TDH: 6/16/11

We've got your single-member district maps

TDH: 6/16/11

Our column today headed once more unto the breach on single-member districts. But what's a SMD column without maps? After the jump, we've got more SMD maps than you could ever want – that is, if you agree with the mayor's call for only six districts.

Outside attorney Sidney Falk presented four maps to the council last Thursday, with the caveat that Districts One and Two were largely the same. That's because, as he put it, he began “he began by drafting "a strong Hispanic district and as strong an African-American district as could be constructed."

So without further ado, Map A:

SMDs Plan A - Neighborhood Planning Areas

District One is the African-American opportunity district, while District Two is the Hispanic opportunity district. As Falk told council,

“The African-American population in Austin and the Hispanic population in Austin, for that matter, is substantially dispersed. There are few areas of high concentration, primarily east of the interstate. It is those areas that form the core of the two respective minority districts. Let me begin with district number 1 in the northeast quadrant of the map. This area concludes, in its southern portion, the primary concentrations of African-American populations. So that core element states the beginning point for the development of a district representing the relatively strongest African-American district that can be drawn. The substantial amount of population, which is reflected in the depiction of that district, as it extends to the north and its very northern terminus crosses the interstate. District 2, in the southeast part of the city represents the core of Hispanic concentration in the city and constitutes district on its own.”

The four total maps then, differ in their drawing of the other four districts, with some pretty interesting permutations of Central Austin.

Austin SMDs - 4 Plans Together

Obviously, these are very preliminary drawings. The Mayor has called for a town hall on the subject in September, a year in advance of what may be the city's next election, in November 2012. But as previous community discussions of the subject have borne out, there's some dissatisfaction with the proposed six district scenario. The question then, is how to switch to SMDs while preserving the African-American participation set up in the archaic but increasingly useful “gentlemen's agreement.”

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