2012-10-24 / Features

Districting Complaints Aired At Public Hearing

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

The decennial redrawing of New York City’s 51 Council districts drew some pointed criticism during a public hearing held at LaGuardia Community College on October 10.

In testimony delivered to the New York City Districting Commission, including three members from Queens—attorney Linda Lin, former Councilmember Tom Ognibene and former state Senator Frank Padavan, Councilmember Dan Halloran strongly objected to moving a portion of the Mitchell-Linden apartment complex in the College Point community from District 20 into District 19. Halloran represents District 19 in the council.

“(The draft map) cuts a multi-family complex down the middle,” said Halloran. “(Mitchell-Linden) was in District 20 and is now in District 19,” he said.

A preliminary draft map, released on September 5, proposed that six blocks of the Mitchell-Linden apartment complex of six-story buildings located west of Union Street should be removed from the 20th Council District and placed into the 19th Council District. The six blocks represents about one-half of the Mitchell- Linden Civic Association bounded on three sides by the 20th Council District, with only the west side next to the Whitestone Expressway near the College Point Corporate Park connected to the 19th Council District. The 19th District is mostly comprised of low-density R1 and R2 housing, less than three stories, said Halloran, while the Mitchell-Linden apartment complex is zoned R5.

“(Mitchell-Linden) should be returned to the 20th District where it has been for the last 20 years,” Halloran said.

Halloran also complained that the Auburndale community was “chopped” into three districts, the 19th, 20th, and 23rd and Bayside Hills was split into two council districts, the 20th and 23rd.

“The Auburndale Civics are all united in opposition to the draft map,” said Halloran. In addition, “Bayside Hills should be wholly within Council District 23 or Council District 19,” he said, adding that Community Board 11 had passed a unanimous resolution in opposition to the map. Halloran is the Republican candidate running for the 6th Congressional District seat. Assemblymember Grace Meng is the Democratic candidate.

James Hong of the Asian-American Community Coalition for Redistricting and Democracy (ACCORD) was also dissatisfied with the map. “The communities of South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill remain divided,” said Hong, asking that they be united into one council district. “Hear our voices and produce a district that provides an equal voice,” he said.

“Our goal is non-partisan, we don’t support any individual candidate but seek to empower Asian Americans,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the Minkwon Center, a member of ACCORD. “Fair and equitable redistricting is absolutely critical,” said Choi.

The commission must release a revised district map to the city council by November 5 and after that the council will have until November 26 to approve, object or take no action on the plan.

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