On March 15, the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force met via Zoom to vote on new boundaries for ANC 6C.
At last week’s monthly meeting of ANC 6C, the commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to the ward 6 redistricting task force citing concerns about the proposed boundaries for ANCs 6C and 6E.
At the ANC meeting, Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler (6C04) expressed concern about the ANC 6E draft map as it encompasses about 17,000 people in 9 single member districts (SMDs). If ANC 6E has 9 SMDs, they will average below the legal minimum of 1,900 residents per SMD. That, he said, is “profoundly out of balance” which he said creates a representation issue at the polls.
“Their entire map, I think, is inconsistent with District law,” Eckenwiler said at the ANC meeting. “And honestly, I think it’s (subject to) legal challenges because it gives overrepresentation to 6E voters.”
Frishberg discussed the concerns raised in the ANC 6C letter at the redistricting task force meeting.
“There was a presumption that the consistent underage in this map is illegal and that this map just could not be,” Frishberg said. “The second point was, as a consequence of that, the only way to restore that was to restore the border along North Capitol.”
Frishberg said he does not believe the map is illegal, and said that there really wasn’t an objection to that border “other than its illegality that was stated in the letter.” He said because 6E is anticipating future development and an attendent increase in population, 9 SMDs made the most sense.
“6E as a total with the current configuration sits halfway between 8 and 9 SMDs,” Frishberg said. “If you do 8 they’re all too big and if you do 9 they’re all too small. You have almost exactly the same deviation in either direction. If we’re going to do one, because we know there’s future build, it makes sense to do 9.”
Proposed Movement of Union Station
The task force also discussed the redistricting of the land surrounding Union Station. In the current map, Union Station is within the boundary of ANC 6C with the boundary of North Capitol Street.
Task force member Scott Price voiced concern over splitting Union Station among multiple ANCs. Price said he has “not been impressed with the candor and honesty” of those working on projects at Union Station and how they have previously dealt with the community.
“I think that having responsibility for that discussion between two ANCs allows the Union Station developer to manage each one of those conversations in a different way and to set the two different ANCs at odds with each other. It would be far better to have a single ANC manage that conversation.”
Task force member Marge Maceda spoke about the advantages of ANC 6E and 6C sharing the Union Station area in terms of management of issues, particularly traffic.
“If you are worried about two commissions having something to say about Union Station I think you almost need to have that,” Maceda said. “All of the connecting streets from K street to Massachusetts Avenue, and it might be better to have more opinions rather than only one commission being involved.”
Task Force member Brian Pate echoed Maceda’s opinion and said he sees “value in sharing” the area.
“What matters the most is if the commissioner that is responsible for it is good and if you have two commissioners that are really competent and care and two ANCs then arguably, you will have way more sway and more of a united front against both the city and a federal agency.”
Task force member Gottleib Simon emphasized, in contrast, that even if an SMD did not have Union Station inside of it, they could still engage in decision making.
“You don’t have to have a development within your boundaries to get great weight,” Simon said. “You have to be impacted or affected and so you could be adjacent.”
The task force voted 11-1 to maintain the North Capitol Street boundary near Union Station.
The task force voted unanimously 12-0 to split a block between H and I and Third and Fourth Streets NE, which contains 382 people. Resdients would be split between two proposed SMDs, 6C06 and 6C03, givomg all proposed ANC 6C SMDs within the 2000 and 2100 poopulation.
The group looking at ANC 6D will meet off-line to discuss some issues with the SMD configuration, particularly concerns with some block-splitting that might separate communities of interest. There was also some discussion about the ‘notch,’ a portion of Ward 6 in the Navy Yard neighborhood, and the possibility of combining it in a cross-ward ANC with a newly-added portion of Ward 8. Frishberg said task force members have met with their Ward 8 counterparts and voiced no objection to the release of the Ward 6 blocks to the Ward 8 committee for furher work; it looks like the cross-ward ANC will go forward.
It was the fourth time that the task force members convened via Zoom to discuss plans for upcoming redistricting of the District. The aim is 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 want 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. They have also worked to incorporate community feedback into the map drafts as they get closer to the deadline.
Task force members will continue to revise their maps in preparation for their next meeting.
The task force is officially scheduled to meet again next week on March 22 at 7:00 p.m. for final discussion and approval of the maps. You can read more about redistricting and register to attend the meeting here. You can send comments about the redistricting plan and your own maps to Ward6RedistrictingTaskForce@gmail.com.
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for the Hill Rag. She can be reached at email@example.com.