I’m writing first to share an exciting update about Northern Bus Barn that was announced this week! I also want to make sure you know about some key Council hearings where you can participate next week; remind you about upcoming deadlines for health care enrollment and the DC School Lottery (Grades 9-12); update you on MetroRail service, OSSE bus delays, and leaf collection; highlight local news you may have missed, and share several community events.
Northern Bus Barn to Open with All Electric Buses!
The historic Northern Bus Barn garage has served as a public transit hub for our community in Sixteenth Street Heights for more than a century. Operating first as a storage and maintenance facility for electric streetcars, Northern then transitioned to serving DC’s growing bus network and came under Metro’s ownership in 1966. The bus garage quickly became a critical part of our transit system by housing MetroBuses close to key bus corridors like 16th Street, 14th Street, and Georgia Avenue. As a child, I remember getting off the bus on 14th Street and greeting MetroBus drivers who were enjoying their lunch across the street at Smokeys in between shifts. With major reconstruction planning efforts underway for Northern, the bus garage went out of service in 2019.
For many years now, our community has been steadily advocating for the facility to reopen without the harmful fumes of diesel buses. As recently as 2021, WMATA had committed that Northern Bus Barn would become its first all-electric bus garage with “infrastructure and equipment needed to run 100% electric vehicles.” But WMATA planned to first reopen the facility with a mix of new battery-electric vehicles and current MetroBus diesel and diesel-hybrid buses. Given that WMATA didn’t aim to fully transition to a zero-emission bus fleet until 2045, that meant that neighbors near Northern Bus Barn could be exposed to dangerous diesel fumes for nearly two decades before the transition was complete. It also meant that WMATA would invest millions to build a facility with diesel bus infrastructure that would be obsolete just a few years later.
But our community did not give up. Neighbors continued to advocate, show up at community meetings, and press for Northern Bus Barn to become what we always knew it could be. I remember meeting neighbors at their doorsteps in Sixteenth Street Heights, and this issue came up in nearly every conversation. So since taking office, we consistently raised this issue at Council hearings, advocated with WMATA’s leadership, passed a resolution from the whole Council calling for an all-electric Northern Bus Barn, and kept pushing so that our community’s voice would be heard.
After years of community organizing, WMATA announced this week that Northern Bus Barn would have an all zero-emission, electric bus fleet when it opens in 2027! This will protect our community’s health from the harmful effects of diesel fumes – especially on the elderly, on children, and on communities of color. A fully-electric bus fleet at Northern will also help reduce the noise pollution in our neighborhoods – ensuring that MetroBuses move more quietly through our streets. Once it reopens, the facility will maintain the building’s historic facade and bring new retail, art, streetscape improvements, and a community meeting space for Ward 4 – adding even more life and commerce to our 14th Street corridor. And, crucially, a bus garage with all-electric buses is a monumental step towards a sustainable future as we confront the urgent reality of climate change. This will help make WMATA and DC a leader in providing green public transit that does right by our community and right by our planet.
I want to thank every neighbor and ANC Commissioner who dedicated their time and energy to this – especially community leaders like Taalib-Din Uqdah, who has been a tireless champion for our community and brought so many of us together. We know that our work is far from done, but we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without you. I also want to thank WMATA, GM Randy Clarke for his boldness and vision to make this a reality, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) for its funding support, the dedicated Northern Bus Garage project team, WMATA’s bus electrification team that has been working incredibly hard, and our amazing MetroBus drivers — many of whom live in Ward 4. Neighbors can learn more about the Northern Bus Garage Reconstruction Project and community meetings on the project website.
Public transit is essential for Ward 4, helping our community get to school, to work, to our small businesses, to our loved ones, and anywhere else we need to go on a daily basis. Earlier this year, the Council passed the Metro for DC bill that will improve bus service, create overnight service (including the S2, 52, 70, and 80 routes in Ward 4), make all MetroBus service in DC fare-free starting in July, and eventually cover the cost of MetroRail for DC residents too. As we broke ground on the future Northern Bus Barn this week, we celebrated that not only will the buses stored at Northern be free to use in DC, but they will also be all electric!
