City Council deserves credit for doing a much better job of drawing new district lines than in past years, but the process wasn't flawless, and some fine-tuning should be made before a final map is approved.
The two remaining maps in contention may produce a compromise Thursday. Both maps clean up the awful gerrymandering in North Philadelphia and the lower Northeast by drawing boundaries for the 10 Council districts in mostly straight lines and along major roads. Either plan would create a majority-Latino district, something that community has wanted for years.
The map proposed by Councilmen Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney has advantages over one drawn by a committee led by Council President Anna C. Verna.
The DiCicco-Kenney map cleans up a claw-shaped section of the Sixth District, in part, by using Roosevelt Boulevard and Grant Avenue as boundaries.
The Verna map hopscotches the Sixth District around the boulevard, and leaves Pennypack Woods in the 10th District.
Both plans consolidate the Fifth District by taking an orphaned section that tortuously reaches into Feltonville and putting it in the Seventh District.
The Seventh District, which ambles around North Philadelphia into the lower Northeast, would become more cohesively Latino.
Neither map attempts to consolidate Center City, whose residents would continue to be spread among three districts.
Both maps are superior to what Council approved in 2000, when it drew oddly shaped districts to protect political interests.
This year, it's also on track to finish on time. Council missed the September deadline in 2000, so it couldn't be paid. Former Councilman Rick Mariano subsequently let a business pay his gym and credit-card bills, which led to his corruption conviction
The decennial redistricting following each census is designed to give each of the 10 Council districts roughly the same population to guarantee voters equal representation. (Seven other Council members are elected at large.)
With a city population of 1.5 million, each district should contain 152,601 people. Both proposed maps miss that target, with too few residents in western districts of the city and too many on the east side, where there has been significant population growth.
This year's process also would have been better had Council opened it up to more citizen input. The proposed maps were drawn behind closed doors, and voters were able to attend only three public hearings, which were scheduled late in the summer. Next time, voters must be given a more significant role.
Nonetheless, Council deserves credit for taking steps to disassemble some of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation.
The DiCicco-Kenney map has the more logical boundary lines. But there's still time to devise a compromise map that would do an even better job of equally distributing the city population among the 10 Council districts.