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San Antonio

You might have a different city councilperson under San Antonio’s newly approved redistricting maps

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
An up-close look at some of the new boundaries for San Antonio's city council districts.

After eight months of committee meetings, San Antonio has new boundaries for its city council districts. The San Antonio City Council gave final approval on Thursday in a 10-0 vote.

The maps move approximately 39,000 people into different council districts. Each district needed to be close to 143,000 people in size to be nearly equal in population. Redistricting is a decennial corrective measure taken after each census to reduce the size of bloated districts and add more people into smaller ones.

Bonnie Prosser Elder, redistricting co-chair of the 23-member committee, says the map drawing was a collaborative effort between the city’s residents and redistricting committee.

“It is balanced and in line with the pre-established criteria that this council and this committee agreed upon and it will be a great benefit to the San Antonio Community,” Prosser Elder said.

At times those meetings grew contentious with public outcry over the moving of certain landmarks, like Brackenridge Park which was ultimately deceived to remain in District 2 instead of being drawn into District 1. Also, a proposed split of Downtown San Antonio’s central business district between council districts 1 and 5 was reversed as well.

District 8 lost the most constituents with more than 20,000 people being moved into neighboring districts. Districts 1 and 5 gained the most at 13,000 and 16,000 respectively.

A total of 16 neighborhoods were moved from one council district to another. District 7 gained the most neighborhoods, entirely from District 8 those include. Camino Bandera, Verde Hills, Sierra Vista, Oak Bluff, Fieldstone, The Hills of Rivermist, Dreamhill Estates, Braun Oaks.

District 1: +13,842

District 2: 0

District 3: 0

District 4: +3,785

District 5: +16,720

District 6: – 8,758

District 7: + 4, 905

District 8: – 20,288

District 9: – 8,354

District 10: – 1,852

You can see the new city council boundaries here.

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The change takes effect almost immediately with neighborhoods being transferred one at a time between council districts. City Attorney Andy Segovia said information would be going out to impacted residents and neighborhoods soon.

“We want to inform everyone at the same time that: one, they’re moving, and two what that means from a constituency services standpoint, so that everybody gets the information at the same time,” he said.

The overall process was not without its controversy. During Thursday’s meeting, District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and District 5 Councilman Teri Castillo, took issue with some of the persons selected for the 23-member district committee.

“I think that moving forward and when we do potentially have a conversation about redistricting in a couple years I think it’s important the folks are not able to appoint their family members to sit on the redistricting committee, that folks do not appoint their staff members to sit on the redistricting committee this is significant,” he said.

McKee-Rodriguez was referencing the inclusion of former District 3 Councilman Rebecca Viagran who was appointed to the committee by her sister Phyllis Viagran, the incumbent Distirct 2 councilwoman. He also referenced the appointment of a District 8 staff member, Laura Garza, to be the District 8 representative on the committee.

The committee is advisory and does not make the final decision, so no nepotism laws were broken according to Segovia. There is no state law preventing that, he said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said concerns to address issues like that could be codified in the next city charter amendment process and considered by a charter review commission.

“Now that we’ve gotten to the conclusion, we have a map, a document, that I think is a good outcome, we can address some of those process changes from the future,” Nirenberg said. “Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it a dramatic improvement from the previous process? Absolutely. And I’m confident in saying that.”

Although the process happens once every 10 years, another redistricting session could be in the works for San Antonio. Nirenberg has mentioned additional council districts could be added, bringing the total number of council seats up to at least 12. But that would require a change of the city charter.

The earliest a charter amendment election could take place is sometime in 2023 as the last charter change approved by voters was in 2021.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.