15 Sep 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by nrg51
Patch Instagram photo by nrg51

Council Passes Redistricting Map, Charlestown Remains Whole

After 16 months of discussing the 2010 US Census results, the Boston City Council passed a redistricting map that tries to keep as many neighborhoods in one district as possible.

With a large Asian contingency in 's meeting chamber, the body supported a redistricting map that keeps Chinatown in one City Council district.

The vote was not easy. It passed 7-6, and will have little direct impact on Charlestown.

The (attached) redistricting map now needs to be signed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

"Today's vote sends the issue of redistricting to my office," Menino said, "and we will review this map to make sure all residents are properly represented. We will take a close look before making any decisions."

Redistricting is legally required every 10 years based upon U.S. Census results.

The councilors who voted against the map were: Felix Arroyo, John Connolly, and Ayanna Pressley - three at-large councilors. District Councilors Tito Jackson (District 7), Mike Ross (District 8), and Charles Yancey (District 4), were the other three councilors who voted against the passed map.

Those voting for the new map were At-Large Councilor Stephen Murphy and District Councilors Sal LaMattina (District 1), Bill Linehan (District 2), Frank Baker (District 3), Rob Consalvo (District 5), Matt O'Malley (District 6) and Mark Ciommo (District 9).

Linehan chaired the redistricting committee and initially produced a map that drew the ire of many for:

  • Removing Chinatown from District 2 (passed map keeps it there)
  • Breaking up Mission Hill into more than one district
  • Breaking up West Roxbury into more than one district

The map that passed keeps Mission Hill and West Roxbury "whole" — that's to say all in one district.

"Public testimony," Linehan said, "focused on keeping neighborhoods together – Chinatown, West Roxbury, Roxbury, Mission Hill, Mattapan and Roslindale – specifically." 

Mattapan and Roslindale are not whole in the passed map.

Said Linehan, "Does it please everybody? Absolutely not. Does it make every neighborhood whole? No, it does not... This is not my plan, my plan would be different."

He said "much public input and public discourse" are reflected in the passed map, which integrated parts of other proposed maps. Linehan said the passed map moves 12 precincts. Due to population changes, District 2 loses five precincts. District 2, Linehan's district has 74,000 people, while neighboring District 3 has 60,000.

In the end, Mission Hill had one district shift while Chinatown and Mattapan remained in the same districts. (See attached text PDF for how the changes effect wards and precincts.) 

The U.S. Census listed Boston's population at 617,594, which Linehan believes has increased by at least 4,000. He said the Census also paints a picture of Boston's residential future with the growth of the Fort Point Channel, and Innovation District on the waterfront, which are in a developing and emerging district.

Jackson, who voted against the proposed map, had presented a rival map with O'Malley. That map would have moved 10 precincts instead of 12, kept the South End closer to rest of the district, and kept South Boston together. Jackson also filed an amendment to the passed map, which failed.

"We live in a more diverse city than ever in the past," said Jackson, "54 percent of color. Each precinct and district should reflect that increased diversity. When I see a map that moves two of the three most diverse precincts from District 2 - that makes me not want to vote and support that map... So I am here to say what a great man from Roxbury said a long time ago, 'If you won’t stand up for something, and you're not willing to stand up, you’ll fall for anything.'"

Yancey said he can't support a map that doesn't put Mattapan in one district. He said he wouldn't support Jackson's map either. 

"Some may think Mattapan does not deserve the same respect and integrity of other neighborhoods mentioned…" said Yancey. "For 10 years it has been divided. Mattapan Street is in the Hyde Park district."

He added he wants a map that doesn't split up the Lower Mills neighborhood, too. Yancey said he'd like to see the Latin population of East Boston and the Asian population of Chinatown combined to provide a "fifth district of color." 

Yancey unsuccessfully tried to table a vote on the map until the next Council meeting, three weeks from Wednesday's meeting.  

Pressley, who did not support the map and wanted to go back to the drawing board one more time warned of legal action.

"We are facing a real legitimate lawsuit if it’s not done well," said the council's leading vote-getter among at-large councilors.

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