Ward 6 Update: June 14, 2024

Read the June 14, 2024, Ward 6 newsletter.

Happy end of the school year (to those who celebrate!). My kiddos are wrapping up another great year of school in the coming days, and I know several kids who are already out for the summer. I hope you've had a wonderful school year and maybe have your eyes set on some of our great pools and splash pads to cool off!

Last week, I attended the construction kick-off meeting for Garfield Park's modernization, and we’re also getting ready to make plans for the renovated Rumsey Aquatic Center. Major projects like these are made possible by the District’s budget, and I’m pleased to share that spending decisions for the FY25 budget are now locked in - and they look great for Ward 6. More below on some of the highlights.

Additionally, there are big changes coming to our region’s bus system that we need to talk about. WMATA has released its second round of proposals for revisions to the District's bus routes, and just like last year in their initial proposal, I want to know what you think. The time is now, because they're getting closer and closer to final decisions in the coming months. I hope you’ll plan to join me for my Ward 6 Better Bus Network Update Town Hall next Thursday, June 20, at 6pm at the Hill Center.

Find details on the Town Hall and many more updates in this edition of the newsletter below.

Quick Links: FY25 Budget | Public Safety | Better Bus Town Hall | New Legislation | DCPS Boundaries | Mopeds in DC | Intersection Improvements | Shirley Chisholm Elementary | Jefferson Field UpdateDMVMoves' First MeetingEastern Market 150 | Family Resources for Summer | Red Line Construction | EV Charging | MetroAlerts | OAG Grants | Get Solar | Tunes in the Triangle | Jazz in the Park | Juneteenth | Team Bike Ride | Fix-It DC | Prevention Center Workshop | Silver Pride

Council Wraps Up the FY25 Budget

After months of hearings, many meetings, and countless hours of work at the Council with a lot of input from residents, the Council has wrapped up the FY25 budget. The good news is that all of the Ward 6 funding we secured at the first vote remained untouched. If you missed or want to review last newsletter's summary, here’s a link to the many, many Ward 6 wins, and I also did a quick video this week talking about a big one - the transformation of Rumsey Aquatic Center.

You can also revisit our transportation and environment investments here, including funding parts of my STEER Act to hold dangerous drivers (from any state) accountable. That includes installing speed governors to physically limit how fast a car can go if someone has been convicted of reckless driving, and giving Attorney General Brian Schwalb and his team new powers to take dangerous drivers to court, no matter where a car is registered.

The Post has a good recap of the budget vote here, including my push to double the Small Retail Property Tax Credit, 

Four updates from the second vote you should know about (video recap here):

  1. The Council debated the future of sports betting, ultimately landing on a path forward that will open the market to multiple companies, instead of a sole-source contract. This is the position I’ve held on sports betting since the District’s disastrous sole-source contract back in 2019, and in 2022, I introduced legislation to open the market. While I have my reservations about the pervasiveness of sports wagering and technology, if we’re going to do it, then I think an open market is the best deal for District residents. There are a few details to work out to protect small businesses, but there's a clear direction forward.

  2. The Council added additional permanent supportive housing vouchers, particularly for homeless individuals (the initial budget from the Council invested in vouchers for families), though this is probably the biggest issue we couldn’t fully address in the budget.

  3. On Wednesday, I also moved an amendment to fund part of my 2020 Vision Zero law to lower speed limits to 20 mph on "collector streets" - basically streets one degree bigger than our local streets - reflecting that most streets are already limited to that speed.

  4. The Council also added about $6 million more for the DC Green Bank. That’s good news for our efforts to invest in fighting climate change with renewable energy infrastructure, green housing, and efficiency upgrades.

A quick note of thanks to everyone who attended last week’s Ward 6 FY25 Budget Town Hall (the 10th town hall since I took office!), which was a great opportunity to dive into the budget and hear your priorities. That was helpful as we came to a final decision on spending this week.

Public Safety Updates 

Last week, I joined a meeting with MPD and local businesses on H Street NE to continue to make the corridor safer. While MPD reported crime has dropped significantly in most categories, we've also seen an increase in overnight break-ins at some of our businesses but a decrease in crime during business hours and increased MPD visibility. Still, safety isn't MPD's job alone. That's why I'm especially excited about the coming investments we secured in the budget for H Street. We're going to use the Department of Buildings to streamline the process for activating vacant storefronts, and we funded grants to pair with those efforts and bring people to events along the corridor. I link to budget updates above, but just to consolidate some public safety-specific items here, the approved budget: 

  • Fully funds the hiring budget for sworn officers at MPD, retains the hiring bonuses I put in place in 2021, and keeps the highly successful MPD cadet program at its current size; 

  • Includes hiring and retention incentives for our 911 call center, where staff shortages are leading to slow dispatch times and even failures to answer calls;

  • Provides additional resources to the Office of Attorney General for juvenile prosecutions;

  • Includes additional resources to support domestic violence victims; and

  • Adds new Safe Passage staff for Eastern Market and Potomac Ave Metro stations to help students get safely to and from from school.

