Monday, September 13, 2021

Redistricting commission is prepared to adopt preliminary map Wednesday, Sept. 15

Redistricting commission set to adopt preliminary city council district map Wednesday. Second meeting set for Thursday, if draft map is not adopted Wednesday. (Draft map is at this link: http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=367118)


AUSTIN, TX (Sept. 13, 2021) – After four-hours of discussion last Wednesday, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) instructed the technical line drawer to consult with the NAACP/Hispanic Coalition mapping expert and individual commissioners to create a second draft of the preliminary map that they can view, discuss and adopt this week.

Commissioners will view another draft of the preliminary map on Wednesday, Sept. 15 to review, discuss and potentially adopt. The public is invited to attend in-person and give testimony at the meeting that will be held at the Permitting and Development Center (PDC), 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Dr., Austin, TX 78752, 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. 

If the commissioners do not adopt the proposed map on Wednesday, they will meet the following day, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at 6 p.m. at the PDC, 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Dr., Austin, TX 78752 to continue discussion and to adopt the changes to the map. The public is invited to attend in-person and give testimony at the meeting.

Last Wednesday, members of the NAACP/Hispanic Coalition presented their own version of district maps for four opportunity districts to the commission for consideration. The draft map and the coalition's map were similar with some variations.

After discussion, the commissioners voted to direct their mapping specialist to meet with the coalition's mapping expert to work out the differences in the maps for Districts 1-4 and to bring the new map back to commission this week.

The commission wanted to ensure that the City Charter was being followed, Vice Chair Luis Gonzalez of District 10 said in Wednesday's meeting.

The first mandate of the charter states, "Each district shall have reasonably equal population with other districts, except where deviation is required to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act or is allowable by law. The second mandate says, "Districts shall comply with the federal Voting Rights Act and any other requirement of federal or state law."

Commissioner Camellia Falcon, who represents District 7 said, "Our technical mapping specialist presented us with a great draft that prioritized the balancing of population between the districts. I am looking forward to the next step, which is to meet with him and work through the many requests we received. My main focus will be which of these requests can be honored while adhering to our city charter mandate. The hours spent on mapping this week really bring to light how the commissioners bring our knowledge of the city to the process."

The 14 commissioners, all residents of Austin, represent the diversity of the city. These volunteers represent all socio-economic groups and races and ethnicities.

"I applied to be an ICRC commissioner because I wanted to give a voice to those who might not have otherwise been represented in this process," Falcon, who describes herself as 'a fierce advocate for equality and the dignity of life," said. "Through this process, I have come to better understand how the concept of representation means so many different things throughout our City."

Since the start of the process in July, commissioners and their mapping specialist have spent eight hours in 12 public forums between July 15-Aug. 27, 2021 discussing the mapping process and listening to public testimony. They hosted 105 attendees, listened to 48 speakers, collected 50 maps, over 100 emails and two voice messages from the public.

The public will be able to view the latest visualizations of proposed districts that the Commission will be considering in its meetings at this link or by visiting speakupaustin.org and clicking on "Shape Austin's Future-Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission."

After hearing from the coalition and commissioners and reviewing the public testimony, emails, written messages and voice messages from the public, George Korbel, the ICRC's mapping specialist, will again present a draft preliminary map at the Sept. 15, 2021 ICRC meeting, where the commission is currently scheduled to vote to adopt a map.

After the preliminary map has been adopted, the commission will host five forums for the public to view visualizations and give their input.

Public Forums
In advance of the mapping process, the ICRC has scheduled public forums for viewing and discussion of the preliminary maps. The public is invited to attend and give feedback either verbal or written at those meetings at these locations:

Public Forum No. 1
Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Gus Garcia Recreation Center
 1201 E. Runberg Lane
Austin, TX 78753

Public Forum No. 2
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021: 6-8 p.m.
Mayfield Cottage
3505 W. 35th St.,
Austin, TX 78703

Public Forum No. 3
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021: 1-3 p.m.
George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center
5801 Ainez Dr.
Austin, TX 78744

Public Forum No. 4
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021: 6-8 p.m.
Via Videoconference on Zoom
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Public Forum No. 5
Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Travis County Community Center at Oak Hill
8656 Texas Highway 71
Austin, TX 78735

Procedure
After hearing from residents and reviewing public testimony from the five forums, the next step for commissioners and the mapping specialist will be to discuss potential revisions, incorporate those revisions and vote on a proposed final map in October. The ICRC will present a draft of the final map at three more public forums to receive input. Korbel and the commissioners will redraw the final map with public testimony in the final week of October, then vote on the map and present it to the Austin city council November 1.

Submit feedback
To submit feedback directly to the commission about redistricting please email: icrc.commissioners@austintexas.gov or write to: Housing and Planning Department, Attn: ICRC, P.O. Box 1088, Austin, Texas 78767.

Due to rapid changes in scheduling due to COVID restrictions, for the most up-to-date events information from the ICRC please refer to events pages:

Public input forums are recorded and made available after the meetings here: http://www.austintexas.gov/page/watch-atxn-live.
Past meetings, agendas and map presentations can be viewed on the commission's website at www.austintexas.gov/cityclerk/boards_commissions/meetings/116_1.htm

Interpretation and/or translation services will be available free of charge by advance request in Spanish, Chinese or Vietnamese. Call 311 or email matthew.dugan@austintexas.gov to request these services 48 hours in advance of a forum.

To find City Council Districts in Austin visit this link and type in an address: https://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/CouncilDistrictMap/


ICRC Information
Commissioners are: Joshua Blank (District 8), Sara Inés Calderón (D2), Erin Dempsey (D10), Camellia Falcon (D7), Luis Gonzalez (D10, Vice-Chair), Errol Hardin (D1), Shaina Kambo (D9), Prabhu Kannan (D5), Dr. Sterling Lands (D4), Hoang Le (D3), Brigham Morris (D3), Christina Puentes (D7, Chair), Eugene Schneider (D6) and Selina Yee (D1).

The ICRC board will hold its weekly commission meeting at the Permitting and Development Center (PDC), 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Dr., Austin, TX 78752, 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. 

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