Welcome to 2018! It was a cold start to the year - historically cold - but the turning of the calendar is especially exciting this year as we're officially in the Year of the Anacostia! All year, we are going to mark important milestones around our river to highlight the need for greater care, to ensure there is access for all, and celebrate its central role in the health of our community. Quick programming note on holiday tree collection, which begins tomorrow:
Holiday Tree Pick-up Begins January 12 (that's tomorrow!): If you're looking to have the city collect a tree you put up over the holidays, tree collection by DPW begins Jan 12 and runs through Feb 2. IN A CHANGE FROM LAST YEAR, please place your tree where your trash and recycling is normally collected and not on the curb (unless that's where you normally place your bins). I know this is going to cause some confusion, so please share with your neighbors.
Related: DPW is close to wrapping up leaf collection. However, I'm hearing from many Ward 6 residents who are still waiting for a collection. I've been working directly with the director to identify missed streets. If your street has been skipped, please let me know so I can tell DPW.
Coping with the cold: It's been brutally cold to end 2017 and start 2018. And while we've got a brief respite, be ready when the next cold snap sets in. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we trudge through winter:
Protect Your Pipes - DC Water has assembled a very handy guide to protecting your home's pipes from freezing and how to safely unfreeze them. It's worth a keeping around as we're certainly going to experience more cold weather in the coming months.
Homeless Hotline - DC has a right to shelter law in place for any time temperatures drop below freezing - that means any of our homeless neighbors (including families and adults) who don't want to be outside don't have to be. In the recent cold snap, the city operated under our Cold Emergency Plan, meaning shelters have extra beds and overnight warming stations are open, as well as vans that can meet our homeless neighbors where they are to provide transportation to shelter. If you see someone struggling out in the cold, call 311 or 202-399-7093.
Volunteer with neighborhood snow shovel team - Did you know DC law requires residents to clear the sidewalks around their home of snow within 8 hours of daylight from the end of a storm? For some neighbors, that might be too physically demanding. If you love shoveling snow and getting some exercise (or just like helping out neighbors), you can sign-up for the District's shovel team and receive notifications for shoveling needs in your neighborhood. Sign-up here: https://serve.dc.gov/page/dc-volunteer-snow-program
Related: Do you need a shoveling exemption? If you or someone you know needs to be exempted from shoveling the sidewalk for health reasons, fill out this form. Residents who are 65 years or older can apply, as well as residents in need of a disability-based exemption.
2018 is the Year of the Anacostia (YOTA): All year, we're going to highlight our river with several major milestone celebrations - the 100th anniversary of Anacostia Park, the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, known as "the lion of Anacostia," as well as the Washington Nationals hosting the 2018 MLB All-Star game. All of these are great opportunities to highlight the tremendous improvements to the health of the river. I recorded a short video laying out what YOTA is all about and how we're hoping to use the spotlight to keep our river's progress moving forward. The official hashtag all year is #YOTA and the Anacostia Waterfront Trust has been making the most of it.
Big Kingman Island news coming Friday: I'm excited to share that Mayor Bowser and Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells will move forward with a major investment in Kingman Island. This is something I've been working on with community members for years - to see our island get the investment needed to be a place for visitors to learn about and experience nature right here in the District. More details to come after Friday's announcement.
MLK volunteer weekend: Hill Havurah, the Anacostia Riverkeeper, and more are inviting Ward 6 neighbors to use this three day weekend to make your community better by giving back - details below in the calendar of events. If your organization could use some volunteers, let me know or tweet at my office account (@CMCharlesAllen) and we'll get the word out this weekend.
What if you could close your block and let kids play safely in the street for a day? I've introduced a bill that would allow neighbors to be able to close off their block to traffic to allow kids (and adults) space to play outside safely. The Go Play Amendment Act of 2018 would create a way for neighbors to temporarily close their street, working with DDOT, and give kids more space for active play and physical activity. It would work much like applying for a block party permit and offers blocks the chance to get "pre-approved" for days when schools are closed. Similar to Street Play programs in cities like Seattle, New York, and Toronto, I think this could be a great way to provide more play space for our kids and for residents to build stronger community connections.
