The Sacramento City Council changed the boundaries of two council districts on Tuesday, reversing a 2011 decision to separate the UC Davis Medical Center campus from the district representing Oak Park.
By a 6-2 vote, the council voted to remove the hospital from District 6, which includes Elmhurst and Tahoe Park. The hospital will now be represented by District 5. The move affects only six residents, city officials said.
Despite the testimony and protests of hundreds of residents, the council voted in 2011 to place the hospital in District 6, which stretches from Oak Park to South Land Park. Oak Park residents said the hospital was a symbol of pride for their area and asked that it remain part of their council district. Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents Oak Park, said Tuesday the 2011 council vote was “purely a political move.”
“I think it was a slap in the face to the close to 500 individuals from Oak Park that came out (and testified),” Schenirer said.
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The City Council at the time had several members who regularly battled with Mayor Kevin Johnson. The council today is seen as much more supportive of Johnson.
With a City Council coalition in place, Johnson led the effort to move the medical center back into District 5.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our community to correct something,” he said.
Tahoe Park and Elmhurst residents had expressed support for keeping the medical center in their district, citing traffic and noise concerns those areas have with the hospital. Residents also asked that a redistricting decision be postponed until after a special election is held in the spring to fill the District 6 seat left vacant when former Councilman Kevin McCarty won a seat in the state Assembly.
Councilman Steve Hansen said changing the council boundaries now “is a bad precedent.” Redistricting normally only occurs every 10 years, following the census.
“This feels to me like an eye for an eye,” Hansen said. He and Councilman Jeff Harris voted against the move.
Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.