Keep ’em together

Single member district plan focuses on neighborhoods

Single-member district boundaries in Buda were finalized June 5, setting the stage for the first election of its kind in the city this November.

Approval of the boundaries, completed via a 5-0 Buda City Council vote, was done after city staff and city leaders tackled the proposed district boundaries on two separate occasions. Council members David Nuckels and Wiley Hopkins were absent and did not vote on the plan June 5.

The initial illustrative plan, presented to council March 20, was approved with the intention to look at public comments and potentially make revisions to the map.

The city developed its second illustrative plan after a May 28 public workshop to look at the boundaries.

With the initial illustrative plan, council member Evan Ture, along with several residents, were concerned with the way some subdivisions and neighborhoods were split up between the districts. This was due to the city using 2010 census blocks which do not take into account buildings that have been built since then. Several citizens at the workshop voiced concerns with keeping neighborhoods together.

Robert Heath, a consulting lawyer with Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLC, said both plans are similar, except for the area in the populated downtown area where they come together.

“The basic differences are: number two is better on neighborhoods and number one is better on population balance, but either is acceptable,” Heath said. He added that the sacrifice in choosing the second plan is that the population will be less balanced.

The initial illustrative plan had a more equitable division of the city’s population with a standard deviation of 4.47 percent. The new plan has a higher standard deviation of 9.97 percent. The standard deviation of the plan is required to be under 10 percent in order to be deemed legal.

“In plan two we bump up right against the 10, we come in under it, but we bump up against it. I’m not particularly concerned about that,” Heath said.

Particular attention was also paid to the Hispanic population in the districts. However, neither illustrative plan was able to obtain a majority Hispanic population.

The initial illustrative plan had a 48.78 percent Hispanic representation in District 1, while the second plan had only 47.72 percent in the same district.

In order to create the second illustrative plan and change some of the district lines to include whole neighborhoods, city staff had to split census blocks. Heath says splitting census blocks causes extra administrative hassle.

“I think in Buda, there’s a justification for doing that,” Heath said.

The current census block configuration will look different once the 2020 census is conducted. Heath said it should be easier to draw district lines with the more accurate population data in 2020.

Ture said creating the new boundaries accomplished “everything we hoped and with the input from the citizens on what they hoped for for plan two.”

“I’m very happy that we were able to bring some of these neighborhoods together and stay in the (standard deviation), so I’m leaning toward the number two plan,” Council member Paul Daugereau said.

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