Redistricting map on Turlock agenda

TURLOCK — Count city officials among those who aren't happy with the proposed state Senate districts.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, charged with redrawing legislative and congressional lines with data from the 2010 census, released proposed final maps earlier this month. If the maps stand, Turlock would become part of the 8th District, sharing a senator with several foothills communities in an area that stretches to Rancho Cordova.

Michael Cooke, the city's regulatory affairs manager, said in a report to the council for tonight's meeting that keeping the city in a district with other Northern San Joaquin Valley communities makes more sense.

"Proposed District 8 is primarily rural with an economy based on natural resources and tourism," he wrote. " Turlock is in the heart of the Central Valley and is rooted in an agriculturally-based economy. These agricultural interests have little in common with the communities in the foothills and mountains."

Cooke pointed out that the proposed boundaries separate California State University, Stanislaus, from some of the communities it serves and breaks up the transportation corridor through the valley.

Redistricting commissioners held a series of public meetings after publishing initial maps; concerns aired at those meetings and received in written form were included in the finalized maps issued late last month.

The official comment period ended the same day the maps were released. But, Cooke said, the maps likely will be subject to lawsuits, so the city should take a position on the matter.

"The proposed boundaries would place Turlock on the fringe of a very large and disparate State Senate district," he wrote. "This could adversely affect the city's ability to effectively lobby the state for transportation, infrastructure, public safety and education funding."

The council also will consider challenging the state in another matter. The state wants Turlock to pay $3.2 million this year and $450,000 every year afterward to keep its redevelopment agency.

Gov. Jerry Brown made the elimination of RDAs, which use tax money for improvements and blight reduction, part of his budget pledge. Cities like Turlock can appoint a successor agency or pay the state to keep the RDAs intact.

The Turlock City Council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.