Key Performance Hearings Next Week
Last week I wrote about the importance of speaking at Council oversight hearings on agencies’ performances as an important way to make government work better and advocate for our community. Here are four key hearings taking place next week where you can sign up to testify:
- Wednesday, February 1 at 2pm-6pm: Committee on Health performance hearing on the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH). Sign up to speak at the hearing by filling out this form by Monday.
- Wednesday, February 1 at 9:30am-6pm: Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety performance hearing on the DC Jail (DOC), Corrections Information Council (CIC), and Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS). Sign up to speak at the hearing by emailing your information to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday.
- Wednesday, February 1 at 2pm-6pm: Committee on Recreation, Libraries, and Youth Affairs performance hearing on the DC Public Library (DCPL). Sign up to speak at the hearing by fulling out this form by Monday.
- Thursday, February 2 at 9:30am – 1:30pm: Committee on Transportation and the Environment performance hearing on WMATA, Metro Transit Police, and Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. Sign up to speak at the hearing by emailing your information to email@example.com by Tuesday.
Find a full list of Council hearings and instructions to sign up on the Council website. If you have any questions, please reach out to me or my team. Make your voice heard, Ward 4!
Last Chance to Join Listen As We Climb in Your Neighborhood
During the rest of January and early February my team and I are hosting our third annual series of community listening sessions across Ward 4. These conversations give neighbors the opportunity to shape our work on the Council when it comes to legislation, budget priorities, constituent services, and community initiatives. We only have three sessions left, including a virtual session this coming Thursday that is open to all Ward 4 residents. Remember to RSVP!
- Monday, Jan. 30 at 6:30pm: Petworth and Brightwood Park
- Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 6pm: Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods, and Hawthorne
- Thursday, Feb. 2 at 6:30pm: Virtual, all are welcome!
Shepherd Park Citizens Association Potluck
On Sunday, January 28 from 5pm-7pm the Shepherd Park Citizens Association is bringing back its annual potluck at the Washington Ethical Society (7750 16th Street NW). Come enjoy live jazz music, face painting for kids, and an international-themed potluck with neighbors. Attendees are encouraged to sign up to bring a dish to share and to stay home if they feel sick.
Celebrating Black Life with Art at Petworth Library
Starting Saturday, January 28 through February 25 Petworth Neighborhood Library is inviting children ages 5-8, 9-12, and 13-19 to submit creations and projects related to celebrating Black life and Black history to Petworth Library as part of Black History Month. DCPL staff will display some pieces in the library. All entries must be dropped off in person.
Black Voices Book Club at Shepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton Library
On Monday, January 30 at 7pm the Black Voices Book Club, which meets the last Monday of each month, will host a book discussion on The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb at Shepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton Library. Copies of the book may be picked up at the library, with audiobooks and e-book formats also available.
“Do No Harm” 72-Hour Prayer Vigil in Ward 4
On Monday, January 30 at 7pm through Thursday, February 2 at 7pm faith leaders across Ward 4 have taken the initiative to host a “Do Not Harm” 72-hour prayer vigil against gun violence. Houses of worship will be open for 72 continuous hours of prayer, discussion, and sharing resources about building peace in our community. They are asking residents to join them at a time and location that is convenient for them, or participate by Zoom.
Serve as an ANC Commissioner in Lower Brightwood
Ward 4 currently has two ANC Commissioner vacancies in Single Member Districts 4A06 and 4A07 just north of Military Road in Brightwood. 4A06 and 4A07 include schools, small businesses, faith communities, single-family homes, apartment buildings, Rock Creek Park Golf Course, and Fort Stevens. If you live in this neighborhood, consider stepping up to serve or encouraging a dedicated neighbor to do so. The petition period to fill these seats is open and will run until January 30, 2023. Single Member District 4A05 is already represented by our dedicated ANC Commissioner Kim Patterson. To learn more about the process of running and find the required forms, please visit the Board of Elections website and their vacancy guide.