Ward 6 Public Safety Note

Homicide outside of Crossing DC in Navy Yard: Tragically, there was a fatal shooting late on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Just about a month ago, I met with residents at Crossing DC and building management to drive home a number of urgent security concerns within the building that residents have had with management for years. This scary and tragic incident only reinforces the need to see improvements. I'll share more as I have it, but my understanding is that this was related to a conflict that began inside someone's apartment, and as happens so often when simple disputes suddenly escalate to gun violence, someone had a gun on them and chose to use it to solve conflict. MPD is continuing its investigation in this case.

We've got Better Bus 2.0. Let's talk about it. 

As you may know, WMATA is redesigning its bus network for the first time in 50 years, and it needs your help to make the new system work. They've made proposals that would significantly reduce bus service in some Ward 6 neighborhoods. Last year, I held a town hall for residents to provide feedback on the initial proposal and your feedback led to a detailed and comprehensive set of recommendations I fought for, such as saving service along the D6 route. WMATA has now provided a second-round proposal, one that reflects much the input it received but scales down to what it can run based on available funding. 

Want to take a deeper look at the proposed plan for Ward 6 routes and your commute? Come to my Ward 6 Better Bus Update Town Hall from 6 to 7 p.m. next Thursday, June 20, at the Hill Center, where I’ll discuss the proposed changes, and you can ask questions and provide feedback. Register here for the June 20 event, and I’ll see you then. If you can’t make it, please share your thoughts with me through this online form here.

Banning Deep Fakes and Limiting AI in Local Elections

Technology is moving faster than most people can keep up with, including the use of artificial intelligence in our elections. Misinformation is spread online every day. The opportunities to manipulate the truth with this tech are plentiful, and our laws need to ensure voters can trust that what they're seeing and hearing is legitimate. That’s why I introduced legislation on Election Day to protect the integrity of future elections by limiting the use of AI and deepfakes to mislead voters or misrepresent a candidate. This bill - crafted in partnership with Public Citizen - is designed to limit when someone can use AI during a campaign or to influence a campaign. This isn’t just a hypothetical threat – we’ve already seen deepfakes in elections in New Hampshire and Florida. It's an evolving threat, and I think this bill will invite meaningful conversation on how to wrestle with changes to technology while protecting free speech.

Boundary and Student Assignment Recommendations Approved

The Mayor has finalized her review of the 2023 Boundary and Student Assignment Study recommendations, and she accepted the Deputy Mayor for Education's recommendations. As a reminder, these changes don't come to Council for approval. So our work together helped influence the recommendations and turn back several bad proposals that were put on the table at first - the final set is solely at the discretion of the Mayor. The Deputy Mayor and DC Public Schools will next start formulating the implementation plan, which will be posted to the DME website later this summer. Some Ward 6 details of the plan include:

  • Expanding the Amidon-Bowen Elementary attendance zone into the former Van Ness Elementary attendance zone in the Buzzard Point area in anticipation of the future new residential development in the next five years;
  • Establishing Ross and Thomson elementary schools as geographic feeders to School Without Walls @ Francis-Stevens and removing previous geographic rights to Cardozo Education Campus and Jefferson Middle School Academy;
  • Ensuring every dual-language elementary school has at least one dual-language middle school feeder in relative proximity. Currently, Shirley Chisholm Elementary is far from MacFarland Middle or the Columbia Heights Educational Campus; and
  • Considering policies that support socioeconomic integration across the school system. DCPS will explore the feasibility of this policy for Maury and Miner Elementary Schools, where there's a 52-percentage point difference in at-risk enrollment between the schools, located near each other. According to the recommendations, pairing the schools could provide additional Pre-K classrooms for Maury and improve the utilization at Miner in addition to the potential socioeconomic integration benefits.

We Need Moped Drivers to Follow the Law

I’ve heard from many neighbors with concerns about how the proliferation of mopeds post-Covid is impacting neighborhoods and street safety. And I’ve witnessed it personally, with moped drivers swerving between cars and speeding down bike lanes. I’m glad to see now MPD taking visible, targeted action to both educate drivers and hold them accountable for following traffic laws. At the Council, I was proud to co-introduce legislation from Councilmember Nadeau that would shift requirements of registration from the buyer to the seller, improving the ability of the District to apply consequences to the owner of a moped. More in the Post from earlier this week. I'm scheduling a public hearing on the legislation - and exploring how other jurisdictions are keeping up with this challenge - in mid-July.

