Houston’s city council is moving forward with a plan for new council districts after several last-minute changes with a bearing on the local neighborhoods.

The city council last week approved an ordinance signing off on new council districts that included keeping Fourth Ward and Freedmen’s Town in District C, while shifting parts of Garden Oaks west of Shepherd Drive into District H.

“The challenge with redistricting is that C is the largest district by population,” District C Councilperson Abbie Kamin said. “With the census undercount, the districts right next to us are those with the lowest population. So, District C is in a position where it had to shed some population.”

Kamin in a conversation with The Leader last week said she hated the idea of giving up any neighborhood in the district, but that the council was bound to conduct redistricting based upon state and federal laws.

Houston’s city council conducts redistricting every 10 years, using data from the newest U.S. Census to apportion council districts based on the city’s population, according to Jerry Wood, demographer for Houston. The latest census data shows Houston’s population increased by about 10 percent from the 2010 census, up to about 2.3 million, according to the city.

District H saw the biggest population decline as a result of the latest census data, according to Karl Cisneros, who holds the district’s seat on council.

Cisneros argues the decline is because of a significant undercount of Hispanic residents. Her District is 67.9 percent Hispanic – the second highest percentage of Hispanic residents in the 11 council districts – according to Cisneros.

Some members of the North Shepherd Community Alliance expressed concern about breaking up the neighborhood into multiple council districts, rather than grouping them into one.

Now, the council will consider ratifying the ordinance at a January meeting, according to city documents. 

But the new council districts won’t take effect until 2024, though the new map will influence who people can vote for in 2023, according to the city.

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