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Redistricting wouldn't matter if wards weren't mini-empires

Redistricting has generated a lot of ire, as it does every ten years. The DC Council should redistrict more impartially, but redistricting also shouldn't matter as much as it does. There are many ways that the ward boundaries matter far more than they should.

DC planning zones, one potential alternative to wards for city services.

Capitol Hill residents, for example, were afraid moving Eastern High School into Ward 7 would impair their ability to improve education. Why should that be? The school boundaries wouldn't change. DCPS shouldn't be giving the ward councilmember outsize influence over any policies of that particular school.

Yet the ward member does have some of that power. If they didn't, Tommy Wells wouldn't have cared about keeping Eastern High School and Eliot-Hine Junior High in Ward 6. Last night, Yvette Alexander (ward 7) rallied her ward for the opposite, to move Eastern and Eliot-Hine to Ward 7.

DC agencies ought to instead operate independent of which ward a facility lies in. Were that the case, Wells and Alexander wouldn't care what ward the school is in. But that's not how things operate. Most of the arguing over redistricting has involved territory where few or no people live—Reservation 13, Eastern and Eliot-Hine, the National Building Museum, or the Convention Center.

At a meeting last week, a DDOT official told me that they weren't pursuing a certain policy in Ward 2 because of the views of the Ward 2 Councilmember (Jack Evans). I actually agree with Evans on this particular topic. But That shouldn't be the way policy gets made.

Evans is just elected to be a member of a legislature, not emperor of his own little domain; this applies to Wells, Bowser, Thomas, and all the rest. The Ward 2/Ward 6 line would matter a lot less if agencies didn't choose to let Evans dictate their policy for territory in Ward 2, or Wells in Ward 6.

Many agencies also route all service requests through a ward-specific hierarchy. For example, at the redistricting hearing, Mount Pleasant ANC commissioner Jack McKay noted that a piece of Park Road is in Ward 4 as it crosses Rock Creek from Ward 1 to Ward 3. Complaints about trees or lighting have to go through the Ward 4 liaisons even though the Ward 1 liaisons are the ones in contact with the Mount Pleasant ANC. (The redistricting committee, by the way, decided not to fix this problem despite a recommendation by the Office of Planning.)

Some of the greatest anger over redistricting revolves around ANCs. Most ANCs fit entirely within one ward. That means that if one segment of a neighborhood gets redistricted into a different ward, involved residents feel they will lose a large part of their voice over changes in the other part of their own neighborhood.

For example, one reason many Shaw residents are upset about the Convention Center not moving is because they consider that part of their neighborhood and don't want to lose influence over what happens there which can affect the rest of the neighborhood. Residents around 14th and U want to reunite their neighborhood in one ANC.

Why can't they? There are already a few ANCs which span ward boundaries, like ANC 3/4G (Chevy Chase), which kept the part of the neighborhood that moved into Ward 4; ANC 3C, which includes the piece of Woodley Park that's in Ward 1; or ANC 6D, which contained the Southwest Federal Center that's proposed to move to Ward 6.

After my article yesterday on the "Jackmander" ran, I spoke to Jack Evans, who explained his reasons for many of the line changes in terms of ANCs. The southwest changes unify 6D. With the exception of the Convention Center and one block to the west, all of ANC 2C (Shaw) would move to Ward 6 under the proposed lines, while none of 2F (Logan Circle) would.

Phil Mendelson has justified moving more people than necessary from 6 to 7 around Hill East on the grounds that it can constitute its own ANC, instead of just having one or two single-member districts as part of a larger east of the river ANC as is currently the case with Kingman Park.

But why should any of this matter? Regardless of where the Ward 2/6 boundary is, there could still be a Shaw ANC, a Logan Circle ANC, and whatever else is appropriate. There can be a Capitol Hill/Hill East ANC entirely in one ward or spanning wards.

