Mayor Vincent Gray signed the bill redrawing the city’s eight electoral wards last week. Ward 2 will lose Shaw and gain the area containing the Convention Center.
Now the effort turns to redrawing the single-member districts and boundaries of the ANC’s, local councils that provide official community input on everything from liquor licenses to campus plans.
ANC single-member districts are supposed to represent about 2,000 people. The ANC containing most of Georgetown University has over 3,000 people, and the rest of the dorms are split into
two three different single-member districts.
Evans has appointed Georgetown ANC 2E Commissioner Tom Birch to chair the effort in Ward 2. Anyone that expresses interest in serving on the redistricting task force will be allowed to join the task force.
Unlike most wards, the task force will not decide the ANC and single-member district boundaries in plenary, but will divide up into subcommittees based on ANC. Chairs of the respective ANC’s will lead each subcommittee, and the citizen association leaders will serve as co-chairs.
In Georgetown, Commissioner Ron Lewis of ANC 2E will chair the subcommittee, and Jennifer Altemus of the Citizen’s Association of Georgetown and Lenore Rubino of the Burleith Citizen’s Association will co-chair. All three have serious misgivings about the University’s 2010 Campus Plan.
“If disputes start to occur, I would like the three chairs of that area to resolve that,” said Evans. “If you cannot resolve that, that’s there Mr. Birch comes in.”
As far as universities are concerned, Evans told the task force that there’s no “right way” to split up the dorms. Georgetown has a student-only ANC district and several split districts, whereas GW has student dorms scattered throughout ANC 5A.
Barbara Kahlow, an representative from the West End Citizen’s Association who is known for launching a challenge to GW grocery store FoBoGro, suggested inviting representatives of GW and other universities to weigh in on the redistricting plans.
Finally, Charles Richman of the Office of Planning outlined how the task force must legally use data from census blocks and tracts. Often these
blocks block groups are too large to make legally-sized ANC districts, so OP will have to provide guidance on splitting the blocks.
Evans expressed relief that this level of detail would prevent community activists such as David Alpert from making tools that allow people to draw the districts themselves. Alpert’s “redistricting game” caused a controversy when it came time for the council to redraw wards.
“[This time] you won’t have constituents second-guessing you,” said Evans.
By law, the task force must complete the redistricting by the week of October 10.