DC School Lottery Deadline for Grades 9-12 is February 1
Do you have children going to Grades 9-12 next school year? The DC School Lottery application for them is due on Wednesday, February 1. Visit the My School DC website to apply, learn more, see other deadlines, and find a calendar of open house school events.
DC Health Link Open Enrollment Ends on January 31
If you are looking to enroll in quality, affordable health insurance, DC’s health care exchange has many plans to fit different needs and budgets. But act soon, because open enrollment ends on January 31. Standard plans have no deductibles for essential care, and premiums are now as low as $11/month. Sign up and learn more on DC Health Link’s website.
Responding to OSSE Bus Delays
This month our community has been experiencing serious OSSE bus issues that are disrupting families’ school routes and primarily impacting students with disabilities. We have been in contact with OSSE about the urgent need to resolve these issues and improve communication with families. OSSE is implementing a plan to address driver and attendant shortages that includes hiring private contractors, hosting a driver hiring fair, working with schools to expand capacity, and streamlining communication with parents about delays and cancellations. OSSE has a dedicated webpage with regular updates to keep families and schools updated, as well as a reimbursement page for parents who transport eligible students to and from school.
Metro Increasing Train Frequency in February
Metro announced this week that starting Tuesday, February 7, riders on the Blue, Blue+ (Yellow Line replacement), and Orange lines will see trains every 12 minutes from 6am-9am and 3pm-6pm on Tuesdays through Thursdays. And starting Tuesday, February 21, Red Line riders will see trains run every 8 minutes all day until 9pm on Tuesdays through Thursdays.
Brightwood Car Barn Preservation Grant Fund
The DC Preservation League is distributing preservation initiative grants open only to individuals and 501(c)3 organizations within Ward 4. Grants are for preservation planning, preservation research, preservation outreach and education, and preservation bricks and mortar to enhance residents’ “understanding of historic resources in Brightwood and Ward 4 that add to the area’s unique cultural heritage.” Applications are due by March 1, and there are open houses scheduled on February 1 at 12pm and February 15 at 7pm.
AARP DC Tax-Aide Information Session (Virtual)
Do you need information about filing your taxes? Join AARP DC and AARP Foundation for a virtual session on Thursday, February 9 at 11am-12pm about the resources provided by Tax-Aide to DC residents. This session will provide general information regarding the available resources, including 2023 tax preparation service offerings; preparation locations, virtual options, and self-service tools; important tax filing documents; filing deadlines, and Q&A. Individual tax assistance will not be provided during the webinar. Register online to participate.
Safe at Home Program Expands for Seniors
DACL has expanded the Safe at Home program, which provides safety adaptations in and around the homes of qualifying seniors and adults with disabilities to reduce the risk of falls. Preventative adaptations can include handrails, grab bars, bathtub cuts, shower seats, furniture risers, and chair lift. Starting this month, the program will allow participants to voluntarily participate in vision screenings, medication management, and evidence-based balance and strength training classes to give seniors more options to reduce the risks of falls and live healthy lives. Virtual balance and strength training classes can be found on the DACL website, while in-person classes are being held at Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center (324 Kennedy Street NW; 202-291-6170) and other senior centers across the District. Learn more!
Propose a New Name for a Petworth Alley
A small development is being planned on two vacant lots in an alley in Petworth located between Georgia Avenue, 9th Street, Crittenden Street, and Buchanan Street NW. As part of that project, a new name must be given to the alley. One suggestion is to name this alley after artist Elizabeth Catlett, but the architect is also inviting proposals from the community. Andrew Linn is especially interested in hearing suggestions about individuals who have been particularly important to the neighborhood.