Lance made an excellent point:

If we strengthened our ANCs by letting them represent neighborhoods (as the name implies and the Home Rule Charter that created them says), and didn't try to get them to conform to the ward boundaries, the importance of ward boundaries would diminish in importance because the ability of ward councilmembers to get neighborhoods to follow councilmember policy would be diluted.
One starting point, which Lance has also proposed, is to stop naming ANCs by ward. Name them by neighborhood, and instead of creating ward-specific task forces to draw ANCs within the ward, they should be drawn citywide, perhaps with a recommendation from the Office of Planning.

Is any of this realistic? All of these changes can be made quite simply. First, the executive branch could declare that it loves having input from Council, but instead of organizing all decisions around wards, it will develop some more natural zones perhaps based on the Comprehensive Plan's planning areas or neighborhood clusters. The Council could then further subdivide those into ANCs.

The Prince George's County Council is moving away from giving individual district members extra power over development projects in their district. The RAC report on the WMATA Board recommended board members not act as individuals, making transit decisions for their own jurisdictions, but rather to just act as a group. Taking similar steps for the DC Council would allow redistricting to go a lot less acrimoniously and lead to better public policy as well.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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At a meeting last week, a DDOT official told me that they weren't pursuing a certain policy in Ward 2 because of the views of the Ward 2 Councilmember (Jack Evans).

Paging Ken Archer.

by Dizzy on Jun 1, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

After being particularly acrimonious to Phil Mendelson in several posts on various boards during this process, I feel obligated to state that I completely agree with his position as stated here.

Lance's proposition of freeing ANCs from Ward boundaries is intriguing though.

by Andrew in DC on Jun 1, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

If ANC boundaries don't need to conform to ward boundaries, how the hell are they so screwy? Why does 2C have jurisdiction over Chinatown, a neighborhood that shares little in common with the blocks north of Mass Ave? Why do we have ANCs with even-numbered commissioners? Why do we have one with 12(!) members? Or two?

Wow, a lightbulb went off in my head. ANCs can actually represent neighborhoods and not random jurisdictions. Neighborhoods could be come defined.

Also, yes, ward boundaries shouldn't matter as much as they do. Agreement.

by OctaviusIII on Jun 1, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

In my opinion, the at large council members are not much interested in neighborhoods other than there own. Although I did not vote for my ward one rep, at least there is someone there whose primary interest is what is going on in ward one. Wards 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 all have two representatives when the chair and at-large are counted.

It makes sense to me that Jim Graham should have much, much more say over anything that happens in ward one. It not that long ago that many council members wanted to push strip clubs in ward 5 (not in their wards) without caring about what ward 5 wanted.

by Bruce on Jun 1, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

I appreciate the value of incremental change, but I think we should be thinking on a city charter level: eliminate the wards. Elect all the Council members through a city-wide, multi-member, non-partisan, "first thirteen past the post" election every 2 years.

by tom veil on Jun 1, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

As long as the Council controls the budget and passes legislation, that's where power will reside. Despite the best intent, the ANC system is just a sideshow, with no power.

ANC's can bitch and moan, but ultimately have no power. Why should I care what they do or which one I'm in? And I say that with great admiration for my many friends that have donated thousands of hours of grueling public service as ANC Commissioners.

by Tim Krepp on Jun 1, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

Actually the proposed redistricting map will leave the southern half, the convention center (and that little bumpout for the whitman) in Ward 2, slicing up ANC 2C03. This is Doris Brook's SMD, shes been in office for about 30 years and has been an utterly ineffective commissioner.

by Si Kailian on Jun 1, 2011 2:30 pm • linkreport

The problem of course is that different parts of the city have different priorities for their neighborhoods/schools.

For example: Allowing people to urinate in alleys vs. calling the cops. Folks in part of the city will call the cops the second you reach for your crotch. In other parts of the city, they'll call the cops names and decry the interference in civil rights. Once city, two different standards of acceptable behavior. Same thing goes for student behavior in school.

