau did not acknowledge several thousand students in a UC Berkeley residence hall missed when the dorm was apparently counted as housing only a few students.

"That is the biggest flaw, and it remains the biggest flaw because there are 4,500 students who don't exist according to the census," said Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Councilmember Polly Armstrong called it "bureaucratic silliness" and Councilmember Dona Spring labeled it a "feeble attempt to deal with a serious undercount."

The revised numbers did shift 411 residents into Armstrong's District 8 from Worthington's District 7. Both council members have a vested interest in the change, as their seats open up at the end of the year. But neither made a redistricting proposal, nor have they pledged support for one of the five plans submitted.

The plans had to be turned into the city by Friday, but will now be revised to reflect the new numbers.

Councilmember Spring said that while she is focused on distributing the undercount as best she can, she is not willing to "take a big chunk from one district."

"My plan tried to be equitable-to not bite huge chunks out of any district, but just nibble around all the other districts," Spring said.

The City Council had approved a reapportionment plan last fall after much political bickering, only to have residents reject it and send it back to the drawing board.

The council will hold public hearings on the plans later this month.

Spring predicted the redistricting process will again be politically charged because the alleged undercount was not resolved, and that the city will probably sue the Census Bureau to get the undercount fixed.

If the bureau were to add people to Berkeley, it would have repercussions across the country, affecting the national population count.

ASUC has again submitted a redistricting plan, hoping to carve a student-majority district that would be able to elect a student to the council. The last ASUC plan was rejected by the city attorney because it violated the City Charter by altering the districts too much.


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