Ward 6 Neighborhood Update 11-6-19

What a week! It was only one week ago that the Washington Nationals won the World Series and joined the Caps and Mystics in bringing a trophy to DC. I hope you were able to join the celebration parade this weekend and catch up on sleep after so many late night Nats! Off the diamond, there's also been a lot happening at the Council and in the community, so let me catch you up.

But first, a quick save the date: 

Ward 6 Brickie Awards will be Dec, 5 2019! - Our annual Ward 6 holiday party and community awards celebration will be on Thursday, December 5, at the new DC Water headquarters right on the Anacostia River in Capitol Riverfront! Great food, great neighbors - don't miss this free and fun evening as we lift up our neighbors, community organizations, and businesses that make Ward 6 the best place to call home. RSVP here

Right now, I need your help in nominating Ward 6 neighbors, businesses, community organizations, or others who you think deserve special recognition. Take a moment and make a nomination (or more than one) in the five different categories. We're taking nominations through Friday, November 15

Hearing Today To Make It Easier to Run a Small Business - We need to make it easier to run a small and local business. To that end, I'll be spending most of today in a public hearing on my two proposed bills to support small and local businesses by making it easier to compete and do business in DC. I wrote my proposals following several meetings with Ward 6 small business owners and commercial landlords. Most commercial spaces and banks give strong preference to a nationally-known brand for a lease rather than a small shop. And for many longtime, locally-owned businesses, the changes and growth in their surrounding neighborhood might mean their business model can't keep up with rising costs. Yet these are the businesses that make our neighborhoods special and add to the quality of life for all of their neighbors. It's time to level the playing field for small businesses. You can read more here and submit written testimony here - the record will remain open until COB Wednesday, November 13.

Ward 6 Public Safety Meeting on Nov 21 - In a previous email a few weeks ago, I mentioned bringing together Ward 6 neighbors for a Ward 6 Public Safety Meeting - we're going to have that meeting on Thursday, Nov 21 at Watkins Elementary School from 6:30-8 pm. I want this to be a different kind of public safety meeting that engages our community in shared solutions. I'll provide an overview of what the District has been doing and talk about the many strategies we've put in place to get at crime from all directions. But it'll also be a chance for neighbors to roll up their sleeves. We'll bring in leaders in our community to talk about violence interruption, juvenile crime, safe passage to school, community policing, and how helping returning citizens is critical to public safety. RSVP here to attend the meeting.

Related: In case you missed it, after Yahoo announced it will be discontinuing Yahoo Groups, MPD transferred its police district listservs to Google Groups.  

I Believe It's Time for Councilmember Jack Evans to Resign - You may have seen a lot in the news about the investigation we launched into unethical actions taken by Councilmember Evans on behalf of clients of his outside employment. To start with, I don't think Councilmembers should have outside employment - this is a full-time job and I think you expect full-time councilmembers. I believe the findings released yesterday by a law firm's independent investigation demonstrate deliberate intent to personally profit from Councilmember Evans' elected office and represent a pattern of breaching public trust that cannot be repaired. This process has wasted too much time, money, and trust. It is time he resign. Link to my full statement.

Black Restaurant Week is Here! Thru Nov 10, support black-owned restaurants and enjoy delicious food during the Second Annual DMV Black Restaurant Week! There are plenty of great options right here in Ward 6 - make your reservations now. Here's a link to Washington City Paper's preview.

Stuart-Hobson Teacher Wins Prestigious Milken Award - A big congratulations to Claire Smullen, an art teacher at Ward 6's Stuart-Hobson Middle School, who received DC's 2019 Milken Educator Award! Ms. Smullen has been a favorite of students and parents for years, and is an excellent example of the great and innovative work happening at Stuart-Hobson. Read more in the Hill Rag.

Q+A with Two Rivers Students - I stopped by Two Rivers Public Charter School to learn more about their environmental project to clean up our local rivers and answer their questions on how my job works, what I'm doing on a variety of issues, and how our government works. It's always a pleasure to spend some time hearing from our younger neighbors on how things look from their point of view. 

