Jan 13, 2022 - News

Good government group sets priorities for Philly's redistricting process

Illustration of the city of Philadelphia with moving districts inside it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Details around Philadelphia's new political map remain scant, but a good government group has started laying out priorities from communities and civic groups.

Driving the news: The nonpartisan Committee of Seventy released a preliminary report on redistricting concerns this week, based on workshops, meetings and more than 150 submissions.

  • The top takeaway? Many are calling on city legislators to maintain "communities of interest" — such as neighborhoods, business corridors and ethnic or language groups — in the new political boundaries.

State of play: The Philadelphia City Council is tasked with redistricting the city's 10 political districts by Feb. 12. City leaders have yet to publicly release any proposals.

  • If legislators fail to reach an agreement by the deadline, they face the prospect of having their paychecks withheld.

Between the lines: Philadelphia's population grew by more than 5% over the last decade and now tops 1.6 million residents.

  • Four of the city's districts (Districts 1, 5, 6 and 10) saw population gains since 2010, the last time boundaries were revisited, according to the committee's report.
  • The core of all 10 districts has remained the same for decades.

What they're saying: Legislators are expected to meet the deadline, said Joe Grace, a spokesperson for Council President Darrell Clarke.

  • Yet, but: Grace didn't have any details to share about who will introduce the redistricting bill or when it'll be proposed.
  • "Once redistricting legislation is introduced in council, it will be public and made available," Grace said.

The other side: "There's been no public process at least around these boundaries," said Pat Christmas, policy director for the Committee of Seventy.

  • "So far, we have yet to see any sort of plan, announcement of public hearings, how folks will be able to weigh in on these boundaries," he said.

What to watch: Reworking the boundaries of the 1st District is among the top challenges due to its population growth and lack of compactness, Christmas said.

  • The district, which includes parts of Northern Liberties, Kensington, Fishtown and South Philadelphia, saw a 7% population increase in the last decade, the largest in the city.

What's next: The City Council's session begins Jan. 20.

  • The mayor has to ultimately sign off on the legislation.
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