We also have the human propensity for laziness when our bosses are not paying attention. If ANC's had the power to recommend firing civil servants, their power would increase exponentially. Until then, the city bureaucracy can ignore anyone *except* a well entrenched Ward Councilman.

by ahk on Jun 1, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

So, Mendelson proposes enough commissioners transfered to Ward 7 to allow a separate ANC.

Start with the Jail, CSOSA, and the homeless shelter. That's enough people to count as at least one, probably two, single member districts. They will always be vacant because the jail residents are, wait for it, incarcerated. The others are all semi-temporary residents and, even if elected, likely to move out of the SMD in a matter of months or weeks.

The Rosedale SMD will lose half of its population. Half of 6B9, all of 6B10 and almost all of 6A8 will transfer to Ward 7. Kingman Park would join Mendelson's proposed new ANC.

That's a probable total of 6 SMD with two permanently vacant SMD Commission seats. If one commissioner doesn't make a meeting, there will be no quorum. Since ANC response times to the actions of city departments is limited, usually 30 days, the ANC will frequently be deprived of a chance to represent its constituents on important matters.

If you add Reservation 13 to a large ANC on the other side of the river, that leaves on 4 to form an ANC.

by David H on Jun 1, 2011 3:38 pm • linkreport

Wards may be mini-empires but I follow the DC media fairly closely and rarely ever see any evidence of things the At-large members have done to improve the city for residents. Tommy Wells, Graham, and even Evans are out on the frontline all the time. I couldn't tell you what Catania, Michael Brown or Kwame (when he was an at-large) ever did except maybe show up to ribbon cuttings. And Mendelson is even worse as he has been an abject failure with the Judiciary Committee. You can thank him in part for the soft way we prosecute juvenile offenders.

by Paul on Jun 1, 2011 3:51 pm • linkreport

I'm apprehensive about using a first-past-the-post system, but structuring the wards to be like congressional districts seems like a very good idea. If we *do* want to offer a level of government that's larger than an ANC, but smaller than the city, we should create such an entity that doesn't require border adjustments whenever there's a population shift. It seems like the council offices are already serving this function...

While we're at it, if we're going to modify the charter, let's get some term limits in there for councilmembers and ANC chairs.

I don't even care if they're long (~15 year) term limits. Just as long as there are limits.

by andrew on Jun 1, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport


Brown, M:

Kwame... well, he's Kwame.

And good ole Phil will help you with anything, just call him!

by greent on Jun 1, 2011 4:02 pm • linkreport


A lot us us have been calling "good ole Phil" for some time. He's pretty helpful if you live in NW, I hear, but not so much over here...

by Tim Krepp on Jun 1, 2011 4:12 pm • linkreport

Or you can just get rid of the wards at all and elect the entire city council at large. Problem solved.

by Jasper on Jun 1, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

Ditto: "And good ole Phil will help you with anything, just call him!"

There are residents on the 1200 b/o 7th St NW. Jack forgets abt the residents and their needs.

509 O St NW is a classic example of hoe Evans and his office have failed residents in Ward 2.

by @CCCAPrez on Jun 1, 2011 5:13 pm • linkreport

The GGW is finally slowing starting to get it. Now the hard part, GGWs influence ironically is based in maintaining these very Ward thiefdoms.

by W Jordan on Jun 1, 2011 6:22 pm • linkreport

The issue seems to there are two distinct geographic partioning schemes in DC (Wards, ANC's) that are in conflict. The way ahead is to forced harmonization or simply jettison one.
What does DC gain from geographic wards? These are beset by the same problems seen elsewhere with this scheme: mini-empires, gerrymandering, officials selecting their voters, entrenched groups prefering their selfish interest versus the common good. Why can't DC instead have a City Council similar to Arlington's County Board, with all members elected at-large? Then keep ANCs as neighborhood level representation instead of as serfs in a ward empire.

by Smoke_Jaguar4 on Jun 1, 2011 7:03 pm • linkreport

@ Smoke_Jaguar4: +1 That's what I said.

by Jasper on Jun 1, 2011 7:30 pm • linkreport

Fighting over biz locations smells of corruption. Why is a business so important to have in one's ward if it casts no votes? It's because of donations to a CM's "constituent fund", campaign contributions, junkets and probably worse.

