While the recent redrawing of Congressional and state legislative lines has received plenty of attention, the boundaries of New York City’s 51 City Council districts are also being quietly remade. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The first draft of the new City Council district maps show some firsts for the city, which refelect its shifting demographics.
"Staten Island, for the first time in its history, has three city council lines entirely within its boundaries," said Carl Hum of the NYC Districting Commission. "It no longer shares a portion of Brooklyn."
But critics say the maps do not adequately reflect the changes in population over the last decade.
"The first draft really is just the current lines with slight adjustments to comply with legal deviation requirements in the city charter," said Jerry Vattamala of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "So the same concerns we had about the current lines are again echoed here."
After the 1990 census, the number of council districts grew from 35 to 51. With the new maps, there are roughly 161,000 people in each district. That is up slightly since 2000 because the city's population grew roughly 2 percent.
But it's where that growth took place which is causing some dispute. For example, in northern Manhattan, the population actually declined. The proposed new district, though, includes part of the district to the west.
In Chinatown, the district is still split from the Lower East Side, even though critics of the new maps say Chinatown's population, largely Asian American, continues to expand into the Lower East Side and should be reflected in a single district.
"These maps do not reflect the growth of the minority population, including the Asian American population, the last 10 years," Vattamala said. "The Asian American population has grown 32 percent in New York City alone."
"These lines are not permanent," Hum said. "This is basically the start of the conversation. It just makes sure that each district is proportional. And that's the first mandate of districting."
A new round of hearings is scheduled for October. The City Council could vote on the maps as soon as November or the fight could carry into March, when the final lines are due.