On Thursday night the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force
held its "listening meeting" for residents and interested parties in ANC 6D to get input as to the feelings about the current ANC and Single Member District (SMD) boundaries and what changes people would be either wanting or not completely detesting.
Interestingly, many of the Southwest residents who spoke--starting with ANC 6D chair Ron McBee and longtime 6D commissioner Andy Litsky--spent much of their time focusing on how important it is to keep Near Southeast in ANC 6D. McBee said both areas have lots of similarities, from housing stock to traffic issues to transportation issues (Circulator, etc.) to the need to build retail, and that coming improvements to South Capitol Street
should improve the flow between the two neighborhoods. Litsky, echoing McBee by saying Near Southeast and Southwest "are more similar than dissimilar," also mentioned the coming South Capitol Street reconstruction and how much more difficult it would be to have any sort of negotiations be going on with two separate ANCs in the mix.
Current 6D07 commissioner David Garber did not take a position one way or the other on whether Near Southeast should remain with 6D, saying that he is waiting for his residents to weigh in, but that the vast majority of the feedback he's received so far indicates that residents feel much more "a part of" Barracks Row than Southwest, and that South Capitol Street is much more difficult to cross than going under the freeway. And that while Near Southeast shares a lot of similarities with Southwest, the reality is that a lot of people move to the neighborhood for its proximity to Capitol Hill. Finally, he mentioned the idea that Capitol Hill sees Near Southeast as "their waterfront community."
Residents who spoke at the meeting included Mary Williams, who lives just west of the ballpark in Southwest and who says her community has not been served well by being grouped in with Southwest concerns, and they want to "secede" to the Near Southeast ANC. Other Southwest residents also spoke of how often they go into Near Southeast to go to the ballpark, or the Yards Park. Only one Near Southeast resident spoke, Ms. McCarty (sorry if you're out there, I didn't catch your first name). She said she was "agnostic" about whether Near Southeast is in ANC 6D or ANC 6B to the north, but to please keep all of Near Southeast in the same ANC. She also commented on it being important that Capitol Quarter residents not be cut off SMD-wise from any of the commercial development going on in Near Southeast, since they will be impacted by those sorts of changes and want to have a say.
At the end of the statements, the group gathered around a map of ANC 6D's current boundaries
, and discussed issues. Again, there was very little conversation about Southwest other than some ideas for small tinkering.
There seems to be a desire within the task force to even out the number of single member districts across what will probably be five ANCs, and 6B already has eleven SMDs. So, task force chair Joe Engler brought up the concept of bringing the portion of 6B's western edge near New Jersey Avenue and Garfield Park together with Near Southeast to form a new SMD. Using some of the area just north of the freeway to pair with the eastern half of Near Southeast would create a properly sized SMD (or close to it) and could give ANC 6D eight single member districts rather than seven (or six if the eastern part of Near Southeast were moved to 6B), bringing it closer in size to other ANCs.
There seemed to be positive feedback from the group on this concept, with some discussion of the amount of cross-traffic there is between residents and dog owners of Near Southeast using Garfield Park and dog owners near Garfield Park using Canal Park (before it started construction, at least).
I've mocked up a map
that shows this general idea in a way that the numbers could work, keeping in mind that the green portion below the freeway was counted in 2010 as having 1115 residents and so would need at least 800 residents from north of the freeway to become a full SMD, presuming the task force adheres firmly to the numerical guidelines of 2,000 residents plus-or-minus 5 percent. You can see on the map (or on this one) that 6D02 in Southwest already bumps up to Independence Avenue, so doing likewise on the Southeast side of things would be somewhat symmetrical. And, given that New Jersey Avenue is also slated for a fair number of improvements as part of the South Capitol Street reconstruction
, this would put all of that corridor in the same ANC. It's also possible that the little "notch" near Lower Barracks Row, with only 27 residents, could also come to 6D, though the love of the Virginia Avenue Park by 6B residents might make that a flashpoint.
Of course, as has been discussed repeatedly, Near Southeast's population numbers are already higher than the 2010 census reflects, and with new buildings looking ready to start or open in the next two years at the Yards
, 880 New Jersey
, Florida Rock
, and Half Street
, and with Capitol Quarter
and the Capper redevelopment continuing to be built out, both of these SMDs would see plenty of new residents in the near future, and who knows how many before the next redistricting happens in 2021. (Dear God, don't let me still be blogging when that comes around.)
ANC 6B will be having its "listening meeting" on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta's at 19th and Massachusetts, SE, and the task force blog's list of questions for 6B residents
includes "Is the freeway the proper north-south dividing line? For example, is there an opportunity to move part of a western SMD to ANC 6D that uses the Third and/or Fourth street tunnels to 'connect' the residents on both sides of the freeway?" It will be interesting to see the response, along with how 6B people feel about potentially having their 11-SMD configuration shrunk.
There hasn't been much feedback here in the comments about redistricting--I know I find it more fascinating than most people (it's in my blood, since my father was involved in a lot of Congressional redistricting back in the day), but how do people feel about this concept that Joe Fengler was discussing? And how about the to-be-in-6D-or-not-to-be-in-6D question?
The task force plans to release its first draft of a new map on or about Aug. 18.