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Ward 4 Dispatch: Petworth Porchfest, Traffic Safety Upgrades, and a Green New Deal for DC

Dear Neighbors,

This week the Council has been working on amendments to the proposed DC budget. On Wednesday, we had a marathon budget work session where each Committee explained its proposals and Councilmembers highlighted needs that are currently unmet. If there’s something you believe is important but is not currently included in the budget, the next few days are your last chance to advocate for it to be added.

I’m excited that this week I introduced two pieces of Green New Deal legislation: a bill to create social housing in DC, which I believe is the critical missing piece to confronting our affordable housing crisis, and a bill to replace all of DC’s lead water services lines given the grave danger that they pose to public health.

I also have traffic safety improvements to share, an update on Upper Beach Drive, and good Metro news! And with the weather warming up, Ward 4 events are now in full swing. Petworth Porchfest on Saturday is bound to be a blast, and we also have a Sixteenth Street Heights spring fling, jazz at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, a Crestwood plant swap, Cinco de Mayo festivities on 14th Street, and a lot more.

A Green New Deal for Social Housing and Lead Pipe Removal in DC

This week I introduced two transformative Green New Deal bills on housing and lead pipe removal. Months in the making, these bills put our people and our planet first.

Green New Deal for Housing Act

This legislation would revolutionize how the District produces and preserves affordable housing by creating sustainable, climate-neutral social housing. Social housing is publicly-owned, mixed-income housing that generates deeper affordability by reinvesting rent payments in lowering costs for tenants and in creating more social housing across the city. One third of units produced in social housing will be deeply affordable for families at 30% median income or less, one third of units will be affordable for families at 50% median income, and the final one third of units will be market rate to cross-subsidize affordability in the rest of the building. Strong environmental and fair labor standards are at the center of social housing. Developments will be built to net-zero emissions standards and feature sustainable design and technology throughout each property, including all electric heating and solar power to the maximum extent practicable. Social housing developments will adhere to all construction and operating labor standards. They will also empower tenant leadership boards to oversee how properties are run.

Funding for constructing social housing developments would come from DC’s existing Housing Production Trust Fund Act and DC’s Green Bank because of its sustainable and climate-friendly features. Funding for maintaining and operating social housing pays for itself through the rent that tenants will pay – with any surplus rent going towards creating more social housing rather than profiting private companies. This legislation also amends the District’s Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA) and disposition authority to incentivize the use of excess District-owned properties as social housing. Too often the District gives away valuable land to developers in the name of affordable housing without those properties delivering or sustaining deeply affordable housing. The bill requires the Mayor to meaningfully articulate why a proposed disposition to private developers in the name of affordable housing would produce more permanently affordable housing than could be done with social housing.

Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC Act

This bill would accelerate the removal of hazardous lead water service lines in DC, while also expanding the District’s lead remediation specialist workforce with a new job training program through the Infrastructure Academy. We know the serious health risks of exposure to lead – especially on young children and during pregnancy, but also to adults, for whom exposure can cause cardiovascular issues and decreased kidney function. We also know that both hazardous lead exposure and the burden of removing lead pipes falls hardest on Black and Brown residents in DC. But according to recent DC Water reports, DC is currently on track to only replace 20% of known lead water service lines by 2030! This is because of several factors: underfunding, reliance on voluntary replacements, and not enough trained workers to meet the huge need that we have. Streamlining lead service line removal is a racial justice issue and a public health priority that can simultaneously deliver good green jobs that inject opportunity in our communities.

This legislation will require the full removal of all lead water service lines from public spaces by 2028 and private properties by 2030. It doubles the funding support for voluntary lead remediation, including a new tax credit for both commercial and residential properties. And it expands DC’s lead removal workforce with a new training program through the DC Infrastructure Academy to prepare cohorts of new lead remediation specialists. It also strengthens DC’s job training programs by bringing unions to the table to help meet our workforce development goals. And lastly, it expands DC’s minimum wage and sick leave rights so they apply to more workers that are presently excluded from these important protections.

