The process for redrawing the boundaries for the District’s advisory neighborhood commissions and single-member districts has shifted from individual ward task forces to the D.C. Council.
Last December, each of the eight ward council members selected residents to serve on a task force designed to draw the ward’s commission and district boundaries based on the 2020 census.
At-large council members could also appoint residents to ward task forces. All task force members had to live in the ward to which they had been appointed. From January through late March, the task forces held meetings to gather public input on how the new boundaries should be drawn.
The task forces had to make sure, by law, that each district had between 1,900 – 2,100 residents with no limit on how many commissions a ward could have. District law also stipulates commissions can cross wards but that every effort should be made to keep them in one ward. In addition, the task force had to display sensitivity to racial diversity and fairness in its proceedings and the drawing of the boundaries, according to District law.
April 1 served as the deadline for the resident-generated task force reports to the council on the proposed new commission and district boundaries. Each ward task force had the responsibility to submit a report.
The approval of the redrawing of the boundaries lies with the council, starting with the Subcommittee on Redistricting led by Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large). In addition to Silverman, the subcommittee consists of Council members Christina Henderson (I-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large).
The council does not have to follow the recommendations of a task force and has the power to make whatever changes it sees fit. However, District law states any changes the council makes must abide by the 1,900 – 2,100 resident standard and must reflect an effort to ensure racial diversity and fairness.
The first council hearing on the proposed commission and district boundaries by ward will occur on April 7, according to the subcommittee’s website. The second hearing has been scheduled for April 28.
The subcommittee website reports that during May, the subcommittee will vote on the commission and district boundaries in the form of a bill. The subcommittee’s bill will proceed to the full council to be voted on in June. Like all legislation in the District, the mayor must approve the redistricting bill, followed by its being approved during a review period in the U.S. Congress before it becomes legal for the next 10 years.