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Ward 4 Dispatch: Come Testify, Ward 4 Listening Sessions, and Public Safety Updates

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you made it outside earlier today and enjoyed today’s unbelievable warmth. There’s no shortage of updates this week — performance oversight hearings, public safety updates, the cause of the DC Water issues last weekend. We have also have important updates on leaf collection, the DC School Lottery, the DC Health Link enrollment deadline, applications for the Summer Youth Employment Program, automated traffic enforcement starting on dedicated bus lanes, and four community listening sessions I’m hosting next week!


Key Hearings: DMPED, DACL, DDOT, DPW

We are officially in performance oversight season, when any DC resident can come before the Council and the agency director to speak about the changes they want to see in DC government. As Chair of the Facilities and Family Services Committee, I will be hosting four performance oversight hearings in February with our agencies that are responsible for building and maintaining DC buildings; supporting DC children and families; and supporting DC residents with disabilities. I am also attending as many other hearings under other Committees as I can to bring up issues impacting our Ward 4 residents. Please check out the full performance oversight hearing schedule for January and February and sign up to speak at the hearing that matters most to you.  If you have any questions about the process or want me to help raise your testimony with an agency, reach out to my office at teamjaneese@dccouncil.gov. Even if you cannot make it to a live hearing, you can still submit written comments by selecting “Submit Testimony” and then choosing “Record Testimony” (it only takes 5-10 minutes).

Key upcoming hearings include:

Surge in Federal Resources to Combat Crime

Today the US Department of Justice made a major announcement: the DOJ is sending more prosecutors and investigators to confront violent crime in DC. Currently, far too many crime cases in our city go unsolved or unprosecuted, and that hurts us. This is an important surge in federal resources that will help improve safety in our communities. Here’s how. DC’s public safety ecosystem includes local agencies like MPD and OAG, as well as federal agencies like the US Attorney’s Office for DC (USAO), which prosecutes all adult felony cases. As it has been widely reported, USAO declines to prosecute a large share of cases that are brought to them — more than other major cities, more than nearby jurisdictions, and more than its own past performance. When someone is arrested for a violent crime in the District, we often find out that the same individual was previously arrested for a serious offense but that charges were never brought. That is incredibly frustrating and perpetuates devastating cycles of violence.

In some cases, charges can be dropped due to lack of evidence, uncooperative witnesses, unfavorable court precedents, and other factors — but we also know that having limited prosecutorial capacity plays an important role. By having DOJ detail more prosecutors to USAO DC, the District can better address traumatizing offenses like carjackings, robberies, and firearms cases when arrests are made. And by also dedicating more investigative resources to DC, this will help the District make more arrests in violent crime cases. While crime rates this year are trending downward in DC compared to last year, they remain disturbingly high. Just this week, our community suffered a critical shooting at Arkansas & Emerson NW and several other incidents of gunfire across Ward 4. These are the tragic acts of violence that we urgently need to deter. The most effective way to drive down crime is to quickly apprehend wrongdoers and hold them accountable — exactly what the DOJ’s additional resources will help us accomplish — while also funding effective prevention programs and addressing the underlying causes of crime.

Other important public safety updates include:

  • This week DC announced a new initiative to train and support DC paramedics in performing pre-hospital blood transfusions to trauma patients. It can take up to 40 minutes for an ambulance in DC to reach a trauma center, so an earlier blood transfusion on the way to the hospital can save lives. Officials estimate that this could help as many as 400 patients a year, including gunshot victims.
  • Fourth District officers arrested two teenagers for an armed carjacking in Brightwood Park last Saturday. The victim’s vehicle was recovered by officers at the time of arrest.
  • If you missed our Ward 4 Strategic Safety Meeting last week, I shared a detailed summary of the meeting in my most recent newsletter. Thank you again to all the agency partners, ANC Commissioners, and neighbors who joined us.

The Cause of the Boil Water Advisory

Last weekend’s widespread water outages and subsequent boil water advisory were incredibly disruptive to our community, but I am grateful that testing determined our water was not contaminated by the loss of water pressure we experienced. I am also thankful for all the ways neighbors stepped up to support each other during the advisory. DC Water has now identified the cause of the water pressure loss that led to the boil water advisory: an unexpected loss of water supply from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct, which provides the drinking water that is delivered to DC residents through 1,300 miles of pipes. Due to EPA regulations and as an important precautionary measure, the temporary loss of pressure in DC Water’s distribution system required the boil water advisory until two consecutive days of tests proved that the outage did not cause any contamination. You can learn more details from DC Water’s full announcement on the cause of the boil water advisory.


