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Ward 4 Dispatch: Fourth of July Celebrations, New Lamond Riggs Library, and Community Updates

Dear Neighbors,

As we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, I wanted to share opportunities to be in community with your neighbors, as well as report back on our Summer Safety Strategic Meeting, the Council’s legislative session on Tuesday, the new Lamond Riggs Library, and many other community resources and events.

Ward 4 and Legislative News

Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting

Thank you to every community member who joined the Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting on Wednesday. I’m grateful we had the Office of the DC Attorney General, MPD’s Fourth District, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, the InnerCity Collaborative, the Department of Behavioral Health, and the Office of Victims Services and Justice Grants all present as representatives of a multifaceted, interagency approach to addressing crime and gun violence in our community. Agencies laid out specific actions they are taking to step up their efforts in Ward 4 over the summer and fielded questions and requests from neighbors on specific issues ranging from mental health resources in our schools, specific patrol areas, crime suppression, violence interruption, and more.

  • MPD Fourth District: Touched on their crime suppression unit, increased focus on Georgia Avenue and transit corridors, more community patrols, reliance on camera footage to close cases, and increasing communication with community.
  • DC Attorney General: Discussed their work addressing nuisance properties in Ward 4 such as the Starlight Plaza on Kennedy Street, their approach on juvenile offenses, restorative justice initiatives, lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and the promising Cure the Streets site coming to Ward 4.
  • InnerCity Collaborative: As the nonprofit overseeing the new Cure the Streets violence interruption team in Petworth and Brightwood Park, they have secured a space in Ward 4, started hiring, and have started responding to incidents. They will be fully operational in 2-3 weeks and help address retaliatory conflicts driving gun violence.
  • Office of Neighborhood Safety: Laid out efforts in Ward 4, including their existing violence interruption team with Collaborative Solutions, the Pathways transitional employment program with dedicated slots for Ward 4 residents, and their Leadership Academy initiative based at Paul PCS  to engage at-risk youth and their families.
  • Department of Behavioral Health: Shared information about their 24-hour community response teams for emotional, psychiatric or substance abuse issues, their 24-hour Access Helpline for mental health issues, and their willingness to attend community events and hold neighborhood pop-ups to share resources.
  • Office of Victim Services: Highlighted the private security camera rebate program to cover the cost for residents, businesses, and nonprofits to install security cameras on their properties, the DC Victim Hotline to help victims of crime navigate resources, and the Crime Victims Compensation Fund run by DC Superior Court.

Regardless of what may be happening elsewhere, here in Ward 4 we are all working collaboratively to address the urgent need to make our communities safe. That is what it’s going to take to break away from the devastating trends we’re seeing with gun violence surging citywide and nationwide. Our agencies recognize that our community is hurting and feel accountable to each do their part to build peace in both the short-term and long-term. Their strategies will be shaped by what they heard from neighbors on Wednesday and ongoing input from our community. You can watch a full recording of the meeting, as well as the slides from my presentation.

Updating You on the Council’s Legislative Work

This Tuesday the Council had a legislative session where it acted on several important pieces of legislation. Here are some key highlights for your awareness:

