Incorporating population counts from the 2010 Census the D.C. government was tasked to revise Ward boundaries to comply with district law. Wards are allowed to vary plus or minus 5 percent from the average derived from dividing the citywide population by eight. Under this criteria Ward 2 needed to shrink in size while Wards 7 & 8 needed to grow.
Last Thursday the Subcommittee on Ward Redistricting returned their recommendations. As Ward 6 is nested between Wards 2 and 7 its borders incurred the most change. I believe I read that 12% of the population of Ward 6 was affected in some way. While the eastern border of Ward 6 also changed substantially the western edge is in close proximity to our neighborhood and deserves a closer look on this blog. The changes
The changes reunite Penn Quarter and Chinatown from fractured between Wards 2 and 6 to fully within Ward 2. Ward 2 punts Shaw to Ward 6 to facilitate the swap while making sure to keep the Convention Center in the process. The committee’s recommendations have elicited the term “Jackmandering” to bring attention to how the Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who was on the subcommittee, seemingly carved out all the large real estate assets along the border for his jurisdiction and pushed the higher crime areas to Ward 6 to deal with.
Penn Quarter will undoubtedly appreciate being united. Shaw was seemingly just as tired of dealing with Jack Evans as he was with them. For the Triangle, while it’s obviously great to still have Tommy Wells as our Councilmember I preferred being aligned with Penn Quarter than the rowhouse communities of Shaw or even Capitol Hill. Our community is one that is growing on the mixed-use hi-rise model. Penn Quarter is more closely aligned with that paradigm and has already gone through many of the growing pains we will go through. We could learn from their wisdom. At ANC 6C meetings in the past the DNA and the former Penn Quarter ANC commissioner Charley Doctor were our largest allies.
Alas, the PQ ship is all but sailed at this point. What I think may be most important going forward is that the Shaw/MVT area of the proposed Ward 6 isn’t carved out into a mini-ANC with just 4 or 5 seats. That may be tempting to those who decide such things as Shaw is sort of on a virtual peninsula off this new Ward 6 configuration. But it would be a bad idea. ANCs with a small number of seats, especially an even number like 4, tend to carry a higher risk of being incompetent. An ineffective, irrational or stubborn commissioner is much more likely to pull down a small ANC down into the abyss than they could a larger ANC that has more shoulders to lean on. Hopefully however it shakes out the Triangle will be part of a larger ANC with closer to the number of seats ANC 6C had (9) rather than what 2C had (4).
Image Credit: Office of Planning via PQLiving