Community Resources

Leaf Collection Begins in Section 4C on Monday

The second pass of leaf collection will begin in Section 4C the week of January 29. If you are a Ward 4 resident in Lamond, Riggs Park, South Manor Park, or Manor Park and Takoma east of 8th Street NW, please rake your leaves to your curb, tree box, or easement by Sunday, January 28 for DPW crews to collect. Meanwhile, DPW is planning to start its second round of collection in Section 4D during the week of February 5, so neighbors in Brightwood Park and Petworth (east of Georgia Avenue) should plan to have their leaves raked for collection by Sunday, February 4. Neighbors can monitor progress on DPW’s online leaf tracker and report missed leaf collection via 311.

Thursday Deadline: DC School Lottery Grades 9-12

The deadline for families to submit their applications for Grades 9-12 to the DC School Lottery is this coming Thursday, February 1. However, applications for PK3-Grade 8 are not due until March 1. Many of our schools have open house events where prospective students and their families can visit. Please strongly consider our amazing Ward 4 schools for your next chapter!

Apply for the Summer Youth Employment Program

Applications are now opaen for the Mayor Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program for DC youth ages 14-24! This is a great way for young people in the District to earn pay, gain valuable experience, and contribute to the work of our agencies, local businesses, and community organizations. Youth can apply for SYEP through March 6 and organizations can also apply to host SYEP participants. This is the 45th year of the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, and past participants include Oscar-nominated actor Jeffrey Wright.

DDOT to Start Ticketing Cars in Dedicated Bus Lanes

DDOT announced that it will begin ticketing cars illegally driving, parking, standing, or stopping in dedicated bus lanes (typically marked by red paint and signs) with automated traffic cameras mounted on MetroBuses starting on Monday, January 29. In November, the agency already started ticketing cars that park or idle in front of bus stops through the Clear Lanes program, and now it will apply the same enforcement to bus lanes — so please steer clear of the bus stops and bus lanes to avoid being ticketed. Each photo from traffic cameras is sent to DDOT to verify whether there was a violation before a ticket is issued, and tickets can be appealed. You can find a full list of current and future dedicated bus lanes on DDOT’s website, which also has a helpful FAQ. The Clear Lanes program aims to improve bus service and reliability and to ensure that bus stops are fully accessible (especially for seniors and riders with disabilities).

January 31: DC Health Link Enrollment Deadline

Another important deadline coming up: Wednesday, January 31 is the last day of open enrollment for DC Health Link, which is the District’s open marketplace created to implement the Affordable Care Act. Check out the quality health care plans they offer for you and your family. The Inflation Reduction Act reduced monthly premiums for qualified residents in 2024.

Consumer Alert on Rental Fees and Protections

Looking for a new place to rent? If you are, the Office of the DC Attorney General issued an important consumer alert on rental fees. Under DC law, landlords cannot charge more than $52 for an application fee, and junk fees or excessive fees after a lease is signed are prohibited. Additionally, late fees for late payment of rent cannot exceed 5% of your monthly rent and cannot be imposed until 5 days after the rent is due. Check out the full consumer alert for more.

Take The Parks at Walter Reed 2024 Survey 

Ward 4 residents can share their feedback on what events they would like to see at The Parks at Walter Reed in 2024 through a brief online survey. Community feedback will shape the programming at The Parks throughout this year. Take a moment to weigh in

Senior SmarTrip Cards for Metro Are Now Free 

Good news for our seniors: Senior SmarTrip Cards are now free. Seniors can now pick up free Senior SmarTrip cards and always get 50% off all their fares. Senior SmarTrip cards can be picked up at the Transit Accessibility Center (655 Virginia Ave SW) and a few other locations. Learn about Senior SmarTrip Cards and how to access them on WMATA’s website

New 4B10 Commissioner for Lamond Riggs 

Our Lamond Riggs community in SMD 4B10 has a new ANC Commissioner! Please join me in thanking Commissioner Jinin Berry for stepping up to serve her neighbors. She can be reached at 4B10@anc.dc.gov. As of today, all our ANC vacancies in Ward 4 have been filled. 

