Ward 1 ANC Redistricting Inches Forward

Ward 1 Map with census numbers on census blocks and Single Member Districts. Click on Map for large version

Last night (9/22), Ward 1 ANC/SMD Redistricting Task Force Chairman Alan Roth officially opened the additional meeting on the subject at 6:46 p.m. to a sparsely attended room. At that time, only six of the eleven task force members were present, but eventually that number rose to eight.

At the start of the meeting, each community member that had proposed a version of a redistricted map was given an opportunity to present that map. This gave the floor in turn to Commissioner Kent Boese (1A08), Commissioner Tony Norman (1B10), and a proposal for Adams Morgan (1C) by residents Ted Guthrie, Denis James, and Peter Lyden.

Not surprisingly, Boese emphasized the importance of keeping the Park View community in 1A, or at least associated with Columbia Heights, citing natural community affinities. Norman showed the other Task Force members a map of a redistricted 1B (although copies of the map were never mad available to the assembly) in which three census blocks in northwestern 1B were removed with no clear reassignment. Later in the evening, Boese pressed Norman on if members of 1B had actually gone through the exercise of redistricting the entire Ward to see if their map would work. Norman replied that they had done all of the ANCs but were still working on 1A where the were having problems.

The Adams Morgan proposal essentially kept Adams Morgan as is with very minor changes. Community members there feel that 16th Street is a very real border. This view was not shared with resident Steve Mudd who expressed the fluidity of 16th Street between Fuller Street and Spring Road, with the community moving back and forth across the thoroughfare.

At this point, and to keep the Task Force moving forward, Chairman Roth set down some objectives that he referred to as Redistricting Reality. He gave direction that the Task Force should move forward with them in mind. There are as follows:

  • The primary plan should be a four (4) ANC plan and the focus should be there;
  • He does not believe there is overwhelming support for 1B to grow to 13 SMDs;
  • It would not be possible to keep the overall ANC borders exactly as they are, there would have to be some changes;
  • He did not believe that a majority of the Task Force would support ANC 1D growing to 9 SMDs, or possibly even 7 SMDs;
  • After reviewing the many laws governing redistricting, while some of them may not seem logical, the Task Force was going to abide by the law; and,
  • That the notion of neighborhood boundaries being fixed is absurd.

Roth continued that it was time for the Task Force to get real. In his judgement, there were areas that could go either way with which ANC an SMD belong to … which not surprisingly are located along the edges of  our current ANCs. Roth also stated that it was not legal to redistrict with the intent of putting a segment of the population in a single SMD — such as drawing lines with the goal of putting local military personnel or university students in one SMD.

Following this, Task Force member Commissioner Thomas Boisvert (1A07) distributed his roadmap for moving forward. In it he argued that the Task Force needed to establish overall boundaries for the ANCs and then break out into smaller groups to come up with the SMDs. Boisvert expressed that his method would work for both a four or five ANC solution.

Task Force member Shelore Williams, while agreeing with Boisvert and supporting a four ANC solution, wanted a five ANC plan in the mix when the recommendation is submitted to Councilmember Graham. Williams justification for this approach is based in the support that exists for the five ANC plan in some communities, and that she contends that the Councilmember should be given the opportunity to review both approaches.

What was most encouraging to observers is that from this point the Task Force members actually got down to brass tacks and appeared to make some progress. Using the maps shared at previous meetings, the Task Force began to work together to come up with the general ANC borders. From their notes (for both a four and five ANC solution) they will attempt to create new general maps by their next meeting scheduled for Tuesday September 27 6:30 pm at the Columbia Heights Youth Club, 1480 Girard Street, NW. At that meeting the public will have another opportunity to review the Task Force’s progress, proposals, and comment.

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