SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — California's rapidly changing demographics could mean a very different political picture in the decade ahead as new district boundaries are drawn that shift representation away from the coast.
The population of inland cities has grown, so more compact and un-gerrymandered district lines would probably give San Joaquin County more representatives than the Bay Area counties, said Angelo Ancheta, a law professor who sits on the Citizens Redistricting Commission.
"The population growth in the central and eastern parts of the states is much bigger than the coastal areas, so we're going to see some shifting," he said.
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Ancheta said the new Congressional and legislative districts should be more sensibly balanced, no matter how odd they may look on paper given the complexities of redistricting.
"I think the public would love to see these perfect geometric forms," he said.
The commission must deliberately be more sensitive to demographics than to natural features of the landscape, he said.
"Cities and counties aren't shaped in perfect geometric form either, so there are things we have to pay attention to," Ancheta said.
In fact, the changing racial make-up of even the rural parts of California could weaken the influence of conservative Republicans in the new inland districts, said Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California.
"San Bernardino County now has a higher share of its population made up of Latinos than does Los Angeles County," Johnson said.
"And as African Americans have moved out of Los Angeles County, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have experienced gains in African American population."
The commission has until August 15 to turn the results of the 2010 Census into new election maps. Draft versions are expected in June.