This week, Mayor Brandon Scott presented his redistricting plan proposal to the Baltimore City Council. The City Council district map aims to rebalance representation for Baltimore’s diverse communities.
As such, Mayor Scott’s proposal is based upon the requirements for redistricting established in the Charter of Baltimore City in light of the 2020 census data to address population changes, trends, and new imbalances within existing council districts.
The map is drafted to consider anchor institutions and attempts to ensure at least one anchor institution is located in each council district. The proposed map also provides that each district’s population falls within the legally required range of the target mean population of 41,836.
In addition, the map intentionally tries to maintain current boundaries as much as possible while meeting the requirements of the law. The map successfully balances the population, is contiguous and compact, and ensures that existing Council Members live in the districts they represent.
“The proposed map will rebalance our City Council Districts to ensure equal representation for city residents,” said Mayor Scott. “Our team worked diligently for months to craft a reasonable and well-executed redistricting plan by the expectations of the law. I commend the dedication and hard work of the Departments of Law and Planning that went into this effort. These changes are a reflection of our changing city, taking into account new population centers and communities experiencing growth. I hope that the new map serves our city well for years to come.”
The process began with the Department of Law guiding the requirements of the redistricting process:
- Population: The districts should have population equality, generally accepted to mean that no district should have 10 percent more or less population than any other district.
- Contiguous: The districts should be contiguous, meaning you can travel from any point in the district to any other point without crossing the district’s boundary.
- Compactness: The districts should be compact, although compactness does not require a district to be any particular shape or size.
The Department of Planning then provided census data highlighting the existing disparities among council districts based on population changes since the Council map was last re-drawn, revealing the need to rebalance the districts.
According to a Baltimore City press release:
One of the key challenges faced during this process was the significant population growth in Districts 1 and 11. To address this, population had to be carefully redistributed from these districts to others while maintaining the overall integrity of the city’s councilmanic boundaries.
Other significant changes include: The precinct that includes Johns Hopkins Bayview returned from District 1 to District 2 after being removed from District 2 following the 2010 census. This change both assisted with the reduction in population needed in District 1, and added an anchor institution to District 2. Additionally, District 10, which prior to 2010 census redistricting included all of the South Baltimore peninsula, added back a portion of the peninsula to assist the reduction in population needed in District 11.
This realignment ensures that Baltimore’s evolving demographics are accurately reflected in the proposed district boundaries.
Mayor Scott deliberately released the map well before the February 1, 2024, deadline to ensure that the final map will take effect months before the May 2024 primaries, giving candidates and the State Board of Elections time to ensure a smooth election.
The Baltimore City Council now has 60 days to approve or amend the map before it takes effect.