  • Strengthening Protections Against Foreclosures. With DC’s foreclosure moratorium expiring earlier this week on June 30, I passed an emergency bill to add protections for DC homeowners who are still behind on their payments. First, I extended the deadline to apply for DC’s $50 million Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) from August 30 to September 30 so homeowners have more time to apply for the help they need. My bill also protects any homeowner who has an active application for support from foreclosure even beyond September 30. That means that if you apply for support to cure housing debts, you will still be protected from foreclosure. In addition, my bill requires DC to step up outreach around the program, and for notices about the HAF program to be sent to any homeowner who could be at risk of foreclosure by their lender or homeowner association at least 30 days prior to the start of any foreclosure action. If you know any homeowners who are struggling with mortgage payments, condo and coop fees, property taxes, or utilities, please encourage them to apply for HAF.
  • Allowing Residents Over 21 to Self-Certify Need for Medical Marijuana. The Council also voted on legislation to allow residents over the age of 21 to self-certify their need for medicinal cannabis when they are registering for a patient card, eliminating the need to secure a doctor’s recommendation to buy medical marijuana at DC’s dispensaries. This change, which was already in place for residents over the age of 65, will ease access to cannabis products for patients, who face barriers such as limited time, lack of health insurance, and lack of funds. It will also help support DC’s medical marijuana dispensaries, which provide safe, regulated, and locally-grown products. Of course, this measure would not be necessary if Congress did not impose a rider blocking DC from legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana.
  • Banning Noncompete Agreements for Many Employees in DC. The Council also gave initial approval to permanent legislation that will ban noncompete agreements for many employees in DC. Noncompete agreements ban workers at one company from going to work for (or starting) a competing business within a certain period of time after leaving a job. While businesses in certain industries may have valid reasons to use noncompete agreements to safeguard trade secrets and other proprietary confidential information, these agreements are increasingly used across many sectors and for employees at various income levels. Noncompete agreements can be exploited to limit worker mobility, contribute to lower wage growth, prohibit holding second jobs needed to pay the bills, and trap workers in unhappy workplaces. On Tuesday the Council voted to ban these agreements for employees making less than $150,000 in total compensation. I supported a higher income threshold of $200,000 in base pay and including broadcast journalists in our protections, but an amendment lowering the income threshold and carving out broadcast employees was approved by a vote of 7-5.

Next week the Committee of the Whole will host a roundtable on the proposed Chevy Chase Small Area Plan on Tuesday, July 5, and the Committee on the Judiciary will host a bill hearing on legislation to allow permanent residents to vote in local elections on Thursday, July 7.

The New Lamond Riggs Lillian J. Huff Library Is Open!

On Monday, we celebrated the opening of the new Lamond Riggs DC Public Library, located at 5401 South Dakota Ave NE! I grew up going to the Lamond Riggs Library. It’s the place that brings our Ward 4 and Ward 5 communities together. It was moving to be there as we cut the ribbon on a beautiful expanded new space and dedicated the library to Lillian J. Huff, a Riggs Park civic leader and community activist. Without Lillian Huff’s decades of leadership and advocacy, we wouldn’t have this library in our community. Check out DCPL’s website for the Lamond Riggs Library’s full hours, contact information, and upcoming events. The new building is nearly 5,000 square feet larger than the previous space, and includes:

  • Expanded space for adults, teens, and children — and a discovery zone for children and infants
  • A variety of collaboration spaces, including a living room-style seating area and a large meeting room with a capacity for up to 100 people
  • Seven smaller meeting spaces, one for up to 12 people, two for up to 6 people each, and four study spaces designed for 2 people
  • A protected front porch area that is accessed from inside the library and offers an outdoor space for meetings, working, or reading a book — and a reading porch on the second floor
  • Several sustainability features, such as a bioretention system to filter rainwater, low-flow plumbing, extensive native plant landscaping, bike parking, a bike repair station in front of the library, and space for solar panels and an electric car charging station in the future.

Community Resources

DC’s Minimum Wage Rises to $16.10 Per Hour Today

Effective today, DC’s minimum wage increases from $15.20 to $16.10 per hour – higher than any state in the country. For tipped workers, the tipped minimum wage also went up to $5.35 per hour, with employers required to make up the difference to $16.10 if not covered by tips. DC residents will have the opportunity to approve extending the regular minimum wage for tipped workers with Initiative 82 during the November 8 general election. Be sure to spread the word about DC’s minimum wage to ensure each worker in DC receives the pay they are entitled to. In addition to a high minimum wage, DC guarantees paid family leavepaid sick leavebans the box, and has strong protections against wage theft.