These mostly lesser lights are getting salaries of up to $200K already for part time work plus all the relatives and friends they can cram on staff. More than many state governors. Yet they fight over their share of the "pay-to-play" too. A good stiff ethics law is what we need.

And ANC's are ridiculous. Collections of tin-horn dictators who run unopposed and think they're all unacknowledged geniuses when in fact their average IQ is far south of CM's and who have absolutely no power, none, zilch. In active neighborhoods the ANC's duplicate the local citizens or civic associations in the DC Federation which usually do the real work (for free). ANC's get time off their DC gov't jobs to do "ANC work" and being an ANC helps the ones who work for DC gov't, including CM's, get promotions.

It's a very expensive circus.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 1, 2011 7:32 pm • linkreport


The ridiculous attempt by ANC 1B to reclaim my SMD because of business interests here is stunning.

In 2000 I carried petitions to every household in the SMD asking whether they wanted to move to Ward 2 or remain in Ward 1. Over 1000 residents signed that they wanted to move to Ward 2 and exactly 3, t-h-r-e-e, signed they wanted to stay in Ward 1. But 1B thinks they should get their pay-to-playground back.

What gall.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 1, 2011 8:15 pm • linkreport

Tom Coumaris,

Nice try. However moving the SW corner of 14th & U is not about business interests its about representing a united neighborhood. The residents of 14th & U don't have a clean and safe program, unlike Dupont or Adams Morgan or other centers that are not on boundaries. We instead have a police district headquarters on the north side of U Street that does not serve the southside.

The petition that you keep referring to was circulated at a time that you were a protestant in a very contentious ABC battle around Cada Vez, where Jim Graham had just sided against you and your gang that included you, Phyliss Klein, Ramon Estrada, Ellwyn Ferris, Janet Perkins, names that are familiar on this list. Let's say the survey was more than a bit leading, hence the skewed results...

I think the opportunity to move the SMD back to Ward 1 is passed, however I would be real interested in seeing an updated poll given by impartial surveyors looking at the interests and concerns of the residents in that area.

I am pretty certain that they would be more concerned with what goes on at 14th & U rather than Dupont Circle blocks and blocks away.


by LongtimeDC on Jun 2, 2011 6:28 am • linkreport

"Jack forgets abt the residents and their needs."

@CCCA Prez - just because you do not agree with Evans or remain bitter that he refused to referee your middle school scuffle with Thorpe does not mean he has not done an enormous amount of things for Shaw. I have been here for over 20 years and have seen how far things have come.

I understand how someone comes to Shaw from California and gets frustrated. DC government leaves a lot to be desired. Why do you pin all of the problems in Shaw on one man? What have YOU done, sir? You are a civic leader, so the situation in Shaw is largely on you.

Failed the residents of Ward 2? I am convinced that becoming gainfully employed again will be very good for your mental health, but maybe not.

by Shaw Vet on Jun 2, 2011 8:46 am • linkreport

I found the hearing last night frustrating as I often do when watching Council hearings. People ask what I think are legitimate questions and there is no attempt to even answer them Is it really so ridiculous to ask Why redistrict or at least why not just meet the minimum requirements of the law in terms of allowable percentages of difference? Why was it OK 10 years ago for Ward 6 to be under by over 4% but not OK for it to be over by 4% this time? The law requires that the opinions of the ANCs be given great weight in Council decisions why not in this case? Why is ward 2 granted a land grab of territory without population in what is a redistricting of population? Well?

