The City of Houston Charter requires that City Council expand to eleven single-member districts at such point that the City’s population exceeds 2.1 million residents. On Tuesday, March 8, City Council passed an Ordinance declaring the population of City in excess of 2.1 million, finding that the single member council districts are materially imbalanced, and finding that the number of Council Districts should increase from 9 to 11 under the terms of the City’s Charter. Thus, we will be adding Council Districts “J” and “K”.
The City is interested in hearing from you and your neighborhood regarding your suggestions for the configuration of the new council districts.
http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/2011/index.html: the City of Houston’s web page detailing information regarding the redistricting process. Please check back frequently, as it will be updated as new information becomes available.
There are several ways you may submit information relating to the redistricting process:
- Through email, US postal service, or delivery service. All written comments should be directed to:
City of Houston Planning & Development Department
611 Walker, 6th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002
Or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Written or oral comments may be presented at any of the ten town hall meetings scheduled across the Houston community during the month of March. While each meeting location was chosen and is sponsored by the respective Council Member, the meetings will address redistricting on a city-wide basis. Individuals may attend and comment at any convenient meeting, regardless of its location. A calendar with locations and public transportation routes can be found here: http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/2011/index.html
- Written or oral comments may also be presented at any of the three public hearings that will be held in City Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall, 901 Bagby Street, 77002. These are scheduled for:
- Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
- Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
- Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.
City of Houston Resolution No. 2011-1, passed by City Council on January 12, 2011, sets forth the procedures, criteria and rules for the consideration and establishment of council member district boundaries. You can read the ordinance here: http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/2011/docs_pdfs/FullResolution_2011-1_en.pdf
Should you or your neighborhood wish to submit a redistricting plan for Council’s consideration, it must conform to Section 4 of this Resolution:
- Council Districts should be relatively equal in total population according to the 2010 federal census. In no event should the total deviation between the largest and the smallest Council District exceed ten per cent of the average district population.
- Council Districts should be composed of whole county voting precincts.
- Easily identifiable geographic boundaries should be followed.
- Communities of interest should be maintained in a Council District, and attempts should be made to maintain neighborhoods.
- Council Districts should be compact and composed of contiguous territory. Compactness and contiguity may involve a functional as well as a geographic dimension. The functional dimension may take on added weight in situations in which geographic compactness may not be possible in light of the fact that some areas are attached to the remainder of the City only by relatively long and narrow strips of land. Functional compactness and contiguity includes, but is not limited to, consideration of factors such as:
- the availability of transportation and communication;
- the existence of common social, economic and other shared interests; and
- the ability of the citizens of a Council District to relate to each other and to their representative on City Council, and the ability of the Council Member to relate effectively to his or her constituency.
- Preservation of incumbent-constituency relations by recognition of the residence of existing members of the Council and their history in representing certain areas.
- The plan should be narrowly tailored to avoid retrogression in the position of racial minorities and language minorities as defined in the Voting Rights Act with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.
- The plan should not fragment a geographically compact minority community or pack minority voters in the presence of polarized voting so as to create liability under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 United States Code § 1973.
In addition, all plans shall:
- Be submitted in writing so that all proposals may be fully and accurately considered;
- Be based on the 2010 federal census (P. L. 94-171) data;
- Redistrict the entire City, i.e., contain proposed boundaries for all Council Districts within the City. If a plan does not redistrict the entire City, it may be impossible for the Council to assess the plan’s impact on one or more protected minority groups. The requirement that any plan redistrict the entire City does not preclude citizens from proposing that particular voting precincts, neighborhoods, or locations be included in a specific council district; and
- Conform to the criteria set forth above. All redistricting plans prepared by residents for the City’s consideration must be submitted no later than 4:15 p.m. on Friday, May 6, 2011, to the attention of Margaret Wallace, Planning & Development Department, 611 Walker, 6th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002. No plan submitted after such time and date will be accepted or considered.
A computer kiosk will be set up on the 6th floor at 611 Walker for the use of members of the community wishing to develop and submit their own plan. It will be available by appointment for anyone to use. You may contact Margaret Wallace (713-837-7826 or email@example.com) to schedule a time.
Estimated Redistricting Timeline:
- March 9, 2011: City Council passed an Ordinance declaring the population of City in excess of 2.1 million, finding that the single member council districts are materially imbalanced, and finding that the number of Council Districts should increase from 9 to 11 under the terms of the City’s Charter.
- March 2011: Redistricting Community Input/Town Hall meetings to be held in each Council District.
- April 6, 2011: Deadline for the Planning & Development Department to prepare maps and a report on proposed Council District boundaries, and present to City Council a proposed redistricting plan, including a report on the population for each proposed Council District for the general election to be held on November 8, 2011.
- April 13, 2011: Public Hearing, 9:00 a.m.-City Council Chamber on the Second Floor of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002. At the public hearing, the Planning & Development Department shall present any revised maps or reports indicating changes from the previous plan presented to City Council. All persons desiring to be heard at any public hearing must reserve one, two or three minutes by contacting the City Secretary, Public Level, City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002, or by calling 832-393-1100 at least 30 minutes in advance of the hearing.
- April 20, 2011: Public Hearings (2 sessions) 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.-City Council Chamber on the Second Floor of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002. At the public hearings, the Planning & Development Department shall present any revised maps or reports indicating changes from the previous plan presented to City Council. All persons desiring to be heard at any public hearing must reserve one, two or three minutes by contacting the City Secretary, Public Level, City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002, or by calling 832-393-1100 at least 30 minutes in advance of the hearing. Please be sure to specify whether you are reserving time for the 9:00 a.m. public hearing or the 7:00 p.m. public hearing.
- May 4, 2011: Redistricting Plan to be completed by the Planning & Development Department. Legal Department prepares ordinance adopting the Redistricting Plan.
- May 5 – May 10, 2011: Planning & Development Department reviews Plan with Council Members.
- May 11, 2011: Planning & Development Department presents final maps and the Department’s final proposal to City Council for new City Council boundaries for the November 8, 2011, general election, including the population of each of the proposed Council Districts from which District Council Member are to be elected on that date.
- May 18, 2011: City Council shall consider for final adoption an ordinance establishing Council District boundaries for the November 8, 2011, general election.
- June 1, 2011: Target date to submit the redistricting plan to the Department of Justice for Preclearance (allows for a 60-day DOJ review prior to the deadline for setting the boundaries and completion of extended review, if necessary, prior to the election date).
- August 3, 2011: Deadline for Redistricting Plan ordinance establishing boundaries of single member districts (more than 3 months before election day, as required by the Texas Election Code Sec. 276.006).
- August 8, 2011: First date to file for a place on the November 8, 2011, general election ballot.
- September 7, 2011: Last date to file for a place on the November 8, 2011, general election ballot.
- November 8, 2011: Election Day