The Council of the City of Pittsburgh, being elected by district, must every 10 years apportion the districts so that each contains approximately the same number of persons pursuant to the United States 2020 Census. The criterion of equal size of elected representatives districts is generally understood to be a logical consequence of the Constitutional provision of one person, one vote, a principal derived from the equal protection clause of the Constitution of the United States.
Pittsburgh’s City Council reapportionment process in is governed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Constitution, as set forth as follows:
"Within the year following that in which the Federal decennial census is officially reported as required by Federal law, and at such other times as the governing body of any municipality shall deem necessary, each municipality having a governing body not entirely elected at large shall be reapportioned, by its governing body or as shall otherwise be provided by uniform law, into districts which shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable, for the purpose of describing the districts for those not elected at large."
The Pennsylvania State Legislature sets forth the statutory requirements the Council must adhere to at 53 Pa.C.S.A. 901 et seq. The four essential elements of reapportionment are as follows:
"Districts shall be composed of  compact and  contiguous territory as nearly  equal in population as practicable,  as officially and finally reported in the most recent Federal census."
Additional commentary on the reapportionment process is noted in Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development’s City Government in Pennsylvania Handbook as follows:
"The amended local government article of the Pennsylvania Constitution, adopted by the voters in 1968, requires governing bodies elected by districts to realign their district lines after each decennial census. This procedure is set forth in the Municipal Reapportionment Act. This Act applies to home rule cities because it is uniform and applicable in every part of the Commonwealth, it implements a specific constitutional mandate and it expressly includes home rule municipalities within its terms. This Act requires city council to reapportion districts from which members are elected in the year following the official report of any decennial or special federal census. If the governing body fails to act, any one or more registered voters may petition the Court to realign the council districts. Any reapportionment plan approved by council may be appealed to the Court by a petition of at least 10 registered voters."
RAC's Shared Goals
The Reapportionment Advisory Committee committed to drafting an equitable Council District map that best represents the people of the City of Pittsburgh. Following are a series of guidelines that informed how RAC drafted a reapportionment map based on the population data from the 2020 US Census.
Please note that Council Districts are comprised of voting precincts, the smallest unit into which electoral districts are divided. RAC didn't have the authority to subdivide or conjoin voting precincts for the purposes of reapportionment.
RAC Was Required by Law to Adhere to the Following:
- Use the population data from the 2020 US Census to redraw Council District lines.
- District lines must be contiguous. A contiguous district is one in which a person can go from one point in a district to any other point without leaving the district, or one in which no part of the district is separate from any other part.
- District lines must be compact to the greatest extent practicable. A compact district must be as solid and as uniform as possible. That being said, this is a requirement where courts have given a great deal of latitude to meeting the criteria of compactness.
- Districts must be as nearly equal in population as practicable. Also referred to as the “one-person, one-vote" standard, this requirement is based on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. In order to evaluate whether the population distribution among districts meets this criterion, courts usually examine the total deviation between the district with the highest population and the district with the lowest population. For the purposes of Pittsburgh’s Council District reapportionment, the goal is to keep this deviation to less than 10%.
- Per the 2021 Census, the total population is 302,971.
- The average per Council District would be 33,663.
- Applying the 10% deviation principle, a Council District can have no less than 31,980 residents and no more than 35,346 residents.
- Maintain, to the greatest extent practicable, majority-minority districts. A majority-minority district is defined as a district comprised of a minority group where at least 50+1% of the voting age population identifies as a minority. Pittsburgh City Council District 6 and City Council District 9 are currently classified as African American majority-minority districts.
RAC Committed to the Following:
- Maintain neighborhoods intact, to the greatest extent practicable — where practicable, refrain from splitting additional neighborhoods into two or more Council Districts. Conversely, where practicable, join neighborhoods that are currently split between two or more Council Districts into one or fewer Council Districts. RAC will be using the neighborhood boundaries as defined by the City Planning Department for these purposes.
There are nine City Council Districts, the current boundaries of which can seen on the map below:
An interactive map can be found using the City of Pittsburgh's Department of Innovation and Performance's GIS resource. Users may use the tool in the top-right corner of the page to also display neighborhoods and voting districts.
2010 vs. 2020 Census Results
This tool shows the differences between the 2010 Census and the 2020 Census on a precinct-by-precinct level. A precinct is the smallest possible electoral subdivision, which is then used to create the City of Pittsburgh and its Council District boundary lines. Please note that some precinct lines may cross neighborhood lines.
RAC's Recommendation to City Council
In making its formal recommendation to City Council, the reapportioned map, shown below, was submitted to the body for consideration. Given that it served an advisory role, the Committee's work has thus since concluded.
The map that RAC recommended to City Council can be seen below:
An interactive map is available online here. Please note that the static image above doesn't show labels of every individual neighborhood. It's recommended to view the interactive map for a more complete picture of the preliminary draft.
RAC's final report on its work and activities, also submitted to City Council, can be found here.
The legislation to consider and adopt this reapportionment plan can be found here.