The ANCs were established to bring government closer to the people, and to bring the people closer to government. 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 through DC Elections in November in even-numbered years (e.g. 2008).
There are 37 ANCs in the city. Each ANC area is subdivided into smaller districts. Since only one Commissioner is elected per district, the areas are called Single Member Districts (SMDs). Each SMD consists of about 2,000 people. Although the SMDs must have equal populations, ANCs may vary in size. The largest ANCs have 12 SMDs. The smallest has just 2. There are approximately 300 SMDs citywide.
Begun in 1976, the ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government (and Federal agencies) on issues that affect their neighborhood. Although 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, liquor licensing and health services. The ANCs also initiate recommendations for improving city services, conduct neighborhood improvement programs, and monitor resident complaints.
To learn more about ANCs, you can find additional information at the DC Office of ANCs website: www.anc.dc.gov.