I’m excited to share updates from our work on the Council, a major expansion in paid family leave benefits, the streets closures and festivities for Open Streets Georgia Avenue tomorrow (rain or shine), a spotlight on Ward 4 coffee shops, updates on DC’s general election, community resources, and many upcoming community events.
Ward 4 and Legislative News
Big Expansion in DC Paid Family Leave Benefits
On Saturday, October 1, 2022, the District’s paid family leave program is expanding to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave (up from 8 weeks), 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for an ill family member (up from 6 weeks), 12 weeks of paid medical leave to recover from extended illness (up from 6 weeks), and 2 weeks of paid prenatal leave. The Council approved this expansion in last year’s budget using only surplus dollars in the program. The per-employee tax paid by employers has also decreased from 0.62% to 0.26%. DC’s paid family leave program covers workers in DC’s private sector, meaning that if you work in DC for a business or non-governmental organization, you are very likely eligible for these benefits. On Tuesday, the Council will also vote on legislation to expand paid family leave benefits to the same level for DC government employees. Once passed, this bill will need to be funded by the Mayor or the Council to go into effect. No worker should have to sacrifice their paycheck to be with their baby, take care of a sick family member, or recover from serious illness. I’m proud that the District is taking this important step to live out our values and support working families.
Legislative and Oversight Updates: Lead Service Lines, 911 Call Center Operations, and Metro for DC
On Tuesday, the Council held an important roundtable on lead service line replacement in the District. Exposure to lead has several health effects, especially on young children and their cognitive development, seniors, and during pregnancy. In 2004, it was uncovered that the District has worst-ever crises of lead-contaminated water, affecting thousands of homes. In DC, both the health impact and the burden of removing lead pipes falls hardest on Black and Brown residents. This is a racial and environmental justice issue. While everyone agrees that replacing lead service lines must be a priority, DC is not on track to meet its commitment to replace all lead pipes by 2030. Reasons include underfunding, low participation in voluntary replacement programs, residents’ confusion about existing programs, and too few trained workers to do the job.
Last year, the Council created an an interagency task force and set aside funding for a contractor to analyze DC Water’s plans and make recommendations on how to streamline this work. Both the task force and contractor have completed their respective analyses and reported them to the Council. I’m grateful that the analyses and roundtable testimony reflect support for mandatory replacement of lead service lines (as opposed to solely relying on voluntary participation by residents). This is a key provision of my Green New Deal Act for a Lead-Free DC. In addition, new lead service line replacement programs proposed in the analyses offer the opportunity to create a pipeline of Green jobs for DC residents, as my legislation proposes to do. Thank you to the Task Force and Council Contractor for their hard work and thoughtful recommendations. It’s clear that we will need to step up our efforts to protect our community from the dangers of continued exposure to lead.
On Wednesday, the Council also held a roundtable on 9-1-1 call center operations to zero in on serious issues at the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), including repeated errors that have delayed access to lifesaving treatment. These errors have been impacting Ward 4, as recently as this month when a cardiac arrest call for a Ward 4 resident was tragically mishandled for eleven minutes. Being a 9-1-1 dispatcher or operator is a demanding, intensive, and physically and emotionally draining job. These issues are not about individual call takers, but the need for agency leadership to set up their team to succeed and maintain a standard of excellence and professionalism. As troubling as these issues have been, I’m equally alarmed that OUC has made negligible progress in implementing the 31 reforms that the DC Auditor recommended nearly a year ago. DC is in the midst of a gun violence crisis, rising overdoses, and a surge in traffic violence. When our residents call for help, every second counts. With lives on the line, we cannot afford for 9-1-1 calls to go unanswered or for first responders to be sent to the wrong quadrant.
There are other Council updates that may be of interest. On Monday our Committee on Transportation and the Environment voted unanimously to advance Metro for DC, a bill from Councilmember Charles Allen that would provide each DC resident up to $100 in SmarTrip funds every month as a transit subsidy. Next, the bill will need to pass two votes from the full Council and be funded before it can become law. In addition, I’m excited to share that the CLEAN Collections Act has been scheduled for a bill hearing on Friday, October 21 at 2:30pm. I introduced this legislation to ensure residential buildings provide sufficient trash and recycling cans for their residents (DC law has no specific requirement) and for collection at these buildings to occur at least twice a week. This will help prevent the overflowing of trash, rat and rodent infestation, and illegal dumping of household trash in public litter cans. Please consider signing up to speak at this hearing or our upcoming hearing on the Green New Deal for Housing Act on Thursday, November 17.