Modified  DC Government Services for  Fourth of July

DC government is observing the Fourth of July on Monday, so we will have some changes to DC services. Let’s start with good news: all of DC’s outdoor pools will be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 10am-6pm! That includes Upshur Pool in Ward 4, which usually closes on Mondays. DC’s spray parks will also be open 10am-8pm all three days. DPR outdoor parks, playgrounds, athletic courts, and fields will be open on Monday, but DPR indoor pools, children’s pools, and recreation centers will be closed on Monday. Meanwhile DMV locations will be closed during the holiday weekend. COVID Centers, walk-up testing sites, and test pick-up locations will be closed on Monday. DCPL neighborhood locations and the MLK Memorial Library will be closed on Monday too. DPW household and trash recycling collections next week will slide a day to accommodate Monday’s holiday. All parking enforcement will be suspended on Monday except for Streetcar ticketing and towing. Read the Mayor’s full announcement for more details on all DC services. WMATA is warning that it will have lower MetroRail capacity than previous Fourth of July celebrations and asking residents to plan accordingly if they plan to ride downtown for the fireworks on Monday.

Fourth of July Fireworks: Be Safe and Be a Good Neighbor 

With Fourth of July Weekend upon us, I wanted to encourage our community to be good neighbors to each other. Although most fireworks are not permitted in DC, we know that we’re likely to see fireworks used this holiday weekend. Please do not use fireworks that are excessively loud, avoid setting off fireworks late into the night, and always be respectful of your neighbors. Also, bear in mind that law enforcement and our fire department are stretched thin on July 4th so please be mindful of their limited capacity by only contacting them when warranted. I also wanted to share this resource with helpful information on what types of fireworks are permitted in DC, firework safety tips, and contact information for the DC Fire and EMS’ Fire Prevention Division.

DC Health Communication and Vaccines for Monkeypox 

Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious viral illness that can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with body fluid or monkeypox lesions. DC has had 28 confirmed Monkeypox cases, with the first DC case confirmed on June 4. Please visit DC Health’s dedicated webpage about Monkeypox for more information on Monkeypox outbreak information, symptoms, transmission, and prevention. Due to limited availability of the monkeypox vaccine, DC Health is currently unable to schedule new appointments for the monkeypox vaccine clinic, but residents can sign up for updates when new vaccine doses become available in the coming weeks. DC Health is currently prioritizing high-risk groups given how limited supply currently is. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk, and it’s important to not create a stigma around this disease and ensure everyone is taking precautions. 

DC Outdoor Pools Now Open Six Days a Week!

After initially only opening on weekends, DC’s outdoor pools are now open for six days a week for the rest of the summer! That includes Upshur Pool in Ward 4, which is open 10am-6pm daily except for Mondays. Check out the full schedule for DC’s outdoor pools and plan your next visit. And plan ahead for large crowds on weekends by arriving a bit early.

Neighborhood Events

Rosé on the Plaza: First Summer Happy Hour at the Parks at Walter Reed

On Friday, July 1 from 5:30pm-7:30pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host Rosé on the Plaza, the first of a series of summer happy hours for people to enjoy a drink, dance, and mingle. The event is free, with beverages, food, and locally-made products available to purchase. The event will take place at the Arts Plaza (6310 Cameron Drive NW) and RSVP is required. Walking or biking there is highly recommended!

Invasive Plant Removal at Fort Slocum Park

On Saturday, July 2 from 10am-2pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service are hosting an invasive plant removal at Fort Slocum Park in Ward 4. Invasive plants are a major threat to our fragile forests, and stopping their spread helps allow for a thriving native understory. The event is free but registration is required.

Takoma Community Cleanup with Donut Run Donuts

On Sunday, July 3 at 9am 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer and 4B01 Commissioner Evan Yeats will host a community cleanup starting at Takoma Elementary (7010 Piney Branch Road, NW). They’ll clean up along Cedar Street NW and the surrounding area. In addition to cleaning litter, they will share details on how to submit 311 requests for city services. Kids are always welcome and community service hours can be approved for participating. They’ll also provide donuts from Ward 4 favorite Donut Run!

Corrected Date: IndiePendents Day at the 14th Street Graffiti Museum

On **Sunday, July 3** from 4pm-10pm the 14th Street Graffiti Museum at 4632 14th St NW (Rear) will host IndiePendents Day, a celebration with live performances, a vinyl market, DJs, and screenings of the hip-hop history documentary Fresh Convos. It’ll be a family-friendly event where all are welcome.

