Neighbors Organize to Overturn ANC6B Boundary Change – Issue Goes to Tommy Wells

Task Force Member Ken Jarboe Opposes ANC6B Boundary Change at Monday Night Meeting. At Left, Task Force Chair Joe Fengler.

SMD Boundary Changes for ANC6B Approved by Ward Six Redistricting Task Force

Neighbors Organize to Overturn ANC6B Boundary Change – Councilmember Wells To Make Final Decision This Week

by Larry Janezich and Barbara Riehle

A group of 17 concerned Capitol Hill residents attended an “emergency meeting” called by ANC6B Vice Chair Ivan Frishberg on Saturday morning at South East Library.  The purpose was to discuss ways to stop the change in ANC6B’s boundary proposed by neighboring ANC6C and endorsed on a narrow 5-4 vote by the Ward Six Task Force on Redistricting.  The change would move 1275 residents from ANC6B to ANC6C in the area bounded by East Capitol and Independence and 3rd Street and 7th Street, SE.

Those attending the meeting were strongly opposed to the move.  Especially outspoken was former ANC6B Chair Peter Waldron who stated that under the DC Home Rule Act, the preservation of neighborhoods is a critical factor when ANC boundaries are being redrawn.  “This neighborhood is being ripped away,” he went on, “and pulled into an ANC with its own NoMA (north of Massachusetts Avene) issues.”  In addition, he said residents would lose effective representation on neighborhood issues affecting them most, including Eastern Market and the Hine Development.  Finally, “[t]his neighborhood is facing substantial change and the residents have a right to cohesive representation.”

The Redistricting Task Force will present its report to Councilmember Tommy Wells on Monday, September 26.  Wells will have the final say on boundary changes, and the neighbors hope to persuade him to reject the proposed extension of ANC 6C into what is currently ANC6B territory.  On Friday, September 30, Wells is scheduled to submit Ward 6 Redistricting recommendations to DC City Council.

The Redistricting Task Force move to reaffirm its endorsement of the boundary change came on Wednesday night at a contentious six hour meeting.  The Task Force position is that the move is necessary because ANC6C has given up three single member ANC districts (SMDs) to the newly formed ANC6E in Shaw.  The Task Force wants to make the ANCs in Ward Six as near the same size as possible, and sees granting 6C’s request for an additional single member district at 6B’s expense as moving toward that goal.  Commissioners on ANC6C have also noted that an additional SMD will give them a more desirable seven member commission.

Wednesday night’s ratification of the Task Force’s earlier position came despite the presentation by 6B Commissioner Frishberg of a petition opposing the move signed by more than 200 residents.  When the Task Force addressed the new boundaries for SMDs within 6B, Frishberg called the plan drawn by Task Force member Cody Rice an “abomination.”  Frishberg offered an alternative which had been informally endorsed by a majority of 6B commissioners.  His proposal was rebuffed by the Task Force with little discussion of the details.

In the end, the Task Force approved an SMD plan proffered by Task Force member Ken Jarboe which divides the new 6B into ten smaller single member districts.  That plan was also strongly opposed by 6B Commissioners, who noted that it would create three new single member districts with no incumbents and pit two sitting commissioners against each other in two of the other single member districts.

The group of protesting neighbors agreed to gather support and mobilize their neighbors.  They will to meet again on Tuesday night at 8:00pm at a place to be determined.


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6 responses to “Neighbors Organize to Overturn ANC6B Boundary Change – Issue Goes to Tommy Wells

  1. Kathleen

    And finally, I also don’t get this story. (If you see someone walking around the neighborhood confused… be nice, it might be me). Why is this SUCH A BIG DEAL? As an Emmca member, the new boundaries correspond to what I perceive to be our interests (Metro plaza not divided, for one thing). I would have preferred it if they extended 6C into 6A (as I mentioned before on this blog), but if they need to take some of 6B, is that really the end of the world? Shouldn’t we all expect some re-jiggering as the result of the Shaw addition?
    And finally, if incumbents have to run against each other, that’s just not something I can get too worked up about. This is a volunteer position and one of the best things that could happen to the ANC, in my mind anyway, is healthy turnover. Why should we narrate political self-interest as a problem for the community?
    Someone mentioned to me that the expansion into 6B might result in 6C getting involved in the Hine PUD. I can’t believe that the zoning board would give this to 2 ANCs, but if they do, that will probably mean that any community amenities from the developer (read: payoffs for breaking zoning rules) will have to be divided in some way. Is that what accounts for the ire? And, if so, should anyone other than elected commissioners care about this? In other words, I don’t think too many people are going to be upset that parks get pretty on both sides of the ANC boundary, because they experience their community as interwoven fabric, and not discrete political entities.
    Call me “just don’t get it” this weekend. Cuz I don’t.

