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Commission releases first drafts of redrawn Seattle council districts

Feb 18, 2022, 11:56 AM
One of the proposed maps for Seattle's redrawn council districts....
One of the proposed maps for Seattle's redrawn council districts.

The Seattle Redistricting Commission released four proposed drafts of newly-redrawn city council districts this week.

Seattle opens up applications for commission tasked with redrawing council districts

Seattle first divided out seven geographically-based council districts in 2013. That replaced the previous system, which had all nine councilmembers serving as “at-large” representatives. Under the system approved as part of a charter amendment in 2013, just two councilmembers now serve in an at-large capacity.

For the first time since that system was implemented, Seattle’s district lines will be redrawn using new census data. The commission must adhere to a handful of requirements as part of its work, including:

  • Producing “compact and contiguous districts that are not gerrymandered”
  • Making it so that the population of the largest district does not exceed the smallest district by more than 1%
  • Following boundaries for existing districts, waterways, and neighborhoods “when practical”

Across all four draft maps presented by the redistricting commission, the most dramatic changes would likely be seen in District 3 — comprising Capitol Hill, First Hill, Madison Park, Pike/Pine, Mount Baker, and Yesler Terrace, among other areas.

The maps numbered 1 and 2 were both computer generated, with the latter programmed to avoid splitting existing neighborhoods between districts. Map 3 was human-drawn with the same directive to avoid neighborhood splitting. Number 4 was human-drawn with the goal of maintaining existing district boundaries whenever possible.

State Supreme Court allows late-arriving redistricting maps to move forward

In Map 1, areas in District 3’s northwestern boundary near Elliott Bay would be moved into District 4, while its southern neighborhoods would shift into District 2. Map 2 would aggressively carve up District 3, moving its entire northeastern corner into District 4, its southeast neighborhoods into District 2, and its northern portion into District 6.

Map 3 would extend a portion of District 3’s western border into the downtown area of Seattle, while moving its northeast corner into District 4, and a thin slice of its southern area into District 2. Map 4 would move District 3’s southern third almost entirely into District 2 and its northern quarter into District 4, while extending its western border well into the downtown core.

None of the four proposed maps are final. The redistricting commission will receive feedback from the public through July, with plans to file a final plan with the city clerk in November.

You can see all four of the draft maps here.

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Commission releases first drafts of redrawn Seattle council districts