Crestwood Annual Fourth of July Parade

On Monday, July 4, 2022 at 10am the Crestwood Citizens Association will host its annual Fourth of July Parade starting from 1810 Shepherd St NW. The parade will continue to 18th Street, Taylor, and Argyle before circling back to Shepherd. Bring your floats, bikes, scooters, and trikes to decorate at 9:30am! Everyone is welcome to ride, walk, or take a seat and cheer on the parade. After the parade stay for breakfast, the sidewalk chalk mural, the star spangled photo op, and a most-patriotic contest with prizes for best decorated vehicle (scooter, bike, wagon) and best dressed child, adult, and dog.

4th of July Independence Day Celebration at the Soldiers Home

On Monday, July 4 from 4pm-9:30pm the Friends of the Soldiers Home will host their 10th annual Independence Day Celebration at the Soldiers Home. Come with your family to enjoy food, music, games, a bounce house, a kids scooter and bike parade at 6pm, community fun, and a great view of the National Mall Fireworks. They’re also looking for volunteers for the event, so consider lending a hand while enjoying the holiday! Enter at Rock Creek Church Rd & Randolph St NW, with entrance free on foot and a $10 fee for parking.

Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl

On Friday, July 8 from 10am-3pm and Saturday, July 9 from 10am-3pm The Parks Main Street is hosting its annual Riggs Park Art Crawl at Culture Coffee Too (300 Riggs Rd NE). Come out for two days of celebrating community and the arts with vendors, live painting, yoga, music, double dutch, self defense, spoken word, and a youth dance troupe.

DPR Summer 2022 Outdoor Movie Nights in Ward 4!

One of the best summer traditions is DC are outdoor movie nights. Check out the outdoor movie screenings hosted by DPR’s Roving Leaders this summer, including many at our Ward 4 parks and rec centers. Please keep in mind that outdoor movie nights are subject to cancellation due to weather.

  • Saturday, July 2 at 7pm: Takoma Rec Center, 300 Van Buren St NW (showing Disney/Pixar film Turning Red)
  • Tuesday, July 5 at 7pm: Shepherd Park Community Center, 7800 14th St NW 
  • Saturday, July 9 at 7pm: Fort Stevens Rec Center, 1327 Van Buren St NW 
  • Tuesday, July 12 at 7pm: Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center, 501 Riggs Rd NE 
  • Friday, July 15 at 7pm: Emery Heights Community Center @ Late Night Hype, 5701 Georgia Ave NW
  • Thursday, July 21 at 7pm: Larry Allen Park, Illinois Ave & 9th St NW (Turning Red)
  • Tuesday, July 26 at 7pm: Petworth Rec Center, 801 Taylor St NW 
  • Tuesday, August 16 at 7pm: Upshur Park, 4300 Arkansas Ave NW

And check out your local Ward 4 Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9am-1pm:   

Local Links

Washington Post: Sam Gilliam, abstract artist [and Ward 4 resident] who went beyond the frame, dies at 88

Petworth NewsThe Petworth Jazz Project returns this summer with three shows: July, August & September

Washington City PaperDC Dragged Its Feet in Handing Out Federal Money to Stop Foreclosures, Setting Up a Last-Minute Scramble

Previous Ward 4 Dispatch: Vaccine Updates, Homeowner Assistance, Graduations, and Community Events

Petworth NewsWard 4 has a new ANC/SMD map and needs new ANC Commissioners!

Press Release and Video: First Solar Shingle Project Completed Under District’s Solar for All Community Solar Program

This past weekend I got to join Peoples Congregational UCC for their moving Interfaith Caribbean Heritage worship service. Thank you to Dr. Goulda Downer for organizing the service and to Rev. Brandon Harris for reminding us to remember the faith and courage of our ancestors. It was the perfect end to celebrating our vibrant Caribbean community in Ward 4 for the Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

Wishing you all a restful holiday weekend.

Yours in Service,