April is here with plenty of happenings in the neighborhood. The Nats are back -- and I, for one, am an optimist who chooses to believe we're going to do better than projected this year. Live music will return to Eastern Market Metro Park soon, and allergies aside, I think everyone is looking forward to the sweet spot of spring where the weather is nice enough to sit out, but we have a brief window before the mosquitos truly make their debut. Let's hope anyway.
I want to thank the many Ward 6 neighbors who joined me and my team for the Great Ward 6 Spring Clean last weekend! We had more than 80 folks sign up to do a little cleaning in every part of Ward 6 (and a few spots juuuuust outside our new boundaries). So great to see everyone again!
At the Council, we're finalizing budget oversight hearings on nearly every agency in DC government and will be hammering out the details of the budget over the next week ahead of committee votes. And I've got plenty of Ward 6 specific updates, so let's jump in.
Quick Links: Recover to Better | Ward 6 Budget Town Hall | RFK | Public Safety | COVID | Eastern Market Metro Park Music | Pepco Solar Lawsuit | Librarian of the Year | Streeteries | Door Dash | Union Station Defacement | Redistricting Task Force | History at FEMS | Capitol South Metro | Riversmart | Gas Leaf Blowers | Bike to School Day & Poetry Contest | Fort Totten Trash Closed | DC Water | Anacostia River Fest
Expanded Monthly Basic Income, Small Business Backing, Metro For DC: Council's Special Committee Recommendations to Recover to Better
The next year or two are incredibly important for determining what the District's recovery looks like, and whether we will take steps to close some of the massive inequity gaps in our city. Looking at the last two years, folks who were already doing pretty well mostly continued to do so. But for anyone who was struggling, this period was incredibly hard and likely traumatic. You've heard me talk about it before. So what's the plan?
For the past year and a half, I've been honored to co-chair a Council Special Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery with Councilmember Vince Gray and with committee members Janeese Lewis George, Robert White, and Brooke Pinto. Last week, the Special Committee released its final recommendations after more than a year of research and public hearings focused on four key areas in our recovery, including our safety net, small businesses and revenue, transportation, and housing.
This is the Council's vision for how we recover better. We can't simply tread water or return to normal. Because normal wasn't working for a whole lot of our neighbors, and we can't ignore many of the painful lessons we learned over the most desperate months of the pandemic.
DCist has coverage of six of the twenty recommendations the Special Committee made during a press conference where Councilmember Gray and I were joined by community members engaged in the recommendations' development. This set of recommendations spans many important areas (but not every priority out there) and is meant to serve as a policy road map. Already, DC Fiscal Policy Institute released their own report seconding the Special Committee's recommendation to expand DC's Monthly Basic Income to more workers, including undocumented workers. I'd expect we'll see more and more places where the Special Committee's work can help move forward legislation that will put us on a better path forward in this recovery.
Ward 6 Budget Town Hall Returns In Person
On Thursday, March 31, more than three years since the last in-person Ward 6 Budget Town Hall, I joined neighbors at the Southwest Library AND virtually to do my eighth budget town hall since becoming Councilmember. Each year, we convene a forum to hear from Ward 6 neighbors about what you want to see in the budget, what you agree with, and what you don't. You can watch the broadcast here, and I still welcome your feedback -- just respond to this email or contact Kate, Chris, Erik, Antonio, Kevin, or Anthony on my team to share more.
During the budget town hall, we covered a lot of ground, and my team took notes on a wide range of issues, from improving care for our parks to supporting our residents living in public housing to funding violence interrupters and services for returning citizens. We heard from residents concerned about our public schools and ensuring funding is available to continue school-based mental health services. And several folks asked questions around transit and safe streets.
Should We Think About an NFL Stadium at RFK?
In the Mayor's proposed budget, I'm excited to see she's included funding to build an indoor sports arena that will expand the resources available to DC student-athletes and residents, including an Olympic-sized pool and gymnastics space. This was an idea many of you worked on with me a few years ago during a planning process with EventsDC. It will serve DC residents and our community well. And for any parent that has had to drive their kid out of town for a basketball, gymnastic, swimming, or track tournament - you know how much we need this within our borders.
But along with that investment has come increased conversation about whether or not we should also bring back the Washington Commanders with a new stadium (Hill Rag). I think that's become more about trying to create a bidding war of public tax dollars between DC, Maryland, and Virginia. And I don't think the District should play this game. I don't want to see one dime go toward building an NFL stadium for a billionaire (facing some very serious allegations) nor do I want to see a football stadium taking up any of the space we should be using to extend our city - new housing (senior and family affordable too!), new local businesses and jobs, new green spaces and parks - all connecting the Anacostia River to the neighborhood. Now that we're seeing Maryland and Virginia wise up to spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars, I'd expect we might see more of a push to seriously consider RFK (WUSA 9).
