The Auburn City Council will consider the redistricting plan put forth by city of Auburn staff at its regular meeting on Tuesday evening, as the deadline looms in February for the map to be submitted for use in the upcoming Municipal Election in August. 

If the City Council does not meet the deadline, the Municipal Election will be held with the current ward map. 

Auburn's substantial growth over the past decade, from 53,380 to 76,143 residents, will require a major adjustment to the city's ward boundaries, as the growth created substantial imbalances in population between wards. For example, Ward 2 saw its population increase from about 6,000 residents in 2010 to nearly 14,000 residents in 2020, while Ward 7 only grew from about 6,500 to 7,500 residents. 

One of the major goals of the redistricting plan is to create boundaries so that each ward has about 9,500 residents. 

The biggest impact of the proposed redistricting plan falls in Wards 2 and 3. For the past 10 years, Ward 2 has largely occupied the area west of North College Street and north of Martin Luther King Drive, including the high-growth areas north of Shug Jordan Parkway. Ward 3 typically consisted of the area east of North College Street and north of Opelika Road. 

In the proposed plan, Ward 2 would generally span the area south of Shug Jordan Parkway east of North Donahue Drive to North Dean Road. Its southern boundary would generally run along West Drake Avenue and then drop to the railroad track at North College. Ward 3 would shift north of Shug Jordan Parkway.

The 2020 Census also showed that Auburn has become substantially more diverse over the past decade, with the city's minority population growing from 26.5 to 36.8 percent. 

The proposed redistricting plan retains Auburn's lone majority-minority district in Ward 1, where black residents make up 46.6 percent of the population. 

"Ward 1 functions as a majority black district," said Dorman Walker of Balch & Bingham, the consultant the city retained to review the redistricting plan proposed by city staff. "It's not actually a majority black district because much of the population in that district are students who don't vote. The city has the advantage of having it function as a majority black district even though it does not have a majority of black persons."

The large increase in the city's minority population has prompted calls from local organizations, such as the NAACP and League of Women Voters, for city staff to submit a redistricting map that includes two majority-minority wards.

After creating a proof-of-concept map in November, the NAACP formally submitted a new ward map to the City Council earlier this month that includes two majority-minority districts. 

The City Council postponed a vote on the redistricting plan at its last meeting. The Council will again consider the plan on Tuesday, with a public hearing attached to the agenda item.

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