Both Green New Deal bills I introduced are the outcome of years of hard work, organizing, and advocacy from residents, community organizations, and movements fighting to build a more just city and confront the urgent reality of climate change.  I’m grateful that my legislation on social housing already has seven Councilmembers signed on – indicating strong support for the road ahead. You can read more about both bills on our website or in news coverage in DCistWashington City PaperStreet Sense, and Axios. There will be more to come!

Ward 4 News

Additional Traffic Safety Upgrades Coming to Ward 4

I want to update you on several more traffic safety improvements coming to our community:

  • A central median of flexible bollards and a New High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) Signal has been proposed for the intersection of Hamilton St & Georgia Ave NW to improve safety, especially for pedestrians crossing Georgia Avenue.
  • DDOT has proposed converting the 400 block of Sheridan Street NW between Ida B. Wells and Whittier into a one-way eastbound street. This change will facilitate smoother and safer school drop-off and pick-up while also reducing congestion on this block.
  • DDOT has proposed the installation of a 4-way stop at the intersection of 9th St & Jefferson St NW to improve safety and calm traffic at this high-crash corridor.
  • DDOT has also officially proposed protected bike lanes along 5th Street and Park Pl NW from Grant Circle down to Hobart St NW.
  • And the Metropolitan Branch Trail Extension to Fort Totten is essentially complete and rideable! Stay tuned for an official opening soon.

Upper Beach Drive to Remain Closed to Vehicles Through Labor Day

This week the National Park Service announced that Upper Beach Drive will remain closed to vehicular traffic until at least September 5, 2022. NPS shared that its environmental assessment was extended to consider impacts to threatened and endangered species, such as the endangered Hay’s Spring Amphipod and the threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat. NPS is exploring whether to permanently close Upper Beach Drive to through traffic, or revert to pre-pandemic times when the road was only closed on weekends, or some hybrid solution. Once they conclude their environmental assessment and make a proposal, they will hold a second public meeting and a second public comment period where residents can weigh in. Learn more on the National Park Service’s website.

Music, Community, and Fun this Saturday at Petworth PorchFest

Petworth PorchFest is back this Saturday, April 30 from 2pm-6pm all across the greater Petworth area. Everyone who came out last year knows that this is not an event to miss! More than 120 bands are set to perform in over 70 porches and stages, with our local businesses nearby providing food and drinks for all’s enjoyment. Check out a full schedule for the event, a map of all locations, and PorchFest’s Instagram page to stay updated on everything happening tomorrow. If you live in this area, please keep in mind and give your neighbors a heads up that this will be happening. Hosts are aware of noise ordinances and will be mindful of the volume levels, and attendees are encouraged to stay off the street in order to stay safe. Let’s be respectful and kind to each other and enjoy this awesome day! Special shoutout to the hard-working Steering Committee and all our sponsors, volunteers, and bands who are working hard to make Saturday such a fun day for Ward 4!

Neighborhood Events

Beyond Petworth PorchFest, there are plenty of great community events coming up!

16th Street Neighborhood Association Spring Fling

On Saturday, April 30 from 11am-1pm the 16th Street Neighborhood Association will host a community spring fling with food, games, and an egg hunt for kids. Join them at the Varnum Green Space (find the entrance on 15th Street, between Varnum and Webster). This is the first Spring Fling since before the pandemic, so be sure to come out if you live in the neighborhood!

Jazz on the Lawn with Nineteenth Street Baptist Church

On Saturday, April 30 from 1pm-3pm the Usher Board of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (4606 16th St NW) invites neighbors to enjoy beautiful weather and smooth jazz on their front lawn. Eddie Baccus Jr and Straight to the Point will be performing!

Back to the Future Opening Reception at Zenith Gallery

On Saturday, April 30 from 2pm-6pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris Street NW) will host an opening reception for Back to the Future, an exhibit featuring the colorful, eccentric paintings of Robert C. Jackson. There will be a book signing and artist talk from 3pm-4pm on Saturday, and the exhibit will run from April 29 through June 11 at Zenith. Register here!

Crestwood Neighborhood Plant and Seed Exchange

On Sunday, May 1 from 1pm-3pm the Crestwood Green Team will hold their second neighborhood plant exchange in the alley between Webster Street and Varnum Street and between 16th Street and 17th Street. Come bring your excess seed packets, native plants, garden pots, and tools – and see what your neighbors have to offer!

