Council Ward Boundary Changes Delayed

At its July 5, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council considered a proposal to redraw the boundaries of the city’s five wards and to make the new ward boundaries effective after the Aug. 2 city council primary elections, but before the Nov. 8 general elections. Most of the boundary changes involved reassigning Ward 1 areas to other wards to balance out the population among the city’s five wards.

Ultimately, the council decided to postpone the boundary changes. But before the postponement, the council amended the ordinance to make the changes that they eventually agree on effective on Dec. 1, after the Nov. 8 election.

All public commentary on the issue encouraged the city council not to enact the boundary changes between the primary and the general elections. Public commentary included remarks from John Shea – a representative of the Washtenaw branch of the lawyer’s committee for the American Civil Liberties Union – and local attorney Tom Wieder. County clerk Larry Kestenbaum attended the meeting, but did not sign up in time to be included among the first 10 reserved speaker slots. (Reserved commentary slots are reserved on a first-come-first-served basis.)

[Previous Chronicle coverage: "Column: Ann Arbor Ward Shifts Should Wait"]

By the numbers, if the 2010 census population were distributed perfectly evenly across the city’s five wards (pie-shaped, per the city’s charter), they would each have a population of 22,787 – the ideal number in redistricting terms. Without any redistricting, the imbalance among wards, due to relative population growth in Ward 1 since 2000, breaks down as follows: Ward 1 [24,616 population, +1,829 whole number deviation from ideal (+8.03%)]; Ward 2 [22,419, -368 (-1.61%)]; Ward 3 [22,206, -581 (-2.55%)]; Ward 4 [22,585, -202 (-0.89%)]; Ward 5 [22,108, -679 (-2.98%)].

In 2000, the variance from the ideal for each ward ranged between +1.5% and -1.5%.

As proposed, the city’s redistricting plan would yield the following breakdown: Ward 1 [22,795, +8 (+0.04%)]; Ward 2 [22,739, -48, (-0.21%)]; Ward 3 [22,919, +132 (+0.58%)]; Ward 4 [22,760, -27 (-0.12%)]; Ward 5 [22,721, -66, (-0.29%)]. To restore the balance in the wards, the redistricting proposal focuses on reassignment where the five wedges of the ward pie meet, in the center of the city near the downtown. [.pdf of City of Ann Arbor proposed ward boundary changes ] [.pdf of ward boundary changes proposed by councilmember Sabra Briere]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]