  2. Thom Riehle

    I’m not too worked up about the new Single Member District lines within the ANC. To the east of 8th Street, the plan Ivan Frishberg prepared (that was endorsed informally by most ANC6B members) is better that the plan the Task Force imposed on the east side because it creates districts that embrace blocks both north and south of Pennsylvania Avenue in each Single Member District, knitting together those neighbors in an effective way. The Task Force plan creates boxier districts to the east that could distract ANC Commissioners there into focusing on isolated areas rather than seeing development north and south as equally important and beneficial. Mr Frishberg indicated at the emergency meeting, however, that those Single Member District lines will probably be adjusted by the Task Force, or failing that, by CM Wells, so not to worry to much about that.

    The big issue is the Task Force’s recommendation to move the representation of our neighbors between Independence and East Capitol Street from 3rd to 8th Street out of ANC6B and into 6C, which has an agenda each month that focuses on issues around Union Station and NOMA. That’s a terrible recommendation and one I hope CM Wells ignores.

    What’s the problem?

    (1.) For those affected neighbors, when they ask “What’s the ANC doing about [insert here your neighborhood concern–Eastern Market, Hine, Hill Center, parking, whatever]–right now the answer is the voluminous work done by ANC6B on this. If this goes through, those same neighbors, asking the same question in January 2013, may get a blank stare. Their new ANC6C does not do anything about those issues, nor should it in almost all cases. Those issues are handled by ANC6B, and residents with views on those issues–no matter what ANC they belong to–are always welcome to participate in community forums ANC6B (or EMMCA) organize, and they are listened to and their views are heard and heeded.

    (2.) For the rest of us, you have to worry that ANC6B will lose the involvement, knowledge, wisdom and experience of those affected neighbors. If this plan were ever implemented, those affected neighbors would certainly be encouraged to continue to give up their evenings and weekends to participate in ANC6B community meetings on these issues, as they have for years now..but if the affected neighbors are no longer represented by an ANC6B commissioner, they are less likely to be encouraged by their elected ANC commissioner to get involved in those issues. One important institution ANC6B would lose under this proposal: Stalwart ANC6B Commissioner David Garrison, whose residence would now be in ANC6C.

    That’s too high a price to pay just so ANC6C can have 7 commissioners.

  3. Kathleen

    Yea, I still don’t get it. Dave Garrison doesn’t seem to care about the new boundary–witness his remarks at the last ANC meeting–and if he doesn’t, I’m not going to care for him. What’s more, he hasn’t exactly motivated or empowered me to be his advocate, given that he violated ANC bylaws to testify on Hine against the interests of EMMCA.

    And I don’t think there is any way that the neighbors who may move to 6C will lose a voice in Eastern Market. Whatever representation scheme is at work under the new governance, I’m sure it will make allowances for 6C close-by neighbors. The same principle applies to Hine. So it is not that these neighbors will lose a voice, it is that 6B will lose its monopoly over all of these issues. I think 6B has done a good job and it would be smarter to push 6C out toward 6A (as I’ve said before), but, in the end, I can’t get that worked up about it either. These are politicians’–and not regular peoples’–concerns.

    One could make a case that EMMCA’s power will dissipate if jurisdiction over these issues is divided between 2 ANCs. (If so, then that case should be made explicitly. We are all adults here.) But the opposite case could be made as well: not just EMMCA would be displaced, and our ability to reach out to neighbors (owing to our good process, and of course emmcablog) is at least as good as anyone else’s. Hence, relative to other groups, by suffering the “least” we may benefit the most.

