Happy Veterans Day! This week I’m sharing key updates on Grant Circle, Council action, our Ward 4 Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway, leaf collection, modified city services, the start of bus zone enforcement next week, public safety, ANC vacancies, local events, and much more!
DDOT’s Draft Safety Plan for Grant Circle
This week DDOT unveiled the initial design for its proposed traffic safety plan for Grant Circle in Petworth. Grant Circle is a community hub and one of the greatest resources we have in Ward 4, but it is unsafe for families due to dangerous driving, constant near-misses, and frequent crashes. While we have been able to make some targeted upgrades around the Circle, the major safety issues have persisted. DDOT’s proposed plan is a direct response to our community’s strong calls for comprehensive improvements that prioritize the safety of all road users. Here are highlights from DDOT’s plan, which the agency emphasized is only an initial concept design and subject to changes based on community feedback.
- Installing pedestrian islands at the major entrances and exits of the Circle to reduce pedestrian crossing distances and slow cars as they come in and out of the Circle
- Implementing the features of a Dutch-style roundabout to improve conflict angles between cars, cyclists, and pedestrians in order to reduce the risk of crashes
- Reducing the number of traffic lanes from two to one for most of Grant Circle to shorten nearly every crosswalk to just one traffic lane
- Maintaining two lanes on the west side of Grant Circle and including pocket exits on both sides of New Hampshire Avenue to ease traffic congestion and prevent traffic from overflow to nearby streets
- Adding a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon to improve pedestrian visibility and driver yielding at the crosswalk on Varnum Street on the west side of Grant Circle, which would be the only remaining two-lane crosswalk
- Installing a fully protected bike lane around the Circle to allow cyclists to travel on the Circle safely and installing two floating bus islands to improve transit safety and bus service
- Potentially removing two dozen parking spaces from Grant Circle to accommodate all of the improvements described above.
- On the south side of Grant Circle, potentially reversing the first block on 5th Street to move northbound and restoring Illinois Avenue as a two-way street — in order to divert the significant traffic flow that 5th Street currently receives (I believe this would also require traffic safety improvements on Illinois Avenue.)
Check out the full presentation and one-pager for additional details. There are many encouraging elements to this plan, but we know that there are also areas of improvement that neighbors will help determine. DDOT plans to gather community feedback and finalize the design for this capital project in 2024, and then construct it in 2025. If you would like to weigh in right away, you can share your preliminary thoughts with our Ward 4 DDOT representative at email@example.com. Shoutout to 4C05 Commissioner Brittany Kademian and 4C06 Commissioner Karen Livingston for co-hosting DDOT’s meeting and to all of our Ward 4 Commissioners and neighbors who have been advocating for safety improvements at Grant Circle. There is too much at stake for Ward 4 families for us not to take strong action.
Council Legislative Action
At our November 7 Legislative Meeting this week, the DC Council took action on several fronts:
- We gave final passage to the Pathways to Behavioral Health Degrees Act from Councilmember Robert White, which creates a free Masters of Social Work program at UDC to address DC’s severe shortage of social workers. Having a stronger pipeline of social workers who understand our communities is critical for addressing DC’s housing crisis, unemployment, mental health care, substance abuse issues, and the needs of our schools.
- We unanimously confirmed Pamela Smith as the new Chief of MPD. Chief Smith leads MPD at an incredibly difficult moment for our city, but from my conversations with her I know that she understands and is committed to meeting our safety needs in Ward 4. She has also committed to important steps like more officer foot patrols, weekly safety walks that increase MPD visibility, and a greater focus on closing cases.
- We also confirmed Delano Hunter as the new director of DGS, the agency that builds, maintains, and sustains DC buildings. As Chair of the Facilities and Family Services Committee, I am working collaboratively with Director Hunter to bring urgently-needed progress and systemic changes to DGS through direct engagement with the agency, Council oversight, legislation, and budget investments.
- And we blocked the Mayor from moving $20 million away from DC’s emergency rental assistance program. Rental assistance is a lifeline that keeps DC families from losing their homes, but the need in our city is overwhelming right now. My office is being flooded with requests for aid and the city is not planning to accept new applications until January. We need more rental relief — not less.
- And finally, we approved a Sense of the Council Resolution from Councilmember Christina Henderson urging the Mayor to declare the opioid and fentanyl crisis in DC a public health emergency. DC suffered 461 opioid-related fatal overdoses in 2022, and 2023 looks like it will be even deadlier. We need stronger action to save lives.
