An ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commission) is a non-partisan, neighborhood body each 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 in November in even-numbered years (e.g. 2022). 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 46 ANCs, up from 40 prior to the 2022 redistricting. Each ANC area is subdivided into a number of smaller areas. Since only one Commissioner is elected per area or district, each is called a Single Member District (SMD). Each SMD consists of about 2,000 people. Although the SMDs should have equal populations, ANCs may vary widely in size. The largest ANCs have 10 SMDs. The smallest has just 2. As a result of the population growth shown in the 2020 census, the number of SMDs has increased from 296 to 346.
The ANCs' main job is to be their neighborhood's official voice in advising the District government (and Federal agencies) on matters that affect their neighborhoods. Although they are not required to follow the ANCs' advice, many 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.