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Ward 4 Dispatch: Expanding Bus Service, Council News, EdFest, and Events!

Dear Neighbors,

There’s a lot to look forward to this week! The Council is advancing several major bills next week, taking on critical issues like public housing and lead service line removal, and we’re preparing for the next Council term. We are also taking a major step towards expanding public transit and making it free in DC! Do you have yard signs you’re looking to recycle? There’s a great opportunity to recycle them on Saturday. We also have fun events coming up this weekend, like the Miracle on Upshur Street, Pajamarama shopping and the holiday market in Takoma, the holiday party at the Parks at Walter Reed, and much more. Check it all out below:


Council and Ward 4 News

Council Updates: DCHA, Lead-Free DC, and Bootcamp

If there is such a thing as a blockbuster Council session, it’s this upcoming legislative session on Tuesday, December 6 — our second-to-last session for this Council term! Because permanent legislation must be voted on twice to pass the Council, this is the last chance to hold a first vote on bills that the Council wants to pass before year’s end. Suffice to say, our tentative agenda for Tuesday is packed. Some of the permanent bills that will come up for a vote include my Safe Routes to School Act to require major traffic safety improvements around DC schools, the Metro for DC Act (more on that below), increases to SNAP benefits, a bill of rights for domestic workers, expanding access to medical cannabis,  comprehensive justice reform, and reforms to DC’s troubled forensics lab. Stay tuned for a run down on all of this next week! I also wanted to share some other legislative updates from this week:

  • On Wednesday the Council’s Housing Committee held an oversight roundtable on the DC Housing Authority’s response to HUD’s disturbing findings showing failures to maintain public housing units in good condition, ensure safety in public housing, fill vacant units with residents who need housing, and comply with federal regulations. My questions focused on the urgency of filling vacancies in our public housing. These are deeply affordable housing units that so many DC residents need, but about 20% of our public housing stock is unoccupied. In Ward 4, our only public housing complex has only a quarter of its units occupied, even as more than 4,000 of our city’s seniors are on the waitlist for public housing. Unacceptable. I also called for DCHA to put systems in place that empower tenant voices in building maintenance. We need residents in these buildings to have a greater say in how their properties are maintained. Big, agency-wide reforms are needed to do right by our neighbors living in public housing.

  • After last month’s powerful hearing on my legislation to create sustainable social housing in DC, I’m excited to share that our Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC bill will also have a hearing on Monday, December 12 starting at 1pm before the Labor Committee.  This legislation would accelerate the removal of hazardous lead water service lines in DC, expand our lead remediation specialist workforce, and create good union jobs. All of this is necessary for the District to meet its goal of removing all remaining hazardous lead water service lines by 2030. I’m grateful to Councilmember Elissa Silverman and the Labor Committee for scheduling this hearing, which will focus on the bill’s provisions to facilitate job training and expand the rights of workers. Community members can sign up to testify until 5pm on Thursday, December 8.

  • This week I also joined fellow first-term Councilmembers Christina Henderson and Brooke Pinto for a legislative bootcamp to prepare us for taking on new oversight roles next year on the Council. Councilmembers traditionally do not chair committees during their first term, so next Council term (January 2023 – December 2024) will be our first opportunity to chair a Council committee. The training was held by former staff for Senator Carl Levin, who was renowned for his rigorous, facts-based, hands-on government oversight approach. Thank you to Levin Center staff for the great training!

Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Completed Early

This week DDOT announced that the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Project has been completed six months ahead of schedule! The rehabilitation of the trail will offer cyclists and pedestrians nearly three miles of reconstructed trail from M Street in Georgetown all the way up to Broad Branch Road NW — as well as a new 110-foot pedestrian bridge just south of the existing Beach Drive tunnel near the National Zoo. The new bridge provides a dedicated path for cyclists and pedestrians away from the narrow sidewalk in the tunnel along Beach Drive. In Ward 4, we are also benefitting from widening and improving the trail surface, significant stormwater management improvements, and streambank stabilization in Rock Creek and Piney Branch. An entire mile of the new trail was constructed alongside Piney Branch Parkway, providing new access to the park for the Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Petworth, and Sixteenth Street Heights neighborhoods. Check out the project website for more information, or visit Beach Drive or Piney Branch Parkway to see these improvements first hand!

Council to Expand Bus Service and Make MetroBus Free

This week we had a huge development in our efforts to boost public transit in DC! An updated version of the Metro for DC bill that we will vote on at Tuesday’s legislative session will make transformative changes to public transit in DC. If this bill passes:

  • MetroBus would become free in the District by July 2023. Any rider entering a MetroBus in DC would simply walk in rather than tap their SmartTrip card.
  • 12 major MetroBus lines in DC will provide 24-hour-a-day service, including the S2, 52, 70, and 80 routes in Ward 4. So not only will MetroBus be free, but these important lines will run overnight too. This is a major boost to DC’s nightlife and service sector, as well the workers and customers who sustain this sector.
  • There will be a new annual $10 million bus service improvement fund. It’s not enough to make public transit free; we also need to make it more reliable and attractive to riders. That’s exactly what this fund will be used for: making service more frequent, new bus shelters, dedicated bus lanes, and other improvements.
  • DC residents would also receive a monthly stipend on their SmartTrip card starting in 2024. This stipend was originally proposed to be $100 a month, and would be used to ride MetroRail or MetroBus outside of DC. The stipend would only be provided to residents who use their last month’s stipend.

