Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Southwest May Become Battleground in Ward Redistricting

There was an interesting article in the Washington City Paper about how ward boundaries may change once the 2010 Census numbers come in next spring. In the article, one of the areas of the city that was discussed was Southwest. Currently, most of Southwest west of the Anacostia is in Ward 6 (Hains Point is in Ward 2) and Bellevue is in Ward 8. If Council member Marion Barry has his way, the part of Southwest on the west side of the Anacostia would become a part of Ward 8. If this were to happen, it would be the second time that the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood would change wards. Before the ward redistricting from the 2000 Census, the Southwest Waterfront was located in Ward 2. The reason stated in the article that Council member Barry wants the rest of Southwest in his ward is to bring more "economic diversity" to Ward 8. From the article:
Barry says his home ward, which is almost entirely African American and has extremely high poverty and unemployment rates, has long been the city’s “dumping ground.” Making it more diverse will likely involve expanding across the Anacostia into the whiter, richer Southwest, Barry said.

“We can’t go south,” Barry joked.

There’s some speculation in the Wilson Building that Barry wouldn’t mind expanding his political influence over the Southwest Waterfront development, a $2 billion development that’s well underway to transform the area into a glitzy urbanist dream that people actually visit. That would let Barry take credit for the project, even though the groundwork was already laid. And it would also let him hit up developers for campaign contributions as the Council member who represents the ward. (Adding some white voters to Ward 8, though, could give Barry new political problems to deal with.)
Since the population of Ward 6 after the 2010 Census is counted will most likely not be enough on its own to account for 1/8th the population of the District (as mandated by law), other areas will need to be added to the ward. It was mentioned in the article that Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells would like to add the Anacostia neighborhood to Ward 6 - taking away some turf from Barry.

The District will receive Census results in the spring, so it should be an interesting time ahead in the DC Council chambers!


Anonymous said...

As a Ward 6 resident, I would prefer to move into Ward 2 as I believe in Ward 6 we will always be the underdog to Capitol Hill. We are more of a true downtown neighborhood than the Hill.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any advantage of being in Ward 2 compared to 6. We'd be underdogs to Dupont and G'town in Ward 2.

Anonymous said...

Southwest is a true urban environment and has more in common with downtown living and DuPont than Capitol Hill. Maybe our Councilman would "get" our urban issues more than Tommy Wells.

An example is the closing of one lane of traffic and the sidewalks around the L'Enfant Plaza metro station for so long, an urban-focused Councilman might have better understood how disruptive that was.

Steven said...

I'm pretty sure you are not going to get a more urban focused CM than Tommy Wells. Though I'm not sure I know what you're referring to when it comes to closing down lanes around L'Enfant Metro.

Anonymous said...

Stephen: When what is now called Constitution Square was remodeled recently, the entire block bounded by 7th, D, 6th, and E Streets SW lost one lane of traffic and the sidewalks on all four sides of the building for almost two years.

In most major cities, the contractor would have been able to close only one or two streets at a time as they worked their way around the building, and the sidewalks would have had wooden "tunnels" built so pedestrian traffic could be maintained. This, at a minimum, should have been done along the east side of 7th Street so SW residents walking to the Metro would not have had to cross the street twice needlessly, which was particulary dangerous since one lane of closed traffic was causing drivers frustrations.

L'Enfant Plaza is in Ward 2 and SW residents are in Ward 6 so it really wasn't any Councilman's problem to own.

I agree Tommy Wells is a fine Councilman, but Capitol Hill is not an urban environment in the sense that Southwest is. I would call Capitol Hill more of an urban village, with primarily single family homes and a relatively high degree of families with children, while we in Southwest are more true "downtown" metropolitan dwellers in the sense of Penn Quarter and DuPont.

Anonymous said...

The question isn't Ward 2 or Ward 6. There has been enough population growth in NoMa, Mt Vernon Triangle, 14th & U, and other areas in near NW over the past decade that both Wards 2 and 6 will be pulled north. So the only question for SW Waterfront will be Ward 6 or Ward 8. Would you rather be represented by Tommy Wells or Marion Barry?

Anonymous said...

If we're in Ward 8, can we vote Barry out?

Anonymous said...

No, we can't vote Barry out, there aren't nearly enough of us. From what I've read the real problem is Ward 8's shrinking population. unless they can take territory from Ward 7, I don't see any options but Ward 6, and we would be the likely victims as SW is the most contingent to Ward 8 and the most distant corner of Ward 6. We are doomed, in another words.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think the real issue here is not ward 2 or 6 (though, I hadn't realized parking was tied to this...I do kind of like being in zone for parking on the Hill). But the truly distressing thought is having Barry as city council rep. I read this article the same day I read the one about the possibility of a tax rise in DC to cover the budget shortfall and recall thinking that as committed an urbanite as I am, raising taxes AND sticking me with Barry could be exactly what it takes to make me move back to Maryland, which I grew up in and find a perfectly nice state.

Marc said...

Please, anybody but Marion Barry as my CM. I'm happy with Tommy Wells. Do we not get any say in this? Is a majority of the population's approval not required for a Ward to be re-districted? We shouldn't end up voting for one CM only to be represented by another without our consent!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe there is any popular vote consideration, that it is a Council decision. Here is what the CityPaper article said on the subject:

"Though every councilmember will get a chance to vote on the final plan, the councilmember who gets to head the committee that draws up the first draft of a redistricting plan will likely have a bigger say in what the next map looks like. So far, Almost Council Chairman Kwame Brown has been mum on future committee appointments (except to say that Barry, who was stripped of a committee chairmanship by the current council, would get some kind of post back).

There’s some speculation that one of the four at-large councilmembers, who wouldn’t have any dog in a ward boundary fight, will be picked to head the redistricting effort. But whether anyone wants the job is another story. A politically adept councilmember might be able to use the committee to score political points, but most likely whomever gets the gig will find it a pretty thankless task that is a surefire way to make enemies."

I think Ward 8 is in our future, like it or not.

Bob Craycraft, ANC6D01 Commissioner-Elect said...

I talked with Tommy Wells about this at his monthly breakfast meeting today at the Channel Inn, and he said the best thing we can do to oppose the move to Ward 8 is make our feelings known to the four at-large Council votes:
- Phil Mendelsohn
- David Catania
- Michael Brown
- And whoever replaces Kwame Brown

It may also be too early to do anything, as the census numbers aren't even due until next month.

Tommy also said Ward 6's voter participation rate is now the second-highest in District---good for us!

Anonymous said...

I spotted Marion Barry in the new Safeway Friday evening. Is he here to pee on and mark "his" new territory. Please help! We can't let this buffoon have anything to do with SW.

Anonymous said...

I am strongly opposed to having anything to do with Marion Barry. Period.