I hope you’ve had a good week. My newsletter this Friday includes legislation to replace all lead pipes in DC, a quick recap of our Council session on Tuesday, updates on Congressional intervention in our local affairs, expanded hours at Emery Heights Community Center, a new summer camp registration system, community events, free resources, and lots of local news!
Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC
We know that lead pipes carry severe health risks for our communities — especially for young children, seniors, and expectant mothers. DC has a goal to replace all of its lead pipes by 2030, but we are not on track to even come close to meeting that goal. DC still has more than 40,000 lead water service lines, thousands of lead service lines made of “unknown” materials that still need to be identified, and a lead remediation specialist workforce that’s not nearly large enough to do the job citywide. That is why this week I reintroduced the Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC to make the big, urgent changes we need to replace all lead pipes in DC by the end of this decade. The legislation requires DC Water to identify all lead pipes in our city, makes lead pipe replacement for every home mandatory, significantly increases financial support for replacing lead pipes, strengthens tenant and worker protections, and creates a training program to equip DC residents with the good green jobs that will be necessary to get the job done citywide. The District recently received close to $140 million in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support its efforts to replace lead service lines, so the time to act on this critical issue is now. Our bill builds on a report by the District’s Lead Service Line Planning Task Force and a Council-commissioned assessment of DC Water’s Lead Service Line Removal Plan. I am grateful that seven other Councilmembers co-introduced the Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC with me, and I appreciate the community groups and Ward 4 residents who are supporting this bill with their strong advocacy and expertise. Neighbors can visit this page to see if their water service lines contain lead, and learn more about DC Water’s current lead pipe replacement program on this page.
Council Legislative Updates
We had a fairly brief Council legislative session this week, since few bills have made it through the full legislative process yet this early in the Council term. Here are some quick highlights:
- The Council passed the first of two votes on a bill that would lift barriers to licensing so street vendors can safely sell their goods and foods without fearing arrest or massive fines. Street vendors are valued members of our communities, depend on street vending to support their families, and help make our communities more inclusive and vibrant.
- The Council also passed legislation renaming Good Hope Road in Southeast DC after the late, great Marion Barry, DC’s “Mayor for Life.” Marion Barry would have celebrated his 87th birthday on Monday, March 6 — one day before the Council voted on this bill.
- We also passed multiple ceremonial resolutions that I introduced to honor the late great Ward 4 ANC Commissioner and community leader Stephen Whatley, celebrate Coach Rob Nickens of Roosevelt High School, mark March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and as National Social Work Month, and celebrate the St. John’s High School Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball Teams on their WCAC championships.
Defending DC Home Rule
DC residents should not have to fight for the rights that Americans in every single state have. We deserve full equality, full self governance, and full representation. As your Councilmember, I will always stand up for that principle when Congress seeks to impose its will on DC residents. That’s why I was proud to join hundreds of DC residents and community leaders who protested outside of Congress or expressed their indignation at this affront to our local democracy. We need Senators, Members of Congress, and a President who will defend the District’s right to self determination against those who seek to use our communities as pawns for their own political purposes. The same day after Congress voted to overturn DC’s criminal code revision — which, as I’ve written to you before, was a far cry from what it was described as in headlines — Republicans in Congress introduced a new resolution to overturn important police accountability protections passed in DC last year. One key component of the bill that Republicans seek to overturn is a provision that bans labor clauses that prevent MPD from firing officers who have committed criminal misconduct. In the past, these labor clauses have been used to shield DC police officers who committed domestic violence, stalking, and other serious offenses. It is clear that attacks like these on DC’s autonomy will continue coming from Congress. Regardless of where we stand on any particular bill, we all have a duty to stand together against Congressional intervention when our rights are on the chopping block. Our values are not up for debate. We will not sell out our communities for anyone’s convenience.
Expanded Hours at Emery Heights and Ward 4 Rec Centers
Starting March 27, Emery Heights Community Center in Ward 4 will extend its hours to 6am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays — adding 39 extra hours of recreation each week! The same change will be made at seven other centers citywide, including Columbia Heights Community Center and Turkey Thicket Rec Center. Then, later in April, our other Ward 4 rec centers will have their hours expanded too: community centers are expected to be open from 9am-9pm, while smaller neighborhood recreation centers will expand to being open 40 hours a week. Expanded recreation opportunities for young people is something that I have been fighting for with our community, so it is exciting to see these changes take effect! As more of our rec centers expand their hours, I am advocating together with neighbors for DPR staff to return to rec centers where they have strong community ties.
New DPR Summer Camp Registration System
This week DPR announced a new registration system for its summer camp registration. Instead of all residents competing to sign up for programs at the same time, the new lottery system will allow residents to submit their camp preferences from March 13 until April 5. Once the lottery registration window has closed, the registration system will randomly select participants from those who have registered and announce summer camp placements on April 18 so parents can make their payment and lock in their registration. The new summer camp registration system is designed to be more inclusive and equitable, and DPR has added many new slots available to help address part of the massive demand for these summer camps. Learn more about the new system and 2023 summer camp offerings on DPR’s website. Registration for other DPR non-camp summer programs will take place in mid-May.
