2018 is off to a fast start. There's a lot happening this year in Ward 6 -- from the start of RFK's redevelopment to ongoing efforts to make our infrastructure more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly to several schools and libraries planning their modernizations. All of that is to say, thanks for reading these newsletters and staying engaged -- my team can't do our jobs without hearing from you. I'll be resuming my weekly office hours in the community on Friday, February 2, in Shaw at Compass Coffee. My office hour events are another way to let me know what's on your mind. And of course, please don't hesitate to contact my staff or me if you have questions or concerns.
Kingman and Heritage Islands named state conservation areas:
I have worked for years, dating back to my time with Councilmember Tommy Wells, to protect Kingman Island and make it a more accessible destination for residents to experience, learn about, and escape to nature. It's one of my favorite spots in the city to take my family and the dog for a walk. And I want more people to experience the natural beauty of the island while ensuring it's protected for future generations. Earlier this month, I joined Mayor Muriel Bowser, Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells, and hundreds of residents to celebrate Kingman and Heritage Islands being named state conservation areas, as well as a $4.7 million financial commitment to help make the area more accommodating for visitors. More to come on this, but an exciting development during the Year of the Anacostia! You can read more about the plans in the Kingman Island and Heritage Island Feasibility Study, which my office worked to fund in the 2017 budget.
Eliot-Hine Middle School students attend and cover the NAACP Image Awards: Yes, you read that correctly. Students from the Eliot-Hine TV and Radio Network program were flown to Los Angles to cover the 2018 NAACP Image Awards. Mandrell Birks, the teacher who sponsors the program, deserves a lot of credit for his hard work and vision, taking this from a small radio program that once broadcast from my office during President Obama's inauguration to covering the NAACP Image Awards on the red carpet! Where else can middle school students learn to use a sound board, practice delivering a message on-camera, and work a hi-def camera? He's known by his mantra, that he repeats to his students over and over: "The only difference between impossible and possible is your determination."
Agency Performance Oversight and Budget Season is here: Starting next week, the Council enters into four weeks of performance oversight hearings for all DC government agencies. This is our best chance to raise issues and push for on-the-record answers. This includes DC Public Schools, the Department of Transportation (roads, bicycles and bike lanes, sidewalks, traffic lights and stop signs), Department of Public Works (trash/recycle/compost, parking tickets, bulk trash, illegal dumping, leaf and tree collection), DCRA (permits, building inspections, licensing, home renovations, vacant house notices), Metropolitan Police Department, Fire and EMS, and many more agencies. My office takes all of the feedback we receive throughout the year on how well or not government agencies are performing in their service to the community and incorporates those concerns into questions at hearings. The schedule of hearings can be found here, including how to sign up to testify.
After we conclude our performance oversight hearings, it's time to begin crafting next year's budget. Save the date for Monday, April 23, at Watkins Elementary for my annual Ward 6 Budget Town Hall. I'll outline what's in the proposed budget from the Mayor for Ward 6, and highlight what my priorities are for Ward 6 schools, parks, infrastructure, housing, transit, and more. The Budget Town Hall is a great opportunity to ask your budget questions and share your own priorities before the votes are cast.
Speaking of DCRA, a new bill would split the agency into two smaller agencies: I joined Council Chairman Phil Mendelson in co-introducing a bill that would create a Department of Buildings, which would assume all of the building, construction, and inspection duties currently under DCRA. What remains, mainly the regulatory investigation, consumer protection, and business/professional licensing responsibilities, will become its own agency, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. I've worked with many neighbors to try to solve problems related to DCRA, and I've tried to work with DCRA leadership over the past years. I believe the challenges facing DCRA are structural and require a major change. There are simply too many responsibilities in DCRA's portfolio to focus on a core mission and I think Chairman Mendelson's proposal is a good starting point. But I'd love to hear from you if you have thoughts on this bill.
MPD statistics for Ward 6 show decrease in crime in 2017: When talking about crime statistics, if you or someone you know is the victim of a crime, it doesn't matter what the trends say. Still, we have to make policy and strategic decisions with data, so it's worth being aware of what's happening. Looking at 2017, Ward 6 continued a trend of the past few years that has seen crime trend down (click the image to enlarge):
- Total violent crime was down 35% in Ward 6 last year. Within that total, robberies were down 38% and assaults down 30%. Total property crime was down 11%, with thefts remaining almost even while auto thefts dropped 23% and car break-ins fell 17%. If you'd like to explore crime stats at the city, ward, or neighborhood level, the DC Crime Map is a great resource.
I think it's fair to say these drops are from a combination of factors, including work by MPD and the Robbery Task Force, violence prevention efforts coordinated with nonprofits, community groups, and other government agencies, as well as vigilance from residents, including thousands of residents who have joined the city's security camera rebate program.
Events DC unveiled two new designs for RFK site redevelopment: On January 24, Events DC held a meeting to unveil proposed designs for the RFK site along the eastern border of Ward 6. This is an effort I've been working on since some of the initial CRYSP proposals got the ball rolling. If you weren't able to attend the meeting, keep an eye on this website for key documents and updates, or check out the Hill Rag's coverage. Also, while I'm a strong voice to turn these oceans of asphalt into playing fields and green space, I'm still not supporting using the space for a football stadium.
What do you think about the food served to students at their school? DCPS Food and Nutrition Services and our friends at DC Greens are collaborating to form an advisory board made up of parents, students, teachers, and other stakeholders. This board will provide feedback on meal planning, delivery, preparation, and more. If you're interested in serving on this advisory board, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The board's first meeting will be February 21, 5:30-7:30pm, at Dunbar High School.
DC Artificial Turf Work Group wants to hear from you: Along those same lines, the DC Artificial Turf Work Group seeks your thoughts on playing fields within the District -- including parks and playgrounds, as well as athletic fields, all owed and operated by the District. Additionally, the survey covers types of materials used to build the fields and how field changes are communicated. Here's a link to the survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07ef073yjwjc2h8xsb/a01m1jctfbxbj/questions
February office hours are scheduled: Whenever you need to talk with me about an issue in your neighborhood, consider coming to my weekly office hours around Ward 6. The schedule for February is now posted on my website. If you RSVP, you will receive a reminder email the week of. But no need -- you are always welcome to drop in and have a coffee with me. On Friday, I'll be at Compass Coffee in Shaw starting at 8 am.
Thanks, as always, and see you around the neighborhood!
DPW Holiday Tree Collection - Friday, Jan 2 through Friday, Feb 2
Mt. Vernon Triangle Meeting on Parks and Open Space - Weds, Jan 31, 6 - 8:30 pm
Public Comment on DDOT Circulator Changes for Southwest and Potomac Ave routes - Weds, Jan 31, 5:30-8:30 pm
Office Hours in Shaw - Friday, Feb. 2 8-9:30 am
Agency Performance Oversight Hearings, February 7 - March 9
Office Hours in Southwest - Friday, Feb. 9, 8-9:30 am
C Street, NE Rehabilitation Public Meeting, Thurs, Feb 15, 6-8pm -Rosedale Rec
Frederick Douglass 200th Birthday Celebration, Sat, Feb 17 & Sun, Feb 18 - 1411 W St, SE - volunteers needed!
Office Hours in Eastern Market - Friday, Feb. 23, 8-9:30 am
Ward 6 Budget Town Hall - Mon, April 23 - Watkins Elementary School