by Dan Maceda on Jun 2, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport


You are right in so many ways. As a resident of Ward 7 I am experiencing that issue right now. There are many of us who call the cops at the first sign of someone reaching for their crotch; and the problem is not only the nitwits we live around screaming about liberties; it's the cops response.
In a nutshell, if I call about noise or bad neighbors partying out of control at 1 am, I am met with a significant amount of resistance from the police to do anything about it. It appears that over here, I am the one over reacting. But we are making headway. We have officially put the 6th district on notice that there is no different level of standards here than in other areas of the city. If we call, you come and solve the problem....period or we are writing you up. As I am doing today on an issue where they dropped the ball. It's a new day; welcome to Ward 7.

by WhoSaidWhat on Jun 2, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport


1) The petition on Ward changes had nothing to do with the Cada Vez protest and was a couple years separated at least. I was not a protestant in Cada Vez.

2) To lump me in with Estrada, Klein, etc. is rich. Actually comical.

3) The petition I refer to was during the last re-districting when as ANC I went to every household in the SMD for 4 weekends to get residents choices stated. The overwhelming preference for Ward 2 was enough to convince Phil Mendleson who was in charge of re-districting at the time to change us. Jim Graham's entire staff came down one weekend to try and get petitions for a different result and gave up after getting almost no one here to agree.

4) The old boundary line was S Street, not Florida Avenue as you claim. Living on S Street dealing with two wards for everything from parking to trash was a royal PITA for us. If Swann or T Streets want the division on their street fine. But we're not going back to that.

5) Getting the businesses on the south side of U and west side of 14th into Ward 1 has nothing to do with "co-hesiveness", especially if the people living next to businesses end up in a different Ward.

6) Having a business in your domain does have to do with patronage and the ability to extract favors when you set yourself up as a "leader" of the "neighborhood". We have an oversupply of those outside self-styled "leaders".

7) Doing this at the last minute without any notice to the residents is shady.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 2, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

Jack Evans had the same influence over redistricting
10 years ago after the 2000 Census. He insisted on
getting the ward boundaries he wanted; and many other
wards had to change their boundaries to accomodate him.
At that time, Ward 3 was too large. The logical thing
to have done would have been to shift Glover Park from
Ward 3 to Ward 2; but Jack Evans thought that would
make Ward 2 too white; and since he was planning to run
for Council Chair, he wanted a more diverse Ward. So
instead, the Council divided Chevy Chase in half and
gave the eastern half to Ward 4, the rest of which is
entirely east of Rock Creek Park. The guidelines for
redistricting, although not mandatory, state that
natural boundaries (like Rock Creek Park and the
Anacostia River) should be taken into account when
drawing ward boundaries.

by Jeffrey Norman on Jun 2, 2011 11:56 am • linkreport

Interesting article. Makes me wonder about a different form of government in DC -- perhaps an expanded Council? More Council members = more flexibility with boundaries around cohesive neighborhoods, a diffusion of the kind of power the author references, and maybe even a healthy two or three-party system. A very long time ago (1871) DC had a large "House of Delegates" (basically, the size of all ANC Commissioners), and farther back (1812), DC had a bicameral legislature consisting of a 12-member "Board of Aldermen" and a 12-member Council. Interesting to think about a different form of home-rule government. How about 25 all-volunteer Councilmembers (18 wards, 7 at-large), with open debates, Parliament style!

by G Thompson on Jun 2, 2011 12:12 pm • linkreport

In 2000, CM Graham attempted to draw political rivals outside of the Ward via gerrymandering while keeping control of lands up for development. Do he proposed moving folk north of the Tivoli Giant to Ward 4. He also wanted to keep all land around Metro Stations as much as possible. But was able to use his Metro Board seat to raise money and steer land to favorite developers. The maneuvers and gaming went on and on.

Graham's support of Performance Parking Zones was only because it was designed to give him complete control of parking in CH while executing pet projects in Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant. It's the way of world, blog and listserv posts aren't enough. Politics requires putting down the latte getting your hands dirty and some compromise.

by W Jordan on Jun 2, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

sorry, my last comment was @LongTermDC

My latte's down and I'm looking for Capital Bikeshare stations at the District building now.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 2, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

Tom Coumaris,

Once again a large number of innacuracies and rewriting of history.

