Above: The thick, black lines show the current borders of Pittsburgh city council districts. The colored voting districts show the proposed changes. (Courtesy Reapportionment Committee).
More Northside residents weighed in on the proposed reapportionment of Pittsburgh’s city council districts at a meeting this week at Bistro Soul.
Tuesday night, neighbors from the Central Northside and Observatory Hill made it clear to the reapportionment committee that they were not fighting for or against District 1 Representative Darlene Harris or District 6 Representative Daniel Lavelle. They simply wanted to keep their neighborhoods united under a single city councilmember.
To keep a balanced population between Pittsburgh’s nine city council districts, every 10 years a committee examines new census data and reapportions the districts evenly and ensures minorities are fairly represented.
In an effort to grow Harris’ District 1 and balance the minority population in Lavelle’s District 6, the committee has proposed moving Acorn Hill (voting districts 26-1 and 26-10) to Lavelle’s district and moving half of the Central Northisde and Allegheny West (voting districts 22-1, 22-2 and 22-3) to Harris’ district.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second of a series of five meetings where community members are able to express their concerns about the proposed changes.
At the meeting, Central Northside representatives from City of Asylum, the Mexican War Streets Society and the Central Northside Neighborhood Council spoke out against the proposal, which would split the neighborhood at Sherman Avenue.
Central Northsiders believe splitting the neighborhood at Sherman Avenue would separate neighbors who are afflicted by drug and gang activity from those who are not.
“One of the great charms of our neighborhood is that we pride ourselves on our diversity, and we are cohesive in spite of it,” said CNNC Secretary Arthur James. “This almost feels like government sanctioned segregation.”
Observatory Hill residents similarly objected to the division of their neighborhood.
Observatory Hill Inc. Treasurer Jason Wrona told the committee that OHI had voted to oppose the reapportionment plan as it currently stands, as splitting the neighborhood would not be efficient or a step towards preserving good government.
He explained that Acorn Hill was a social and tight-knit neighborhood as well as a keystone in Observatory Hill.
At the meeting Gloria Rayman represented the Allegheny West Civic Council, which was the only organization in support of the proposed reapportionment.
“We believe our issues and the issues our small neighborhood are more aligned with the districts that surround the park,” she said.