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.