Improvements Coming to 11th Street SE after Safety Walk

Good news for neighbors around 11th Street SE and families with students at Shirley Chisholm and Digital Pioneers — DDOT has filed notices of intent to make street safety improvements. You might recall I partnered with ANC 6B to lead a safety walk with DDOT earlier this year, where we highlighted concerns with the street design and dangerous driving, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up. The agency has now released two Notices of Intent to address conditions along the corridor, and proposed safety modifications at the G Street SE and D Street SE intersections include:

  • Relocating bike lanes to the curb approaching intersections
  • Improved signage and pavement markings
  • Removal of parking spaces
  • No-turn-on-red signs at G Street SE
  • A speed hump on the 100 block of G Street SE

Note: We also have an exciting new NOI for a street redesign coming to 17th Street, SE, from all the way up at Hechinger Mall down to Potomac Avenue. I'm very supportive of the project, with one exception: a proposal to make the 1600 block of G Street, SE, two-way, instead of one-way eastbound, and to redirect traffic off busy 17th St west onto G. I spoke with DDOT about the change, and they've agreed to reverse course on that one piece. Thanks to neighbors and Commissioner Matt LaFortune for speaking up on that!

Holding Agencies Accountable for School Maintenance

Following several emergency evacuations due to gas leaks at Chisholm Elementary School, I joined the PTA and school leadership last week at a town hall with top leaders from DCPS and the Department of General Services to demand both answers and actions to ensure our students, teachers, and neighborhood are safe. It was a constructive conversation, and I’m glad to report that already this week, the agencies came back out with school and parent leadership on a walk-through of the building and grounds to develop a detailed plan to make repairs and maintain the building. While Chisholm is funded for a full modernization in a couple of years, we need to know that the District government is going to ensure a safe space for everyone until that full modernization is realized. Nothing less is acceptable. My thanks again to Principal Brann, our Chisholm PTA, and the school community for responding quickly to the leaks and partnering to identify solutions.

Constituent Services Win: Jefferson Field Lights Back On

I'm pleased to announce that, after persistent efforts from my office in collaboration with our neighbors and DGS, the lights at Jefferson Middle School field have finally been repaired and are now operational. Additionally, the turf is set to be replaced on the field after the fall football season begins. Given how little field space we have designed for team sports, this is important to get the field back online and available (especially in the fall) for both the school and the community. I'm proud we were able to enhance this valuable neighborhood asset.

As always, your input is invaluable to our efforts. Please feel free to reach out to my office with any concerns you may have in your community.

DMVMoves Gathers for the First Time

Monday, I chaired the first of many meetings with leaders from DC, Maryland, and Virginia as part of DMVMoves, a first-of-its-kind regional planning initiative. On a basic level, the Council of Governments and WMATA are working to avoid regular fiscal crises and better organize the region's 14 transit systems for riders. We know there are incredible benefits of transit in and around the District. The end goal of our efforts is a financially stable network where the trains and buses show up on time and you don’t worry about a long wait — ever. That starts with dedicated funding, and it demands coordination across borders. This won’t be easy work, but it must be done.

Eastern Market's 150th Anniversary Celebration Continues Next Weekend

As part of the year-long celebration of Eastern Market’s 150th anniversary, next weekend will commemorate the anniversary of Eastern Market’s reopening after the 2007 fire. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23, there'll be shopping, walking tours, giant games, arts and crafts from local creators, a scavenger hunt, an expansion of the market along Pennsylvania Avenue, and more. I was honored to help mark the anniversary last November, and the celebration continues with great activities for all ages. We're truly lucky to have such a historic landmark right here in the heart of Ward 6.

Families’ One-Stop Shop for Summer in DC

The District has a website dedicated to all things families for a safe, happy, and healthy summer. Explore things to do, places to go, meals and nutrition, preparations for the next school year, and support for parents and families.

Know Your Options If You’re Hopping on the Red Line

Summer construction on the Red Line has begun, closing the Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, Silver Spring, and Takoma stations. Be aware of travel alternatives if your trips take you that way:

June 1 – June 29

  • Stations closed: Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, Silver Spring, and Takoma
  • Free shuttle buses replace trains between Glenmont and Fort Totten
  • Green Line service and Red Line service to/from Shady Grove available at Fort Totten

June 30 – August 31

  • Stations closed: Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, and Silver Spring
  • Free shuttle buses replace trains between Glenmont and Takoma
  • Green and Red Line service available at Fort Totten
  • Takoma Station reopened – customers traveling between the closed stations and Takoma should use the local shuttle bus, or limited-stop shuttle bus to the Red Line via Fort Totten

Parking will be free at all five stations for the summer closure.