Street Closure and Festivities: Open Streets Georgia Avenue
This Saturday, October 1 from 9am-3pm DDOT is shutting down Georgia Avenue (from Barry Place to Missouri Avenue) to vehicles and opening the street for people to walk, bike, scoot, and play! There will be hourly programmed classes and demonstrations, including a foam party, yoga, drum circles, double dutch, traffic gardens, pop-up bike lanes, dancing, and more. Businesses along the route will also provide space for outdoor dining and retail. Due to expected rainfall, many of the demonstrations have moved indoors to Hook Hall, with other activities taking place at the Petworth Metro and Georgia & Kansas NW. The event is free and suitable for all ages and abilities. DDOT has issued a traffic advisory notifying residents that this stretch of Georgia Avenue will be closed from 7am-5pm, and that motorists will need to take alternate routes. MetroBuses on Georgia Avenue will also be diverted. This event will take place rain or shine. I look forward to seeing you out there!
Ward 4 Small Business Spotlight: Coffee Shops
I’m back with another feature on Ward 4 small businesses. This past Thursday was National Coffee Day, so I visited our newest Ward 4 coffee shop, ETA Cafe on 9th & Varnum NW in Petworth! ETA offers great coffee, homemade chai, pastries, and desserts in a beautiful location. While they’re still putting finishing touches on their building and working to roll out a full menu, they held a soft open to meet the great community interest. Further up Georgia Avenue in Brightwood Park and Sixteenth Street Heights, Gueny’s Cafe serves delicious coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, Ethiopian food, desserts, and more. Read a wonderful feature story on Gueny’s and its owner Guenet Tadesse in Petworth News.
Ward 4 is graced with many great coffee shops, which help bring our community together, provide great spaces to study and work, create good jobs, feature local art, and gift us our much-needed coffeine boost day in and day out. Be sure to visit your neighborhood coffee shop or check out a new shop to try something new. Beyond ETA Cafe and Gueny’s, other Ward 4 coffee shops include Qualia Coffee in Petworth, Rue Café in Petworth, Büna Coffeehouse in Petworth, Little Food Studio in Petworth, Lulabelle’s Sweet Shop in Petworth, Highlands Café in Sixteenth Street Heights, Zone 365 on Kennedy Street, Mita Cafe on Kennedy Street, La Coop Coffee in Manor Park, Maleda Ethiopian Café in Brightwood, Culture Coffee Too in Lamond Riggs, Tomoka Coffee House between Takoma and Shepherd Park, Busboys and Poets in Takoma, and Lost Sock Roasters in Takoma.
New ANC and SMD Boundaries in Ward 4
Many of us also received notices in the mail informing us of our new Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and Single Member District (SMD). Regular readers of the Ward 4 Dispatch will remember that these changes happened through the Ward 4 redistricting process to rebalance the population of ANC and SMD after the 2020 Census count, as required by law. When you vote in the November General Election, you will be voting to elect an ANC Commissioner for your new ANC and SMD, who will take office in January 2023. Please note that the new ANC and SMD boundaries will not have any effect on your residential parking permit, child’s school boundaries, or services for your neighborhood. Learn more at this link.
Ballots in the Mail for the November General Election
Starting Monday, October 3, the DC Board of Elections will begin mailing out ballots for the November General Election to all registered voters in DC. Residents can check their voter registration status and address at this link, and they can register to vote or update their registration at this link. Keep an eye on your mailbox for a ballot. 55 mail ballot drop boxes across the District will open by October 14, and residents can also return their completed ballot by mail or in person at any voting center. Early voting will run from October 31 to November 6, and General Election Day is November 8, 2022.
COVID Centers Temporarily Out of Moderna Bivalent Booster and Flu Shots
DC COVID Centers are temporarily out of stock of the Moderna bivalent booster vaccine and flu shots. However, Pfizer bivalent booster doses are still available to eligible residents in all eight wards. New deliveries of the Moderna bivalent booster and flu shots are expected later in October, and DC Health will provide an update on their Twitter feed when doses are back in stock at our COVID Centers.
LRCA Survey on the Greenspace at Riggs Rd & South Dakota Ave NE
The Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association is surveying the community regarding the unused DC-owned greenspace at the southwest corner of the intersection of Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue, NE, near Food and Friends. Take part in this short survey. Responses are needed by Saturday, October 15.