1. If your petition was a couple years seperated from Cada Vez then your petition was not done during the redistricting process as there was a meeting about the Ward redistricting held at Cada Vez in 2011.

2. Your business vs resident mantra is the same as Klein and Estrada and counterproductive. It is about community being able to balance the needs of both for the benefit of all affected.

3. Alex Wilson was elected as the 1BO1 commissioner in 2000 so you were no longer the commissioner during the redistricting process, so you could not have legally circulated a petition as the ANC SMD.

4. They have addressed residential parking needs and trash service in the 90s sucked for everyone. There is no comparing the split on a commercial district with a split on a side residential for negative impacts.

5. I am not for just getting the businesses into one Ward. I think the surrounding residents on all sides of the intersection should not have to go to multiple meetings and sit through all of Dupont and Columbia Heights issues to find out about what is going on at 14th & U. Would like to see a U Street focused ANC. Which was impossible to achieve 10 years ago when the SW corner was relocated.

6. All the separate meetings with differing political leadership is what leads to the mini-fiefdoms and so called leaders islolating issues from the greater community.

7. Wasn't much of an opportunity for input in the process, so at the very least this should serve notice to everyone represented by Ramon Estrada that he does not work well with his adjoining neighbors and has been an impediment to cohesive management for 14th & U. It is a given that he would not support the idea of a shift as it would marginalize him personally.


by LongtimeDC on Jun 2, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

@ LongTermDC

Your "facts" are evidently from an alternative universe.

I don't know of any meeting at Cada Vez in 2011. I thought it had closed.

I was most certainly the ANC commissioner ten years up to re-districting but didn't need to be an SMD to have "standing" to circulate a petition. Estrada ran against me (and won) in the first election under Ward 2.

I had no meetings about redistricting in 2000 but Phil Mendleson and Jim Graham certainly remember the re-districting petition drive. It wasn't even close. If you want to do an impartial poll of people on your block feel free. You'll get the same result Graham did.

What business vs. resident mantra? FYI most of the community work I do is with neighborhood businesses helping them with problems. My first act upon becoming ANC was helping Coppi's and especially Utopia cut through problems to open and start the redevelopment. But I also think that all residents should have input, not just self-anointed "leaders". In fact the IQ level of ordinary people is often much higher than the "leaders" around here.

I have no contact with Estrada and have no idea where he stands but I do know exactly where the vast majority of residents stand. It's not returning to Columbia Heights/LeDroit Park ANC or Ward 1.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 2, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

Tom Coumaris,

Sorry, you got me. I made a typo. I meant a meeting about the Ward boundaries was held at Cada Vez in 2001 not 2011.

You just claimed you were the ANC SMD in 11:00 am email, so I was just clarifying you were not an elected commisstioner at the time of the 2001 redistricting, so circulating a petition as such is a violation. You are correct that you don't need to be an ANC commissioner to circulate petitions, you just need the full text of the petition included.

You have stated several times on this blog in the last several days that residents concerns need to be valued over businesses that don't vote. I agree all residents should have input, not just the ones that live on this side or that side of the block based upon political boundaries.

I don't actually care which Ward I am located in. I care about advocacy for U Street and uniting the community. U Street has gone from a funded streetscape project ready to be implemented in May 2008, to one that still has not been done, while Adams Morgan (18th Street), Columia Heights (14th Street) and Dupont (17th Street) have all been done, even though they were originally behind U Street in the cue. Why, because those respective ANC's and the councilmembers focused on their centers, not their shared boundary of U Street.


by LongtimeDC on Jun 2, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

@ LongtimeDC

We were united in Ward 1 for many, many years and we got zero. We were a stepchild appendage to Ward 1 since Dave Clark left office. Ward 1 is about Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and "the east". Ward 2 is about Georgetown and Dupont Circle.