Public Safety Update
In case you missed it, MPD made two arrests relating back to the nine deaths tied to a deadly batch of fentanyl distributed in late January in the Southwest neighborhood. The reckless actions of those alleged to have dealt the fentanyl, rightly described as putting poison into the community by Chief Contee, have robbed nine families of their loved ones and our community of some truly wonderful people. Holding those responsible accountable is important, and so is taking meaningful steps to treat drug addiction as a public health crisis -- including by exploring the creation of safe use sites where residents living with addiction can safely know any drug they are about to ingest isn't going to be fatal.
The conversation about public safety is at an important moment as we consider the budget for next year. As Chair of the Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I've held dozens of hours of hearings in the past weeks to hear from the public and kick the tires on the Mayor's proposed public safety agency budgets and initiatives. If you're so inclined, you can watch all of the hearings here (look for any hearing with Budget Oversight Hearing in the title). I welcome any priorities or feedback you'd like to share with me or my team.
I can promise you this budget will continue to make the necessary investments to fully fund public safety in line with the strategies to the right. If you are able to watch some of the hearings, you'll see the full scope of work to reduce violence extends far beyond just MPD. It includes everyone from organizations working with victims and returning citizens to our on-the-ground violence interruption efforts to our DC Jail and its badly-needed new rehabilitation-based facility. As I, along with my committee members, consider the budget, we're balancing the city-wide and Ward needs and work of all of these agencies in determining where the Council's final budget recommendations should land.
Ward 6 Public Safety Updates
We aren't out of the woods yet on the COVID-19 pandemic, with case numbers much lower than in the past few months but ticking up as cases are climbing. The CDC is recommending residents over the age of 50 and certain residents who are immunocompromised and at-risk for more severe cases of COVID-19 receive a second booster.
There are four easy ways to get your initial COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose in the District:
- Visit a walk-up vaccine clinic or COVID Center.
- Make an at-home vaccination appointment by calling 1-855-363-0333.
- Make an appointment with your health care provider.
- Find other opportunities to get vaccinated by visiting vaccines.gov.
DC Health continues to operate COVID centers throughout the city. For Ward 6, the location is still on Barracks Row at 507 8th St., SE, and it's open every day except Tuesdays. Check the locations' hours here, as each varies a bit. At these sites, you can:
- Pick up rapid tests;
- Take a PCR test;
- Get vaccinated; and
- Pick up masks for adults or children.
All at no cost to District residents! We don't know what this new subvariant may mean for us, but if you haven't gotten vaccinated, do so now before you're at risk again. Here are 50 locations close to Ward 6 where you can get protected - for free. Let's prepare now so we're not scrambling later.
Eastern Market Metro Park Music Returns Soon
Once we cut the ribbon last year, we saw Eastern Market Metro Park get packed on a Friday night for live music. And activating the park regularly to create a vibrant space filled with neighbors is a priority for me. Last year, I secured money in the budget to have a local group plan and organize an ongoing series of events for the community. Barracks Row Main Street was selected by DPR to run this effort, and they're kicking off the festivities this weekend! Expect to hear a lot more soon. Here's the lineup for April (all shows are from 5-6 pm):
- April 8th: Imani Grace Cooper
- April 15th: Ellah Browne
- April 22nd: Herb Scott
- April 29th: Joe Brotherton
Pepco Sued for Undercounting Solar Generated + Inflating Residents' Utility Bills
Big news for the growing number of Ward 6 neighbors taking advantage of DC's generous solar credits -- DC Attorney General Karl Racine and the DC Office of the People's Counsel have brought a lawsuit against Pepco for undercounting generated solar on utility bills for customers. I'm grateful we're seeing the city take action -- we've heard from a few residents who have experienced pretty tough roadblocks to putting solar panels on their roof or enrolled in a community solar program (and if this sounds like something that happened to you, let me know). This is especially frustrating with DC's Solar for All Program, meant to advance our renewable energy goals AND give low-income households a break on their bills. Given the dire report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week, we can't have our utility slowing down the District's work to meet renewable energy goals. This lawsuit is the leadership we need on this issue. More coverage from DCist here.
Ward 6 Has THE Librarian of the Year!
Kudos are in order to Ward 6's own K.C. Boyd who was named the 2022 Librarian of the Year by the School Library Journal. K.C. is the dynamic and inspiring school librarian at Jefferson Academy Middle School in Southwest. It's a wonderful recognition of a very dedicated and passionate librarian our students are lucky to have. She's absolutely someone who has helped guide me on my efforts to require a full-time librarian in every school and help understand what's happening inside our classrooms year-round.
Standing Up for Streeteries
There was a bit of a confusion and concern earlier this week when DDOT gave Walters Sports Bar and Mission restaurant less than 48 hours to remove their streeteries ahead of this week's home opener at Nationals Park. This was confusing because all last season, these streeteries worked just fine with game day traffic and provided a critical source of revenue for the businesses, jobs for the employees, and a safe place to just feel normal. Not to mention our businesses who have opened streeteries have made significant investments in them to create enjoyable and safe spaces to dine. I jumped in to assist our former Ward 6 business (that part of Navy Yard is now Ward 8, but we still are happy to help). Thankfully, Director Lott of DDOT and his team were able to work with both restaurants while putting in additional protections for patrons, for which I'm grateful. And I think the outpouring around this incident shows us something pretty obvious -- people love streeteries, and they're here to stay. More in DCist, more from WUSA Channel 9.