Fort Totten Transfer Station to Reopen in June 2023
DPW is continuing to make improvements to Fort Totten Transfer Station, which closed temporarily for repairs in April. This week, DPW announced that Fort Totten will reopen come June 2023. In the meantime, residential operations including bulk, trash, and recycling drop-off are available at Benning Road Transfer Station on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10am-2pm. Bulk trash can also be scheduled for pickup through the 311 website, app, or call center.
Tonight’s ’80s Night on the Plaza at the Parks at Walter Reed was cancelled due to rain.
Fall Fest at the Petworth Community Market
On Saturday, October 1 from 9am-1pm the Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW will host a Fall Fest featuring balloon art, music, pumpkin painting, a bake sale, local vendors, and more. This will make a great stop during your visit to Open Streets on Georgia Avenue.
The Takoma Foundation Annual Beerfest Returns
On Saturday, October 1 from 4pm-8pm, the Takoma Foundation’s annual Beerfest event returns to the Cady-Lee mansion in Takoma at 7064 Eastern Avenue NW. The event will feature live music (including the Valentine Silm Band), brats, and plenty of local craft beer. Tickets are available at a lower cost in advance for what’s sure to be a great community event!
Music and Movie Night on Kennedy Street
On Friday, October 7 from 5pm – 9pm there will be a free music and movie night at the parking lot of Johnson & Jenkins Parking Lot (716 Kennedy Street NW) featuring games, activities, live music, free food, and a screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Thank you to our Kennedy Street businesses for coming together to host this event for our youth!
Down in the Reeds Festival at the Parks at Walter Reed
On Saturday, October 8 from 11am-7pm Down in the Reeds returns to the Parks at Walter Reed as the largest fall celebration and music festival in Ward 4! They have an incredible schedule of music, activities, art, crafts, games, vendors, food, and drinks for all neighbors to enjoy across several stages. RSVP for FREE at this link. You won’t want to miss this!
RESCHEDULED: Fall Festival Block Party on 13th & Quincy NW
On Saturday, October 15 from 3pm-7pm neighbors around 13th and Quincy NW are organizing a Fall Festival Block Party with music, games, and food. If you live in the neighborhood, come out to celebrate with your neighbors and bring food to grill. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Outdoor STEAM Experience with Movies on the Lawn
On Saturday, October 15 from 4:30pm-9pm the The Parks at Walter Reed will host a free family STEAM outing with delicious food, snacks, and craft beverages provided by local vendors, as well as a huge screen for the whole crowd to enjoy. There will be a STEAM play area and showcase from 4:30pm-6:30pm, a screening of ENCANTO at 6:30pm, and a short film screening of DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World at 8:30pm. Blankets will be available (if the ground isn’t too wet). Bring your own chairs, picnics, and popcorn, and enjoy this family-friendly lineup.
DCist: DC Has A Lead Pipe Problem. A New Report Recommends Lawmakers Mandate Their Removal
Greater Greater Washington: A bill that would provide a $100 monthly transit subsidy to DC residents moves one step closer to becoming law
Petworth News: Guenet rebounds from pandemic and graces us with Gueny’s Café
Fox 5 DC: Hearing held to discuss fixing 911 call center issues in DC
Fox 5 DC: Sights and sounds from DC’s ‘Art All Night’ Festival featuring Zenith Gallery
Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Tech Equity in DCPS, Fall Fun Fest, and “Art All Night” Tonight!
One of my favorite yearly events in Ward 4 is Mr. Larry’s gardening and harvest celebration in Takoma! Mr. Larry is 94 years young and still tends to the neighborhood garden with neighbors. They gather every year to be in community and share a delicious meal. Thanks for having me!
Art All Night in Ward 4 last Friday was phenomenal! I had so much fun bouncing to all of our business corridors and seeing our community enjoying themselves. Thank you to our Ward 4 Main Street Associations for putting on an amazing night: Upper Georgia Avenue, the Parks Main Street, Uptown Main Street, and Petworth Main Street, which hosted its first Art All Night since launching last year!
I also want to remind residents to stay safe this weekend as we see the remnants of Hurricane Ian with gusty wind and rainfall. Keep an eye on the forecast and never drive through standing water. Downed trees and other issues should be reported directly to 311, and clogged storm drains should be reported to DC Water’s Command Center at 202-612-3400.
Take care, everyone!
Yours in Service,