SACRAMENTO — Sacramento city leaders are trying to figure out how to represent large portions of the city that, beginning this month, will no longer have an elected city councilmember.
Sacramento's redistricting process is creating some chaos at city hall.
The city's eight city council districts were redrawn last year by an independent commission using new census data.
"Quite frankly, they made radical changes to our district boundaries," said Councilmember Jeff Harris.
Now, those changes are leaving more than 57,000 residents — that's 11% of the total population — living in areas with no elected city councilmember.
"There's a lot of concern. A lot of people aren't aware of it," said Nick Kufasimes with the East Sacramento Community Association.
East Sacramento is one of the neighborhoods impacted by the change.
"We don't have an elected official that we elected here to represent us, be accountable to us," Kufasimes said.
The problem will persist until the next election, which is two years from now.
"That's a long time with no representation," Kufasimes said.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is saying he will step up and help in areas where there is no councilmember.
"Because he was elected citywide, it does make a lot of sense," Harris said.
Harris said his office is often the first contact people make when there's a problem.
"People call me on my cellphone every day. People email me at two in the morning and I try and respond to all of them. Will the mayor be able to handle that?" he said.
The mayor now wants to hire three new staffers to take calls from constituents, but some are concerned that issues will not be addressed.
"We have city lights out that haven't been repaired in a couple of months," Kufasimes said. "You see people right now running stop signs right here. Who do we call? Not our councilmember."
"People know Darrell Steinberg. They know his actions as the mayor. Some like him, some don't, and so, it's going to be different depending on how you feel about the mayor," Harris said.
The issue was only uncovered when residents in a newly redrawn district were told they could not file a recall petition against Councilmember Katie Valenzuela.
The extra staff is expected to cost about $500,000.
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