New Yorkers residing in downtown Brooklyn and western Manhattan could gain influence when the 51 city council districts are redrawn this year – thanks to the huge population increase in their neighborhoods, sources reveal. new numbers.
The city council is required to redistribute its neighborhoods every 10 years as residents change, and the 15-member commission tasked with the effort could release its preliminary maps on Friday.
“The reality is that New York City of 12 years ago is totally different from New York City of today,” said district commission chairman Dennis Walcott, former chancellor of the schools of the city and deputy mayor who now runs the Queens Public Library.
The Big Apple saw its population increase overall by 7.7%, or 630,000 inhabitants for the 2010 to 2020 census.
Districts are currently expected to average about 162,000 people each. But to accommodate population growth, the newly redesigned districts are expected to each contain about 173,000 residents, or within five percentage points of that number.
” It is going to be difficult. We’re going to see real change in Council districts across the city,” said Councilwoman Julie Menin, who represents Manhattan’s Upper East Side and led the city’s census under former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Neighborhoods seeing some of the biggest increases include those in downtown Brooklyn and along the borough’s waterfront, the site of new real estate developments, according to data analyzed by the NYC Council Districting Commission.
For example, in Councilman Lincoln Restler’s District 33 (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown BK, DUMBO, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, Williamsburg), the population jumped to 206,960.
That means there would be an overflow of around 35,000 people into the 33 – or around 20% of the current population – who would have to be split into at least two council seats.
In the Downtown Brooklyn-DUMBO-Boerum Hill neighborhoods, population jumped 67% and Williamsburg 41%, according to the Department of City Planning. Thus, at least two council members should also be accountable to these neighborhoods thanks to the influx of newcomers.
The same goes for Manhattan’s Lower West Side.
Chelsea-Hudson Yards and Hell’s Kitchen have each gained more than 13,000 residents over the past decade. And Councilman Eric Botcher’s District 3 (Greenwich Village, Hudson Yards, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Flatiron, Columbus Circle) now has a population of 202,510.
That’s a surplus of 29,870 over the average district population sought by the commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor and council.
“Ultimately, the non-Hispanic white population had re-concentrated in the areas that surround Manhattan’s CBD. [Central Business District] many of which were once predominantly minority working-class areas – and still are to a large extent – but are now much more mixed, for example East Williamsburg or Bushwick,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the urban research center at CUNY Graduate Center.
“This can prove difficult for elected officials whose electoral base is in a declining minority population,” he added.
Meanwhile, Washington Heights/Inwood is one of the few neighborhoods in the city to have seen its population decline, based on updated census data. The population of District 10, which heavily includes Latino Washington Heights/Inwood, is 158,511, which is considerably lower than required.
The redesigned district encompassing these neighborhoods will need to accommodate thousands of residents from elsewhere, such as the more diverse neighborhoods of West Harlem, Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights in District 7.
This change would have a ripple effect affecting at least one other district, Mollenkopf said.
“District 7 should win people from the Upper West Side, as efforts will be made to preserve District 9 as a black district of Harlem,” he said.
“In the process, the 10s and 7s will either win over non-Hispanic white voters, which have either increased in those areas (including Harlem) or accommodate more of the heavily Latino Bronx population.”
City demographers attributed some of the population decline in upper Manhattan to newcomers with smaller families replacing larger ones.
Similarly, District 40 in Central and South Brooklyn – currently represented by Councilman Rita Joseph – has only 155,155 residents following population loss over the past decade and will need to accommodate thousands of new residents from the surrounding areas.
The neighborhood includes the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
To complicate redistribution, the Council must adhere to the federal Voting Rights Act of 1964 to avoid diluting the voting power of racial and linguistic minorities.
The Council’s criteria for redistricting are also much stricter than what Albany uses to draw congressional and state legislative districts to prevent partisan gerrymandering.
Courts have dismissed initial maps of Congress and the state Senate drawn by Democrats earlier this year as unconstitutional for engaging in partisan gerrymandering – which Republican critics have called “Hochulmander” because Governor Kathy Hochul approved it.
The court hired its own special master to redraw the maps of Congress and the Senate.
The city’s borough commission must also design new neighborhoods that reflect general population growth. For example, there are 345,000 more Asian residents in the city and 154,000 more Hispanic New Yorkers. Meanwhile, the city’s black population shrunk by 84,000 while the total number of white residents fell by 3,000.
The council’s District Commission has held a first round of public hearings on the matter, and further hearings will take place on the proposed new districts once the preliminary maps are published.