Over the past few months we have seen lots of news about the 2010 census results, which provided some groundbreaking news about the demographics of Washington, D.C. For starters, the city had the first population increase in decades, topping out at almost 602,000 residents.
By law, the District must redraw ward boundaries to balance the population of cities eight wards to ensure equal legislative representation — within 5% of the average. above or below. The census data shows that Ward 2 is too large and will need to give up residents to a neighboring ward, while Wards 7 and 8 will need to pick up residents from neighboring wards. The other four wards fit within the acceptable range.
Hearings and a Vote
The Council redistricting subcommittee has three members: Michael A. Brown (I-At-Large), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large). The Council held public hearings last month and offered the public an opportunity to comment on the process before the committee. At the first hearing on redistricting Evans, who is a veteran of the process from 1991 and 2001, cautioned that based on past experience he has learned the process will make people “very very angry.”
Too many people in Ward 2: In a Tweet today, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells speculated: “Shaw likely to be dropped by Evans and added to Ward 6 with Ward 5 untouched. Shaw is indeed a terrific community.”
The Council committee is now doing presentations for the public about what to expect. After analyzing options, the committee will vote on a proposed map, which will then go to the full Council for hearings; the committee vote is expected on May 26. The new map will have to be approved by two votes of the full Council. The ward redistricting process should be wrapped up late June or early July, according to Evans’ office.
Growth in Ward 2, Logan-U Street Areas
Ward 2, which covers the Dupont and Logan areas, saw population growth of 16% or 11,000 people. In our neighborhood, census tract 52.01 is a great example of how Ward 2 gained so many new people in the past 10 years. The tract’sboundaries are 14th Street, NW on the east, 16th Street on the west, Massachusetts Avenue on the south and S Street on the north.
Census Tract 52.01 registered a 33% increase, going from 4,559 to 6,077 residents. Many will note the P Street Whole Foods in Logan Circle is very nearly the center of this census tract.
In addition to Census Tract 52.01, several other tracts in the Logan Circle and U Street area had huge population increases between 2000 and 2010. One of them is Tract 44 in the U Street corridor on the southern end of Ward 1. This tract’s population registered an 87% population increase from 2000 to 2010 — from 2,589 to 4,572 residents.
Tract 44’s boundaries are U Street NW on the south, Florida Avenue on the north, 7th/Florida Avenue on the east and 14th Street on the west. This is another portion of the neighborhood that is brimming with large new residential buildings, especially on 14th and U Streets.
Changes to ANCs, Neighborhoods
Later this year, council members for the affected wards will work to redraw borders of ANCs and SMDs as needed. ANCs must be within one ward – ANCs never straddle ward boundaries. In fact, areas of Wards 1 and 2 that experienced large population increases will have to see boundary changes. Some SMDs will have to be divided up into new districts in order to keep each one at around 2,000 people, the target goal. Whether the city will create a few new SMDs around the city to keep up with population growth remains to be seen; if not, then each SMD will have slightly more people.
The redistricting changes helps define the affected neighborhood for the next decade. After the last decennial census in 2000, the blocks southwest of 14th and U Streets were moved from Ward 1 to Ward 2 and merged with the Dupont Circle ANC and became SMD 2B09. It is unlikely these blocks will move again since they are adjacent to Ward 1, which also saw a slight population increase. The focus is on Wards 5 and 6 as the most likely candidates to gain a piece of Ward 2. In a Twitter posting, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells speculated — “Shaw likely to be dropped by Evans and added to Ward 6 with Ward 5 untouched. Shaw is indeed a terrific community”.
One thing that could happen, however, is that some ANCs could become smaller while others become larger. ANC 2B/Dupont has nine members, ANC 2F/Logan has six members, ANC 2C/Shaw has only four members (which has resulted in much drama over the years with tie votes). To the north ANC 1B, which includes the U Street area, has 11 members.
The full application of redistricting will be felt in the 2012 general election when Council seats for wards 2, 4, 7 and 8 are on the ballot along with two At-Large seats. If you would like to try your hand at redrawing Ward boundaries you can try the Greater Greater Washington redistrictinggame.