One more important note: on Wednesday, November 15 starting at 11am, the Council will hold a hearing to consider my bill to require all publicly-owned indoor pools in DC to be open to the public at least one weekend day per week. If you are interested in having year-round weekend access to indoor pools like Roosevelt Pool in Ward 4, please sign up to testify by Monday at 5pm or send comments in support of the bill to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ward 4 Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway
The annual Ward 4 Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway for Ward 4 families in need will take place on Saturday, November 18 starting at 11am at Riggs LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Rd NE). The event will be first come, first serve while supplies last, and residents will be asked to bring proof of Ward 4 residency (DC ID, lease, utility bill, etc). To ensure we help as many Ward 4 families as possible, each family will be limited to one turkey. I am grateful to be partnering with the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association again this year to co-host this event. Please help us get the word out by sharing the flyer in English or Spanish — or by sharing the flyer on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Another option for residents is the Destiny Church for All Nations Turkey Giveaway on Sunday, November 19 at 9:30am at 5209 Georgia Avenue NW (between Brightwood Park and Sixteenth Street Heights). If you want to spread the word about other Thanksgiving giveaway events in our community, please send them to us at email@example.com. Let’s ensure every Ward 4 family has a great Thanksgiving meal.
Leaf Collection Starts in Section 4B Next Week
Next week, the week of November 13, leaf collection will begin in Section 4B, which includes all of Crestwood, all of Sixteenth Street Heights, and the part of Petworth west of Georgia Avenue. If you live in these areas, please plan to rake your leaves on your tree box, curb, or easement by Sunday, November 12 for DPW crews to collect over the next two weeks. DPW will also collect leaves in paper bags, but they will not collect leaves in plastic bags. If you live in Section 4A/3A and your block does not receive leaf collection by the end of this weekend, please report it via the 311’s website or mobile app under the “Leaf Collection Missed” category, and try to include a photo if you can (and my team is happy to help, too). Remember that you can track DPW’s leaf collection progress on their website and that each area will receive two leaf collection passes.
Modified DC Services for Veterans Day
In observance of Veterans Day, some DC services will be modified this holiday weekend. DPW household trash and recycling collection, as well as curbside composting, will slide from Friday to Saturday this week — while leaf collection will operate on schedule. On Friday, Petworth Library is the only library in Ward 4 that will be open from 9am-5pm, while all DC Public Library locations will be closed on Saturday. DPR indoor rec centers and pools will be closed on Friday, but outdoor fields will remain open. DCPS schools will be closed on Friday, and parking enforcement will be suspended. Meanwhile, WMATA will run regular MetroRail service and a Saturday Supplemental Schedule for MetroBus (learn more).
Automated Bus Zone Enforcement Begins Next Week
DDOT announced this week that automated bus zone enforcement will begin on Wednesday, November 15 under the Clear Lanes project. Starting Wednesday, drivers who are illegally parked, stopped, or idling in front of a bus stop may receive a $100 ticket through automated traffic cameras mounted on MetroBuses. The Clear Lanes project aims to improve bus travel times and enhance safety and accessibility by ensuring the areas around bus stops are clear for riders to safely board onto buses. While Bus Zone enforcement will begin next week, Bus Lane enforcement will not begin until a later date — likely in January. Bus zones are the areas around a bus stop, while bus lanes are traffic lanes dedicated to buses that are typically painted red and marked by signs. Find more details in DDOT’s announcement and check out the map showing all the bus routes equipped with cameras on DDOT’s website.
Robbery Suppression and Safe Passage
We continue to work with our public safety agencies and communities to address the surge in robberies that we are seeing in DC. Members of MPD’s Robbery Suppression Initiative have been detailed to Fourth District week-after-week to help deter robberies, and a flex squad has been added to address crime trends that occur in real time through the District. Fourth District has also deployed additional resources along the 14th Street corridor. And to improve safety for our students, the Safe Passage program that serves schools in Takoma and Manor Park is expanding to cover Takoma Metro, which many students walk to as part of their commute.
You Can Now Look Up Rec Center Repairs Online
A small but important step towards transparency and better government: DGS updated its public dashboard to include work orders for repairs at our DPR parks, rec centers, and pools. The dashboard is updated daily and shows each work order’s request date, estimated completion date, and priority level. The Council required this change to ensure that DC residents can track whether the issues we see at our parks are being addressed. Please note that the dashboard is easier to navigate on desktop. You can display the full list of open work orders by selecting the small “FY24 DPR Open Work Orders” tab on the top of the screen.
Domestic Workers Employment Rights Act in Effect
After the Council passed the bill last year and funded it in our DC budget, the Domestic Workers Employment Rights Act is now in effect. The law requires employers to provide domestic workers an employment contract and a safe work environment. Please visit the DC Office of Human Rights webpage for more information on the law and how to file a complaint.
