DC Lawmakers Shake Up Hill East Redistricting
by Larry Janezich
Posted December 8, 2021
On Tuesday, the DC Council – meeting virtually as the Committee of the Whole – approved a shakeup of the Hill East redistricting plan. Acknowledging the legitimacy of CM Vincent Gray’s complaint that Ward 7 was getting short changed in the redistricting process, the lawmakers approved a redistricting plan to make Ward 7 larger. The vote was 11 – 1 – 0, with CM McDuffie voting “No” and CM Gray absent after being hospitalized suffering from bronchitis and a mild stroke. There will be a second and final vote on December 21.
Last week, during an ANC6B Special Meeting on redistricting, Council Chair Phil Mendelson pointed out that Ward 7 was barely over the minimum number of residents in terms of the required equity among Wards, making it the smallest ward in the city. Mendelson said he hoped that would be resolved by a conversation between councilmembers.
That conversation apparently happened, and as the result, Mendelson changed the proposed Redistricting Subcommittee map to make – among other changes – two major changes that will have a significant impact on Hill East.
One of those changes moved the Ward 7 Boundary so that both Kingman Park and Rosedale would be in Ward 7. Mendelson said the change would increase the population of Ward 7 by 6,000. (The Redistricting Subcommittee had recommended taking Kingman Park from Ward 7 and including it in Ward 6 and leaving Rosedale in Ward 6. Rosedale’s ANC6A commissioner Sondra Phillip-Gilbert had fought to keep Rosedale in Ward 6.)
The other change pulled back the Redistricting Subcommittee’s proposed Ward 7 boundary from extending south of Potomac Avenue, leaving the 2,300 residents there in Ward 6.
(Ward 6 took another hit in that the lower end of 8th Street- part of Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg’s ANC6B04 including the area bounded by Virginia Avenue, 11th Street, SE; 7th Street, SE; and M Street, SE – will be included in Ward 8. This area is also part of the Capitol Hill Historic District.)
The total effect of the changes would be to make Ward 7 the 4th largest ward instead of the 8th largest. The adjusted boundary brings everything east of 15th Street from Benning Road to Potomac Avenue, SE, into Ward 7.
Here is the effect of Mendelson’s changes on the Hill East ANCs:
- Commissioner Sondra Phillips-Gilbert’s ANC6A07 in Rosedale will now become part of Ward 7.
- Commissioner Brian Alcorn’s ANC6A08 will still become part of Ward 7.
- Commissioner Denise Krepp’s ANC6B10 will still become part of Ward 7.
- Commissioner Alissa Horn’s ANC6B09 will be divided and the portion in which she resides will become part of Ward 7.
- Commissioner Corey Holman’s ANC6B06 in its entirety will now remain in Ward 6. The original Redistricting Map would have included the part of 6B06 in which Holman resides in Ward 7.
- Commissioner Edward Ryder’s ANC6B07 in its entirety will now remain in Ward 6. The original Redistricting Map would have included the part of 6B07 in which Ryder resides in Ward 7.
At a press conference on Monday where he announced the boundary changes, Mendelson said that there was a lot more drama around splitting neighborhoods between wards than is warranted. He said, “Wards 7 and 8 did not grow the way Ward 6 has and Ward 6 has to lose population. The choice is, where? Any redistricting map is going to make some neighborhood unhappy. The objection that the Redistricting map left Ward 7 minimally over the limitation is legitimate and it is not in the interest of Ward 7 to redistrict to the low end of the population average.“
CM Charles Allen, speaking of Hill East projects he had worked on and specifically singling out Gilbert-Phillips and Alcorn, said, “While they will no longer be in Ward 6 I won’t be walking away from those partnerships and commitments that I’ve worked on with neighbors.” Looking ahead at what will happen to the ANCs in Ward 6, Allen said he hoped a small number of residences in the Historic District in a small part of the Navy Yard (residents of Potomac Avenue and lower 8th Street) which are becoming part of Ward 8 under the redistricting could be part of Ward 6 ANCs. Mendelson had noted that prior to being elected to the city council, he had served as an ANC commissioner on an ANC which had been divided by ward boundaries, and the ensuing double representation had been advantageous.
All of this means there will be radical changes in ANC boundaries within both Wards 6 and 7. Those changes will be the discussion of community meetings over the next couple of months.
Here’s the schedule for rest of the redistricting process:
- December 21, 2021: The City Council’s second vote on the ward redistricting bill
- December 2021: Ward Task Forces (which provide recommendations on ANC redistricting) start meeting.
- February 2022: Ward Task Forces report out recommendations for new ANC boundaries.
- May 2022: Subcommittee mark-up of the ANC redistricting bill.
- June 2022: The City Council votes on the ANC redistricting bill.