Proposed new council districts signal major shift

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 9:48am
Staff reports

 

Big changes could be in store for Metro Council and Board of Education districts if the city adopts a revised map issued by the Metro Planning Department on Wednesday.

Many of the city’s 35 council districts would be renumbered and rearranged, among them District 6, which would shift from including parts of downtown to covering exclusively East Nashville. Downtown would be its own district (renumbered 13), while the Hillsboro-Belmont area would be split up so that Vanderbilt and Belmont universities no longer fall into the same district. The Berry Hill neighborhood would be its own district, while East Nashville would trade one of the most oddly shaped council districts — the 15th — for new boundaries splitting off its southwestern portion into a new District 14 that would stretch across the Cumberland River and into the area south of downtown.

Outside the I-440 loop, the changes aren’t as dramatic, but they could still alter the composition of the council. A few would remain essentially the same but be renumbered. For instance, some of the geographically smaller districts in southeastern Davidson County would shift by only a few blocks, while the current lines for districts 13, 29 and 33 would be dramatically different. Lines in the neighborhoods of Belle Meade, Forest Hills and Oak Hill would change only slightly. (View the map here.)

The proposal is one of what could end up being multiple alternatives, according to planning department spokesman Craig Owensby.

The department took up the matter in earnest earlier this month, amid pressure from the council after Nashville attorney George Barrett, who specializes in constitutional law, threatened a lawsuit against the city if it did not use new U.S. Census data to update its council boundaries. Historically, Metro has put off that process until after the first post-census election. The planning department would have to approve a final map before sending it up the ladder.

If the council adopts the new lines — which it would vote on as an ordinance, requiring a standard three-vote process that Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors has said would be expedited — and the mayor signs on, redrawn districts could pose new challenges for the current crop of candidates, as well as incumbents whose district layouts change dramatically. Some candidates who have already pulled papers to run in certain districts could be drawn out of those districts, for example. 

 

4 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 3/23/11 at 12:29

The neutering of the legislative branch of Metro government continues. Term limits already have placed the Mayor at extreme advantage over the council, but now redistricting manages to take out some candidates with the potential of standing up for the citizens. This is not the fault of planning, redistricting had to occur because of the continuing decline of the the urban core areas.

I find it interesting that the predominately African American districts surrounding downtown were kept from intruding on downtown even though they needed what few residents there are to round out their shrinking wards. Instead, they pushed the borders out, risking those CMs to the gentrifiers. The Mayor still wants a white face representing downtown for all those tourism projects?

By: dkleinfelter on 3/23/11 at 12:46

1. I would bet my bottom dollar the Mayor cares not a whit about the race of the Councilmember who represents downtown.

2. The current Councilmember for the district that would now cover all of downtown is not, in fact, white.

By: Gower Mills on 3/23/11 at 1:40

As a candidate for the 2011 election for Metro Council, I hope the redistricting process go smooth. Hoping the time period will not cause many troubles for the upcoming election.

Gower Mills

By: govskeptic on 3/24/11 at 7:47

Just guessing but would suggest these redrawn lines have been in place to
best suit the Planning Dept and Administration at large for a long time.
Note the Downtown Alliance has consolidated their power by making sure
they have only one District Councilman to deal with in their domain..
This rush toward new district lines(and there's no legal reason to rush) are
to make sure the Mayor has favorable Council candidates in all for his
next 4 yr agenda! Extremely close analysis is required before approval!