New City Council District Map Unveiled

By Jill Colvin on November 16, 2012 12:29pm | Updated on November 16, 2012 1:34pm

NEW YORK CITY — La Marqueta will remain part of East Harlem’s 8th Council District but may end up governed from the Bronx, according to new district maps unveiled and swiftly approved by the city’s Districting Commission.

The maps will shape the new borders of the City Council districts, which are being redrawn to account for population changes tracked in the 2010 census.

A preliminary version of the maps had earned scorn from elected officials, community leaders and advocacy groups, who worried the lines would cut communities in half and undermine incumbents’ chances at re-election.

The new maps, passed unanimously by the commission less than an hour after they were unveiled Thursday night, addressed some of the deepest concerns, including the fate of the beloved La Marqueta, which would been sliced out of City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito's 8th Council District.

Her district currently spans El Barrio/East Harlem as well as Manhattan Valley on the Upper West Side and a small section of the Bronx.

But under the new plan, the district's borders will still shift dramatically, turning it into a majority-Bronx district that will stretch across Mott Haven and into Concourse.

Carl Hum, executive director of the commission, said the move reflected the fact that The Bronx’s population has grown considerably over the past 10 years.

“I think that that really speaks to the borough itself,” he said.

The plan would also unify Inwood into a single council district — something that many residents living west of Broadway had opposed.

The neighborhood is currently divided between two council districts: the eastern half, which is more than 80 percent Hispanic, is part of the 10th Council District, currently represented by Ydanis Rodriguez; the wealthier, more mixed western half is represented by Robert Jackson's 7th Council District.

The new map, for instance, would unify Inwood into a single council district and trim portions of Washington Heights.

The commission also rejected a proposal from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s “Unity Map” that would have created a new Asian district by combining chunks of current districts around Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Hum said the commission worried the proposal would have a "ripple effect” that would disrupt minority districts in central Brooklyn, and that members wanted to avoid pitting three incumbent city council members against each other.

“The relationship that a legislator has...in her district is a legitimate concern,” he said. “It’s not compelling, at this point, to create an Asian district in Brooklyn.”

But the most pressing issue for the small group who attended the unveiling, which had been postponed twice because of Hurricane Sandy, was the fact that the public was given zero chance to weigh in on the final version of the maps. 

The maps will now head straight to the City Council for a  vote.

“I believe New Yorkers should have an opportunity to present their feedback,” said Councilman Rodriguez, who slammed the process as "unfair."

Residents who had lobbied for Manhattan Valley to be unified into a single council district also expressed frustration.

“Manhattan Valley’s been cracked right down the middle of its spine,” said Glory Ann Hussey Kerstein, president of the Duke Ellington Boulevard Neighborhood Association. “We’re going to be swallowed up."

Hum said the team had tried to honor the request to be kept whole, but said the math just wouldn’t work.

The City Council will now have three weeks to either adopt or reject the plan, which also must be approved by the Justice Department.

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