Ward 7 Redistricting Task Force Splits Hill East into Two Cross River ANCs
by Larry Janezich
Posted March 21, 2022
Monday night, the Ward 7 Redistricting Task Force expressed a strong preference for absorbing the former Ward 6 ANCs east of the Anacostia into two ANCs lying east of the river. The decision came as the Task Force voted on the three outstanding maps which had not been yet considered. Task Force members were asked to vote to accept a whole map for advancement, or to accept a map in part for further advancement, or to decline to advance a map.
The comprehensive map which was advanced for further consideration was named “Ward 7 Strongly Together,” (above) offered by Keith Hasan-Towery of ANC7E. The proposal received 11 votes to advance it vs. 7 to accept it in part. The concept is to have two ANCs – A and F – each with single member districts on each side of the river. (Ed. Note. Update. Originally this post reported that the intent was to have four SMDs on each side of the river for 7A and 7F. While this was true for 7A (7D02 is mislabled and should be 7A01), 7F has only two SMDs on the east side of the river. One of those, 7F07 has too many residents for one SMD and not enough for two. If 7F can form three SMDs on the west side of the river and everything else remains the same, 7F would have a total of six single member districts on the east side of the river in a very irregularly shaped ANC7F. The Task Force will consider this map again on March 23.)
A partial map (above) by Ebony Payne of Kingman Park named “West of the River,” received 11 votes to decline vs. 5 to accept in part. She told the Task Force that the city would like a cross river ANC and made a case for keeping Hill East, Kingman Park and River Terrace together as sister communities with the same environmental impact interests.
Rob Coomber of Kingman Park’s comprehensive map named “Minimum Change” received 14 votes to decline vs. 3 votes to accept in part. The map would keep Hill East together and like Payne’s map, include Kingman Park and River Terrace in one ANC. Coomber said that community familiarity was critical, people without cars will have trouble attending cross river ANC meetings, and that cross river ANCs “sounds like it might be a good idea but one which we have seen doesn’t work.”
Prior to the votes, Task-Force co-chair Tamara Blair advised the Task Force that none of the proposals were perfect and that any maps which were advanced were subject to further modification.
Also prior to the vote, Task Force member Dr. Marla Dean said that the redistricting had been a process of adjusting to community feedback. She added, that “many people are upset in many parts of the Ward – that means we did a good job, because every part of the ward has sacrificed.”
The Task Force will continue its work of tweaking the map when it meets at 5:00pm on Wednesday.
3 responses to “Ward 7 Redistricting Task Force Splits Hill East into Two Cross River ANCs”
There was no compromise or consideration to any thought of a West of the river ANC in spite of numerous emails from members if the community expressing this desire.
The Ward 7 Redistricting Task Force has set forward several criteria for making determinations for new Single Member Districts (SMDs). In addition to the obvious ones related to size and inclusiveness, they have stipulated: (a) maintaining neighborhood cohesiveness; and (B) respecting natural boundaries.
It is impossible to reconcile a proposal to establish cross- river boundaries for SMDs with the criteria of neighborhood cohesiveness and/or respect for natural boundaries. Based on my experience as an ANC Commissioner, I believe this idea would result in an inherently unworkable structure for the newly created SMDs — basically it is a design for failure.
One concern relates to the fundamental operations of the ANCs. The great weight afforded ANC Commissions by District agencies always requires a vote of the entire Commission. It will be very difficult for those required to cross the river in either direction to be in a position to cast informed votes on matters before the entire SMD. It will be challenging for individual Commissioners to gain the information required to: arrive at Settlement Agreements providing liquor licenses, to address parking and rodent issues, and to understand traffic safety issues. (Most Commissioners in 6B try to visit sites under consideration for construction permits or traffic safety across the entire SMD, but they can do so on foot or bicycle as part of their daily routine and not as an automobile excursion.)
I hope the several members of the Ward 7 Redistricting Task Force who are knowledgeable about how ANCs actually work will be invited to share their knowledge with the Task Force as it enters the final stages of map-making for the SMDs.
The Ward 7 “Strongly Together” map is arithmetically challenged if the goal is to have two ANC’s with 4:4 split (east : west of the river). ANC7A is equally split with the 4:4 division. But ANC7F is 6 to 2 east vs west.
Can someone clarify how the “desire” for the 4:4 split relates to the actual map chosen which had 11 members to advance it without changes and 7 who voted for it but thought it needs some adjustment. What adjustments (or gerrymanders) will Vincent Gray make to the advanced plan to align it to the “concept” of 4:4 x 2. The other two maps, the declined to advance ones, only had 6 or 7 SMDs west of the river. So to get equal splits there will need to be more SMD created west of the river and smaller population per SMD. Wouldn’t this require creation of more SMDs east of the river as well to keep populations to each district equal? Adding new districts to keep the populations in balance would not be a minor tweak, but instead would be a significant reworking of the “Stronger Together” map east of the river as well. (Ed. Note. Update. In fact, the Task Force did not explicitly endorse a 4 and 4 division. 7F06 appears to be on the west side of the river but is actually on the east side. 7F07 on the west side has too many residents for one and not enough residents for two single member districts. In addition, 7D02 is mis-labled and should be 7A01. We’ll see how the task force addresses these anomolies as well as the extremely irregular shape of 7F when it meets on Wednesday.)