Initial map to redistrict county commission gains OK
By Victor Cruz
After examining four proposals from three hired consultants for redrawing district boundaries for representation on the Miami-Dade County Commission, a subcommittee has picked one to serve as the base for further discussion.
The base map, picked last week and crafted by former county zoning and planning director Guillermo Omedillo, would serve as a flexible foundation to be tweaked in coming weeks.
After weighing concerns of commissioners and discussing changes each of them hopes to see made, a new draft is due Sept. 24 to the committee for approval, Mr. Omedillo said.
If the committee approves the altered base map, the new map must be brought before the community at public hearings, the results of which would be used to address any need for further changes.
When there are no more changes to be made "the final draft, then becomes part of a county ordinance that goes through the usual process," Mr. Omedillo said. A first hearing and second hearing are required before the changes can be adopted.
He said he expects a final draft to win county approval before the end of the year.
Drafts were also submitted by consultants Rudy Wilson and George Meier. But Mr. Omedillo's map was overwhelming the favorite among commissioners who sat on the ad hoc committee and who listened last week to the consultants' presentations.
"It was the map that had the least amount of changes between cities and other communities of interest, and still arrived at the target population figures," the consultant said.
He said the goal his team is striving for is to divide the 13 districts into groups of 173,335 people per district while maintaining existing majorities in Black and Hispanic-dominated districts in a county that has expanded dramatically westward.
Law dictates that the county cannot deviate more than 16 % from the 173,335 number, he said. The figure is based on equally dividing the total county population among the 13 commission districts.
The county is now operating at a 71% variance from that, Mr. Omedillo said. The districts were last redrawn in 1999.
Mr. Omedillo said his goal is to have a total variance of 5% or less when new districts are in place.
But even Mr. Omedillo's map has a way to go before all the commissioners say they would be satisfied with their range of concerns. Those issues include:
NIn District 10, Commissioner Javier Souto is adamant that the Westchester neighborhood in West Miami-Dade not be split in any future configuration. Currently, the neighborhood is split between District 10 and Commissioner Joe Martinez' District 11. The Omedillo map keeps the split in the community that Mr. Souto said he envisions as a future city.
"It would be the third largest city in the county," Mr. Souto said.
nDistrict 8 Commissioner Katy Sorenson and District 9 Commissioner Dennis Moss want to schedule a public meeting to discuss reconfiguring southwestern Miami-Dade areas.
nDistrict 13 Commissioner Natacha Seijas said she wants Amelia Earhart Park, 401 E 65th St., Hialeah, to fall completely in her district, which it does not now do.
nDistrict 6 Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said she wants a bigger chunk of northern Coral Gables while District 7 Commissioner Jimmy Morales said he wants the western edge of his mid-county area to be fine-tuned.
nDistrict 5 Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said he is concerned that his Miami Beach boundaries, which stop at about 12th Street, do not extend far enough north in the draft. He said he wants a contiguous line running along 27th Avenue from the Miami River to US 1 to form the western edge of his district.
Supporting Mr. Omedillo's base map were District 1 Commissioner Betty Ferguson, District 3 Commissioner Barbara Carey-Schuler and District 4 Commissioner Gwen Margolis who suggest only minor changes limited to the exchange of one or two precincts each.
District 2 Commissioner Dorrin Rolle preferred the map submitted by Mr. Meier. That map added nine precincts currently located to the north of Mr. Rolle's district and stretching northward as far north as NW 183rd St. These precincts are currently in District 1.