TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – As more business moves in and developers woo millennials and affluent city-dwellers with luxury high-rises and high-end shops, the city of Tampa is seeing the beginnings of drastic shifts in population.
Those shifts appear to fall mostly along racial and economic lines, and are starting to affect the city’s voting maps as county officials start the process of redistricting for the 2019 city election.
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“There may be some changes right around in the Hyde Park area, and up here around this area around Sligh and Nebraska,” said Terry Eagan, librarian for the Hillsborough County Planning Commission.
Those areas are in districts four and five, represented by Harry Cohen and Frank Reddick, respectively.
Some of the proposed redistricting maps call for moving precincts 333 from district five to six and precinct 151 from six to four.
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Reddick expressed serious concern for his constituents in the African American community.
“The person in 2019 might be the last African American representing district five,” said Reddick. “It doesn’t make me feel good at all. That means we lose representation on the council. And there’s no way we should not have an African American on the council.”
Reddick says city and county redevelopment efforts have led to a major deconcentration of the black population, making it harder for interests of that community to be heard in City Hall.
"African Americans are being displaced. You take for example, Presbyterian [Village] in West Tampa. The Housing Authority, they're getting ready to demolish the housing projects in West Tampa. And the problem is my district continues to reduce in the number of African Americans in there."
Both Presbyterian Village and North Boulevard Homes were housing developments for low-income residents. Presbyterian Village was owned and demolished by the Florida Department of Transportation. North Boulevard, which is the city’s oldest public housing development, is under demolition by the Tampa Housing Authority.
Eagan said since the last redistricting process, the African American population in district five has already dropped from 61 percent to 53.8 percent. Reddick worries with gentrification happening citywide and in the district he represents, the number will continue to drop, eventually resulting in no African American representation on city council.
Planning commission officials will hold several meetings about proposed map changes. The next will take place on Monday at 5 p.m. at Sulphur Springs library.
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