Brighton voters — at least 1,000 of them — should expect to see bigger changes in their City wards and precincts this year, after councilors agreed to make a long-term update to the city's political map.
Councilors voted unanimously to shift the city's ward boundaries with an eye towards future development.
“We recognize we are making more of a change now, but we are looking for something that will have a likelihood of lasting for a longer period of time and doing this less frequently,” Councilor Peter Padilla said.
Councilors are scheduled to vote on the new map a final time at their Aug. 2 meeting. The new map would be used in the 2023 City Council election.
Out of balance
Each of Brighton's four wards are meant to have roughly the same number of people, at least within a 5% difference. New population numbers released by the U.S. Census in 2021 showed more growth in some areas more than others, putting the individual wards out of balance. Ward 1 is currently the largest, with 10,965 residents. Ward 2 has 10,515, Ward 3, 9,368 and Ward 4 9,239.
“We typically look at Ward redistricting every six years, unless we hit that 5 percent deviation — which we have hit sooner than six years,” Kayla Barber-Perotta, Brighton's budget and performance manager.
The difference between Ward 1, Brighton's biggest ward, and Ward 4 is about 1,726 residents. That's a difference of more than 18% and well beyond the 5% threshold, according to the city's charter.
The current map was adopted in 2017.
In the new map, the general ward layout would remain the same, with Ward 1 to the northeast, Ward 2 to the northwest, Ward 3 to the southwest and Ward 4 to the southeast. Only minor lines between the wards would shift.
For example, the lot east of Tower Road between Bromley Lane and Southern Street is currently part of Ward 1, but would be part of Ward 4 on the new map. The area south of E. Southern Street and north of Voiles Drive would move out of Ward 2 and into Ward 3.
In all, Ward 1 would lose 746 residents based on the current counts and Ward 2 would lose 342 residents. Ward 3 would gain 480 residents and Ward 4 would gain 608. That would put the difference between Wards 1 and 4 at 3.8 percent, about 372 residents.
The new ward map should last for at least six years, Barber-Perotta said. But that's an estimate based on growth trends.
“Six years is the goal we are aiming for, but we don't have a crystal ball in terms of how quickly each developer is doing,” Barber-Perotta said. “We did our best based on where they all are sitting in the process now, who is ready to move dirt and who is moving dirt now. But that's really a crystal ball question.”