Ann Arbor Council Previews Redistricting

At a June 13 work session, the Ann Arbor city council was briefed on a redistricting proposal that would adjust the boundaries of the city’s five wards based on the 2010 census.

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%.

The proposed 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.

Part of a small wedge of the current Ward 1, between Geddes Avenue and South University, would be reassigned to Ward 2. A current Ward 1 area just south of South University Avenue between South Forest and South State would be reassigned to Ward 3 and Ward 4.

And the current area in Ward 1 bounded by East Huron, Division, Liberty and Main streets would become part of Ward 5. Also becoming a Ward 5 area would be the former Ward 1 area bounded by Liberty, Thompson, Madison and Division.

Ward 3 – which would, by a tiny fraction, wind up being the largest ward population-wise – would be reassigned some former Ward 4 areas, east of Packard, and north of Wells Street. That change would align the boundary between wards along Packard Street. [.pdf of city map showing redistricting]

This was the first public discussion of any redistricting proposal. The city’s election commission met last Friday, June 10, to go over the plan. To enact the plan, the city council will need to revise Chapter 17 of the city code, which lays out the ward boundaries. The two required readings and approvals by the council, together with a public hearing, could take place in July. Ward boundary changes would be effective before the Nov. 8, 2011 general election, but not before the Aug. 2, 2011 primary election.

The city election commission would need to approve changes to precinct boundaries that are required as a result of the redistricting.