Where Do You Want to Charge Your EV?

It's been important to me that we have more options for drivers of electric vehicles to be able to charge their cars. Last year, DOEE invited me to take a tour of EV charging stations, and I'm glad to say that now the agency is seeking input on where publicly accessible electric vehicle chargers should be placed throughout the District. I encourage you to fill out the questionnaire, where you can propose sites to help the team compile a database of potential EV charger site locations and match potential hosts with funding. 

Later this year, I'll lead the Committee on Transportation and the Environment to move forward legislation shaping the installation of public charging. The decisions we make now will shape our streets and curb space for generations.

MetroAlerts - Get an Update

WMATA has relaunched MetroAlerts, where you can personalize email and/or text updates about Metro service, both bus and train. Register and customize alerts here.

 DC Attorney General Opens Grants for Community-Based Programs

The Office of the DC Attorney General is seeking proposals from nonprofit Community-Based Organizations interested in operating a FY25 Cure the Streets (violence interruption), Domestic Workers Employment Rights, Leaders of Tomorrow: Youth Violence Prevention, or Workplace Rights grant program. The OAG has further information about application details and deadlines here.

Curious About Installing Solar Panels?

Solar Switch is a program offered by the Department of Energy and Environment and nonprofit Solar United Neighbors aimed at making it more affordable for homeowners to install solar panels. Optional add-ons such as battery storage and electric vehicle chargers are also available through the program. Solar Switch conducts a rigorous review of installer qualifications, ensuring participants receive a high-quality installation from a trusted installer. Registration is open through July 24.

Tunes Return to the Triangle June 26

The Mount Vernon Triangle CID is kicking off this year’s Tunes in the Triangle on Wednesday, June 26, with a performance of upbeat cover songs by Driven to Clarity. The series will run on Wednesday evenings, 6 to 7:30 p.m., through Aug. 14 in Milian Park (499 Massachusetts Ave. NW).

Hear Live Jazz at Eastern Market Metro Park

Barracks Row Main Street continues its weekly live jazz concerts, presenting Love Station at 5:30 p.m. this Friday, June 14. The free concerts are held at Eastern Market Metro Park (701 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) and are funded through an annual grant my office secured for BRMS in the budget. 

Juneteenth is Next Week!

My office will be closed in recognition of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday on Wednesday, June 19. Note that trash and recycling collection will “slide” to the next day on Wednesday and the rest of the week. For other changes in services, visit DPW’s website.

I hope you're able to find a way to honor the day, which marks when Union troops arrived in Texas in 1865 to share the Emancipation Proclamation and ensure enslaved Black people in the state were free. This came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation — and, of course, more than three years after emancipation in DC. I also hope that one day DC has an official Juneteenth celebration for everyone in the District — that's why I passed legislation to create a Juneteenth Commission charged with formally commemorating the day and creating a body to properly plan ways to mark the occasion and celebrate.

Bike with the Family Tomorrow

Hill Family Biking hosts a team ride this weekend, where kids can wear their team gear and bike a tour of sports fields around the Hill. The Saturday afternoon event starts with bike maintenance help before the ride and ends with popsicles at the Watkins splash pad and playground. Kicks off at 4 pm.

Community Repair Event Set for June 26

The Department of Energy and Environment is hosting Fix-IT DC, a free community repair event, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, at the Southwest Library (900 Wesley Place SW). This is a chance to learn how to repair (instead of throw out) broken items like small household appliances, electronics, and clothing with a coach. Register for the event here.

Work with Middle and High Schoolers? There's a Free Workshop For You.

The DC Wards 5 & 6 Prevention Center is hosting a workshop for those who work with youth in middle and high school. Titled "Building Trust and Connection through Communication", the event is aimed at consciously and proactively communicating with youth to reduce risk of substance misuse and other problem behaviors. The virtual meeting will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 25.

Celebrations Continue with Silver Pride

Joy in Justice will be the theme of this year’s Silver Pride, a tea dance and celebration of senior members in the LGBTQ+ community and allies. This free event will be from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at Pepco Edison Place Gallery downtown.

Raffle Time - Go Cheer on the Nats!

You did it! You made it through our latest Ward 6 update, and we appreciate you taking the time to read along. And as a reward, you get to enter to win Nats tickets to the Monday, July 1, 6:45 p.m. game against the New York Mets. Ward 6 residents, just reply to this email, and we'll enter you in the drawing!

See you around the neighborhood,

Charles Allen

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