The Birmingham City Council is considering the approval of new City Council and Board of Education district lines, redrawn to take into account population shifts shown by the 2020 census.
City law mandates that districts be redrawn after each census to make sure that Birmingham’s population is evenly distributed among them. Each district elects a member of the City Council and the school board. The proposed changes would be in effect for the next two municipal elections, in 2025 and 2029.
The council held a public hearing March 29 to hear residents’ thoughts on the new district maps, and tweaks could be made based on those comments.
The proposal, which can be read in full here, would shift territory out of relatively overpopulated districts — Districts 1 and 2, for example — and into underpopulated districts — Districts 4, 6, 8 and 9.
The neighborhoods of Ensley and North Birmingham would be consolidated inside District 9, for example, while District 4 would gain parts of the Killough Springs, Roebuck and Fairmont neighborhoods.
Districts 3 and 5, meanwhile, are described by the proposal as population “crossroads, where districts needing additional population meet others that must lose population.” These are areas where many of the changes were made.
District 5, for instance, sees significant changes, losing the neighborhoods of College Hills and Graymont to District 8 and everything north of Interstates 20/59, including Druid Hills and part of Fountain Heights, into District 9. But it also gains some population from District 2; the proposal gives it the entirety of East Avondale and part of North East Lake.
District 6 also would gain several blocks of Five Points South in this proposal, which were previously part of District 3.
District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott has publicly expressed her displeasure with this change, saying “the heart has been ripped out” of her district. But District 3 would receive something in exchange: the neighborhoods of Glen Iris and Forest Park, previously divided between the two districts, will be fully consolidated within District 3.
District 7, described as “closest to the ideal district size,” received minimal changes, though the neighborhoods of Green Acres and Powderly are now consolidated within the district.
It’s possible tweaks will be made to the proposal after a public hearing was held March 29.
The proposal was drafted by Crimcard Consulting Services and approved by the council’s Census 2020 Redistricting Committee, made up of council President Wardine Alexander, President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman and District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams.
A District-by-District Breakdown of the Proposed Changes
District 1, represented on the City Council by Clinton Woods and on the school board by Sherman Collins Jr., was one of the city’s overpopulated districts. The proposed changes would shift some residents in the western and southern areas of the district to District 4, which started the process with too few residents. The proposal would also consolidate several neighborhoods divided in the current map, such as Huffman, Echo Highlands, Bridlewood and Spring Lake. Killough Springs and Roebuck remain divided under the proposal, though district boundaries in those neighborhoods will shift slightly based on adjustments agreed to by Woods, Williams and Councilor J.T. Moore.
Under the revisions, District 1 would have 23,157 residents, which is 3.8% more than the ideal district population.
District 2, represented on the City Council by Hunter Williams and on the school board by Neonta Williams, had also grown in the past decade. To counterbalance this, the proposed redistricting shifts parts of the eastern area of the district to District 5 and part of Roebuck to District 4. One border of District 2 would still follow U.S. 280 to Overton, but the district’s border near the city’s center has been moved slightly to mostly consolidate the Crestwood South neighborhood. That move was an exception to the general redistricting approach, but it was made in respect to recent elections.
Under the revisions, District 2 would have a population of 22,530, which is 1% more than the ideal district population. More than 97% of current residents would remain in the district.
District 3, represented on the City Council by Valerie Abbott and on the school board by Mary Boehm, had some of the biggest changes because of population growth on the south side of town and because of efforts to consolidate neighborhoods into one district when possible.
District 3 shares a significant border with District 6, which had not experienced population growth over the past decade and needed to add residents. That required shifting several blocks of the Five Points South neighborhood into District 6, though a significant portion of the neighborhood remains in District 3. To consolidate neighborhoods wherever possible — especially those in which incumbents lives — it was recommended that the Glen Iris and Forest Park neighborhoods be fully consolidated into District 3.
Under the revisions, District 3 would have 22,378 residents, which is less than 1% above the ideal district size. Almost 83% of the district’s current residents would remain in the district.
District 4, represented on the City Council by J.T. Moore and on the school board by Derrick L. Billups, was also found to be in need of a population increase. Proposed changes would expand the district’s northeastern section and dip farther into District 1. Though it will lose its portion of the city’s North Birmingham neighborhood to District 9, it will gain part of the North East Lake neighborhood and Lynn Park.
Under the revisions, District 4 would have 21,561 residents, which is 3.3% below the ideal district population. Slightly more than 85.6% of the district’s current residents would remain in the district.
District 5, represented on the City Council by Darrell O’Quinn and on the school board by James A. Sullivan, is proposed to undergo significant changes due to its position at the center of a population “crossroads,” where overpopulated districts meet underpopulated districts. District 5’s population is in need of reduction, and thus the proposal calls for its westernmost neighborhoods, Druid Hills and Graymont, to shift into District 8 while the area north of Interstate 20/59, including Druid Hills and part of Fountain Heights, would shift to District 9.
District 5 would then acquire the whole of East Avondale and move into part of North East Lake.
Under the revisions, District 5 would have 21,561 residents, which is 2.7% below the ideal population size, and 75.3% of the current residents would remain in the district.
District 6, represented on the City Council by Crystal Smitherman and on the school board by Leticia Watkins, also needed more residents. The proposed redistricting would expand the district eastward, taking several blocks of Five Points South, while shifting boundaries with Districts 7 and 8 to consolidate some western neighborhoods into District 6. The district also would lose parts of Glen Iris and Forest Park, which will be consolidated into District 3.
Under the revisions, District 6 would have 21,805 residents, which is about 2% below the ideal district size.
District 7, represented on the City Council by Wardine Alexander and on the school board by Walter Wilson, was close to the ideal district size already and required minimal changes, though some district lines were adjusted to fully consolidate the Green Acres and Powderly neighborhoods into the district.
Under the revisions, District 7 would have 21,660 residents, or 2.9% below the idea district size. It would retain 92% of its current population.
District 8, represented on the City Council by Carol Clarke and on the school board by Sonja Q. Smith, needed to gain population. This was partially accomplished by taking College Hills and Graymont from District 5. Boundaries between Districts 5, 7, 8 and 9 were slightly adjusted to consolidate neighborhoods, putting Central Park wholly in District 8.
Under the revisions, District 8’s population would be 23,101, which is 3.6% higher than the ideal district size. 81.5% of current residents would remain in the district.
District 9, represented on the City Council by LaTonya Tate and on the school board by Jason Meadows, was most in need of a population increase. It picked up areas in the Fountain Heights neighborhood and the entirety of the Druid Hills neighborhood, while the neighborhoods of North Birmingham and Ensley were both consolidated fully within the district.
Under the revisions, District 9’s population would be 22,842, which is 2.4% higher than the ideal population size.
Virginia Martin contributed to this report.