Mayor Gray’s “One City” slogan makes an important point beyond being just a campaign slogan. The District is a single “city” (actually a unique state-city hybrid district), not eight separate mini-cities with their own individual mayors.
We have enough problems with boundaries in this region. D.C., Maryland and Virginia often act without coordination or even at cross-purposes on issues that affect residents across borders. Counties and cities within Maryland or Virginia frequently do the same. D.C. doesn’t need to create even more divisions.
Yet some D.C. council members time and again act like mayors of their wards. They want to unilaterally control policies for their wards, from liquor licenses to parking. Some even try to exclude anyone outside their wards from participating in decisions surrounding development, as with the Florida Avenue Market in 2008 or Reservation 13/Hill East today.
During Zoning Commission hearings over development at the Florida Avenue Market in 2008, then-Council member Harry Thomas Jr. opposed granting ANC 6C “party status,” a special privilege for organizations in close proximity. The market is in Ward 5, but railroad tracks, New York Avenue and Gallaudet University separate it from almost all Ward 5 residents, while many people live just across Florida Avenue to the south. It just happens that those people are in Ward 6.
Ward boundaries are artificial legislative districts. An individual congressperson might want to bring projects to his or her district back home, but he or she doesn’t get to veto development projects in the district or it set parking policy. When state legislatures gerrymander their districts, people object because it might dilute or strengthen one group’s vote, but rarely do protests happen because one block of residents feels passionately about being in the same congressional district as an adjacent block.
[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]
David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.