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Redistricting commission releases first draft of new Austin City Council map. (City of Austin/Austin Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission)

The Austin Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission released a proposed map of a new city council district map heavily based on the existing map drawn in 2013.

After considering making sweeping changes to the configuration of the districts, the commission's proposed map makes only small alterations largely aimed at re-establishing numerical parity. The commission is responsible for establishing the geographical boundaries of Austin's city council districts, a once-every-ten-year process based on the release of U.S. Census data.

Under the map, Districts 6 and 7 would shrink by more than 10,000 people, while District 4 would gain more than 14,000 people and District 3 more than 9,000 people. District 9 would also gain substantially, adding more than 7,000 new residents.

Unlike some U.S. cities like Cleveland, Austin does not add or subtract city council districts based on population and will retain the 10 districts first established after the city voted to move to single-member, geographic districts in 2012 in an attempt to elevate the power of candidates and neighborhoods.

That means coming districts will be considerably larger than the current districts, a result of Austin's 21% increase in population over the last decade. The new U.S. Census data released in August found that the city is home to 961,855 people, meaning that the commission aimed to draw roughly 96,000-person districts.

With a draft plan now done, the commission will hold five public forums to gather feedback on the proposed map between Sept. 18 and Oct. 2, with four events held in person and one on Zoom. The first of those events will take place a week from Saturday at the Gus Garcia Recreation Center in northeast Austin.

The committee will incorporate that feedback into a final proposal that the ICRC is set to adopt on Sept. 15.


(Bob Daemmrich)

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