ANC stands for “Advisory Neighborhood Commission” and is unique to the District of Columbia.
Role of an ANC. Below is the official language according to dc.gov, which you can also find here:
An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. They are a unique feature of the District’s Home Rule Charter.
The Commissioners, who serve two-year terms without pay, are elected at DC Elections in November in even-numbered years (e.g. 2016). The ANCs were established to bring government closer to the people, and to bring the people closer to government.
In addition to providing people with a greater say in the matters that affect their neighborhoods, ANCs were intended to end the duplication of effort caused by the proliferation of special advisory groups.
There are now 40 ANCs, up from 37 prior to the 2012 redistricting. Each ANC area is subdivided into a number of smaller areas. Since only one Commissioner is elected per district, they are called Single Member Districts (SMDs). (The Wards on the D. C. Council are also “single member districts.”) Each SMD consists of about 2,000 people. Although the SMDs should have equal populations, ANCs may vary widely in size. The biggest ANCs have 12 SMDs. The smallest has just 2. As a result of the population growth shown in the 2010 census, the number of SMDs has increased from 286 to 296.
The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government (and Federal agencies) on things that affect their neighborhoods. Although they are not required to follow the ANCs’ advice, District agencies are required to give the ANCs’ recommendations “great weight.” Moreover, District law says that agencies cannot take any action that will significantly affect a neighborhood unless they give the affected ANCs 30 days advance notice. This includes zoning, streets, recreation, education, social services, sanitation, planning, safety, budget, and health services.
The ANCs may also initiate recommendations for improving city services, conduct neighborhood improvement programs, and monitor resident complaints The ANCs began operating in 1976.
Legislation creating and governing ANCs. § 1–309.10. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions — Duties and responsibilities; notice; great weight; access to documents; reports; contributions can be found here.
Are ANCs Given Great Weight? The Office of the DC Auditor issued an audit report, Are ANCs Given Great Weight, on April 24, 2020 that addressed the question of whether recommendations offered by ANCs to District agencies were given great weight. The audit scope spanned FY 2017 through FY 2018.
By way of background, the Office of the DC Auditor (ODCA) notes on page 4 of the report:
The ANCs are empowered to advise the District government “with respect to all proposed matters of District government policy including, but not limited to, decisions regarding planning, streets, recreation, social services programs, education, health, safety, budget, and sanitation which affect that Commission area.” The law gives ANCs the power of “great weight.”
To give ANCs great weight the Executive Branch and any independent agency, board, or commission is required to give 30-day written notice of certain proposed District government actions to the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (OANC), each affected ANC, the Commissioner representing an SMD affected by said actions, and to each affected ward Councilmember. The OANC is responsible for maintaining a central record of all notices and the ANC is required to consider each proposed action. Consideration is given when the proposed District government action is discussed and voted on in a meeting which is open to the public. The recommendations of the ANC, if any, must be in writing and articulate the basis for the ANC’s decision.
The issues and concerns raised in the recommendations of the ANC must receive great weight from the government entity. Great weight requires written acknowledgement of the ANC’s recommendations and explicit reference to each issue and concern from the government entity.
ODCA conducted a survey of a sample of Commissioners and District government agencies to gain an understanding of their awareness of great weight. Of the 296 Commissioners surveyed 66 responded, and of the 16 District agencies and boards surveyed, four responded.
The audit’s findings were:
1. The ANCs did not consider the proposed District government action in a meeting, as required by law, in almost half of the cases reviewed.
2. The Office of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (OANC) had not maintained a central repository of all great weight notices provided from District agencies.
3. BZA and DDOT did not in all cases provide proper notification of the proposed District action to the OANC or the affected ward Councilmember.
4. DDOT did not give ANCs great weight as required by the law. 5. D.C. Code § 1-309.10 lacks a clear and concise reference to District actions that require notice to ANCs.
Redistricting. With the recent release of the 2020 Census, the DC Council subcommittee on redistricting will make recommendations based on census data to the “full Council on redrawing ward boundaries to ensure balanced ward populations and representation in the legislature. The subcommittee, along with ward-specific task forces, will also make recommendations on redrawing [ANC] boundaries to meet similar balancing and fair representation goals” (for more info on: the subcommittee, https://www.elissasilverman.com/redistricting
Ward 3 and Ward 4 redistricting task forces are wrapping up their work in March 2022 and will be forwarding their final maps to the Council subcommittee. You can view Ward 4 redistricting task force’s website here and its proposed final map and presentation, as of March 20, 2022, here. You can view Ward 3 redistricting task force’s website here.
The Council subcommittee on redistricting will review all task force recommendations and hold a hearing in April 2022. A first full Council vote is expected in May 2022 and final full Council vote is expected in June 2022 to approve all ANCs and Single Member Districts (SMDs). Note that Primary Election Day falls on June 21, 2022 (for more info go here). From July to August 2022, the Board of Elections will prepare new SMD districts/petition packets. The petition circulation process begins in August 2022 and campaigning will proceed through the November 2022 election.
What do ANCs do? Here are a few personal views of what ANCs do written by a former commissioner, Chander Jayaraman, and posted on April 6, 2020, which you can find here; another one written by a former commissioner, Justin Lini, and published by Greater Greater Washington on September 20, 2016 found here; and an article highlighting former commissioner, Taylor Berlin, published by American University on July 31, 2018 here.
Archive: The November 2020 Election
Here is what to expect which is taken from dc.gov here:
The deadline for candidates to put their names on the November 3, 2020 General Election ballot has past.
Candidates who submitted their names by the August 5, 2020 deadline are listed here.
Winners of the November election will take office on January 2, 2021.