2012-09-07 / Top Stories

First Draft Council Maps Released

By Nicholas Briano

A first draft of the proposed City Council district lines were released this week by the New York City Districting Commission with barely noticeable changes in store for Rockaway’s 31st and 32nd Council Districts, the new map shows.

According to the 2010 census Rockaway’s population grew from 106,000 to roughly 115,000 residents. The minimum population total for all City Council districts is 150,000. Therefore, the draft of City Council lines shows no major changes to the two districts, leaving little hope that the peninsula will see sole representation when the new City Council lines are finally drawn. The CDs still include parts of the corresponding mainland areas of Queens to make up that 150,000 population minimum.

Even though many officials feel the number is undercounted, especially in Queens, protests by the city to conduct a recount were denied by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new districts for the most part stay the same with slight tinkering of the borders to adjust for the population changes throughout the city. Along the peninsula the only change in the districts come somewhere along the former border where residents along Beach Channel Drive near Beach 84 Street will now switch districts from 32 over to 31. The rest of the population adjustments for both districts take place on the mainland areas of southeast Queens.

According to this first draft, Council District 32, which encompasses the western end of Rockaway and parts of Howard Beach, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, would have a population total of 156,426, a 2.7 percent drop from the current lines. District 31 on the east end will see a 3.5 percent drop with a population total of 155,094. Every Council District in Queens has lost a small percentage of its district totals except Districts 24, 25 and 29.

The new district lines must still be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. After review, the courts may require the lines to be amended based on provisions within the U.S. Voting Rights Act which is meant to protect the rights of various racial and ethnic groups.

The Districting Commission chairperson, Benito Romano, insisted prior to releasing the lines that they are preliminary and simply a starting point for talks going forward.

“This is the start of an important public dialogue,” he said. “We look forward to engaging in constructive and fruitful discussion with these and other groups to get ideas.”

The maps can be found online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dc/html/ maps/maps.shtml.

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