Pleasanton's downtown area could be represented by two city council members in the future, an idea also floated for another area at the Pleasanton City Council meeting on Tuesday.
During the Jan. 18 public hearing on the city's transition from at-large to district-based municipal elections, Councilmember Kathy Narum said, "I'd like to see one option where Main Street is put into two different districts. I think since that's really the heart of the city, having two people represent it is good, particularly if you have a conflict."
"If it's only represented by one person and they have a conflict (of interest), they're out, and so I think it's important to have two people there," Narum said.
Starting in the November general election, the city will be divided into four separate council districts, with each district represented by one council member elected by voters living in those boundaries. Each council member will be required to live in the district they represent, but the position of mayor will remain elected at-large.
Using state and federal guidelines, the council will create four districts, each with approximately 20,000 residents. The districts are ideally "geographically contiguous," and "bounded by natural and artificial barriers, by streets, or by the boundaries of the city," among other criteria.
In addition to how boundaries should look, residents gave the council feedback on Tuesday about which communities of interest they think should remain intact. Communities of interest are local populations that share common interests such as speaking another language besides the one spoken by the community at-large. Political parties, incumbents or political candidates are not considered communities of interest.
One resident said there should be a district centered around downtown, and added that "slicing the city up into slices like a pizza would group me with people who are less similar to me, rather than a central circle district around downtown with other districts on the exterior."
Councilmember Jack Balch said he "hadn't specifically thought about downtown one way or the other, but I think it would be wise to consider a map with the downtown going together… or the downtown split."
Mayor Karla Brown supported splitting the representation for downtown, which she called "the gem of our community."
"It is the iconic view when people see Pleasanton," Brown said. "When people come to Pleasanton, they often dine in downtown and they think of that as our label for what our community is." Brown also said Hacienda Business Park is "a very powerful bloc that should have two representatives."
"It's a very large area; it's a powerful voting bloc because it's under a single management," Brown added.
Councilmember Julie Testa said, "The suggestion to split up Main Street because of the possibility of the conflict and, therefore, leaving downtown without representation applies to every neighborhood."
"If you're going to consider that, then we in fact should split every neighborhood in Pleasanton, so that just doesn't really make sense," Testa said.
Following Tuesday's hearing, the city's hired demographer will create one or more draft maps, which will be posted for public comment and review at two more hearings on Feb. 3 and 24.