Friday, July 29, 2011

ANC redistricting - is it time to reunite H Street?

Now that DC's Ward lines have been redrawn, each Ward Councilmember has appointed a task force to draw ANC lines therein.  In Ward 6, former ANC6A Chair Joe Fengler is leading the taskforce, which also includes a number of other former ANC Commissioners including Cody Rice, Ken Jarboe, and Raphael Marshall.  Fengler is holding a series of listening sessions and has started a blog to promote dialogue and transparency. 

Because Ward 6's lines were redrawn during the redistricting process a certain amount of change to ANC lines seems inevitable.  ANC6A Commissioner Ronneberg has produced a serious proposed map for consideration.  His proposal would reunite H Street under a single ANC

H Street has historically been under one ANC, but was split a decade ago amidst allegations of corruption within its then ANC.  Since that time, ANC6A has come to be known as one of the city's very best and has received particular praise for its use of citizen staffed committees and through its use of a standard voluntary agreement, which is the model for negotiations with all liquor license applicants.  As Ronneberg explains it, it reunites H Street and seeks to keep major commerical corridors together while maintaning Commissions that consist of 7-9 Commissioners, as recommended by the Task Force.  Both goals are laudable and worthy of support. 

We endorse the concept of reuniting H Street.  It makes little sense that neighbors on one side of 8th Street NE have no say in matters occuring on the other side nor does it make sense for different rules to be applied on either side of it.  Nor does it make sense for restaurants east of 8th Street to sign standard volunntary agreements with ANC6A and have them posted publicly on the ANC website, while those west of H Street may or may not have signed any agreements and whatever agreement was signed is not made available to the public and the nearby residents.  Furthermore, a reunited H Street ANC would likely promote better attendance at Committee and Commission meetings.  As it stands currently, a resident intersted in attending a comittee hearing about a restaurant opening at 7th & H Street NE would have to head to 2nd & L Street NW to attend a community meeting on whether to support a liqour license application.  Residents shouldn't have to walk over a mile and a half to get to a meeting about a new business opening a block north of them. 

Ronneberg's proposal has met mixed reviews from some in the eastern parts of the Ward.  We're somewhat surprised by this as we think there's a good argument that eastern parts of the Ward could benefit from having an ANC focused on seeing Reservation 13, the Stadium site, and Benning Road development move ahead.  Drawing ANC lines that don't include Hill East in ANC6A or ANC6B does not mean that those who live closer to the river are no longer welcome to spend much of their money at local businesses on H Street or Barracks Row, it just means that they have their own ANC and that the ANCs that vote on uses of space on those commercial corridor consist of those who live in greater proximity to the sites. 

The next public meeting on Ward 6 ANC redistricting is Wednesday, August 3, at 6:30 p.m., at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library (1630 7th St NW).  At this meeting, the Task Force plans to discuss the first draft of ANC/SMD boundaries.  If you agree that it is time to reunite H Street and the residents who live along the corridor in one ANC, you are encouraged to attend and participate.


  1. I think this issue is in how we define the 'H Street Corridor.' I consider myself a resident of such a corridor (west end of Rosedale), but me and my community have not been included in any proposals to unite H street (because understandably, the math simply doesn't work). Such a plan would effectively cut us off from decision making about the businesses we patron in our daily lives. I understand the motivation to unite H street, but I think that the issues of the residents of 4th street are quite different than the residents of 15th street.

  2. I think that keeping H street as a cohesive ANC has its advantages, but I don't think that the proximity argument works. Of course individuals on 7th and H would want to have input on what happens on 9th and H. But at the same time, people at 16th and Benning would want to have input on what happens at 14th and H.

    I also think that significant credit for H Street's incredible success over the past six years should be given to the current ANC setup. It's not broken, so don't try to fix it. What should be fixed is the apparent lack of transparency in 6B written about in this post. And while combing ANCs may fix what's wrong with ANC 6B, it could go the other way and risk what's great about ANC 6A.

    Further, the development of Benning Road is much more tied to H Street than it is to Reservation 13 for two reasons. First because Benning is physically an extension of H Street. Second because Benning, as an existing commercial corridor with many blighted and abandoned buildings, will likely develop more similarly to the H Street model, whereas Reservation 13 will be built from scratch, more along the lines of the SW Waterfront.

    That said, I am a Kingman Park resident, so as long as we can participate in an ANC with our immediate neighbors, I'd be happy. Currently we have to travel miles to attend an ANC meeting that addresses issues that generally don't affect us.

  3. Laura,

    Do you currently attend ANC 6A meetings regarding liquor licenses and zoning cases on H Street? There has been a lot of discussion about residents feel they will be cut off from "decision making" in a reconfigured ANC, but in my experience, Rosedale/Kingman Park residents have been much more engaged in issues like the C Street project than in zoning cases and liquor licenses on H Street.

  4. I don't think it is completely accurate to say that someone living on one side or the other of the 6A/6C boundary has "no say" in zoning or liquor licensing on the other.

    Both ANCs have committees that take testimony from affected residents, and I think the committee members and commissioners are enlightened enough not to dismiss testimony just because someone lives on the opposite side of an imaginary line. You can have as much "say" as you like just be attending one of the often sparsely attended sessions. If you make good points, you will be heard.

    For me, I think a major issue is whether one ANC can handle all the zoning and liquor licenses for the entire 1.5 mile length of H St NE, plus all the new development in NoMa, plus a healthy dose of historic preservation cases in Stanton Park. You would likely get more consistency with one ANC, but I think the quality of review may suffer. It seems like ANC 6A already has its hands full with just a few instances of disagreements with DCRA zoning (AppleTree, 7-11) and monitoring illegal construction on the eastern end of H St NE.

    Barracks Row is cited as an example of a commercial corridor under one ANC, but it is only 1/2 mile long and largely built-out. It still keeps ANC 6B plenty busy.

  5. Who is ward 6 councilmember currently ?

    Sample Agreements

  6. In response to Anonymous... yes, I do.