Shepherd Park Library Survey by DCPL
In 2020, DC Public Library released its 10-year Facilities Master Plan, which outlined recommendations to maintain, adapt, and grow the city’s public library system. As part of this early planning and with no final decisions made, DCPL is gathering community feedback on the possibility of relocating the Shepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton Library to the Parks at Walter Reed, retaining the existing site, or moving it to an alternative location. The current deadline to fill out the survey is February 10, and so far more than 800 residents have weighed in. Residents in Shepherd Park, North Portal Estates, Colonial Village, Takoma, Brightwood, Brightwood Park, Manor Park, and other nearby neighborhoods are encouraged to weigh in on this with DCPL’s survey.
Ward 4 Mutual Aid Grocery Distribution Dates
In 2023, Ward 4 Mutual Aid is continuing its important work supporting our community. On the following dates and times, the first 100 families that arrive at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church (744 Jefferson St NW) will be able to receive gift cards, diapers, food, and other items as available: Wednesday, February 15 at 5pm; Saturday, February 18 at noon; Wednesday, March 15 at 5pm; and Saturday, March 18 at noon. Ward 4 Mutual Aid also offers limited home deliveries on Saturdays. If you physically cannot make it to the church on a Wednesday or Saturday, please call or text the Ward 4 Mutual Aid Hotline at 202-681-3098 to sign up for delivery. Learn more on their website.
Composting Your Tree or Holiday Greenery
DPW is collecting Christmas trees and holiday greenery for composting this week through March 3! Place your tree or greenery in front of your home on the curb or tree box — or drop them off at Benning Road Transfer Station (3200 Benning Road NE) or Guy Mason Rec Center (3600 Calvert Street NW) during their regular business hours. Remember to remove all decorations from the tree and do not bag your tree and greenery. You can submit a 311 request for trees not collected within five days under the category “Christmas Tree Removal – Seasonal.” Trees and greenery collected through March 3 will be composted.
Leaf Collection Next Week: Petworth and Brightwood Park
Next week, DPW crews will begin their second round of leaf collection in Area D, which includes Petworth (east of Georgia Avenue) and Brightwood Park. If you live in these neighborhoods, please rake your leaves onto your curb or tree box so they can be collected. And if you live in another part of Ward 4 and your collection was missed, please call 311 and submit a missed leaf collection request for your block. If leaves are not collected within five business days, feel free to contact our constituent services team so we can support you.
Local News Links
DCist: Northern Bus Garage Will Be Home To All Electric Fleet When It Reopens
Petworth News: Have your voice heard by testifying for DC Public Library’s new location
Axios: DC ice cream shop customers start gesture of gifting free scoops
Washington Post: At DC ice cream shop, a chain of giving so everyone can get a scoop
Zero Waste DC: DPW Seeks Applicants to Establish New Food Waste Drop-Off Sites
Upshur Street NW: Flowers by Alexes flower shop now open to the public
Local DMV: Dental Wellness with Dr. Stella Chukwu of Shepherd Park’s Rockstar Pediatric Dentistry
Washingtonian: West African Artist Gives President Lincoln’s Cottage a Makeover
Washington Informer: Nineteenth Street Baptist Church Hosts 2023 Presidential Awards
Ward 4 Dispatch: Performance Oversight, Criminal Code, and Ward 4 Business Spotlight
If you missed the two stories above in Axios and the Washington Post about our local ice cream shop, Everyday Sundae, I encourage you to read them. They show what is best about our community: our willingness to step up and take care of each other. Since opening his shop, our neighbor Charles Foreman has been teaming up with others to give back to Ward 4 with community events, school visits, friendly conversation, and free ice cream scoops. Next chance you get, be sure to try Everyday Sundae — where the ice cream tastes great even in January.
I want to take a moment to thank every neighbor who has joined our community listening sessions so far. I deeply value being in our community and hearing directly from neighbors about the change they want to see. I am particularly grateful for the conversations that have been vulnerable and hard, because they allow us to speak to one another about the serious challenges that we face as a community and as a city. I listen intently and bring several staff members to each event so that what we hear from you shapes our work on the Council and in Ward 4. If you haven’t made it out yet, we have three more Listen As We Climb events next week (including a virtual session), and I’d love to see you there.
I hope you can get some rest this weekend, Ward 4.
Yours in Community,