The John A. Wilson Building in Washington, D.C.
The John A. Wilson Building. Credit: Darrow Montgomery/FILE

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Welcome to the Re-district of Columbia!

The D.C. Council’s Subcommittee on Redistricting released a map of new proposed ward boundaries yesterday. The subcommittee, chaired by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, announced the changes to D.C.’s eight wards as part of a mandated restructuring. Washingtonians needed to be divided into boundaries of 86,193 residents, plus or minus 5 percent.

Three wards fall outside of the resident requirements. Wards 7 and 8 need to grow while Ward 6 needs to shrink. 

“We needed to grow Wards 7 and 8. Either growing both across the river or at least one,” Silverman said during a presentation of the new map. “There’s just not enough people to have two wards East of the Anacostia without crossing.”

One of the most significant changes that the redistricting subcommittee is proposing is for Ward 8, a low-income, majority-Black area, to absorb the Navy Yard, an affluent neighborhood across the Anacostia River with luxury condos where you can rent a Tesla. The subcommittee’s proposal stresses the new addition would add racial diversity but “does not dilute the voting strength of Ward 8’s Black residents.”

Ward 7’s push across the Anacostia River would expand to the Hill East neighborhood by dividing along 15th Street SE and part of C Street SE and Potomac Ave SE. 

One of the main changes the final proposal makes from an earlier rendition is to move Kingman Park from Ward 7 to Ward 6, rejoining the Rosedale neighborhood. The proposal says it made this choice because the neighborhoods “constitute the only majority Black neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, and the subcommittee believed it was important to listen to resident voices who wanted to reunite these communities of interest in Ward 6.”

Other changes include:

  • Parts of Shaw and Mount Vernon Triangle will be moved from Ward 6 to Ward 2.
  • Ward 5 would lose the Armed Forces Retirement Home to Ward 1.
  • A few blocks of Ward 6 would be given to Ward 1 along S Street NW.

Boundaries to wards 3 and 4 will see no change.

Opinions about the new maps have already begun to circle. Community organizing group Empower DC tweeted that, even though Ward 8 would include Navy Yard, the area should still see the same amount of attention for social programs for its majority-Black residents.

“Adding gentrified Navy Yard to Ward 8 will change ward median income, unemployment rates etc – but not materially change the conditions of [people] in the ward experiencing poverty & must not be used to justify lessening investments targeted to their needs.”

The Redistricting Subcommittee will vote on this proposed redistricting today at 3 p.m. The full Council will likely debate and vote on the new ward boundaries Dec. 7 and 21.

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