Redrawing San Antonio City Council maps means you could have a new councilman

The lines for the 10 San Antonio City Council districts have been redrawn, at least in one proposal, to have a distribution as close to the population as possible.

Like the state and its congressional and legislative districts, the city realigns its council boundaries based on the most recent census every 10 years. The 2020 census saw San Antonio’s population increase by 107,000 over the past 10 years to 1,434,625. Some districts have grown more than others, leading to the current land reshuffling.

A 23-member redistricting committee appointed by the mayor and council has spent the past few months considering how the lines should be moved.

Based on census data, each district’s new populations tipped the scales until some had more than 20,000 voters below the ideal size and others had many more.

The perfect number is 143,494. This is the number of people each district should contain. But lines can’t be drawn for that perfect equal number, so the city charter allows for a deviation of up to 10%.

The 10 city council districts by population as they currently stand.

The lines as they currently stand lead to District 1, which is the downtown and north side of the city, and District 5, the west side of the city, which has over 20,000 residents under that number. District 1 has a population of 123,000 and District 5 has a population of 119,000

On the other side of the coin, District 8 is well over that size. The district includes parts of the densely populated northwest side between Blanco Road and Castle Hills and the medical center between the 410 loop and the north of the 1604 loop. It has a population of nearly 170,000, or approximately 16% above the ideal size.

The proposed redesigned districts level the playing field for constitutional requirements like one person, one vote.

“If I go to vote in District 8, my vote should have the same impact in terms of overall winner as someone voting in District 2 for their councilor or in District 4 for their councillor,” the district attorney said. city ​​Andy Segovia.

The redesigned districts will be in place in time for the 2023 city council election, when all 10 districts and the mayor will be elected. All board members are eligible for re-election as no one has reached the four-term limit of two years each. City council members are elected in single-member constituencies, while the mayor is elected by popular vote across the city.

But these maps are in draft form at the moment. There are still weeks of public comment and feedback before the board votes to make them final.

By comparison, the new plan has District 1 at 135,000, about 5% below ideal size, District 5 has 139,000, or about 2% below, and District 8 has 149,000, or 4. % above.

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The proposed population of the council’s new district if the draft plan is approved by the council.

On Wednesday, the council got its first look at the maps, which can be viewed by the public here.

A district’s greatest population loss will be seen in District 8. Councilman Manny Pelaez said while he’s sad to lose voters, he understands the need.

“District 8 is required by federal and state law to dispose of neighborhoods,” Pelaez said. “I’m unhappy to have to lose quarters that I’ve come to love, but it’s a fatality that I have to face. I am reassured to know that these neighborhoods will be well represented by their future new council member. »

All districts have seen boundary line changes except for District 3 which has virtually no boundary changes. Its population has increased in proportion to its size based on the census, but its adviser said she believed there was a severe undercount.

When counting in 2020, the Trump administration was accused of scaring off some communities of color, especially Hispanic and immigrant communities, from responding to the census. Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran said that could have resulted in numbers that don’t reflect the true population of the heavily Hispanic south.

“I have a lot of residents who weren’t counted in the census because of the last administration about how they might think they could use the census, so I don’t think a lot of people took part in this process,” she said.

Neighborhood reshuffling adjusts the population size for larger districts. Although not as populated as District 8, District 6 in the far west will lose approximately 10,000 residents. According to the proposal, part of the space in District 6 goes to Districts 4 and 5.

“It’s awfully hard to lose them, but having said this process isn’t about any of us on the slide, it’s about representation,” District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda said.

Districts 5 and 1 gain the most new land.

“I love San Antonio so I’m in a great position for us to grow and develop and I’m extremely happy with the process and ready to kick it off for my new constituents,” said District 5 Councilman Teri. Castillo.

Although the redistricting process happens every ten years, it is possible that San Antonio could experience another redistricting if the city expanded its number of council districts to 12 from 10. This would only be possible through a change in the city charter by the next census. Segovia said it’s an option that’s on the table but would require a charter review commission to weigh the impact and then a public vote to change the city’s charter.

There are several meetings open to the public for the review of proposed district lines. City Council will likely vote on cementing the new district boundaries in a council vote this summer.

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