With all the rain we've had recently, DC Water's new clean rivers tunnel system has been put to work! Did you know that since it opened two months ago, over 400 million gallons of sewage overflow has been prevented from entering the Anacostia River? Instead, that waste now flows to Blue Plains for treatment. When we talk about making big investments in our future and our infrastructure, it's important to remember why it matters and what those investments look like. I'll spend most of this newsletter highlighting what's in next year's District budget, but don't miss my evening office hours this Thursday on H Street, NE - if getting to my regular Friday morning office hours is tough for your schedule, hopefully we can connect on Thursday.
DC Council holds first vote on 2019 budget: After months of public hearings, discussions, town halls, and debate, last week the Council finally held a first vote on the District's $14.4 billion spending plan for next year (video on my remarks from the vote are on Facebook). Within the budget, I'm proud I was able to deliver for Ward 6 residents, small businesses, students, parents, returning citizens, seniors, pedestrians, bicyclists, and more. There's a longer breakdown on my website, but I'll quickly highlight a few items here:
Major Investments in Homeless Services and Affordable Housing: The Council put an additional $15.6 million - on top of the proposed increase in the Mayor’s budget - to provide additional housing supports to survivors of domestic violence, residents experiencing homelessness, and extremely low-income families. Overall, the District is dedicating $237 million toward homelessness and housing instability services, a 10 percent increase in our work to help our homeless neighbors. The budget commits $100 million toward the creation of affordable housing and continues the innovative program led by Councilmember Allen last year to provide attorneys to renters facing eviction.
Dedicated Funding for WMATA: The District made a historic commitment along with Maryland and Virginia to provide a dedicated funding stream for our Metrorail and Metrobus systems, setting aside $178 million annually for operations and infrastructure.
Increases in Ward 6 school modernizations: I've made modernize our Ward 6 schools a major priority over the last three years, and in this year's budget, I was able to include $67 million in additional funding added to modernizations and building improvements at Maury Elementary, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, School-Within-School @ Goding, JO Wilson Elementary, and Brent Elementary. That's on top of protecting the full modernization for Jefferson and Eliot-Hine middle schools, both about to begin work.
Supporting Small Businesses in DC: Our neighborhoods are enriched by the hundreds of small businesses that add to our communities, hire locally, and are engaged on local issues. The 2019 budget creates a new $5,000 tax credit small businesses can claim on their property taxes or rent annually to help ensure local and small businesses can always be part of our neighborhoods.
Investing in the future of Eastern Market: Eastern Market is the longest continually operating public market in the District and the heart of Capitol Hill. As our community grows and changes, this budget includes funding to ensure Eastern Market is ready for the future. The budget funds a strategic plan for the market, directs the Department of General Services to repair longstanding building issues, and funds a study of security bollards for the Eastern Market streetscape during weekend closures. The budget also includes an additional $2.6 million (for a total of $7.1 million) toward the re-imagining of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza to add a playground, shaded seating, improved lighting, space for programming, new bicycle infrastructure, and improved pedestrian walkways.
Estate Tax De-coupling: I was proud to propose a measure that decoupled the District's Estate Tax threshold from the federal threshold, which had risen to $11.4 million by action from Congress (which of course includes no vote from DC) in the federal tax bill last December - WAMU has the story. By decoupling from the federal level, I was able to identify new revenue that will be directed in this budget to provide shelter to survivors of domestic violence, long-term housing for families, after-school and summer programs, grants to prevent violence, and more.
Revitalizing Our Parks & Playgrounds, a Growing Streetcar System, and more DCRA Inspectors - I was able to include major parks and public space investments in Southwest, Hill East, NoMa, Mount Vernon Triangle, and even the connection between Garfield Park and Canal Park. There are a lot more new programs and projects than I can cover here. I recommend giving the full Ward 6 budget breakdown a read for all the details.
Congratulations to Hill's Kitchen on 10 years in business! Everyone knows Hill's Kitchen! For 10 years now, they've been a neighborhood institution. I was proud to present owner Leah Daniels with a Ceremonial Resolution recognizing the hard work it takes to succeed and thrive as a small business. I was joined by DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson, and we took the opportunity to highlight the $5,000 small business property tax credit I mentioned above, which will help more than 4,000 small businesses like Hill's Kitchen across the District.
Budget priorities for the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety: As Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I'm proud of the budget we just passed to ensure we are a safe and just city. If you're interested in the work we are doing to support our first responders, prevent violence, protect and support survivors, improve opportunities for returning citizens, and more, here's a more detailed look at the budget my committee worked on.
Youth Rehabilitation Act reforms heading to a full Council vote: My comprehensive bill reforming the Youth Rehabilitation Act was voted out of committee unanimously and is heading for a vote of the full Council on June 5. Here's the press release from the committee vote. The original bill, passed in 1985, sought to give young people who committed a crime a second chance at living without a criminal record. The YRA is a promise that hasn’t been delivered to our young people and to our community. This bill adds the substance young adults, victims of crime, and District residents need to improve public safety, lower recidivism, and set young people convicted under the law up for success.
Affordable housing construction in Southwest: Construction is underway at the old Engine 13 firehouse at 555 E Street, SW to create a new mixed-use building that includes 58 new affordable homes for seniors. As I've mentioned before, Ward 6 is leading the way on new affordable housing, with more than 1,500 new affordable homes created in a little over three years and 2,100 more on the way. Still, there's more work to be done. Here's some additional background on the old Engine 13 project from Southwest...The Little Quadrant that Could.
I am proud to be a 2018 Climate Champion: On Tuesday, I was grateful to be recognized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) as one of their 2018 Climate Champions. From leading on expanding solar to modernizing our energy grid to ensuring we have a healthy tree canopy and plentiful parks, I will keep working to make DC a greener, more sustainable and resilient city.
DPW enforcing trash cans in public space: Just a quick heads up to everyone that DPW has announced they be ticketing residences where trash and recycling bins are not cleared from the sidewalk or alley - the ticket is $75! While we certainly want to keep sidewalks and alleys clear and accessible, I've also co-sponsored legislation that would require DPW to issue warnings to residents first - rather than a ticket - to help with education and outreach. DPW asks residents not put cans out earlier than 6:30 pm the night before collection and that bins are cleared by 8 pm the day of collection. If you're physically unable to move your bins, you can apply for assistance here.
Bike to School Day 2018 was awesome: Many thanks to the hundreds of families who joined in for the biggest and best Bike to School Day anywhere in the country! I love Bike to School Day for many reasons, but none more than seeing hundreds of kids fall in love with biking as a great way to get to school. We have a long way to go to ensure all our streets are safe for pedestrians and bicyclists, but Bike to School Day always offers a glimpse of what we're working toward. Special thanks to the organizers who always put together a fun event and the many schools and community partners that participated.
Evening Office Hours on H Street: If my usual Friday morning office hours are hard for you to make, I hope you'll join me this Thursday, May 24 at Bar Elena on H Street from 6-7:30 pm. I'll be there and look forward to chatting with you. Feel free to bring your neighbors.
I'll be at these Upcoming Events:
Evening Office Hours on H Street - Thursday, May 24, 6-7:30pm at Bar Elena
Shaw Office Hours - Friday, June 1, 8-9:30 am at Compass Coffee
Southwest Office Hours - Friday, June 8, 8-9:30 am at Waterfront Starbucks
DC Pride Parade 2018 - Saturday, June 9, 4:30-7:30 pm
Hill East Office Hours - Friday, June 29, 8-9:30 am at The Pretzel Bakery
A Few Neighborhood Resources: