Aug. 16, 2022 By Christian Murray
A Community Board 2 taskforce created to evaluate the proposed changes to the boundaries of Council District 26 has rejected the NYC Districting Commission’s preliminary draft plan.
The commission released preliminary maps in July for all 51 council districts—although the revised Council District 26 map stood out since the district’s boundaries would be subject to major change. The map would see the Woodside portion of the existing district split among four council districts; Ravenswood and Queensbridge would be gone; and Roosevelt Island and a portion of the Upper East Side would be added.
The proposed district would be comprised of approximately 173,000 people, with 36,000 people from Manhattan and 12,000 from Roosevelt Island.
“CB2 is deeply concerned about the impacts to our community that the draft redistricting scheme may produce,” according to a statement released by CB2’s taskforce. “It is critical that our voices are heard loud and clear to ensure proper representation, prevent disenfranchisement, and to ensure marginalized communities are not divide and diluted.”
The taskforce, which was created by CB2 chair Morry Galonoy, argues that the revised district would have an adverse impact on residents who live within Community Board 2 and all residents who reside in Council District 26 today.
It also says the proposed map does not comport with the city charter since the commission is required to keep neighborhoods intact, limit crossover districts (as in across boroughs) and avoid oddly shaped districts.
The taskforce says that the change would see less representation, attention, resources and discretionary funding awarded to residents of community board 2.
The taskforce also said that the proposed Council District 26 would paint an entirely different picture of the residents who currently live in the district—as well as the services offered. The taskforce highlighted the following:
–The average income within the district would go from $80,000 to $110,000—overstating what current residents earn.
—The racial and cultural demographics would see the white non-Hispanic population grow to 44 percent of the population, up from 29 percent—reducing the influence and representation of communities of color who live in the district.
—The proposed district would include major hospitals on the east side of Manhattan, but community board 2 residents would still have no hospital or place to give birth within its boundaries.
—The revised district has more schools within it, which would make it tougher for schools to get funding or to build additional schools in community board 2.
The taskforce also concludes that it would be much tougher for the councilmember to provide services in the revised district.
The councilmember, the taskforce says, would have to oversee multiple community boards—including two in Manhattan—stemming from the change. Furthermore, there could be a need for three district offices—one in Queens, another in Manhattan and one on Roosevelt Island. Constituent services would be stretched.
Galonoy is urging residents to provide the Commission with feedback as to the preliminary map—since the maps are by no means final. There is currently a round of public hearings—including one in Queens Tuesday—and the map may be revised based on feedback.
A revised draft for all 51 districts will be sent to the city council in September, which it can approve or reject. Should the maps be rejected, it would prompt the commission to hold another round of public hearings.
Galonoy, as well as the task force, argue that the Commission is not providing the public with enough time and opportunity to provide feedback as to the draft map. He said that one hearing for all of Queens is not enough and it comes at a time when many people are away.
The taskforce is calling on the commission to hold additional hearings.
“We call on the NYC Redistricting Commission to hold additional hearings throughout the borough of Queens or virtually in September and beyond. We understand the desire to get City redistricting finalized and in place expediently but taking our time to get it right and basing decisions on public input should be the priority.”
Public Hearing Details:
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 16 from 5:30 p.m.- 9 p.m.
WHERE: Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11106
A YouTube live stream of the hearing will be available at: www.youtube.com/channel/UCCK2O3IH_vEX1FXX53z8dBw
To submit written testimony to the Districting Commission, please send testimony to: [email protected]