JP council district retains Forest Hills, loses Woodbourne

November 9, 2012
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The City Council approved by an 11-2 vote on Oct. 31 a redistricting plan that will retain Forest Hills in the Jamaica Plain council district, while also adding Egleston Square and Mission Hill’s Back of the Hill, according to At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo. Woodbourne will leave JP’s district under the plan.

Woodbourne is represented by Ward 19, Precinct 12. That area covers approximately from Eldridge Road to Neponset Avenue and from Hyde Park Avenue to Bourne Street. For more information, visit cityofboston.gov/myneighborhood.

City Councilor Matt O’Malley represents Jamaica Plain, which is mostly covered by District 6. O’Malley did not respond to a request for comment.

Richard Heath lives on the border between Woodbourne and Forest Hills, but will remain in JP’s council district. He said he is glad Forest Hills is staying.

“With all the changes facing Forest Hills, it is better that [Forest Hills] be united with JP and in Councilor O’Malley’s active representation,” said Heath in an email to the Gazette.

Arroyo, who lives in Forest Hills, had initiated a campaign to ensure Forest Hill did not leave JP when it was learned that it might. His office had been calling and emailing JP residents and door-knocking in the neighborhood, urging them to voice their support.

“I believe because of the call to action, we were able to do good for JP in this process,” said Arroyo, who represents the entire city as an at-large councilor.

Arroyo attended a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) meeting on Oct. 30 where he gave an outline of what was happening with the process. The JPNC passed a motion that called for JP to remain whole.

Arroyo also had a group of JP residents in the council chamber during the vote on Oct. 31 wearing stickers reading, “We are JP.”  The group included JPNC chair Benjamin Day.

Mayor Thomas Menino had to sign the plan in order for it to be approved, and did so on Nov. 2, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“Today is a good vote and reflects the city of opportunity that we are and the city I am proud to serve,” said Menino after the Council approved the plan, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Redrawing City Council districts is legally required every 10 years after the U.S. Census results are issued to make sure that each district has a roughly equal population. But racial and ethnic representation became an issue during the latest redistricting process.

Menino had vetoed two previous redistricting plans earlier this year for having minority voters too concentrated within District 4, which covers part of Mattapan and Dorchester and is represented by City Councilor Charles Yancey. Yancey and City Councilor Bill Linehan were the two dissenting votes.

The Coalition of the Color was one group that had opposed the earlier redistricting plans. Sean Daughtry of the NAACP, which is part of the coalition, said the group had an “ideal plan,” but that the map approved by the Council is similar.

“The plan shows progress in the right direction,” said Daughtry.

Arroyo said that the plan changes District 4 from 95 to 90 percent people of color, while increasing percentage of people of color in District 5 from 60 percent to 75 percent. Robert Consalvo represents District 5.

Arroyo said that is a “significant change” for District 5 and said that in the future “a person of color will be elected there” because of that.

City Councilor Tito Jackson, who currently represents Egleston Square, offered the amendment that allowed the aforementioned changes to occur to JP. Arroyo said he gives Jackson “all the credit” for agreeing to allow Egleston Square to go back to JP.

Arroyo said he is proud of his staff and volunteers who actively campaigned and strengthened JP’s voice.

John Ruch contributed to this article.