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Lake Highlands Residents Split On Redistricting Map

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screen shot 2011 08 03 at 6 11 18 pm Lake Highlands Residents Split On Redistricting Map

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The city’s redistricting committee will review a map Thursday that proposes moving a large swath of the Lake Highlands neighborhood south into District 9 from District 10.

The Dallas City Charter requires a redistricting commission form once every 10 years and submit a new plan based around the changes in Dallas’s demographics.

Map 16, designed by the city’s redistricting commissioner Domingo Garcia, would affect nearly every district in the city: Garcia calls it the Unity Map, and some in District 10 – sometimes referred to as the Lake Highlands district – are split on the proposed boundaries.

“There are going to be places like Lake Highlands where districts change considerably because there have been demographic changes in Northeast Dallas where Latinos and African-Americans are now a majority,” Garcia said.

Residents in Lake Highlands say they enjoy the neighborhood’s diversity, saying it’s representative of the city as a whole. But it’s a collection of neighborhoods built and bolstered by its name.

There’s Lake Highlands North and Lake Highlands South. There’s even Old Lake Highlands. The Lake Highlands High School is in the Richardson Independent School District. Yet the Lake Highlands Parks and Recreation Center falls under the city of Dallas’s responsibility.

But does this collage of communities constitute a distinctive Dallas City Council district? Residents like Alan Walne say yes.

“This is a fairly radical change,” said Walne, who opposes Garcia’s plan. “It is a community. Why tear apart a community? Yes, we consider, in a lot of ways, ourselves as Lake Highlands, Texas. We look at ourselves as a unique community.”

Garcia, a Dallas attorney by day, wants to realign sections of Lake Highlands. He said his plan imagines the bigger picture, one that would redefine Pleasant Grove and bring the fractured West Dallas together.

“This is a unity map that unites the city ,” he said.

But Lake Highlands advocates say they are a community of consistency and similar interests, and should stay put. Urban policy analysts see it as an area of seismic demographic shift.

“If we’re sticking with the racial, ethnic lens, the areas of the city that have seen the most shift in the last ten years with Latino and African American population, those would be the most boundary shifts,” said Tim Bray, an Urban Policy Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Alan Walne, who called Lake Highlands a “minority majority district,” said those changes are part of the fabric of the community right now, and there’s no need to realign the community politically.

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