Cheer on Takoma Elementary Students As They Take PARCC Tests

On Monday, May 2 at 8:10am-8:50am parents and community volunteers will line the walkway from Piney Branch Road to the doors of Takoma Elementary School to cheer on 4th and 5th grade students as they kick off their PARCC testing. Volunteers are encouraged to wear blue and yellow. Sign up to be part of the community hype squad!

Cinco de Mayo Celebration on Uptown Main Street

On Thursday, May 5 from 5pm-9pm Uptown Main Street will have a Cinco de Mayo Celebration complete with special deals, roving Mariachis, and Mexican folk dance demos at restaurants, bars, and small businesses between Spring Road and Shepherd Street on 14th Street. Chicatana, Red Derby, Rue Cafe, Anafre, and Toro Bar are just some of the businesses participating!

Lamond Riggs Mother’s Day Tea Hour

On Friday, May 6 from 11am-1pm the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association Senior Committee will host a Mother’s Day Tea event at Riggs LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Rd NE). Be sure to wear your favorite hat and pastel-colored outfit. You can RSVP until Wednesday, May 4 by emailing or calling 202-838-6058.

Crestwood Traffic Safety Walkthrough

On Friday, May 6 at 3pm, Councilmember Lewis George and DDOT Director Lott will lead a traffic safety walkthrough in Crestwood starting from 16th & Blagden Avenue NW. We will visit nearby intersections so DDOT can directly assess and hear from neighbors about the need for specific traffic improvements in the neighborhood.

Mother’s Day Free Market and Stuff Swap by Ward 4 Mutual Aid

On Saturday, May 7 from 12pm-4pm at 6000 Georgia Ave (outside the corner of Quackenbos St NW) Ward 4 Mutual Aid will host a Mother’s Day free market and stuff swap where neighbors can bring and pick up gently-used strollers, car seats, toys, gear, and clothes for moms, children, and babies! Drop-offs begin as early as 9am, and event will shift to the following Saturday if it’s raining.

And Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day, so be sure to support our Ward 4 bookstores!

Community Resources

WMATA Adds More Trains on the Green Line and Yellow Line Starting May 2

This week WMATA announced that they will be increasing service on the Yellow Line and Green Line starting this Monday, May 2. Train frequencies for each line will increase from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes, meaning stations serviced by both lines will see trains every 7-8 minutes.

DC Futures Grants Cover Up to $8,000 in Tuition for DC College Students

I wanted to share the great DC Futures Program with you all, which helps DC college students at UDC, Trinity Washington, or Catholic University complete their first associate or bachelor’s degree by providing a scholarship (tuition, fees, and cost of attendance), in addition to college coaching and support services to help overcome personal and financial barriers. The deadline to apply is August 19, 2022.

Join Our Team as an Administrative Assistant or Constituent Services Coordinator!

I’m in the process of hiring an administrative assistant and an additional constituent services coordinator for our office serving Ward 4! You would be joining a dedicated, values-driven team working in a rewarding, fast-paced environment at the DC Council and in our community. Please consider applying or helping me recruit a great person for each position by sharing these openings with people who would make a good match.

Last Chance: Community Survey on the Public Art on 5th and Kennedy Streets NW  

ANC 4D has developed a community survey to solicit feedback regarding the public art installation currently located at the southeast corner of 5th and Kennedy Streets NW. Please share your thoughts by 5pm on Saturday, April 30.

I also want to give a shoutout our Ward 4 scholars at McFarland Middle School for dedicating their Arbor Day to planting new trees in our community!

I want to close by thanking our neighbors in Takoma for such a fun and welcoming Ward 4 CARE Day on Thursday! We enjoyed chatting and sharing resources with neighbors. The amazing Weed Warriors also freed more than a dozen trees in Takoma from invasive vines. Special thanks to our volunteers, agency partners, and 4B03 Commissioner Jocelyn Johnson for joining us! Remember to sign up for your local CARE Day in the coming weeks.

Have a great sunny weekend, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,