The Ward 8 Redistricting Task Force discussed the final proposed map of Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and their Single Member Districts (SMDs) during their sixth and final meeting Wednesday, March 30.
Members discussed final adjustments to the map that was supported during a March 16 vote, and asked for comments for the report that is due to be submitted to DC Council by Friday, April 1.
There was no vote at the March 30 meeting. Instead, it was a time for members to have discussion and make comments for addition to the report.
Map amendments were required to be submitted by task force members by March 23, said Chair Brian Thompson, and the discussion largely centered on the amendments that had been made in week since these were received.
Bellevue and Bolling Air Force
The bulk of discussion centered on Bolling Air Force and changes made to the map after discussions between Thompson and ANC 8E Engagement Lead Maggie Edwards. These changes are now part of the final map that will be submitted to DC Council.
The southern portion of Bolling Air Force Base was part of ANC 8B in the last map. In the final map, it is SMD 8E08. Thompson said while that SMD covers a large geographic area. While the census block is on both sides of the interstate, most of the 1851 people actually living in it are located east of 295, so it made more sense to put that portion in ANC 8E, he said, “in the spirit of keeping neighborhoods intact.”
The bulk of the actual air force residents live in the newly-created SMDs 8B07 and 08, he said.
There was some concern about the division of the Air Force Base.
Counting Bolling Air Force as part of Bellevue, ANC 8D Engagement Lead Sheila Bunn said that the adjustments to the map caused the Bellevue neighborhood to be divided between three ANCs: 8B, 8E and 8D, the last where the bulk of the neighborhood is centered.
Thompson said that Bolling is not a part of the Bellevue neighborhood, arguing instead that it is its own neighborhood and pointing to the base security and fencing as neighborhood containment. Given this, Thompson said, it made the most sense to add these SMDs to 8B rather than increasing the size of ANC 8E.
Bunn considered a portion of the proposed 8D10 to be part of Bellevue as well, she added. Councimember Trayon White, Sr. (D) weighed in on the discussion, ending it by saying the portion in question was more likely part of Washington Highlands.
Dionne Brown, former Comm for 8D07, agreed with the council member that 8D10 is not part of Bellevue. But she dissented on the discussion of Air Force Bolling pointed out that while they are counted for census, most civilian residents of Bolling are not registered to vote in DC. “So you’re setting the conditions where you may have three vacant seats, or you’re giving a lot of power to people who don’t live in community, or aren’t registered to vote in our city. So that is a significant concern for me,” she said.
The Navy Yard ‘Notch’
Task Force member Troy Donte’ Prestwood presented on the Navy Yard ANC 8A, which is a joint Ward 6 and 8 ANC.
Prestwood said that during outreach, residents of that area said that they did not want to be split from the SMDs that are newly part of Ward 8.
He said the incorporation of these two SMDs, sometimes called ‘the notch’ also takes into account that the folks over there said they wanted to be taken in their entirety as a neighborhood, “for reasons that we’re seeing across the city that people don’t want to be split up,” Prestwood said.
The Ward 8 Task Force did outreach to all of ANC 6D, and both Councilmembers White and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) have agreed to the commission in principle, Prestwood added.
Task Force member Holly Muhammad asked why SMD 8A04 crossed the river. Member David Meadows explained that the west side is largely commercial. There are only 122 actual residents in the Navy Yard portion of the SMD, many of them part of the Marine Commandant Household. These may or may not be registered District voters, he said; therefore, although the SMD geographically crosses the river, the locus of voter power is to the east of the Anacostia.
Muhammad also questioned the balance of SMDs in ANC 8A, pointing out that even if 8A04 is counted east of the river, with the two Ward 6 SMDs included the balance of SMDs in ANC 8A is four on the east side and five ANCs on the west side of the river. She was concerned, she said, that this will diminish the voice of residents in Anacostia and Fairlawn. She asked why an ANC was not created completely west of the river.
Reminding Muhammad that the map was supported by a task force vote last meeting, Thompson said the focus was on integrating new residents. ANC 6D Engagement Lead David Meadows agreed. “I think the feeling is to connect he ward and not to have the navy yard having its now SMD and nothing to do with the river or the ward 8,” Meadows said. The commission wasn’t trying to separate, he added, but to bring residents in the ward together while keeping the number of SMDs balanced for each commission.
Notes for the Report
A few things need to be justified by the Task Force report to be submitted to DC Council Friday, Thompson said. This includes explaining the eight SMDs that deviate from the recommended SMD population range. None deviate by more than 120 residents; most deviate by fewer than 15; only one SMD is under range, by one resident, Thompson said. The explanation in all cases was that it was done either to avoid splitting census blocks or to keep neighborhoods together.
Because the task force elected to have online meetings, the map is being submitted through the Office of Planning (OP) online mapping tool, ESRI, Thompson said. The final map is title the “Ward 8 Integrated Feedback Map.” However, that tool does not allow for the design of cross-ward ANCs such as 8A; therefore, the two Ward 6/8 SMDs will be included in the report as an attachment.
During the meeting, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Sr. thanked task force for creating a space where residents were able to offer their thoughts and recommendation. He especially thanked Thompson for his diligence in managing so many difference communities, personalities and philosophies. “That’s not easy,” he said. He also thanked Ward 8 residents, both current and newcomers.
“I understand the subcommittee was impressed with the map,” “I think we set the bar for other wards,” White added. “I just want to say, ‘congratulations.”
At the end of the meeting, Thompson thanked the Councilmember and the task force. “I believe this was a fair process,” Thompson told members as he concluded the final meeting. “We had a plan, we definitely executed and you are all a part of that process.”
Thomson said task force members can submit thoughts or comments to be included in the report until noon Thursday. The report is due Friday, April 1.
Once the task forces have sent their recommendations to the Council, the Subcommittee on Redistricting will hold hearings on the new ANC boundaries. The First Council hearing on ANC and SMD boundaries is scheduled for April 7, and the second April 28.
Following these hearings, the Subcommittee will prepare its proposed revised boundaries, to be voted on by the full Council by June 2022.
You can watch the March 30 meeting on Youtube here.