Ward 4 Community Safety Updates
My team and I have been out in community all week talking to neighbors about safety and addressing community needs. We returned to Petworth Library to bring coffee and donuts for the staff and check in on them and visitors after a very hard week. Staff have been receiving mental health support and shared with me that they felt supported, with DCPL providing additional security at the site. They asked for more support for unhoused neighbors who visit the library, so DMHHS will coordinate additional outreach and resources. I also had good conversations with Riggs Park neighbors and visited Riggs-LaSalle Community Center, where safety has improved with security staff present and nearly 40 functioning cameras in place that provide full coverage of the facility. My team also coordinated with DGS to repair the basketball hoop so neighbors can take advantage of the full court.
On Wednesday, the Mayor hosted a public safety walk with agencies in Petworth this week, promising additional resources to the area. She committed to addressing longtime issues that neighbors have raised for years, such as boarding up the old Carolina Restaurant at 14th and Spring NW and addressing a nearby abandoned building that is a hotspot for criminal activity. DC is also expanding its Multiagency Public Safety Task Force to Patrol Service Areas PSA 403 and PSA 409 with a focus on reducing violent crime. Neighbors and businesses are encouraged to take advantage of DC’s private security camera rebate program. And on Saturday, March 11 at 10am, ANC 4D will host a community safety meeting by Zoom with neighbors on their ideas to improve safety on Kennedy Street.
Deadline Tonight: Chevy Chase Civic Core Survey
Tonight, March 10, is the deadline for the DPR and DCPL community survey on the new Chevy Chase Community Site, which is home to the Chevy Chase Community Center and the Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library on the 5600 block of Connecticut Avenue NW. Survey responses and future community input will help shape the new community center and library.
SOME Opens Senior Center at the Parks at Walter Reed
Today So Others Might Eat (SOME) DC celebrated a new Senior Center in Ward 4 that is based at Karin House (1395 Aspen St NW) at the Parks at Walter Reed to provide enriching wellness, recreational, and supportive services to local seniors (ages 60 and older). Check out SOME’s website for information about the programs offered at this new Senior Center.
AARP Tax Assistance at Petworth Library
On Mondays and Fridays each week from 12pm-4pm, AARP Foundation is offering assistance with income tax return preparation by appointment only at Petworth Library and many other DC libraries. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment at Petworth Library, and visit DCPL’s website for more information about the program and needed documents.
Ward 4 Mutual Aid Groceries Distribution
On Wednesday, March 15 at 5pm and Saturday, March 18 at noon, Ward 4 Mutual Aid will be distributing groceries at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church (744 Jefferson St NW). They will provide gift cards, diapers, food, and other items as available to the first 100 families.
Last Call: Participate in Petworth Porchfest
Organizers are gearing up for the third annual Petworth Porchfest on Saturday, April 22 from 2pm-6pm. They are looking for bands to perform, porches to host bands, volunteers to lend a hand, and businesses to take part. Businesses have until March 15 to sign up for Petworth Porchfest. Contact email@example.com with questions!
All DC COVID Centers to Close on March 31
DC Health has announced that all DC COVID Centers will close on March 31. In explaining their decision, the agency cited “a significant drop in COVID-19 cases, high vaccination uptake, and an increase in the availability of vaccines and testing kits for at-home use.”
Roosevelt High School Field Temporarily Closed
The Roosevelt football field will be closed to the public until further notice due to damage done to the field that needs to be repaired. Except for approved permit holders, community members will not be allowed to use the field for the time being. Thank you for your understanding.
Street Sweeping Is Underway: Avoid the Ticket
On March 1, DPW restarted street sweeping in our communities to clean up residential streets and prevent trash and pollutants from spilling into our waterways. After March 10, DPW will start issuing $45 tickets (instead of warnings) so keep an eye on posted signs restricting parking during street sweeping hours.
Serve Your Community: ANC Vacancies in 4A03 and 4C07
Ward 4 has two important vacancies for Commissioners to serve in ANC 4A03, which encompasses the Parks at Walter Reed and nearby homes, and 4C07 in Petworth south of Grant Circle. If you live in these Single Member Districts, please consider stepping up to serve your neighborhood. The Board of Elections has all the information you need to run. The petition gathering period for ANC 4A03 will run from March 13 to April 6, while the petition gathering period for 4C07 will be announced on March 17. Please spread the word to your neighbors! I also want to share that we recently swore in Zack Bolton as the new 4A07 Commissioner and welcomed Candace Tiana Nelson back as the 4A06 Commissioner in ANC 4A.
16th Street Clean Up & Fix Up Days
On Saturday, March 11 at 9:30am-11:30am and Sunday, March 12 at 9:30am-11:30am DC residents are taking part in two consecutive days of cleaning up and fixing up 16th Street from H Street all the way up to the Maryland border. Neighbors choose any segment of 16th Street to pick up litter and trash, rake remaining leaves, sweep up sand or mud, or report needed repairs to 311. To sign up, contact Merrit Drucker at 202-440 0733-or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANC 4D Community Safety Meeting
On Saturday, March 11 from 10am-11am ANC 4D will host a virtual community safety meeting, where neighbors can share their ideas and actionable items to address gun violence along Kennedy Street. The event comes in response to a shooting on Sunday, March 5 and other safety issues along the corridor. Join by Zoom, and email Commissioner Judson at 4D02@anc.dc.gov or Commissioner Weigel at 4D07@anc.dc.gov with any questions.
