Following every national census, the City of Hyattsville takes a look at the ward boundaries to see if any redistricting is required. This time around, the answer is yes. 

By law, the wards should be substantially equal. In a perfect scenario, each ward would encompass one-fifth of city residents, 4,237 people. Up to a 10% variation from that ideal is acceptable, according to Hyattsville City Clerk Laura Reams. 

Currently, Ward 3 includes 5,201 residents, 22.7% more than the ideal, and Ward 5 is too small, with 3,725 residents, 12.1% fewer than ideal. Headcounts in Wards 1, 2 and 4 range from 8.9% fewer than the ideal (3,859 residents) to 3.3% more (4,376 residents), but all fall within the 10% margin.

According to the state constitution, wards should also be reasonably compact and contiguous, with boundaries that take into account infrastructure and generally follow natural boundaries, such as highways and rivers. If an area has an identifiable community of interest, like a civic or homeowners association, it should ideally not be split.

Reams proposed a redistricting task force formed primarily of members serving on other city committees. She suggested including one member each from the planning committee, the election board, the ethics commission, the educational facilities task force, and the race and equity task force. Reams also suggested two additional members to ensure each ward is represented. The city council will determine the composition of the task force.

There is no specific legally prescribed deadline for finalizing redistricting, but Reams said it should be completed before the city’s May 2023 election. She proposed that the city council hold a vote at their May 16 meeting to establish the task force and appoint members in June. 

The task force is to present new maps to the city council in fall 2022. The council would then hold a public hearing and likely adopt new maps in November, well in advance of the May 2023 city election.