Ensuring Equality and Fair Representation for Our Neighborhoods in the City Council Redistricting Process
As we previously reported, the process of redistricting the New York City Council is underway. Proposed new draft maps have been released, which make relatively minor changes to the boundaries in our neighborhoods, but make a big change in terms of (mostly) correcting a long-standing wrong from the last decade’s redistricting. That process “packed” districts like the three located in our neighborhoods with disproportionately more residents than most districts in the rest of the city, meaning residents of our districts had less representation and less voting power than those in almost any other part of the city. With the high levels of population growth in some of these districts over the last 10 years, that gap in representation has only widened even further.
For example, after the last redistricting, City Council District 3 (which includes most of the West Village, currently represented by Erik Bottcher) had 10% more residents than some other districts in the city, and 5% more than the citywide average, giving residents 10% less voting power than some other New Yorkers and 5% less than the average. With the explosive population growth in the 3rd Council District (which stretches north through Hell’s Kitchen) over the last 10 years, that gap is now over 30% between this and some other districts, and over 17% above the citywide average. This significantly disadvantages residents of these districts, giving them proportionately less voting power.
The proposed new lines mostly fix that glaring inequality, making the populations of proposed new districts throughout the city fairly even (with the exception of the three Staten Island districts which would have 4.3% fewer people than the citywide average, and thus their residents would have disproportionately greater voting power). However, the Redistricting Commission is now considering various proposed changes to the draft lines, which could have ripple effects throughout the city, including with the balance of population between districts. While Village Preservation has no objection to any boundary changes outside of our neighborhoods and believes there is room for improvement in the proposed maps, we feel strongly that any changes must not diminish the marked improvement in the equality of district size (and therefore proportionate representation) in the current proposed maps, and if anything should make further improvements in that regard, to bring us as close as possible to fully equal representation, and a one-person, one-vote system.