This evening the Seattle Redistricting Commission is holding a marathon meeting to discuss and try to come to agreement on new City Council district boundaries.
In preparation for the meeting, each of the five commission members has offered up a proposed new map. All five propose different variations on where to draw the boundaries around what we might call the “Four Corners” of Seattle: the central business district, First Hill, the Chinatown-International District, and Pioneer Square. Several of them also propose different options for how to carve some or all of Magnolia out of District 7 (pushing it into District 6).
Going into this exercise, there were a few unavoidable changes: the D1 boundary would need to move east; the D2 boundary would need to move north to make up for losing area to D1; and something would need to be cut out of D7 since it has by far the largest population of the seven districts. But the devil is in the details — especially when it comes to meeting the statutory requirements for clean district boundaries free of gerrymandering.
The “Malaba Plan” is perhaps the most problematic, proposing awkwardly-drawn boundaries to put Pioneer Square in D1 and keep the CID and Yesler Terrace in District 2 that are almost certainly illegal gerrymanders. It also slices Magnolia in half, though at least that is a straight cut along a major arterial. Montlake and South Lake Union are also broken apart.
The “Shah Plan” also features a gerrymander to keep the CID and Yesler Terrace in District 2, as well as a very awkward diagonal cut through Magnolia.
The “Nickels Plan” keeps Magnolia intact, but gerrymanders the central business district into D3 and also has a gerrymander for the CID and Yesler Terrace in D2. It also has some pretty dramatic changes for D4, D5 and D6, and splits South Lake Union.
The “O’Sullivan Plan” is the most gerrymander-free: Pioneer Square still moves to D1 and the CID and Yesler Terrace to D2, but with much more reasonable boundary lines. It most notable change is carving off the north part of Magnolia into D6.
The “Juarez Plan” also features an awkward gerrymander for keeping the CID in D2, and slices Magnolia in half.
If the commissioners do reach consensus on a single proposed map tonight (which might not look exactly like any of the five above), that map will be published and another round of public feedback will follow before the Commission votes on a final map this fall.
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