In the ten years we've been in 2 we've had presidents of both DCCA and ANC2B here. We got shifted to 2D police which is 100 times better than 3D. Our trash gets picked up promptly, our streetlights get replaced promptly. Any problem gets solved immediately with a call to the Ward 2 office. And we can park in Ward 2! Any neglect the areas north of U and east of 14th feel (justifiably) isn't because of the size of the perceived neighborhood, it's mostly just problems in Ward 1 and ANC 1B that we were so glad to leave behind.

Issues concerning businesses get handled pretty much the same by regulatory bodies regardless of ward 1 or 2. But for constituent services a neighborhood being in the ward it has the most influence in is critical. IMHO the area from S to U east of 14th is greatly handicapped by being separated from Logan Circle which is it's natural home. But that's their business, not mine. I don't presume to claim to speak for them and would appreciate if they would do likewise, which is what this is about.

In the many years as ANC I took the job very seriously because we did have a neglect and identity problem (and crime problem). I had SMD meetings every month at the current Room & Board site which a lot of people attended and I published a newsletter every month for the SMD. I found that with the number of really good and intelligent people we have keeping everyone aware of everything and getting consensus was the best policy. People are most upset when they perceive something is done behind their back without them being involved, which is another problem with this last-minute proposal.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 2, 2011 5:59 pm • linkreport

You are largely right on regarding the power of Council members to determine what happens in their wards. However, this is the reality and Ward 6 residents are being forced to bear almost all of the burden of this in terms of redistricting.

One of several reasons for Ward 6 opposition to redistricting is arguably because Ward 6 residents have seen how Alexander practically ignored her constituents west of the Anacostia, because the Ward 6 residents identify with Wells campaign to create a liveable and walkable city and because Wells has a respected track record of deftly handling the tensions and stress that come with gentrification.

by Ward6 Realist on Jun 2, 2011 10:40 pm • linkreport

Thanks, Tom C. for your clear and well-informed posts.

by Ann on Jun 3, 2011 9:00 am • linkreport

The attempt to redraw 14th & U boundaries has nothing to do with community. It has everything to do with Jim Graham wanting to have it back, especially the business interests.
His minions are ex-ANC commishes, ex-U Street Main Street ED Long Timer, etc. They failed to bring the community together for a successful Main Street and blame the boundaries as an excuse for their ineffectiveness. There's plenty of work to be done (within their boundaries) to improve U Street from 13th to 9th Streets. Their quest to take over defies the principles of redistricting.

by Mark on Jun 3, 2011 9:24 am • linkreport

"Residents around 14th and U want to reunite their neighborhood in one ANC" ...

That's an overstatement. One CM and a few power mongers in Ward 1 want to redraw the lines. Many residents and business owners @ 14th & U would actually like to see 14th & U become Ward 2 up to Florida Avenue.

by Mark on Jun 3, 2011 11:49 am • linkreport

Who says that Jim Graham doesn't care about development outside Ward 1? Why, a few years ago, he proposed DC government tax incentives and other supports for the gay strip clubs that were being displaced by the building of the Nats' stadium and the ballpark district!

by Bob on Jun 3, 2011 1:34 pm • linkreport

@Tim Krepp: i was being sarcastic! Hence linking to their official Council PR.. I mean information pages.

by greent on Jun 3, 2011 1:38 pm • linkreport


You have some interesting opinions. However all three existing ANC commissioners from 1B that touch 2B signed on to the testimony about reuniting U Street. So stop trying to make this about ex-officials and other individuals while avoiding the actual issues.

The reality is that U Street has suffered from the split, resulting in no strong entity with the ability to advocate just for 14th & U. Why is it June 2011 and we still don't have a U Street streetscape done when it was supposed to start in May 2008? Where are out bulb-outs that make it safer for pedestrians? Where is our clean and safe program for our streets? Why are 3D resources regularly serving 2D because they are closest to the scene?

If you bother to read my earlier post I stated I don't care which Ward as long as the area is united and I made the point that at one time Florida was the northern boundary.