Summer EBT for Families with School-Aged Kids 

More good news for District families and our fight to eliminate hunger: DHS confirmed last week that it plans to participate in the USDA’s 2024 Summer EBT program. This program will deliver additional food assistance during the summer to DC families with school-aged children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches at school. More than one out of every three DC residents faces food insecurity, and the rate is even higher for families with children. The summer is when children are most vulnerable to food insecurity because they do not attend school, where meals are regularly provided to children regardless of income. This federal program will keep DC families fed during the summer at little expense to the District. 

New Sidewalks Coming to Ward 4 

DDOT has undertaken a long-term project to add sidewalks on residential streets that do not already have them. The District has a massive gap in sidewalks that needs to be addressed in order to improve pedestrian safety. This project will prioritize sidewalks based on factors like safety, proximity to schools and parks, and bus stop data. Check out the project website for a more detailed breakdown. Property owners on streets set to receive new sidewalks will receive a detailed notice and will have the chance to weigh in on the design of the new sidewalks. Here is the list of new sidewalks coming to Ward 4 in 2024, which are mainly located in the Colonial Village and Lamond Riggs neighborhoods. 


Neighborhood Events

Coat and Shoe Drive at Hedzole Restaurant

On Saturday, January 27 from 11:30am-2:30pm Hedzole Restaurant will be hosting a shoe and coat drive to collect new and pre-loved coats and shoes to benefit children in our community. Please stop by at 5505 Colorado Ave NW to show your support.

Weekly Chevy Chase Farmers Market  

On Saturday, January 27 from 9am-1pm and every Saturday year-round the Chevy Chase Farmers Market takes place at Lafayette Elementary (5701 Broad Branch Rd NW) and brings fresh, local food and goods to Chevy Chase neighbors.

Crestworth Open Art Studios (Sixteenth Street Heights)

On Saturday, January 27 from 1pm-5pm Crestworth Studios will host their first Open Studios event since 2020 at 4602 14th St NW! This is the perfect opportunity to check out new art, engage with artists, and celebrate the talent and diversity of our local art communities. Participating artists include Aklilu Bizuayehu, Jenn DePalma, Anna Ersenkal, Sarah J. Hull, Kalea Matsakis, Rebecca Perez, Heidi Phelps, Fitsum Shebeshe, and W. Reid Westlund.

Weekly Takoma Park Farmers Market   

On Sunday, January 28 from 10am-2pm and every Sunday year-round the Takoma Park Farmers Market takes place at 6931 Laurel Ave in Takoma Park, MD. Come find seasonal produce, breads, meats, artisan cheese, eggs, baked goods, and more from local farms. 

Shepherd Field Invasive Plant Removal

On Sunday, January 28 from 2pm-4pm the Shepherd Park Weed Warriors will be back at Shepherd Field to remove invasive plants that threaten our local ecosystem. Join them!

Listening Session for Sixteenth Street Heights, Crestwood, and Brightwood

On Monday, January 29 from 6:30pm-8:30pm I will host our community listening session for neighbors in Sixteenth Street Heights, Crestwood, and Brightwood at Brightwood Elementary (1300 Nicholson St NW). The insights and ideas neighbors share at our listening sessions will shape my legislation, budget, and agency oversight work. Sign up to join this event or one of the other listening sessions we will host in Ward 4 (including a virtual option).

NEW DATE: Listening Session for Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods, and Hawthorne

On Tuesday, January 30 from 6pm-8pm I will host our community listening session for neighbors in Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods, and Hawthorne at Lafayette-Pointer Rec Center (5900 33rd St NW). Thank you neighbors for your patience as we rescheduled this event.

ANC 4C Public Safety Meeting for Petworth

On Wednesday, January 31 from 6pm-8pm ANC 4C will host a public safety meeting at Roosevelt High School focused on the safety needs of the Petworth area. The event will include MPD, OAG, our Ward 4 Council Office, US Attorney’s Office, DC’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Roosevelt Student Government Leaders. Neighbors are encouraged to attend in person, but they can also watch the meeting via Zoom by registering at this link.