DC Opens First 24/7 Sobering Center
Last week DC opened its first 24-hour Stabilization Center at 35 K Street NE to provide short-term care for people experiencing a substance-use crisis or emergency. The 6,400-square-foot healthcare facility provides immediate care to patients free of charge and connects patients with nurses and nurse practitioners, peer specialists, and recovery coaches. The Stabilization Center is open to anyone 18 years and older with no residency requirement, no insurance requirement, and regardless of immigration status. Among many other benefits, the center will alleviate pressure on emergency rooms and emergency psychiatric centers.
Ward 4 Mutual Aid Grocery Distribution
On Saturday, November 18 starting at 10am at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church (744 Jefferson St NW), Ward 4 Mutual Aid will distribute gift cards, diapers, and other items to the first 100 Ward 4 families in need. There will be another distribution on December 16.
DPR Winter Programs Registration Is Open
Last week DPR opened registration for its winter programs, including aquatics, team and individual sports, out-of-school-time programs for young people, arts programs, and senior-centered programs. Find a full list of programs and the registration portal on DPR’s website.
DC Health Link Open Enrollment and Medicaid
On November 1, open enrollment began for DC Health Link, which is the District’s online state-based health insurance marketplace with subsidized health care plans. Please visit www.dchealthlink.com to explore their plans and enroll. Many DC residents are also eligible for Medicaid coverage. Please visit the District Direct website to enroll in Medicaid or submit your Medicaid renewal forms to keep your Medicaid coverage.
Water Main Replacement in Barnaby Woods and Hawthorne
This month DC Water is beginning a long-term water main replacement project in Barnaby Woods and Hawthorne. The work will primarily take place along Western Avenue from 9:30am-3:30pm on weekdays. These efforts will help improve water quality and system reliability, as well as increase water pressure in some areas. Check out the project notice for more details.
Run for ANC in Riggs Park, Brightwood Park, and 16th Street Heights
We have new ANC vacancies in three Single Member Districts in Ward 4: 4B10 in Riggs Park, 4D02 in Brightwood Park, and 4E04 in Sixteenth Street Heights. Check out this Ward 4 ANC & SMD map to see if you live in one of these districts. If you do, please consider running for ANC as a great way to serve your neighborhood. Petitions to run can now be picked up from the DC Board of Elections. And please join me in thanking LaRoya Huff, Carla Ferris, Kate Judson, and all of our current Ward 4 ANC Commissioners for their great service.
Free Community Shredding Day at AKA Xi Omega
On Saturday, November 11 from 9am-12pm the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Xi Omega Chapter will be offering free community shredding services at the Xi Omega Center (4411 14th St NW) in Ward 4.
Anxo Happy Trees Harvest Fest on Kennedy Street
On Saturday, November 11 from 12pm-5pm Anxo will host its annual Happy Trees Harvest Fest at 711 Kennedy Street featuring a foraged goods market, hot mulled cider, smash burgers, ice cream from Everyday Sundae, and a DJ set and Latin Jazz organized by HR Records.
Hellbender 9th Anniversary Celebration
On Saturday, November 11 from 1pm-8pm Hellbender Brewery in Lamond (5788 2nd St NE) will host a celebration for its 9th anniversary featuring beer, music, food trucks, and more!
Free Jazz Orchestra on Kennedy Street (Fran Vielma)
On Saturday, November 11 at 1pm HR Records will host a free jazz show for our Brightwood Park community on Kennedy Street featuring Fran Vielma Jazz Orchestra. The show will take place at 713 Kennedy Street and will be preceded by music from DJ Don Vik at 12pm.
St. Paul AME Veterans Day Event
On Saturday, November 11 from 11am-1pm St. Paul AME Church will host a special event focused on veterans in our community at the HUB Intergenerational Activity Center located in the lower level of the church (4901 14th St NW). Come engage in conversation with Joseph S. Koroma Jr from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
Shepherd Slope Cleanup with the Weed Warriors
On Sunday, November 12 from 2pm-4pm the mighty Shepherd Park Weed Warriors will be removing invasive vines from the slope of Shepherd soccer field behind Shepherd Park Elementary (7800 14th St NW). Bring gloves and pruners if you have them, but they will have extras if you don’t. No prior experience or plant knowledge is required!
“Tipping Point” Contemporary Ballet at Dance Loft
On Friday, November 10, Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12, Moveius Contemporary Ballet will present Tipping Point at the Dance Loft in Ward 4. This contemporary ballet show is “a three-part meditation through dance on living in times of instability.”
MPD Safety Walk in Sixteenth Street Heights
On Wednesday, November 15 at 5:30pm Fourth District will lead a public safety walk with partner agencies, ANCs, and neighbors in Sixteenth Street Heights starting at 1300 Longfellow NW. This weekly safety walk is a chance to discuss safety issues impacting our community.