How will this be funded if it passes? Making MetroBus free, overnight service, and the bus improvement fund would all be funded by setting aside future budget revenue that exceeds our revenue estimates — not additional taxes.

I co-introduced the Metro for DC bill (led by my Ward 6 colleague, Councilmember Charles Allen) because I believe that public transit is a public good that should be free, frequent, and reliable for everyone. I’m looking forward to voting with my colleagues on Tuesday to help make that vision a reality. This will support workers who rely on public transit to get to work, students going to school, our seniors as they move around the city, and our small businesses. It will also help reduce pollution, cut back on congestion, improve traffic safety, benefit our health, and help protect our planet!


Neighborhood Events

Miracle on Upshur Street in December

On Saturday, December 3 from 10am-1pm Petworth Main Street and Petworth Peanuts will host Miracle on Upshur Street at Petworth Rec Center (8th & Upshur NW). Enjoy a visit from Santa, free photos with Santa, live music, balloon artists, face painters, and lots of holiday fun.

DPR College Prep and Career Readiness Fair at Emery

On Saturday, December 3 at 12pm-4pm DPR will host a College Prep and Career Readiness Fair at Emery Heights Community Center (5801 Georgia Ave NW). College admissions officers and career professionals will be there to discuss students’ college, job, and internship options in a pressure-free environment. Be sure to register your child in advance if they plan to attend.

Roosevelt vies for the DCSAA Class AA Football Championship

On Saturday, December 3 at 3:30pm the Roosevelt Rough Riders will take on Friendship Collegiate Academy for the DCSAA Class AA Football Championship at Howard University’s Green Stadium. Find more information and tickets on the DCSAA website. Go Rough Riders!

Holiday Celebration at the Parks at Walter Reed

On Saturday, December 3 from 5pm-7pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host a holiday celebration with friends and neighbors enjoying holiday tunes from a choir, hot beverages, fire pits, s’mores, and tasty treats for kids and adults alike. RSVP online!

Takoma Pajamarama and Holiday Market

On Sunday, December 4 from 11am-4pm Takoma Main Street will host its annual Pajamarama holiday market outside the Takoma Theater (6833 4th St, NW) with local artists, makers, and collectors offering products that are perfect for holiday gift giving. Earlier in the day from 8am-11am, neighbors are encouraged to shop in their PJs at local Takoma businesses, more than 30 of which are offering discounts to pajama-wearing shoppers! Find more information and a full list of vendors and participating businesses on the TMS website.

Volunteer with Petworth Blooms at Larry Allen Park

On Sunday, December 4 at 10am and at 2pm Petworth Blooms will have two volunteer shifts of planting bulbs and perennials at Larry Allen Park (9th & Gallatin NW). Come lend a hand in the morning at 10 am or in the afternoon at 2pm. Thank you as always to Steven Feingold for leading these efforts!

Friends of Petworth Library Used Books Sale

On Saturday, December 10 from 10:30am-3pm the Friends of Petworth Library will host a used book sale and community event in the library’s meeting room (4200 Kansas Ave NW). There will be a used books sale, kids activities, puzzles and game swaps, merch sales, and a raffle for people of all ages. Come out to support our local library!

Biometric Wellness Screening at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church

On Sunday, December 11 from 11am-3pm Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (4606 16th St NW) will be teaming up with Quest Diagnostics to offer biometric wellness screenings for any Ward 4 adult. Promote a healthy lifestyle by knowing your body’s critical health indicator numbers, including blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol. Contact Health Navigator Janyce Jefferson at janycefaye@icloud.com or 410-804-9325 to register for a wellness screening.


Community Resources

Yard Sign Community Clean Up

Do you have yard signs you’d like to get rid of? The Mayor’s Office of the Clean City is offering eight collection points across DC to drop off yard signs for recycling on Saturday, December 3, including Petworth Rec Center at 12pm in Ward 4. You can recycle old yard signs while also enjoying the Miracle on Upshur Street event at the same time and the same place.

Information about the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

DC Health has shared some important information, which has been hitting vulnerable populations like young children and older adults particularly hard this year. Check out these flyers in English and Spanish with key information, common symptoms, and how to protect your health and your family’s health.