National Assessment of Educational Progress Test Results Are In - The NAEP, known as the Nation's Report Card, is a test administered to every school system across the country every two years to evaluate big picture changes in overall performance in reading and math. It does not evaluate students at the single school level, but instead looks at school systems. DC students showed bigger gains than most of their urban school district peers nationwide, which is laudable. But as policy leaders, we can't overlook the glaring gap in performance between white students and students of color, which is the highest in the nation by far. As we make policy and budget decisions, we must keep the goal of closing this gap as our highest priority. It's why I've written legislation to allow principals at the school level to decide how to use at-risk dollars meant to help provide equity in the classroom for students who need more support. So yes, we should always celebrate improvements for students. But let's be clear-eyed in just how much work remains, because much more is urgently needed to ensure all of our students are getting what they need to succeed in the classroom. 

Airbnb and Other Home Sharing Services Update - My office has fielded a number of calls asking for clarification on operating a short-term rental out of their home or another property, primarily through websites like Airbnb and VRBO. You may remember that last year the Council passed legislation regulating and limiting the use of short-term rentals. Under the new law, residents have unlimited rentals out of one's primary home in a bedroom, basement, or carriage house, and up to 90 days per year you can rent out your entire home while you are away. The law banned all short-term rentals in additional properties (a short-term rental is defined as anything less than 30 days). I fought hard to expand the number of days you could rent out your entire home to ensure Ward 6 residents who travel frequently can still take advantage of the flexibility home sharing offers. Since that vote, many residents have been watching and waiting to see if the Zoning Commission would amend their regulations to make short-term rentals legal. Just last week, the Commission committed to issuing emergency regulations that effectively legalize short-term rentals in the District. Once the emergency regulations are in place, DCRA can roll out a process for licensing home shares. WAMU has a bit more about where we are.

DC Health Care Exchange Enrollment Has Begun - The District's health care exchange market window is open beginning November 1, 2019 through January 31, 2020. You can start shopping now and compare premiums, deductibles, and coverage options. Head over to the DC Health Link to learn more about which plan might fit your needs best.

NoMa and Capitol Hill Homeless Encampments - I've been working closely with the City Administrator's office, neighbors, and community organizations on issues related to the homeless encampments in NoMa and Capitol Hill. The encampment residents are our neighbors, and they need compassionate, respectful solutions to transition them into permanent housing. At the same time, our public space must be safe, clear, and welcoming to all. It will always require a careful balance, but the situation needs to improve. Based on my conversations, I am hopeful we are getting closer to finding a solution that can move these residents into a healthier and safer situation ahead of the coming winter. I want to thank all of the neighbors who have reached out to my office and I want you to know we are working for a humane solution.

We Need Safer Streets. Last Week, We Got a Step Closer - Last week the Council's Committee on Transportation and the Environment held an emotional public hearing to consider a number of bills, including my own Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act, which are all geared toward making our streets safer for everyone -- pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. There was even a panel of children who testified during the hearing, sharing that they do not feel safe with how our roads are currently setup. Everything I have proposed is about safety and about equity in every part of the city. DC residents need safe crosswalks, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, bus lanes, and safe passage for vehicles. I can't count the number of conversations with neighbors I've had around getting people to slow down when driving through their neighborhood. Vision Zero is about working so that no one dies going from point A to point B - but if we're going to pursue that goal, we have to put in the effort. Some of the work will be in policy, some of it will be in how we design our spaces, and some of it will be in enforcement. I want to thank everyone who took time to come out, I know it's not easy, but it really did make a difference. News coverage from WAMU, Washington Post, and Greater Greater Washington

Related: Since the Fields at RFK opened, I've worked with DDOT to get a Capital Bikeshare Station out there. It was installed over the weekend!

Expanding Rights for Victims of Sexual Violence - The Council unanimously passed major legislation I led through the Council to expand the services and rights available to those who are victims and survivors. As part of this legislation, victims as young as 13 will have access to a trauma-informed advocate who can help look out for their best interests in the aftermath and if they choose to report down the road. The bill expands the availability of advocates to every District hospital, so that there are no "wrong doors" for a victim or survivor to walk through. And it clarifies the process of notification by the Metropolitan Police Department to alert survivors to updates on their sexual assault kit's processing. This bill is the culmination of nearly two years worth of work alongside some incredible voices for victims and survivors of sexual assault to ensure everything was survivor-centric. These are really big, important changes to ensure victims and survivors have agency and support following sexual violence - I am grateful to the many great organizations who were vital in crafting this bill.

