The citizens' commission drawing the lines for Modesto's City Council districts has a few more decisions to make. Among them is whether to put the airport neighborhood in the same district as south and west Modesto, or to include it with the adjacent La Loma neighborhood. We believe the latter makes sense. Many of the city's most essential services -- police, fire, streets, water and sewer -- are tied more to geography than demographics, so the airport area should be included with La Loma.
Another unresolved question is how to number the districts. The numbers aren't important in the long run, once the city is fully functioning with the district elections. But the numbers could affect who would be eligible to run or be required to run first. The 2009 election will feature the races for three districts (2, 4 and 5) and then the other three follow in 2011, the next regularly scheduled council election. So depending on the number assignment, a sitting council member might have to run sooner than expected or could even get nudged out.
Our thought: The map should be logical to citizens. We'd suggest numbering the districts like we read printed material -- starting in the top left corner, going across and then down to the next line across. A sensible alternative would be to go clockwise, starting with the district at the top center (just past noon) and circle around to No. 6. The commission meets at 10 a.m. today on the sixth floor of Tenth Street Place. All of its meetings are open to the public.