A City Council redistricting plan could mean big changes for UWS residents above 96th street. The plan would move parts of the Upper West Side into a district along with Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights, and another part into a district with parts of Harlem. District 6, which covers the Upper West Side below 96th Street, would essentially stay the same (the maps above are interactive — the one on the left includes the current districts).
Much of the West side above 96th is already in a curiously shaped City Council district that includes East Harlem, Randalls Island and a small portion of the Bronx. That district (8) is represented by Melissa Mark-Viverito (right), who doesn’t want it to change — she says that it would dilute Hispanic representation and reduce Manhattan’s power. And it probably doesn’t help that she’d potentially face a new challenger in the Bronx. She recently wrote:
“In looking at the proposed new district, and the rationale expressed by the Districting Commission, my constituents have expressed deep concerns for a number of reasons, and I share these concerns. First, the proposed lines divide up neighborhoods in a way that is unfair to those communities and does not reflect the realities on the ground. Second, the proposal moves pockets of the current District 8 that are solidly Latino into districts that do not necessarily share their cultural and neighborhood identity. Finally, the proposal to split the 8th District evenly between the Bronx and Manhattan, allegedly done in the spirit or ‘borough equity,’ actually marginalizes residents of Manhattan.”
Another portion of the area above 96th is represented by Inez Dickens (District 9), but her district would be swapped with a district that also covers Morningside and Hamilton Heights (District 7) now represented by Robert Jackson (that proposed new district actually seems to have some internal cohesion, although I haven’t studied the demographics).
Yes, all this stuff makes my head hurt too. And yet, it could determine how much power Upper West Siders have in the next decade or so.
Our political power has arguably gotten much more diluted since state senate districts were changed earlier this year. Governor Cuomo approved a state senate district that includes part of the Upper West Side, the South Bronx, Roosevelt Island, and East Harlem.
If you want to learn more, there are meetings (no public participation at these) coming up in the next few weeks listed here (one is on Thursday) and you can send submit testimony here or contact your local council member.