Flu Shots, Boosters, Masks, and Tests at our COVID Centers

With the holidays upon us, remember that our DC COVID Centers offer free COVID shots, the bivalent booster, flu shots, masks, rapid tests, and walk-up PCR tests. We are fortunate to have a great Ward 4 COVID Center with dedicated staff at 4704 13th Street NW that is open six days a week. Be sure to stop by for anything you need to stay healthy!

DC School Lottery Virtual EdFEST and Key Dates

If you’re a parent planning to send your child to a DCPS or PCS school or Pre-K next year, mark your calendars! On Saturday, December 10 at 10am, MySchool will host its virtual EdFEST where students and families will be able to explore the city’s public and public charter school options (PK3 – Grade 12), chat directly with school representatives, and learn about the public school lottery (RSVP). Just two days later, on December 12, DC lottery applications will open for DC families. The application deadline will be February 2023 for Grades 9-12 and March 2023 for Pre-K through Grade 8. Check out the My School DC website for more info.

Free Citywide Child Care Fair at Stadium Armory

Separately from the virtual EdFEst, the DC Association for the Education of Young Children is hosting a free citywide child care fair on Saturday, December 10 from 10am-3pm at Stadium Armory (2001 East Capitol Street SE) for families to explore DC’s diverse child care offerings. Staff from child care centers and homes from across DC will showcase their unique programs, and community service groups that offer resources to families of young children and early educators will be on hand to share information. Reserve your spot before you go.

Bridge Fund 3.0 for Small Businesses

Small businesses in the retail, restaurant, and entertainment sectors who experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic will soon be able to apply for grants worth $5,000 to $45,000 from DC’s Bridge Fund. Businesses that have not received prior relief grants will receive priority. Applications open on November 28 and close on January 13.

Take the Parks at Walter Reed Events Survey

The Parks at Walter Reed just released their annual survey for neighbors to have a say on what types of events and activities they’d like to see at the Parks this coming year. Weigh in!

A Community History: Walter Reed

The Parks at Walter Reed has unveiled a fascinating project that traces the history of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and its surrounding neighborhoods. The project entailed a year of research and engagement, including interviews with more than 115 participants. The result is a comprehensive timeline of Walter Reed that traces back to the opening of Walter Reed General Hospital in 1909, the influenza pandemic in 1918, the first Easter egg roll on the Great Lawn in 1923, and the decades-long struggle for racial equity on the campus.

Leaf Collection Continues in *Area C* Next Week

Leaf collection will be continuing next week (December 5-10) in Area C in Ward 4, which includes parts of Takoma, Manor Park, Lamond Riggs, and other Ward 4 neighborhoods east of 8th Street and north of Missouri Avenue and Riggs Road. Be sure to rake your leaves onto your curb or tree box (not in bags or on the street) so they can be collected. Due to leaves falling earlier than expected this year, the first pass of leaf collection is behind schedule. Please check DPW’s online tracker to see whether crews have reached your area.


Local Links

DC Urban Turf: 435 Apartments, Open Space and Climbable Art: A Detailed Look at the Plans For the Takoma Metro

Washington PostDC lawmakers pitch a plan for ‘Green New Deal for Housing’

DCistDC Housing Authority Officials Face Questions And Skepticism Over Plans To Reform Troubled Agency

Petworth NewsSaturday soft opening for Petworth Social Bar & Grill

Channel 7DC puts violence interrupters in 3 high schools, 3 middle schools (including Paul PCS)

Petworth News701 Kennedy Street… vacant forever?

DCistThe Legendary Carter Barron Amphitheatre Is Falling Apart. This Group Wants To Bring It Back To Life

Washington Post: Coolidge emphatic in beating Maret for its first DCSAA Class A title

Washington Post: Roosevelt beats Dunbar to claim second straight Turkey Bowl

Ward 4 Dispatch: Thanksgiving Update from Councilmember Lewis George

Our Ward 4 football teams have brought so much pride to Ward 4 this season! Join me in giving a huge congrats to our Coolidge Colts for winning the Gravy Bowl and the DCSAA Class A Football Championship. And congrats to our Roosevelt Rough Riders for winning the Turkey Bowl, and good luck to them as they vie for the DCSAA Class AA championship tomorrow! Thanks to all the players, coaches, cheerleaders, and families for bringing the glory to Ward 4.


As we wrap up this two-year term, I want to continue spotlighting our amazing community leaders in Ward 4. This week I had the privilege of honoring 4B04 Commissioner Brenda Parks with a ceremonial letter that expresses our gratitude for her service to our Ward as a past chair of ANC 4B and an ANC Commissioner for a decade. Through tireless work and servant leadership, Commissioner Parks has made our community stronger, safer, and healthier. She has also mentored others as they took on their roles and worked with a collaborative spirit to make real progress for neighbors. Ward 4 is a great place to live because of the strength, courage, and dedication of leaders like Commissioner Parks.

I hope to run into many of you at the great Ward 4 events we have coming up. Stay tuned for more big legislative news after our Council session on Tuesday. And have a fantastic weekend!

Yours in Community,
—Janeese