Council unanimously passes my bill protecting women's health benefits from ACA repeal: I've written before as we've worked through this legislation, but the final bill was passed by the Council and will be sent to the Mayor for her signature (WAMU has a great recap if you need a refresher). The bill preserves in local law many of the women's health benefits in the ACA which insurers can no longer charge cost-sharing fees to provide. I first introduced this legislation just days after President Trump was sworn in, as he had stated he did not care if women had to pay extra for basic health services. But we aren't in the clear yet - we'll have to wait 30 days for Congress to review. As a reminder, no other jurisdiction in the country has to deal with Congress meddling in locally passed laws. Am I nervous they might try to interfere? Well, this is the same Congress that tried three separate times to overturn the Affordable Care Act, so I'm staying alert. Thankfully, Congresswoman Norton has already put everyone on notice.
DC is getting closer to publicly-financed elections: Since joining the Council, I've been working to restore voters' trust in our government and our elections. On Tuesday, we reached a major milestone in that fight as the Council unanimously passed my bill (WAMU, WTOP, and Wash Post coverage) that would create an optional public financing program for candidates running in local races. I wrote an op-ed in the Hill Rag on my goal to help DC residents trust and get engaged at the local level - this is just one part of many ways to reach that goal.
NoMa underpass art installation has begun: Starting this week and next, some very cool public art installations in the underpasses in NoMa on M Street and L Street will begin installation. Please be mindful this will involve some sidewalk closures and a temporary relocation of the Bikeshare station at NoMa Metro. Get all of the details here - and get excited for some beautiful artwork!
The DC Summer Camp Fair is back on January 25 - Save the date for Thursday, January 25, from 6-8 pm at J.O. Wilson for the 4th Annual DC Camp Fair. This is a great resource for parents to check out all of the many summer camp options available in the region.
Metro SmarTrip balances can't be negative: Despite protest from the community, Metro has gone ahead with its plan to not allow riders with a negative balance to exit the station - nor are they installing credit card-friendly SmarTrip machines inside the turnstiles. This is a frustrating approach that doesn't put customers first nor solve the financial woes facing WMATA. I'll keep working on this and I'd love to hear from you if it's a recurring issue or if you find Metro staff making it difficult to resolve. But in the meantime, carry some extra cash or keep your balance higher to avoid getting stuck.
Pocket Change is coming in February: I love this idea! The SWBID is hosting an event looking for the best "little" ideas on how to improve the Southwest community! If you have ideas you'd like to implement, submit them here. The top five ideas will be presented at their Pocket Change event in February to compete for $750 in funding from the SWBID and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly plus $5 donations raised at the door. More here.
Dockless Bike Share comment period: Help DDOT evaluate what's working and what's not working with the dockless bikes -- what guidelines should DDOT consider implementing for companies who want to do business here? What shouldn't be allowed with these bikes? Send comments to DDOT through this email address. I'll share a more formal process as I hear about it.
The Southwest Library renderings are beautiful: In December, the design firm leading the modernization of the Southwest Library revealed their latest designs at a community meeting. If you weren't able to attend, take a look for yourself.
Think warm thoughts! DC Parks and Recreation are officially in hiring season for lifeguards to work at the city's pools this summer. That means winter is almost over, right?!
Southeast Boulevard public meeting #2 comment period ends Jan 24: DDOT is moving through their environmental study as part of examining a redevelopment of the Barney Circle area. More information here on the most recent meeting and how to submit feedback ahead of the deadline.
Office hours resume in February: After taking a short break, I'm resuming my weekly office hours on Friday mornings. These are a great way to talk with me about any issues in your neighborhood or issues you'd like to see me work on. You can always check CharlesAllenWard6.com for upcoming dates. We'll be resuming at Compass Coffee in Shaw on Friday, Feb. 2, starting at 8 am.
Thanks as always, and see you around the neighborhood!
DPW Holiday Tree Collection - Friday, Jan 2 through Friday, Feb 2
Interfaith Day of Service and Dialogue w/ Hill Havurah - Sunday, Jan. 14, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Anacostia Riverkeeper MLK Service Day - Monday, Jan. 15 9 am - 12 pm
Student Conservation Association MLK Service - Monday, Jan. 15, 9 am
DC Summer Camp Fair at J.O. Wilson - Thursday, Jan 25, 6 - 8 pm
Mt. Vernon Triangle Meeting on Parks and Open Space - Weds, Jan 31, 6 - 8:30 pm
Office Hours in Shaw - Friday, Feb. 2 8-9:30 am
Office Hours in Southwest - Friday, Feb. 9, 8-9:30 am
Office Hours in Eastern Market - Friday, Feb. 23, 8-9:30 am