The inability of our two Ward Councilmembers to work together exacerbates the lack of attention on the boundary line that we have isolated successes and a whole lot of wasted time effort and resources.

Lets also be realistic, there was no chance of success for this effort. It was to raise attention to the fact that the community remains split and despite its placement in 2B, the SW corner of 14th & U is not in Dupont and the SMD member needs to advocate for U Street along with the folks from ANC1B.

by LongtimeDC on Jun 3, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

Well if harmony and cohesiveness is what the people who are attempting this hostile takeover were looking for they sure shot themselves in the foot with this last-minute ploy.

Twenty years ago the area north of S and west of 16th got into Ward 2, ten years ago we did, and this year we were waiting for the area east of 14th to take it's turn. We certainly would have helped, just as people west of 16th helped us. So long as Logan Circle is divided at S Street Logan Circle is behind Dupont and Georgetown in Ward 2 and the area north of S is an unimportant appendage to Ward 1, just as we were. A Logan Circle stretching to Florida, or even U, as we had to take, would be as important in Ward 2 as Dupont or Georgetown. Florida Avenue should be the natural boundary of Ward 2.

The southwest corner of 14th & U may not be obviously Dupont but it sure isn't Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park or Georgia Avenue which is 1B. While I was SMD every new business that wanted to come to U had to run the gauntlet of 10 1B commissioners from those areas with favors to ask (or worse) to locate in our neighborhood. (Of course some were also busy embezzling $250K from our treasury). The Dupont ANC has fair guidelines for new businesses with no pay-to-play and Ward 2 is at least as business-friendly as any ward.

ps- As far as a U Street streetscape, U Street needs to be narrowed to return the sidewalks.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 3, 2011 9:08 pm • linkreport

"If we strengthened our ANCs by letting them represent neighborhoods (as the name implies and the Home Rule Charter that created them says), and didn't try to get them to conform to the ward boundaries, the importance of ward boundaries would diminish in importance because the ability of ward councilmembers to get neighborhoods to follow councilmember policy would be diluted."

Redistricting is supposed to start with neighborhoods, which show that they have cohesion, history and contained boundaries. From this criteria the lines are drawn for SMDs, ANCs, Wards. Representation starts at the SMD level, then ANC, and Council. This is meant to enable effective communication, representation, and government. That's why there is boundary alignment.
Engaged, active, organized citizens are the best safeguard for keeping councilmembers in check, not skewing the lines.

by Walt on Jun 3, 2011 11:36 pm • linkreport

@Walt Redistricting is supposed to start with neighborhoods, which show that they have cohesion, history and contained boundaries. From this criteria the lines are drawn for SMDs, ANCs, Wards.

Except that in DC, the order is reversed. For example, we're now going through the Ward redistricting process ... which will affect how the boudaries for the ANCs get configured and their constituent SMDs. The ANCs, which are supposed to be neighborhood-focused won't even get a name ... they'll get a number/letter combination.

Btw, I liked the idea of making the council members ALL at large. That combined with letting the ANCs be given set boundaries, would go a long ways toward ensuring this 'fiefdom' system which David is equally recognizing would be done away with. There's just too much horsetrading going on between the wards for it to be good for the vision of 'One City'. And I'm for anything that would strenghten the power (advisory or real) of each neighborhood in regards to its own neighborhood issued (vs. city wide issues) and decreasing the incentive for Councilmembers to put their interests in their respective wards over the interests of the city as a whole. Yes, we need both ... a body that will look after our own 'neighborhood/small urban town' interests, and one that will look after the interests of the District as a whole. As it stands, we really don't have the latter ... only the former ... and it's distorted by the ability of ward councilmembers to change its boundaries every 10 years which results on putting the focus on their own individual political needs vs. the real neighborhood/ward/'small urban town' needs whose very boundaries ... and even individual names ... are neither recongnized nor respected.

by Lance on Jun 4, 2011 1:18 pm • linkreport

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