    Yup. Safe to say: I just don’t get it. Do we really want to make a fuss about this to Tommy Wells and give him a reason to carve new boundaries that may have the unintended effect of working against EMMCA’s interests? These new boundaries work for us, in the main. Our principal concern of not having Metro plaza divided has been placated by the Taskforce. What and why are we fighting?

  4. Elizabeth Nelson

    I was at the Thursday meeting of the Task Force and did not leave until around 10 pm. To the best of my recollection Larry Janezich was not in attendance (please correct me if I’m wrong, Larry). By my count there were 5 residents of 6B (incl. 2 from the “contested area”) in attendance, not counting Commissioners Frishberg, Critchfield and Pate, and Task Force members Fengler, Scheeder and Jarboe.
    What is not mentioned in this report is:
    1) There was an audible “aside” from a 6B commissioner that they could not afford to lose population because they needed the additional funding to pay for the office manager
    2) A principal argument for 6B having 10 commissioners was that they “needed” them to manage the workload – which actually supports 6C’s case for their need to have 7.
    3) The declaration from a 6B commissioner that he would not run again if the initial Task Force SMD boundaries were adopted.
    4) A drawing of the SMD boundaries as proposed by the 6B commissioners, which an objective observer might think were very oddly shaped and likely the result of gerrymandering. The commissioners demurred that they hadn’t had much time to work on the plan, despite having been warned a week or so prior, at the ANC 6B meeting, that an Independence Ave. border was a possibility.
    5) That the 6B commissioners left the meeting in the middle of the discussion of their SMD boundaries, such that they were unavailable when Task Force members attempted to get their feedback on subsequent proposals. No fair complaining about the outcome if you quit before it was over.
    I may regret having stepped into the fray, but I think the residents of 6B deserve to hear, directly from someone in attendance, what happened at that meeting. I went into it largely sympathetic to 6B’s position. I am on friendly terms with several of the commissioners and a great many residents, and what happens in 6B is of serious concern to me because it affects the entire ward. I can see arguments on both sides and was disappointed that the 6C community was not as proactive or well prepared as it might have been. But ANC 6B commissioners present did little to advance their cause. I went into it “fingers crossed” for an East Capitol St. boundary and left feeling that 6B’s poor performance should not be rewarded with a favorable result.
    CM Wells put this process in place and then adopted a “hands off” approach throughout the deliberations. The Task Force voted the same way twice on the 6B/6C boundary. None of the ANCs got everything they wanted. For example, ANC 6A lost area to both 6C and 6B, and had its own preferred SMD plan overturned. If Tommy steps in now to overturn one recommendation, and does not satisfy the other ANCs (which would be impossible to do, simultaneously), it will look like blatant favoritism. I hope this doesn’t happen as I have the utmost respect for him and for his performance as Councilmember – representing all of Ward 6.

  5. Elizabeth –
    I failed to mention that Barbara Riehle was at the meeting and my report on it was written from her notes to me. She deserves coauthoriship of the piece as I told her I was going to do, and I will correct the by-line now.

  6. Barbara Riehle

    As Larry said, I covered the meeting discussed here for EMMCAblog. As phenomenal as he is, even Larry can’t be in two places at the same time.

    To Kathleen regarding EMMCA’s boundaries, you may know that EMMCA has two components — full members who reside, yes, between Independence and G Streets, SE and 5th to 12th Streets and EMMCA Pals who live beyond these streets. Most of the folks who are EMMCA Pals live in the area under dispute. The EMMCA area is unofficial and was established in EMMCA’s earliest days when there were very few members. Expanding EMMCA’s boundaries beyond these fairly arbitrary lines is a decision our members can make at the next meeting, which is scheduled for October 19.

    To Elizabeth Nelson, aside from the misguided attack on Larry Janezich who is providing a huge service to us all, it is… let’s say, disingenuous to suggest that you are an objective party in this discussion. At the very least, you might want to mention that your husband is an ANC Commissioner in 6A. From my vantage point, it looked as though 6A, 6C, and the new 6E ganged up on 6B in nothing short of a September surprise attack. Of course, that’s speculation so not included in my report on the meeting.

    As far as some of your other comments, we must have been at different meetings.

    Redistricting is a messy job at every level of government and not for the faint of heart. The Task Force seemed to be doing a great job until it was highjacked by ANC 6C.