US Attorney Skips Hearings on Hate Crimes, Gun Trafficking - Two weeks ago, I held a public oversight hearing to look into hate crimes occurring in the District. The hearing came following a stunning report by the Washington Post showing that while the District is on pace for record numbers of suspected hate crimes, less than 3% are being prosecuted as hate crimes by the federally appointed US Attorney (USAO), who you may recall takes the lead on prosecuting most crimes by adults in DC. This sends a terrible message to anyone who feels targeted simply because of who they are, but especially members of our LGBTQ+ community. However, after hearing hours of testimony from DC residents, including victims of hate crimes, the USAO did not bother showing up. This follows a hearing I held on strategies to combat illegal gun trafficking last month, which once again, the USAO skipped. Because the USAO is a federal office appointed by President Trump, the Council does not have oversight over a crucial part of our criminal justice system. Here's a video of my thoughts during the hearing. In the past, the USAO has been a willing partner in seeking solutions to public safety challenges. When the USAO decides to sit out tough conversations on ways to make our city safer and more just, it's not just insulting to me, or to the Council - it's insulting to District residents. We still have had very productive conversations around hate crimes and gun trafficking, but an important voice was missing. The next time someone tells you DC Statehood doesn't matter, make sure they know about this.

Five Years of MPD's Body-Camera Program, What Lessons Have We Learned? I also held a hearing in October looking back at five years of the Metropolitan Police Department's Body-Worn Camera program. At the time it started, the program was one of the most expansive in the nation. After five years, I wanted to hear from residents and MPD professionals what was working and what needed to be improved. WAMU was in the room for the hearing. In the coming months, I'll look to introduce legislation making improvements to the program to ensure it is serving as a tool for the public on police accountability while ensuring officers can do their jobs. 

Questions About DC's Comp Plan? There's a Meeting for You - You've likely heard some mention of the Comprehensive Plan, or Comp Plan, in recent news coverage. It's the guiding document that steers the future of our city -- it's both complicated and very important. But what does that really mean? And where are we going? The Office of Planning is holding a Comp Plan Community Meeting in Ward 6 on Wednesday, Nov 13. RSVP here if you'd like to attend.

Fall Leaf Pick-up Schedule -It's that time of year. Starting this week, DPW will be doing Round 1 pick-ups for leaf collection. DPW released a helpful e-brochure on Do's and Don'ts, as well as a planned collection schedule. Each year, DPW conducts two collections in each neighborhood. However, these collections, often due to inclement weather, can fall behind. Please keep me and my team posted on the status in your neighborhood. 

Maryland Avenue, NE Redesign Website - If you live near Maryland Avenue NE, here's a helpful resource to bookmark. DDOT has launched a new website for the Maryland Avenue NE re-design project that centralizes upcoming meeting dates, presentations, timelines of construction, and includes a sign-up for email distribution on upcoming meetings and notices: www.marylandavesafety.org

Florida Avenue, NE Redesign Website - Similarly, for neighbors and regular users of Florida Avenue, NE, DDOT has a website that includes updates, upcoming meetings, and designs for both Florida Avenue NE and the infamous "Dave Thomas Circle," which is where Florida Avenue and New York Avenue intersect. https://www.floridaaveproject.com/

Eastern Market Polling Site Relocation - For neighbors in Precinct 89 near Eastern Market, you'll see a change in your polling site in the elections next year. In order to address some of the back-ups and challenges we've seen in the past, the Board of Elections has decided to move Precinct 89's polling site from Eastern Market's North Hall. Your new polling place is Capitol Hill United Methodist Church at 421 Seward Square, SE. Voters in Precinct 88 will continue on with Eastern Market's North Hall as their polling place.

Questions about the 2020 Census? District Census 2020 is hosting an informational and engagement training workshop for residents and community leaders ahead of next year's Census. Information here.

Let's Chat Over Coffee Soon - As usual, I want to end this newsletter with a reminder I have regular office hours where neighbors are welcome to drop by and chat with me about any issue. My next office hours event will be Friday, November 15, at A Baked Joint in Mt. Vernon Triangle. A full schedule can be found here.

Charles Allen

Upcoming Events: 

Mt. Vernon Triangle Office Hours - Friday, November 15 | A Baked Joint
Ward 6 Public Safety Meeting - Thursday, November 21 | Watkins Elementary School
Hill East Office Hours - Friday, November 22 | The Pretzel Bakery 
The Brickies! - Thursday, December 5 | DC Water's New Headquarters
Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront Office Hours - Friday, December 13 | Lot 38

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