Zenith’s 45th Sapphire Anniversary Celebration
On Saturday, March 11 at 2pm-6pm the great Zenith Gallery in Ward 4 (1429 Iris Street NW) will host a celebration for its 45th anniversary. The event will feature the work of more than 50 phenomenal artists (many local residents).
Don’t Mute Moe: The Vision of an Urban Scholar
On Saturday, March 11 from 2pm-4pm Petworth Library will host an author talk from DC activist Ronald Moten. Ron and coauthor Jeffrey Anderson will discuss their book Don’t Mute Moe: The Vision of an Urban Scholar with Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy.
Crestwood Seed Exchange
On Sunday, March 12 from 1pm-3pm the Crestwood Citizens Association Green Team is hosting a seed exchange in the 17th Street alley between Webster and Varnum Streets. Please join if you have seeds to share, want seeds, or just enjoy discussing gardening.
Rep. Norton Town Hall Meeting with NPS and Smithsonian Zoo
On Wednesday, March 15 from 6pm-7:30pm Congresswoman Norton will host a town hall meeting with the National Park Service to discuss questions, comments, and concerns about NPS parks in DC. They will also have representatives from the Smithsonian Zoo to discuss the Zoo Loop Trail and the Zoo’s timed entry pass policy. Register online to attend.
Renaming Ceremony for Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library
On Saturday, March 18 from 1:30pm-4:30pm the Committee to Rename the New Lamond-Riggs Library will host a renaming ceremony and reception to celebrate the new library building and honor Mrs. Lillian J. Huff for her three decades of advocacy for this library. Learn more about the event on this flyer.
Final Community Celebration with Culture Coffee Too
On Saturday, March 18 at 7pm Ward 4’s Culture Coffee Too and Mrs. V will host a big party to celebrate its wonderful time in our community as it prepares to close at the end of the month. DJ One Luv, DJ Tim, and DJ Sid will be performing. This is our last chance to come and experience the magic at Culture Coffee Too!
Race, History, and Rock Creek: Women Who’ve Made a Difference in Rock Creek
On Thursday, March 23 from 5:30pm-7:30pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service will host a virtual conversation at the intersection of race, history, and Rock Creek Park. The event will focus on women who played an important role in Rock Creek Parks’ History, like Rachel Carson, Beatrix Farrand, and Elizabeth Proctor Thomas. RSVP online.
South Manor Neighborhood Association Cleanup
On Saturday, March 25 from 10am-2pm the South Manor Park Neighborhood Association will host a neighborhood clean up. They will meet at the South Manor sign at the intersection of Longfellow & New Hampshire Ave NE. Trash bags and tools will be provided. Come join!
RESCHEDULED: Ward 4 Jobs Fair in April
The Ward 4 Jobs Fair I am co-hosting with the DC Business Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, which was planned for April 1, is now being rescheduled for a later date in April. Stay tuned for the new date, and please help us get the word out!
Local News Links
Petworth News: The “Prince” behind Shellfish, a new restaurant on Kennedy Street
Washington City Paper: Zinnia Crew Revs Up Motorkat in Takoma Park’s Republic Space
Urban Turf: Whole Foods at the Parks at Walter Reed To Open This Summer
WTOP: High school students explore DC gentrification in new short film
Petworth News: Petworth lost a playground. An ANC commissioner is organizing to bring it back
CNN The Lead with Jake Tapper: Janeese Lewis George on DC Home Rule
Washington Post: Senate votes to reject D.C. criminal code bill
Washington City Paper: DC In Danger Of Missing 2030 Deadline To Remove Lead Pipes
DCist: Brightwood Rent Strike Gains Steam As Tenants Protest Unsafe Conditions
HillRag: Are You Eligible for Monthly Basic Income? File Your Taxes
Washington City Paper: Swing Beat: Takoma Station Returns as a Major Jazz Venue
Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Home Rule, DGS Oversight, and Community Safety
OSSE Info Session: Education Requirements for the DC Early Childhood Workforce
DC Water: FREE Downspout Disconnections Program with a Free Rain Barrel
As we close out a busy week, I want to thank the Brightwood Petworth Community Association, our local businesses, and neighbors who participated in last week’s Kennedy Street celebration of Black History and Women’s History Month. It was moving to see so many community members come together to honor our history and support our small businesses.
To our Hindu community in Ward 4 and across DC, we send wishes for a happy Holi. May the festival of colors bring us all joy, unity, and light — especially in times of darkness.
And finally, a reminder that Daylight Savings Day is this Sunday, March 12. Don’t forget to spring your clocks forward, allow extra time for rest to make up the lost hour, and enjoy the extra hour of evening sunshine we’ll have moving forward!
Yours in Community,