Special Meeting: Monday, August 31, 2015
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) were established in 1973 as part of the Home Rule Act (and approved by popular referendum on May 7, 1974). ANCs are advisory boards providing official citizen representation to other governmental bodies. They consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods. These include traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget. In fact, no public policy area is excluded from the purview of the ANCs.
The commissions present their advisory views to District government agencies in the Executive Branch as well as to the Council. They also present testimony to independent agencies, boards and commissions, usually under rules of procedure specific to those entities. By law, the ANCs may also present their views to Federal agencies.
DC government agencies are required to give ANC positions "great weight" in their decisions. The vagueness of the term "great weight" is a cause of some frustration, but it means at least that the DC agency must: make its decision in writing, explicitly answer ANC arguments, and send a copy of the response to the ANC. The ANC's voice is always heard, although it might not always be heeded.
Unfortunately, non-DC agencies are not required to give the ANC "great weight". In DC, there are many of these examples are the water & sewer authority, Metro, and the National Park Service. However, an ANC can lobby these agencies and, as the elected representative of the people, can often make an impact.
Communication is a very important role for ANCs, and it goes both ways. ANCs must be given 30 days notice of proposed government actions (45 days for liquor licenses). The commission then has the responsibility to inform the citizens and transmit their reaction back to the deciding agency.
There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the District (including six in Ward 2). Each is named by the ward number and a letter; for example, Burleith is within ANC-2E, and Glover Park in Ward 3 has ANC-3B. Each ANC commissioner is elected from a Single Member District (SMD) which includes approximately 2000 residents. Commissions range in size from 2 SMDs to 14 SMDs depending on the size of the neighborhood. In the whole city, there are 299 SMDs (and a like number of ANC commissioners).
Commissioners are popularly elected and serve two-year terms; they are volunteers who receive no compensation for their service. Each commission receives operating funds (an allotment) from the DC government; the amount depends on the size of the commission. ANC 2E gets about $17,000 per year, most of which goes towards salary and office expenses. ANCs may not solicit funds from private sources, unless specifically authorized by the City Council (though donations may be accepted up to $400).
As the Georgetown commission, ANC 2E reviews all development in the historic district and all local liquor licenses. It has worked to improve parking and traffic; to repair streets and sidewalks; to gain a citizen voice into street closings for things like utility cuts, road races and movie filming; to increase public safety; and to recognize outstanding contributions to the community.