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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Redistricting Reports Move to DC Council for Comment

Over the past several months, task force members from each ward across the District have met, discussed and taken public comment on redistricting maps. The maps, which will be used to establish new Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and Single Member District (SMD) boundaries ahead of the upcoming Nov. 8 election, were created by these task force members with input from the community.

Last week, wards 6, 7 and 8 all held their final meetings. Each voted to advance a final map to the DC Council for review. Each task force also submitted a final report with information about the members of the task force, what was represented in each map and additional information such as justification for any adjustment to the redistricting guidelines made in the maps.

All of the ward task forces submitted their final maps to the DC Council on April 1. The next step in the process is for DC Council to review each of the task force maps and attached report.

The first Committee of the Whole Subcommittee on Redistricting Public Hearing will take place on Thursday April 7 at 12 p.m. This meeting will allow for public testimony on the proposals submitted by each task force. The subcommittee plans to meet again in late April or early May. The subcommittee will then hold a mark up for the bill in the third week of May.

The council plans to have an initial reading of the bill by May 24, and a final reading no later than June 7.

Redistricting Goals and Guidelines

Redistricting guidelines state that SMDs must be home to between 1,900-2,100 residents by DC statute. Task force members worked to stay within that range and to limit the scope of change to current Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and SMD boundaries where possible. The members also worked 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 Ward 6 Task Force discussed this map, and made a few adjustments before submission to DC Council Friday, April 1. Screenshot: Zoom

Ward 6

The ward 6 redistricting task force convened for the final time on Wednesday evening via Zoom and discussed final changes to the map. Adjustments were made to ANC 6D in order to ensure that minority voting power, a core pillar of the redistricting process, was not diluted by the map draft. Additionally, the task force discussed several block splitting proposals to balance and SMD sizes in both ANC 6E and 6D. The portion of the Navy Yard that is still within Ward 6 is now part of a joint Ward 6 and 8 ANC, ANC 8A.

The final map draft and written report passed the task force unanimously. You can watch the task force’s final meeting here.

This map was tweaked and advanced by the Ward 7 Task Force. Screenshot: Webex

Ward 7

The ward 7 redistricting task force met twice in their final working week, holding their final meeting Thursday evening. The members made several adjustments to the report, including attaching a ‘minority rationale’ detailing the viewpoints of those who remain in disagreement with the task force about the draft map, particularly about the decision to place the parts of Ward 7 located west of the river in two different ANCs.

The minority report, presented by Francis Campbell, calls for an entirely west of the river ANC and is supported by the current ANC commissioners in the area. The task force also amended the section on public feedback and held an additional meeting to sort through comments from the virtual meetings to include the perspective of neighbors in their final report. A recording of the task force’s final meeting is available on YouTube here.

The final map discussed March 30 by the Ward 8 Redistricting Task Force. Screenshot: Zoom

Ward 8

In its final meeting, the ward 8 task force discussed the lines drawn around Bellevue and Bolling Air Force Base and the task force’s decision to move the southern portion of the base from ANC 8B to 8E. Two SMDs from Ward 6 will be part of ANC 8A, a rare joint-ward ANC. Discussion also focused on the balance of ANC 8A’s SMDs. With the two Ward 6 SMDs, five are west of the river and four to the east; task force members said this was largely because of the cross-river SMD, where few residents actually lived in the area on the western side. Justification for the slight deviations to some SMDs overall in Ward 8 was also noted in the map. You can watch the final meeting on Youtube here.

Community Involvement

The subcommittee will hold a public testimony meeting on Thursday April 7 at 12 p.m. The meeting will be streamed live on Councilmember Elissa Silverman’s Facebook page.

Those who wish to testify at the hearing must sign up no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5 by providing their information using the following link. If you are unable to attend the hearing at its scheduled time, written statements may be submitted to redistricting@dccouncil.us or calling 202-350-1521 and leaving a message that will be transcribed for the record.

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.

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