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Ward 2 ANC Boundaries to be Realigned

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

By Ben Lasky*

As a consequence of the most recent census it had been necessary for the District to realign some of the Ward boundaries due to shifts in population during the prior decade.

This realignment of ward boundaries also meant that the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) boundaries required realignment so as to better ensure consistent population numbers across ANCs and the Single Member Districts (SMDs) within each ANC.

According to Gottlieb Simon, the executive director of DC’s Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, the City Council will shortly be taking its final vote on the ANC boundary changes initially reported out by the Subcommittee on Redistricting, chaired by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans.

As we were preparing for publication, subcommittee  staff informed The InTowner that this would be on the agenda for the Council’s April 17th legislative session. With final enactment expected, the number of ANC Single Member Districts city-wide will be increased by 10, from 186 to 196

“Redistricting is necessitated by the biennial census to see whether or not the population has moved, and if it warrants moving boundaries to try to keep Single Member Districts to approximately 2,000 people each,” Simon told The InTowner.

Each city councilmember set up task forces to make recommendations for their wards about how to deal with the issue of redistricting. Those task force groups started working in the fall of 2011 and finished the process last month.

While there have been concerns expressed by some residents, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans says he has not heard many complaints.

“With redistricting, people always get concerned about what the outcome is. People are just concerned about how the boundaries are going to be drawn,” Evans told this reporter. “I think we made the minimum amount of changes we had to.”

According to Foggy Bottom ANC 2A Commissioner Asher Corson, the process went very smoothly in his neighborhood. “As one of three co-chairs of the Foggy Bottom redistricting task force, as far as I know, there was one neighbor who expressed opposition to it, and that’s all,” Corson said in an interview with The InTowner.

Corson said the main issue that the Foggy Bottom task force had to deal with was creating a Single Member District consisting of only George Washington University dormitories close to the campus. However, he maintains, that to accomplish this it was unavoidable that the newly created SMD would be a noticeably gerrymandered SMD.

As he was also a commissioner while he was enrolled at the university, Corson witnessed that even though there is tension between the university and the  surrounding community, the more students got involved in the neighborhood, the more they would realize how aligned their interests are with other Foggy Bottom residents.

While issues seem to have been tame in Foggy Bottom, redistricting did raise issues in the Shaw neighborhood with regard to the realignment of the ward’s eastern boundary, which for many residents was a clearly unwelcome development.

“There are some folks who are upset that removing [a portion of] Shaw from Ward 2 makes the ward whiter and more affluent. Others resent that they’ve been removed from the only ward — and in many cases separated from — the only ward councilmember they’ve ever known. It’s like a family being torn apart,” ANC 2C Commissioner Padro stated in an email to The InTowner.

However, the feeling of anger is not the same in Dupont Circle, as residents there will not be as affected.

“I didn’t actually hear any complaints about redistricting in our area, but we had very minimal redistricting. We remained in Ward 2, and our external ANC 2B boundaries did not change,” the chairman of that ANC, Commissioner Will Stephens told this reporter via email.

One of the biggest issues seems to be how big Ward 2 had become in terms of population. Why exactly is the ward seeing so much growth?

According to Evans, the answer lies in a larger trend. More and more people prefer to live in the city instead of the suburbs, including “empty-nesters” who are choosing to take advantage of what the city has to offer after their children have moved out on their own..

“Over the last 10 years what you saw happen was a lot of people, young people especially, have moved into the ward area downtown. Our population went up by 6,000, where you had very few people living there before,” Evans said.

But what the councilman’s answer really comes down to is very simple: “I think Ward 2 is a very desirable place to live.”

*Ben Lasky, a contributing writer for The InTowner, is also a staff writer for The American University’s student newspaper, The Eagle, while he pursues his degree in communications and journalism at AU.

Copyright © 2012 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Ben Lasky. All rights reserved.