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Multnomah County, Metro unveil redistricting ideas

2010 U.S. Census figures require boundaries to be redrawn

Multnomah County and Metro are looking for public feedback on their proposed redistricting plans.

All governments with seats elected in districts must redraw those boundaries after the U.S. Census Bureau completes its 10-year population count. The law requires that each district represent roughly the same number of people, meaning that district boundaries must be adjusted every year to account for population increases or decreases.

The redistricting work being done by the 2011 Oregon Legislature has received some press coverage because it includes congressional and legislative districts. But the Multnomah County Commission and Metro Council are also elected by district, and the population numbers have shifted within them, according to the 2010 Census.

The county forum is scheduled from 5:45 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3, at the Multnomah Building, 501 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland.

Alternative Metro plans will be introduced at the council's May 12 hearing. The final one is scheduled to be adopted at the May 19 hearing. Both hearings will begin at 2 p.m. at the Metro Regional Center, 600 N.E. Grand Ave., Portland.

The Multnomah County Commission includes four seats elected by district and a chair elected countywide, which will not have its boundary redrawn. According to the 2010 Census, the country grew 11.3 percent during the past 10 years, from 660,486 to 735,334 people. Because of that, the ideal district target number grew from 165,122 to 183,834 people.

The County Charter requires the district boundaries to be redrawn if any one of them is more that 102 percent larger than the others. According to the new census figures, District 4, which represents east Multnomah County, is now 103 percent larger than the others, requiring that all the boundaries be redrawn.

Although the commission must approve the final map, the process is initially overseen by the Multnomah County Auditor. According to the auditor's office, federal and state laws require several factors to be taken into account when drawing the new boundaries. In addition to having equal populations, the districts must be contiguous to on another, must keep communities of interest together, must not dilute the voting strength of any minority group, and must not favor or discriminate against any incumbent.

In the past, the auditor's office has also tried to incorporate recognizable boundaries such as major streets into the new maps.

The Metro Council represents nearly 1.5 million people in the urbanized areas of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. It is comprised of six councilors elected from districts and the president, who is elected at-large.

As a result of the 2010 Census, the ideal Metro district is now 248,362 people. Only two of the districts now exceed that number - District 1, which represents portions of east Multnomah County, and District 4, which represents northern Washington County. The other four districts are under the target number.

Three options have been developed to equalize the districts. They are as follows:

• Option 1 shifts the city of Wilsonville and the portion of Stafford south of Interstate 205 from District 3 to District 2. It also shifts the northern boundary of District 3 to Highway 26 in some places and takes in more of Beaverton and Aloha, removing this area from District 4. It makes minor modifications to the other Metro districts and brings all districts to within 0.15 percent of the average district population.

• Option 2 shifts District 2 eastward to take in all of Happy Valley, which is located in District 1. District 1 takes in more of east Portland from District 6 while Maywood Park and other portions of east Portland, in District 1, would shift to District 5. District 6 would also extend westward into Beaverton, taking territory from both Districts 3 and 4, while Aloha and parts of Beaverton would shift from District 4 to District 3. This map brings all districts to within 3 percent of the average district population.

• Option 3 also shifts District 2 eastward into Happy Valley while District 1 takes in more of east Portland. District 5 receives a portion of northern Beaverton and unincorporated Washington County from District 4, and the northern boundary of District 3 is drawn at Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy. and Tualatin Valley Highway in Washington County, bringing Aloha into District 3 from District 4. This map also brings all districts to within 3 percent of the average district population.

Additional Multnomah County information is available at http://web.multco.us/auditor/redisricting.

Additional Metro information is available at www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id/37013 .