Door Dash on E Street is Closing
For neighbors in the immediate area of the 1300 block of E St., SE, there was good news when Door Dash announced it would be closing its location in the old Frager's building this coming fall. Door Dash should never have been cleared by DCRA to occupy the site, since it was basically functioning as a large warehouse in a neighborhood, with trucks regularly blocking bike and car lanes and sidewalks. I had written several times to DCRA and DPW to urge enforcement if Door Dash was going to remain in the neighborhood. I think we're all relieved to see this change and hope a more suitable neighborhood business can find its way into the space. More in the Hill Rag.
Union Station Letter and Response Following Hate Symbols
A few weeks ago, I asked for an update on efforts to remove the many hateful symbols that were etched into historic Union Station (you may recall an arrest was made shortly after). However, the symbols have not yet been fully removed. Many Ward 6 neighbors have mentioned this to me, so we reached out to the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, who manages operations at the station, for an update. More than 150 symbols were drawn onto Union Station, many of which have been removed. USRC has spent more than $150,000 carefully working to remove the symbols completely, and the work is ongoing.
Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force Completes Its Work
Over the course of the past two months, a dedicated group of volunteers have served on a Task Force to create a recommended map of the Ward 6 Single Member District and Advisory Neighborhood Commission boundaries, following the Ward-level boundary redistricting late last year. The Ward 6 ANC Task Force held regular meetings virtually and has submitted both a map and a report laying out their decisions. You can find both here, as well as recordings of every meeting. I want to thank all of the Task Force members for their time, but especially Ivan Frishberg for taking on this challenging, but very important, service to our neighbors.
History Made in DC Fire & EMS With Promotion of First Woman Assistant Fire Chief
I want to offer my congratulations to Assistant Chief Queen Anunay, who late last month became the first woman Assistant Fire Chief in DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services' history. Assistant Chief Anunay will oversee and run the entire Emergency Medical Services division. She is a graduate of Eastern High School and has been with FEMS for more than 30 years. A few years ago, I was proud to honor her at the Council, and I am thrilled for her promotion and the leadership she will be providing to FEMS. Read more from WUSA 9.
Capitol South Metro Station Closed Saturdays April 9 & 16
Very late breaking news from WMATA, but heads up for residents living near the Capitol. The Capitol South Metro Station will be closed both Saturdays April 9 and April 16 from 5 am to 7 pm while escalators are replaced.
Riversmart: Spruce Up Your Yard, Save Our Rivers
April showers are a great time to remind everyone the District offers a wonderful program that uses local landscaping companies to install rain gardens, bayscapes (shallower rain gardens), rain barrels, and trees on your property at a very low co-pay or free to DC residents. Why? Because it helps prevent runoff that can carry harmful chemicals and trash into our sewer or into our rivers directly. This is truly a win-win for everyone involved. Learn more here about the Riversmart program.
Related: DCist has a more comprehensive write-up on the US Army's decision to back-off of creating a restricted water space within the Washington Channel. This is a big win for Ward 6 and DC neighbors to ensure everyone can access the river.
Gas Leaf Blowers Are Banned. Get a New, Electric One with a Rebate.
Earlier this year, a new law went into effect that bans the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, which are both bad for our air quality and also a noise nuisance. Two quick points for neighbors:
1) You can get a rebate to replace gas-powered leaf blowers with electric ones here.
2) You can report gas leaf blower use here to DCRA.
Bike, Roll, and Read to School Day Coming on May 4 + Submit a Poem for Our Poetry Contest!
Add it to the calendar now, and I'll look forward to seeing Ward 6 families at Bike, Roll, and Read to School Day on Wednesday, May 4, from 7:30 - 8:15am. You can RSVP here, but I always love gathering at Lincoln Park and heading out to school together -- however you roll. But before you do, we need you! Have your child write a biking- or rolling-related poem and submit it to Erik at [email protected] by Friday, April 29. Councilmember Allen will choose the best poem and read it to the crowd! We can't wait to read them.
Fort Totten Trash Station Temporarily Closed. Use Benning Road.
Fort Totten Trash Transfer Station has closed temporarily as of April 2 to undergo capital improvement projects that will help prevent storm water runoff. The work is expected to keep the facility closed until Fall 2022. Benning Road Trash Transfer Station is located at 3200 Benning Road NE. Residents can drop off trash and bulk items Wednesday-Friday from 10 am to 2 pm. Household hazardous waste drop-off is on Saturdays from 7 am to 2 pm.
DC Water Town Hall on April 14
Passing on this opportunity if you'd like to ask DC Water about rates, clean rivers, construction. Virtual Town Hall scheduled for April 14. To sign up, visit: dcwater.com/TownHall2 or call 202-753-6714 |ID: 325992568#
Anacostia River Festival is this Sunday
Just a quick plug for your Sunday plans - the Anacostia River Festival returns this Sunday, April 10. All the info you need right here.
See you around the neighborhood,