A working group mapping out the redistricting process for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, the body that oversees Georgetown and the surrounding community, plans to strengthen the student voice in future neighborhood debates by adding at least one more student representative to the board.

The 15-member group, comprised of the ANC 2E commissioners, local citizens’ association leaders and Georgetown students and staff, has been voting on two competing redistricting proposals beginning Aug. 8 and concluding Aug. 17.

Both the co-chair proposal and the proposal pitched by working group member John Flanagan (SFS ’14) plan to add a new single-member district to western Georgetown. This would include an additional student representative to ANC 2E, which only has one currently. Every SMD is represented by an individual commissioner and must have a population of 2,000, allowing a deviation of 100 people. The district encompassing most of the university has been severely bloated since the Southwest Quad was completed two years after the latest redistricting in 2001.

The co-chair proposal, drafted by ANC 2E Chair Ron Lewis, Citizens Association of Georgetown President Jennifer Altemus and Burleith Citizens Association President Lenore Rubino, would include areas immediately surrounding the university in SMD 04. That area currently encompasses most of the Georgetown campus — notably excluding the university townhouses, Nevils apartments, Alumni Square apartments and LXR Hall — and is represented by commissioner Jake Sticka (COL ’13).

That enlarged district would be divided into two SMDs, creating the new SMD 08.

The co-chair proposal does not dictate where the boundary between the SMD 04 and SMD 08 would lie, however, leaving that decision to the student members, according to Sticka. If the students decline to make this call if and when the proposal is endorsed, the responsibility would fall on the D.C. Office of Planning.

Lewis stressed that the co-chairs’ proposal is centered on a sense of neighborhood cohesiveness.

“[The proposal] saves the districts to the maximum extent possible, and continuity is important,” he said.

In contrast to the co-chair proposal, the Flanagan proposal suggests forming three student-represented districts. Flanagan organized the districts in his plan by logical neighborhood separations, recent population growth and overall balance in size and population, according to an email he sent presenting his plan to the working group.

The new SMD suggested by Flanagan’s framework encompasses the Southwest Quad, New South, Village A and Village C residences. The proposal also separates Harbin Hall, Copley Hall, Darnall Hall and Henle Village into their own SMD, as well as LXR, Alumni Square, Nevils and the university townhouses into a different district.

Although Sticka is happy that students will likely be given more representation, he has suggested a compromise between the two plans that would balance the population among the districts.

“I think that under the current conditions that we’re getting [an additional ANC seat], we’re still looking at an unfair playing field,” he said.

Sticka said that he will endorse the co-chairs’ proposal if it restores the three blocks east of 37th Street to SMD 03, which would place Georgetown’s townhouses, Alumni Square, Nevils and LXR Hall in the same district.

According to Sticka, this condition would resolve a discrepancy in the sizes of the districts outlined in the co-chairs’ plan. SMD 03, which is represented by Lewis, has 1,000 fewer residents than either of the districts encompassing Georgetown students, according to the proposal; the population difference means that Georgetown students are represented less than residents of much smaller districts.

“You have student votes being diluted,” Sticka said. “I think that the co-chairs are going to have to very seriously look at their proposal if they don’t want to seem uncompromising.”

Lewis said that the three blocks, which are part of Georgetown’s campus, were never part of SMD 03 and that the change to the proposal would stifle the voice of either the student or permanent residents.

“The effect of [the change] would be to disenfranchise somebody,” he said. “It does not seem fair to anybody.”

Lewis said he welcomes more Georgetown representation on ANC 2E, however. He hopes that an additional student commissioner can ease neighborhood relations, especially on issues where students and residents have common concerns.

“Not only is [an additional student representative] called for by the numbers, we have had tremendous and wonderful students on the ANC … and I think that’s a real plus,” he said.

Lewis believes that the new commissioner will not have an effect on the discussion surrounding the university’s 2010 Campus Plan, stating that students and the administration as well as the neighborhood have articulated their opinions on the matter.

The process of dividing the Georgetown area into single-member districts began in mid-July when D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans, who represents Ward 2 and the Georgetown neighborhood, requested the formation of a working group to assist in the redistricting process. Any interested resident of the area was allowed to join the discussion. D.C. law mandates that a redistricting of the city be conducted after every census.

The group’s recommendation will be published in the agenda for the ANC 2E meeting on Aug. 29 as a Community Comment item. The working group’s official suggestion may change if a majority of the members ask for a reconsideration of the group’s position before Sept. 7. A consensus must be reached by Oct. 10.

The final recommendation will be submitted to Tom Birch, Evans’ Ward 2 redistricting chair. Birch will then advise Evans, who will work personally with the D.C. Council to redistrict the area.

“The vote will be very close,” Sticka said in an interview with The Hoya Tuesday evening. “It appears at this time that the co-chairs’ proposal will be the one that comes out of the committee.”

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