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Splitting Up Jamaica Plain? City Council Redistricting Could Remove Bourne, Forest Hills

A new scheme for City Council districts could pull one or two JP neighborhoods out of District 6.

A proposed redistricting map could split up Jamaica Plain, leaving the neighborhood no longer represented mainly by one city councilor.

City Councilors must agree on a new district map soon. The law requires updating district boundaries with each Census. A final vote is expected Wednesday at the council's last meeting before the legal deadline next week.

The difficulty is how to redraw districts while not diluting representation of people of color. Mayor Thomas Menino has rejected two maps passed by City Council so far, arguing they don't pass muster on that score. Such maps could even face legal challenges.

Here's how it breaks down: District 6, the seat held by City Councilor Matt O'Malley, currently represents almost all of JP. Depending on what you consider the neighborhood's at times contested boundaries, small sections of JP are represented by District 5 City Councilor Michael Ross and District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson.

According to the Dorchester Reporter, one proposal would take Ward 19, Precinct 12 (roughly the Bourne area) out of District 6 and put it in District 4, a nearly all-minority district of Dorchester and Mattapan represented by City Councilor Charles Yancey. This map is backed by At-Large City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo, according to the paper's report. Jackson also supports this map.

A rival map would take two JP precincts out of District 6, according to the Reporter. This one would take not only the Bourne area, but also Ward 19, Precinct 7 (roughly Forest Hills). City Councilors Fred Baker, Rob Consalvo and Bill Linehan reportedly back this map.

Arroyo, who lives in Forest Hills, mobilized residents against that map, going so far as to send canvassers door-to-door on Sunday.

"I am adamantly opposed to any plan that includes Forest Hills and the Casey Overpass area not being with the rest of JP," Arroyo said in a phone interview with Patch.

The JP Neighborhood Council took up the issue on Tuesday night. The elected advisory board voted to oppose both precincts being taken out of District 6.

"You can meet the goals of fairness without doing so much to Jamaica Plain," said Ben Day, chairperson of the Neighborhood Council.

The deadline for redrawing the boundaries is pegged to the November 2013 elections. Candidates must live in the district they plan to run for during the year before the election.

City Council meets at noon Wednesday to take up the competing proposals and make a final vote.

Liam Sullivan October 31, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I haven't seen any explanation as to why these precincts being moved to a different City Council district is a bad thing or why it is a good thing for JP to be just one district. It seems to me these things are population-based and it would be impossible to have the districts and neighborhood boundaries the same. I'd be very interested in learning the rationale behind Arroyo's opposition as I haven't seen it spelled out anywhere.
Chris Helms (Editor) October 31, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Hi Liam, as I understand it, the concern is that those one or two precincts, if they are peeled off, might become a small, easily ignored part of a district whose councilor would mostly be responding to Dorchester and Mattapan concerns. An aide to Councilor Pressley put it well last night, saying the city has 22 neighborhoods and nine districts, so it's mathematically impossible to keep all the neighborhoods "whole" (that is to say, represented by a single councilor.) Maybe others can explain it more eloquently!
Ian St. Germain November 01, 2012 at 01:08 PM
as a Jamaica Plain resident of 13 years (11 of those in the Bourne neighborhood), I'd really rather be in with the rest of my borough, neighborhood, district, what-ever you want to call it. I was to actually be represented by my elected representatives. My neighborhood is not Mattapan or Dorchester, and its true, those counsellors have way too much to worry about without thinking of what we need in this neighborhood. I would not want to be part of those districts, because I'm not part of those neighborhoods, and my family's needs aren't the same.

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