Redistricting process underway in Parkland

Parkland city officials are now grappling with the task of redrawing commission district boundaries without dividing communities of interest and ensuring population equality in all four districts. The city has a total population of 23,983.

The exercise, which is done every four years as per the city’s charter, is proving harder than expected. At a recent workshop, city officials considered various options presented by Scott Burton, the city’s consultant on the issue. They finally zeroed in on two, one that will see the Ranches being divided but keep Pine Tree Estates together, and the other that will have the Ranches intact but split Pine Tree Estates in two different districts.

Jared Moskowitz, who represents District 2, said he was opposed to any plan that splits the Ranches. “I don’t think you can split the Ranches; that is a mistake and wouldn’t be good for the city. The Ranches need to have one representative. I am happy to keep it all or have none of it. I don’t want to have half the Ranches.”

“We have always talked about not having communities divided,” Vice Mayor Dave Rosenof said. “But you are still splitting up Pine Tree Estates, a community of estate. I like the option that keeps Pine Tree Estate as one. That looks the most compact, but it splits up the Ranches.”

“Our charter doesn’t direct us to look at communities of interest or continuity,” Rosenof said. “We are not violating the charter or doing anyone a disservice [if communities end up being split]. We are almost at the point where we’d rather have two commissioners for the Ranches.”

The exercise has to be carried out keeping census blocks intact. “We are dealing with this problem because census blocks are set in stone,” Commissioner Mark Weissman said. “That is what throws off the numbers. Some census blocks don’t make sense. I think that is something the city should begin working with the county soon.”

“The ideal district population is 5,996,” Burton said. “District three, which has a population of 6,376, is 6.3 percent over that while district two, with 5,704, is less than the ideal figure by 4.9 percent. District one has 6,244 residents, which is 4.1 percent greater than the ideal number, while District four falls short by 5.6 percent, with 5,659 residents.”

Once the Wedge – nearly 2,000 acres of land that once belonged to Palm Beach County but is now part of Parkland – is fully developed, the city is expected to have more than 40,000 residents. The redistricting process, however, takes into account only the existing number of residents.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/fl-cspf-redistricting-1006-20111012,0,6090095.story?track=rss

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