Listening Session for North Portal, Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, and The Parks

On Wednesday, January 31 from 6:30pm-8:30pm I will host our community listening session for neighbors in North Portal Estates, Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, and The Parks at Walter Reed at Shepherd Park Christian Church (7900 Eastern Ave NW). The insights and ideas neighbors share at our listening sessions will shape my legislation, budget, and agency oversight work. Sign up to join this event or one of the other listening sessions we will host.

DC PLUG Meeting for Brightwood and Missouri Avenue

On Thursday, February 1 starting at 6:30pm DDOT and PEPCO are hosting a virtual meeting on the DC PLUG Project work that is being planned for the Brightwood neighborhood and parts of Missouri Avenue as part of Feeder 15021. This is an important project that will make DC’s electric grid far more resilient, but it is important that neighbors receive proper communication, understand the scope of the work, and disruptive work is limited.

Listening Session for Lamond, Riggs Park, and South Manor Park

On Saturday, February 3 from 2pm-4pm I will host our community listening session for neighbors in Lamond, Riggs Park, and South Manor Park at Lamond-Riggs Lillian J. Huff Library (5401 South Dakota Ave NE). Sign up to join this event or one of the other listening sessions we will host, including a virtual event on February 7.

Ward 4 Youth Out Loud Poetry Slam (Cash Prizes)

On Saturday, February 3 from 5pm-7pm Day Eight will host a Ward 4 Youth Out Loud Poetry Slam open mic with cash prizes for middle and high school students at the Takoma Busboys and Poets. Following the slam, selected middle and high school students will be invited to participate in workshops with slam champion Regie Cabico to hone vocal, writing, and performance skills. Learn more and sign up to participate in the slam on Day Eight’s website.

For more local events, check out DPR, DC Public Library, NPS, and Rock Creek Conservancy.


Ward 4 in the News

Post: HUD Investigates Whether DC Landlords Overcharge for Voucher Units

Informer: Capital Divide: Alarming Wealth Gap Puts DC at Forefront of Inequality

DC Line: After Monthslong Fight, Emergency Rental Assistance Gets More Funding

Channel 9: Yes, DC Neighbors Are Using the New 211 Warmline

Washington Informer: The Collins Council Report (January 23)

Washingtonian: The 100 Best Restaurants in DC (Featuring Menya Hosaki in Ward 4)

Petworth News: Help Choose Lower Georgia Avenue’s New Street Banners!

The Parks Main Street: Up to $5,000 Grants for Manor Park and Riggs Park Businesses 

Channel 7: Petworth Resident Builds Incredible Lego Model of Dulles Airport

City Paper: A Bright Future Ahead for Local Ethiopian American Photographer Redeat Wondemu

DDOT: Traffic Advisory for the 6700-6900 Blocks of Piney Branch Road NW for DC PLUG

DDOT: Metropolitan Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma January Newsletter 

Next Stop… Riggs Park: MLK Day Gallatin-Galloway Trail Cleanup

DCist: DC Council Audit Finds Fault In Housing Inspections System

City Paper: Washington Gas Deploys Lobbyists to Kill Legislation Promoting Electric Appliances

DCist: There’s A Growing Push To Develop Social Housing In DC. What Is It?

Channel 7: Residents Share Concerns Amid Juvenile Crime, Discuss School Safety Bills

Ward 4 Dispatch: Boil Water Advisory, Safety Meeting Recap, New Sidewalks, and Snow!


This week I had the chance to rejoin Ms. Beer’s Government class at Roosevelt High School! Roosevelt’s Global Service and Diplomacy Academies is one of its three excellent NAF Academies — along with Culinary Arts and Business Management programs. Our schools have some great Career and Technical Education opportunities (CTE), and more are needed!

I was also grateful to hear from Ward 4 parents who visited the Council this week with DC PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education). Ahead of DC budget season, we discussed the critical need to expand access to specialized programs, improve transit options for students, expand safe passage, and increase school safety supports in Ward 4 and all of DC.

Shoutout to all of the students, parents, educators, school leaders, and community members who advocate tirelessly to meet the needs of our schools. You make a difference! 

I hope all us can enjoy this unseasonably warm weekend!

Yours in Community,
—Janeese