Official U.S. Census Bureau population figures were handed to D.C. Council members and staff this morning, providing the first indications of how the city’s political geography might change in the coming redistricting process.
What will this mean for redistricting? Under city law, wards are allowed to vary plus or minus 5 percent from the average derived from dividing the whole city population by eight. The total population is 601,723; divided by eight is 75,215; 5 percent of that is 3,761 — meaning each ward will have to contain between 71,454 and 78,976 residents.
Put simply, Ward 2 is required to shrink, while Wards 7 and 8 must grow. But Ward 2 does not border wards 7 and 8, meaning that some shifts will have to occur in the wards between them — specifically wards 5 and 6.
Ward 8 council member Marion Barry (D) has been vocal in suggesting that his ward cross the Anacostia River, grabbing a chunk of Ward 6. The more politically likely scenario is that Ward 8 will grow to the north, while Ward 7, which extends slightly across the river under the 2001 redistricting, will extend further to the west.
In any case, there is much drama to come. A council committee consisting of Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Michael Brown (I-At Large) is tasked with redrawing the maps. Their work, approved by a full council vote, must be done by mid-July. The drawing of Advisory Neighborhood Commission boundaries follows.
Brown warned this afternoon that redistricting is a “complicated process.”
“It’s not as simple as which wards shrink, which ones grow,” he said, adding that the city’s Office of Planning is helping the council crunch the numbers. “It’s way too early to say how this will play out.”
UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: The table originally presented in this post contained incorrect ward population figures from the 2000 Census. It has been updated with official Census Bureau figures. Here are official Census Bureau tables of new District population and demographic figures — the top-line findings: Since 2000, the city is home to 9,796 more Hispanics (+21.8 percent); 50,286 more non-Hispanic whites (31.6 percent); and 39,035 fewer non-Hispanic blacks (-11.5 percent).