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Queens Chronicle

New City Council District maps approved by Districting Commission

Dissenting vote is Queens member with ties to Asian-American group

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Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 10:30 am

The new City Council district lines that will be in place until at least 2022 are all but official.

By a 14-1 margin, the NYC Districting Commission approved the new City Council maps Feb. 6, leaving the assured passage of the lines by the Council itself as the last step before their finalization.

The Council is expected to approve the maps this month and they will go into effect for this year’s elections.

The one dissenting vote came from Queens member Linda Lin of Forest Hills, an attorney and member and former president of the Asian-American Bar Association of New York.

In the new maps, Oakland Gardens and Bayside remain divided, which Asian-American groups, including the Asian American Community Coalition On Redistricting and Democracy tried hard to unite.

AABANY, which Lin headed in 2011, worked with ACCORD on fighting for Asian-American representation in last year’s state and federal redistricting process.

Lin did not respond to a request for comment. Another Asian-American member of the commission, Justin Yu of Manhattan — chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce — voted for the new maps. Yu was appointed to the commission by Mayor Bloomberg, while Lin was an appointee of the City Council Democratic Caucus.

Opposition to the unification of the neighborhoods into one district was led by former state Senator Frank Padavan, another Queens member of the commission. Padavan represented Bayside in Albany for over 30 years and noted at the Districting Commission’s public hearings that Oakland Gardens and Bayside had never been united into one district before.

But ACCORD said the demographics of the neighborhoods have changed, warranting a change in the lines.

And that was not the only part of the maps ACCORD opposed. The group also blasted the lines in Bensonhurst and Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Chinatown in Manhattan because members claim the new districts also divide Asian-American communities there. They did praise the consolidation of the Chinese-American community in Elmhurst, which was united within the 25th District.

Other communities including Woodhaven and North Flushing also took issue with the lines.

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, was resigned to the new district boundaries, which split Woodhaven down Forest Parkway and 80th Street, leaving the areas to the west in the 30th District — which includes Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale on the other side of Forest Park — and the eastern two-thirds in the 32nd District, which includes Howard Beach and the Rockaways.

Wendell said he did not blame the commission members, but said the process in which lines are drawn was to blame.

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” he said.

Four civic associations from North Flushing, Whitestone and Auburndale fought for a last-minute change to unite low-density communities surrounding Downtown Flushing into the Bayside-based 19th District, rather than include them in the 20th District, which is centered in Downtown Flushing.

Paul Graziano, an urban planner from North Flushing, said his neighborhood, home to mostly detached one- and two-family private homes should have been placed entirely within the 19th District. Though his home was moved there — it had previously been in the more densely-populated Flushing-based 20th — half of the neighborhood remained out of it.

“I’m happy to be in the 19th,” he said. “But I’m not happy the neighborhood is split up.”

The maps are the third draft drawn by the Districting Commission. The first version was revised after public hearings. Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) asked the panel to draw a third set of maps because the second draft caused controversy when it appeared to move the home of embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) into the Ridgewood-Bushwick-based 34th District, which will lack an incumbent in November’s election. Lopez had hinted he would be interested in running for the seat and may do so anyway.

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