City Council’s Redistricting Puts Downtown / Wharf District With Southie, Keeps North End With Charlestown & Eastie

As required by law after the latest 10-year census, the Boston City Council narrowly approved by 7-6 a redistricting map that made significant changes to the North End / Waterfront’s District 1, currently represented by Councilor Sal LaMattina, and Downtown/South Boston’s District 2, currently represented by Councilor Bill Linehan.

The North End’s Precincts 1-4 of Ward 3 stay with District 1, as the smallest (~10,200 population) of the three neighborhoods in the district (total population 67,575). With the removal of Downtown/Wharf District, District 1 is more heavily weighted toward East Boston and Charlestown.

The new District 1 loses Precinct 6 of Ward 3 and puts it with a South Boston dominated District 2. Precinct 6 includes the “Wharf District” area south and west of Christopher Columbus Park, including Harbor Towers and Rowes Wharf. It also includes the Government Center, Blackstone St./Haymarket area and the Financial District.

The new city district map takes Precinct 6 (Downtown/Wharf District) out of District 1 (North End, Charlestown, East Boston) and puts it with District 2, dominated by South Boston. (View full map in pdf).

The redistricting could have a major impact on a potential special election for District 1 City Councilor as soon as Spring 2013. District 1 Sal LaMattina is favored to win his competitive election on September 6, 2012 for Register of Probate that would result in the special election to fill the District 1 City Council seat.

On the other side of N. Washington Street, the West End stays with Beacon Hill and Back Bay in the new map as part of District 8.

Mayor Menino has yet to sign-off on the proposed redistricting map, although the citywide concerns/compromises on the table deal primarily with racial balance issues and would not likely change the fate of the Downtown/Wharf District’s Precinct 6.

Old Boston District Map (2002) View full pdf.

More information on redistricting can be found on the city’s website, including the following “influences.”

Legal Requirements of Redistricting: the populations must be within a margin of five percent of the mean (68,621), resulting in a range of 65,190 to 72,052; the districts must be contiguous; and the smallest unit of movement is a precinct.

Priorities Identified during Information Gathering Sessions: communities of interest; neighborhood boundaries; proportional representation of people of color; keeping wards together where possible; retaining their current city councilor; and the creation of a fifth non-white majority district.

Influences: Higher rate of growth in the northern part of the city vs. southern part; and Growth in the Hispanic/Latino and Asian populations.