Birmingham City Council districts
Birmingham City Council districts were drawn in 1989 to accommodate a court order to preserve minority (white) political representation on the Birmingham City Council as the city became majority Black.
Prior to 1913 members of the Birmingham Board of Aldermen were elected by voting ward. From then until 1963 the members of the Birmingham City Commission were elected city-wide. In the first election the four candidates with the most votes won four-year terms, with the rest serving for two years before the next election. Each two years thereafter, five seats would come up for election with the top four vote-getters winning four-year terms and the fifth-place finisher serving for two years before the next election.
As a result of a lawsuit brought by Russell Yarbrough (Yarbrough et al v. City of Birmingham), the court agreed with the plaintiffs that voting by district would protect the right of white voters to be represented. To keep the size of the council the same, nine districts were drawn, using 1980 census data. It has been observed that other consequences of the change have included increased sectional divisions and competition between districts and neighborhoods for city funding.
Council districts were redrawn using updated census data prior to the 1993, 2003, 2013, and 2023 municipal elections.
Following the 2010 U.S. Census, Birmingham's Council Districts were modified to account for changes in population. District 1's borders were modified to give some areas of southern Roebuck and Huffman to District 2, which in turn gave up some of its areas north of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport to District 4. District 3 took sections of the Five Points South neighborhood and the UAB campus from District 5 in exchange forCrestwood North, Oak Ridge Park and part of Gate City.
A Census 2020 and Redistricting Committee was formed with Council president Wardine Alexander as chair, along with Crystal Smitherman and Hunter Williams. They worked with Kareen Crayton of Crimcard Consulting Services and with Censeo Consulting, both of Washington D.C., to prepare plans that complied with legal and judicial standards. Among the other recommendations considered by the committee and their consultants was a desire to consolidate neighborhoods into single districts when possible, and to reinforce the "base neighborhoods" relating to each councilor.
According to a summary released in February 2022, District 1 in the northeast portion of the city had grown more than most others, and needed to cede some area to adjoining District 4, which had lost population. Similarly, the more populous District 2 was set to give up some areas to District 5. In District 3 a decision to include all of Forest Park-South Avondale with the large and densely-populated Glen Iris neighborhood and the "base" neighborhoods of Highland Park and Redmont Park left a large portion of Five Points South neighborhood to be moved into District 6. District 5 with significant gains in the Central City, Southside and Crestwood North neighborhoods was reduced by giving up areas to Districts 3, 4, 8, and 9, including parts of Forest Park-South Avondale to D3, Druid Hills and Fountain Heights to D4, and College Hills and Graymont to D8. The overall effect on District 6 was to move its boundaries eastward to make room for expansion of Districts 7 and 8 while picking up new areas formerly in District 3. Among the minor changes to District 7 were consolidation of Green Acres and Powderly. In District 8 additional territory was picked up where it would help consolidate neighborhoods, such as Central Park, College Hills, and Graymont. In order to find more residents for a relatively depopulated District 9 additional neighborhoods north of I-20/59 were added, which also helped secure the "base" around Councilor John Hilliard's residence in North Birmingham.
Preliminary maps were displayed during public hearings, with district-by-district maps available online.
The map was adopted by the City Council on a 7-2 vote on April 19, 2022. Valerie Abbott and Darell O'Quinn voted against the plan. Abbott complained that the "heart" of District 3, including Ramsay High School, the Five Points South business district, and even her church, had been lost to District 6, and suggested that the changes came as a result of "preferential treatment".
- "Revised Proposal. Birmingham City Council Districts" (February 2022) birminghamalcitycouncil.org
- Michaels, Ryan (February 18, 2022) "Birmingham City Councilor ‘heartbroken’ over proposed re-districting map." The Birmingham Times
- Prickett, Sam (February 22, 2022) "Public Hearing on New Birmingham City Council Districts Set for March 29." BirminghamWatch
- Garrison, Greg (March 28, 2022) "Birmingham hosts hearing on changing City Council district lines." The Birmingham News
- "After Opposition, Birmingham City Council Approves New Districts" (April 20, 2022) The Birmingham Times
- Alexander, Wardine (April 29, 2022) "Change is often hard but necessary in representative democracy." op-ed The Birmingham News
- Redistricting 2020 at birminghamalcitycouncil.org