Oct 25, 2021 - News

D.C. redraws Ward 6 after explosive census growth

Washington, D.C. population by ward
Data: U.S. Census; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

The explosive growth of Navy Yard, the Southwest Waterfront, and NoMa have put Ward 6 at the center of the District’s redistricting debate. 

Why it matters: The city is considering how to redraw political lines after the 2020 census, a process that repeats itself every decade with thorny issues over which neighborhoods go where.

  • Everything from political power to parking zones is at stake. 

Ward 6 will need to shrink in size by at least 17,700 residents, while wards 7 and 8 — the poorest in the District with the largest Black populations — will need to gain residents from neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River. Each ward needs to be between roughly 82,000 to 90,000 residents.

Ward 6 stretches from the banks of the Anacostia to Shaw and includes Capitol Hill, and will get carved up one way or another. 

  • Some of the proposals consider making Navy Yard part of Ward 8, while some communities east of the U.S. Capitol move into Ward 7 to rightsize the imbalances. 
  • Ward 6 has 108,202 residents, about 29,700 more people than Ward 8.

Between the lines: The debate touches on issues of race and class.

  • Ward 6 council member Charles Allen is concerned about losing residents in Southwest and Southeast that add to the diversity of his ward.
  • He and other council members also aim to prevent dog whistles during ongoing public hearings about redistricting. 
  • “If we hear someone say, ‘I’m concerned about my property values being reduced if I moved into a different ward,’ shut that down,” he said at the start of redistricting hearings in late September. “It does not have a place in this debate. It’s not based on any kind of fact.”

Residents will be able to discuss at a D.C. Council redistricting hearing on Nov. 3 which neighborhoods will need to be moved out of Ward 6.

  • The redistricting subcommittee has aimed to bring transparency to the process by holding hearings dedicated to each ward before making recommendations to the council on how to redraw the boundaries.

Yes, but: There are still worries about how individual council members can influence the process once it comes for a full vote in December.

  • “There’s still a lot of politicking left,” Corey Holman, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 6 who has closely followed the redistricting process, told Axios.

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