Meeting on Metropolitan Branch Trail (Blair to Piney Branch)
On Wednesday, November 15 from 6pm-8pm DDOT will host a virtual meeting to discuss the Metropolitan Branch Trail (Blair Road to Piney Branch Road). With construction underway on the segment of the MBT that runs from Fort Totten to Aspen Street, DDOT will present on the next segment of the project in Takoma and gather community feedback.
Ward 4 Faith Leaders Breakfast: Fall 2023
On Thursday, November 16 I will co-host a Ward 4 Faith Leaders Breakfast with the Ward 4 Faith Leaders Against Gun Violence. This event will bring together leaders from Ward 4 congregations to discuss the major issues facing our communities, including public safety, reducing violence, affordable housing, and caring for our youth and seniors. If you know a faith leader in Ward 4 who wishes to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSBC Vaccine, Booster, Flu, and Shingles Shot Clinic
On Thursday, November 16 from 10am-1pm Nineteenth Street Baptist Church will host another Giant Pharmacy Clinic with COVID vaccines, boosters, flu shots, and shingles shots at 4606 16th Street NW. Registration will be taking place on site, and please contact email@example.com with any questions.
Race, History, and Rock Creek Panel Discussion (virtual)
On Thursday, November 16 from 5:30pm-7pm the Rock Creek Conservancy will host a virtual panel discussion titled “Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Rock Creek Park Reality” on the history and origins of the National Park Service and Rock Creek Park. The conversation will feature author Rolf Diamant and Acting Rock Creek Park Superintendent Brian Joyner.
Fort Stevens Thanksgiving Family Movie Night
On Friday, November 17 from 5pm-7pm the wonderful staff at Fort Stevens Rec Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) will host a family movie night as a fun way for families to bond and other members of the community to make memories over popcorn and hot cocoa.
Where Comedy Meets DC GoGo
On Sunday, November 19 from 7pm-11pm the Friends of Carter Barron Foundation For The Performing Arts will host Where Comedy Meets DC GoGo, a featured event with Nephew Tommy and some of DC’s favorite comedians and musicians — including Joe Clair, Mike Washington, Sirius Company featuring Sugar Bear, and Black Alley at the Capital Turnaround (770 M Street SE).
Ward 4 Local News
Petworth News: The Main Stage Lineup for Celebrate Petworth on November 18!
La Coop Coffee: La Coop Opens Pop-Up at Anxo on Kennedy Street to Serve Coffee and Pastries Everyday from 8am-2pm
DCist: New DC Bill Will Fund Social Work Degrees For Washingtonians
Jobs Not Guns DC: Citywide Recruitment Fair on Tuesday, November 28
Washington Post: A DC experiment seeks to save local news with local news coupons
Washington Informer: For One Night, Officers and Youth Connect on the Court
DCist: Attorney General Sues 14 Of DC’s Biggest Landlords For Colluding To Inflate Rental Prices
Washington Post: When Facing Eviction, Some DC Renters Will Now Get Free Lawyers
UFCW Local 400: Giant and Safeway Reach Tentative Agreement with Workers to Avert a Strike (Congratulations to our Ward 4 Unionized Grocery Store Workers!)
DC Public Library: DC Public Library Evil Laugh Contest 2023 Video Recap!
Urban Turf: DC’s Armed Forces Retirement Home Scuttles Huge Redevelopment Plans
Ward 4 Dispatch: Comprehensive Public Safety, Rock Creek Golf, and Newsletter by Text
Our Ward 4 community is mourning the loss of our beloved neighbor, Ms. Pamela Lipscomb — or “Momma G” as many of us affectionately knew her. In addition to being an amazing mother and role model for her two daughters, Ms. Pamela served as an educator for more than thirty years, including nearly two decades as the librarian at Jackson Reed High School and a tenure at Roosevelt STAY. She connected deeply with her students, helped instill a love for reading, and consistently advocated for well-resourced schools for all District students. Ms. Pamela’s legacy lives on through the warm memories she shared with loved ones and the countless lives of students and neighbors that she touched.
As we head into the weekend, I wish a joyful Diwali to everyone in our community celebrating the Festival of Lights. May we all shine a light of kindness and inclusivity on our communities.
And let us all take a moment to reflect and share our gratitude for everyone who has served and sacrificed for our country in our Armed Forces — especially the approximately 30,000 DC residents who are veterans. My favorite Veterans Day tradition is to visit the proud men and women at our Help USA Veterans Building at The Parks at Walter Reed to deliver coffee, pastries, and American pins as a small token of our community’s profound gratitude. Thank you for having me again this year!
Happy Veterans Day Weekend, Ward 4.
Yours in Community,