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Commission Approves Final Council District Lines

By Jill Colvin | February 7, 2013 10:05pm
The new City Council district maps.
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Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center

NEW YORK CITY — The commission charged with drawing the new City Council district lines approved a final plan Wednesday night — after reversing several controversial changes that had forced them to withdraw their initial maps.

The NYC Districting Commission voted 14 to 1 in favor of the new maps, which were redrawn following widespread outrage after it was discovered the old maps had been drawn to help boost disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez if he ever chose to run for City Council.

The new maps also tweak the proposed lines for East Harlem's 8th District, which under an earlier version had encompassed new territory far into The Bronx and shifted Randall's Island to a Queens district instead, infuriating residents.

Under the new plan, the district's population will be split between The Bronx and East Harlem, with a majority of residents in The Bronx. However, the district will again include Randall’s Island, which had been sliced out in the first plan.

"While I cannot say that the final draft lines...have met all of the objectives of my community, a number of changes were made that responded directly to feedback from the public," said the 8th District's Councilwoman, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who had fought against the changes.

The plan also keeps Manhattan Valley entirely within the 7th Council District, and reunites the South Asian communities in Briarwood and Jamaica Hills, Queens in the 24th District — which the earlier map had not.

"Compared to the draft plan released in December, numerous areas of the plan have been improved in response to community input." said Susan Lerner of the good-government group Common Cause New York.

However, she criticized the commission for moving the 8th District into The Bronx, arguing it gave the borough "disproportionate representation compared to Manhattan; a political maneuver with no objective justification and without any community support."

She also slammed the process that led to the old maps being frantically withdrawn after they were submitted with minimal public oversight.

"Despite certain improvements, the overall process in New York City has been disappointing," she said, pointing out that the commission "publicly acknowledged taking into account the needs of incumbent lawmakers, and prioritizing political concerns over those of the public.

"This runs contrary to the entire point of having a seemingly independent body draw [council] lines," she added.

The maps will now go to the City Council for final approval.