On Feb.15, the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force convened for the second time via Zoom to discuss plans for upcoming redistricting of the District.
The task force members aim to create single member districts (SMDs) with 1,900-2,100 residents and limit the scope of change to current Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and SMD boundaries where effective. The members also work to balance the workloads and resources of the ANCs, avoid splitting census blocks, recognize neighborhood cohesiveness and population balancing and utilize natural features such as parks when drawing boundaries.
The proposed map (pictured top) was created by the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force. Two members of the task force worked collaboratively on each commission. Members discussed the process of redrawing the ANC and SMD lines in each commission and answered questions about changes to current maps.
Ken Jarboe, a task force member assigned to 6B, discussed some of the major challenges of redistricting including how to best draw districting lines around large public spaces. Lincoln Park. In the current map, Lincoln park is split between two SMDs within 6B. Jarboe said he believes that splitting the park’s jurisdiction will allow residents surrounding the park to be more involved with decision making with both federal partners such as the National Park Service and district resources as well.
“It makes sure that you have more eyes on the issue,” Jarboe said. “It also has to do with the action or reactions by both district and federal agencies in terms of who they think they need to be talking to.”
Georgine Wallace, a task force member assigned to 6D, discussed the addition of three new SMDs and how public housing communities were kept together in the redistricting process. Wallace said that this choice was made at the request of those commissioners who govern these areas.
“We conferred with the presence of those entities saying if we do this you might be split into two or three different SMDs,” Wallace said. “That did not bode well because dealing with two or more (SMDs) is difficult…It’s difficult to deal with multiples and to split something (that) small, that will not work.”
Population growth and expected future population growth has also presented challenges to several of the commissions. Task force member for 6E Sheila White said redistricting of this area was difficult as the task force worked to take the expected population growth into account.
“We ran into some of the same problems, especially like what we are seeing in south southwest with the population explosion,” White said. “They were saying that west of the train tracks (at the intersection of First and L Streets NE) there is not much population, but there will be by the end of the year. There are two, maybe three buildings that will add an additional thousand people or more to that neighborhood by the end of the year.”
Task force member Gottleib Simon, assigned to 6A, emphasized that members welcome ideas and suggestions about these maps from the community. He said, however, that drawing entirely new maps is not necessary.
“You don’t necessarily need to draw a new map to tell us that there is an issue,” Simon said. “For those who are looking at the map and see some irritant or (have) a notion about a really keen solution that didn’t come to us, you can just put that idea into words.”
A public hearing will take place next Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. You can read more about redistricting and register to attend the meeting here. You can email comments about the redistricting plan and maps to Ward6RedistrictingTaskForce@gmail.com.
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for the Hillrag. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.