The BART board is poised to redraw the boundaries of its nine political districts on Thursday as support builds for an option that divides Contra Costa County into fewer districts.

At stake is clout on the nine-member board, which approves fares, service levels, extensions and policy for the three-county rail system.

The two BART board members from Contra Costa County contend their area has limited representation and a diluted political voice because the county is divided up between five different BART districts.

That would change to four BART districts under an option known as Option A, which several board members said this week they support.

"I think this is making progress toward fair representation for Contra Costa County," said BART Director Joel Keller, of Brentwood. "It's not perfect, but it's moving in the right direction."

Keller favors redistricting option A.

The second redistricting option, called Option B and prepared by BART consultant Sandi Polka, makes minimal changes in district boundaries and leaves Contra Costa divided among five districts.

Directors are elected from nine districts carved out of the three BART counties -- Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco -- that are adjusted every 10 years to equalize district populations based on the current census.


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Contra Costa County has about 1 million residents, and two BART directors live in it. Three BART directors live in San Francisco even though it is the smallest BART county with some 805,000 residents.

Five BART directors live in Alameda County, the largest BART county with some 1.5 million residents.

BART Directors Gail Murray, of Walnut Creek, Bob Franklin, of Oakland, and John McPartland, of Castro Valley, said they support redistricting option A because it provides more compact and cohesive districts than current boundaries.

"We're going from five districts to four. That's progress," said Murray, the other board member from Contra Costa County "I think eventually San Francisco will have two seats as the population changes."

San Francisco's population is too big to fit into just two BART districts, she noted. As a result, San Francisco has all of BART Districts 8 and 9, and a sliver of district 7, which also includes parts of western Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

Keller and Murray said they believe it would be possible to draw three districts entirely within Contra Costa County, but doing that would meaning throwing one or more board incumbents out of their district. "That's too harsh," Keller said.

Franklin, the BART board president from Oakland, said he supports option A, even though his District 3 would lose Hayward and part of San Leandro, and pick up Orinda and part of Lafayette.

McPartland said he supports option A, even though he will lose San Ramon and part of Danville.

If you go
What: BART board considers redrawing BART political district boundaries and adopting policy on when to allow cellphone blackouts in train stations
When: 9 a.m. Thursday
Where: Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, third-floor meeting room, 344 20th St., Oakland
Details: Go to www.bart.gov, to the right side of screen and drop down to "BART board considers options for redistricting."