As September comes to a close, a new fiscal year for the District commences. In this newsletter, I discuss public safety, including this week’s public roundtable on the nomination of the new MPD chief, and provide and update on school boundaries. I’m also excited to talk about one of my favorite events of the year, Art All Night, to celebrate Karen Feinstein’s many years of service to Ward 4 families, and to share that ERAP will be re-opening soon!
Public Safety and the Role of MPD
On Wednesday, September 27 the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held the nomination roundtable for MPD Acting Police Chief, Pamela Smith. Acting Police Chief Smith was nominated by Mayor Bowser in July. I appreciate all the witnesses who participated and testified about what they need to see from MPD and in a new police chief. I had the opportunity to meet personally with Acting Police Chief Smith in August and I discussed with her many of the concerns that you have raised with me during my numerous public safety walks and briefings throughout the community.
I was pleased to hear the Acting Chief’s continued commitment to work collaboratively with District agencies and residents, especially our youth. I appreciated Acting Chief Smith discussing her own personal story of instability and how her background helped to shape her empathy and desire to help many young people in our city.
Highlights from her testimony:
- MPD began installing 22 new CCTV cameras throughout all 8 wards. 28 additional cameras will also arrive this fall.
- MPD has partnered with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) to address youth who are violating DC’s juvenile curfew law. When police pick up a youth violating curfew who cannot be immediately turned over to their parents or guardian, the youth and their families can be assessed for services and support.
- MPD has created a new School Safety and Community Engagement Division within the Youth and Family Engagement Bureau. The new division supports a safety strategy in and around schools as well as community events and outreach initiatives designed for both youth and adults.
- To address trust in the community, Acting Chief Smith has directed all MPD patrol districts to conduct at least one scheduled community walk each week, providing an opportunity for patrol leaders to hear directly from a variety of community members and to see neighborhoods streets through their eyes.
It’s “Art All Night” Tonight and Tomorrow Across Ward 4!
Art All Night is one of my favorite events of the year because our commercial corridors across Ward 4 come alive with visual and performing arts, including music, dance, theater, poetry, film, comedy, painting, sculpting, woodworking, and fire dancers for our community to enjoy together! I encourage Ward 4 residents to make their way to Petworth, Uptown, Manor Park, or Riggs Park tonight and tomorrow for nights of art, entertainment, and community celebration hosted by our Ward 4 Main Street Associations.
Zenith Gallery and Zenith Community Arts Foundation (1429 Iris Street NW), a beloved Ward 4 art gallery, will be taking part in Art All Night festivities by staying open on Friday, September 29 from 6pm to 10pm. Stop by to meet artists Bulsby “Buzz” Duncan, Lea Marshall-Craigie, and Carol Newmyer, shop their amazing collection, and enjoy the Zenith Community Arts Foundation mobile woodshop that will be on site for woodworking demonstrations all night long!
Chevy Chase Day!
Thank you to the Chevy Chase Community Association and Chevy Chase Main Street for hosting another fantastic Chevy Chase DC Day this past Saturday! It was fantastic to see so many neighbors enjoy live music, arts and crafts, face painting, balloon twisting, a ballet performance, ice cream and cupcakes, and so much more!
Celebrating Karen Feinstein’s Service to Families of Ward 4
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of honoring Karen Feinstein and her service at the Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative. Ms. Feinstein worked with Ward 4 residents and partners to form the Collaborative in 1998 to respond to the needs of at-risk families and children in Northwest DC. She served as the founding Executive Director and was the only person to hold that position until her retirement on December 31, 2022.
Ms. Feinstein’s vision for a diverse community where all individuals and families can prosper is the driving force behind the GAFSC’s day-to-day work. Under her leadership, the GAFSC grew to a staff of more than 40 employees and an annual budget in excess of $5 million. The Collaborative also expanded its services to include Children and Family Services, one of the most successful Family Rehousing and Stabilization Services programs in the District, Show Up Stand Up, Stand Out Truancy Prevention Services, the Community School Initiative at Roosevelt High School, and the Domestic Violence Circles of Peace DC Program.
Ms. Feinstein’s passion for serving people was evident in the way she treated her staff and the community. She understood the toll community service took on her staff and saw it as her responsibility to serve them as much as she served the community. Ms. Feinstein saw herself as a partner to both her staff and the community she served. As often as you would see Ms. Feinstein leading a meeting, you would also see her emptying the trash, greeting guests, answering the phones, and making coffee.
Karen Feinstein was born with a servant’s heart, and she has lived that value through her at the George Avenue Family Support Collaborative and every day in her service to the community. While her day-to-day presence will be missed, her impact on the community will be felt for years to come.
DDOT and PEPCO are currently partnering to make much needed infrastructure improvements by moving all of our power lines underground through the DC PLUG Initiative. While we should expect this work to create a certain amount of disruption, I have heard from many of you that communication has been poor, crews are working outside of posted hours, and that the construction is causing many problems during school drop-off and pick-up. Earlier this week, I reached out to DDOT leadership to ask that they review their procedures and communications for areas to improve and to brief myself and my Council colleagues on their progress. I’ll update you when I have the agency’s response.
School Boundary and Student Assignment Town Hall Meetings
Earlier this week, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) hosted two townhall meetings on the Boundary and Student Assignment Study they’re completing this year. The goals of the boundary study are to ensure students have clear assignments to school of right based on DCPS attendance zones and feeder pathways, ensure there is adequate capacity for current and projected enrollment, and support equitable access among District students to high-quality public schools. An Advisory Committee made up of parents and representatives from all eight Wards has been meeting to discuss the issues since March and includes four representatives from Ward 4. The town hall meetings this week focused on reviewing the landscape of DCPS boundaries and provided an opportunity for the public to share feedback on potential policy tools. They also introduced a new online web tool (dcschoolboundaryexplorer.com) which is an interactive map for illustrating any potential changes to current DCPS boundaries. The video, presentation, and all other materials related to this week’s town hall meetings and the ongoing study are available on DME’s website.
What’s next for the school boundary study? The next Advisory Committee meeting is on October 24 and is open to the public. DME and their study team also said they would share three draft scenarios with the public in November. Final recommendations are to be shared by February 2024. These recommendations will be sent to the Mayor for her review and ultimate decision. The earliest any changes would go into effect is school year 2025-26, although there will be ample “phase-in” provisions to buffer any immediate impacts on current students and their families. Please review this helpful FAQ page if you have any further questions or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m following this boundary review process very closely as I know many families care deeply about their by-right neighborhood schools and their feeder pattern. I attended DCPS schools from Kindergarten up through graduation, so you know this issue is deeply personal for me too. I love all our Ward 4 schools and will keep fighting to ensure everyone has by-right access to a high-quality school in their neighborhood.
Upcoming Hearings: Dangerous Driving, Emergency Response, and School Readiness
The Council has several key hearings coming up about issues that impact our daily lives. Signing up to speak at a hearing or sending in comments is easier now through the Council’s new one-stop-shop online platform.
- Wednesday, October 4: A joint hearing on four bills that aim to confront dangerous driving in our communities by targeting cars with fake tags, suspending licenses for drivers who act negligently, and ensuring traffic enforcement cameras are placed on our most dangerous traffic corridors. I wrote more about these bills in my July 21 newsletter.
- Thursday, October 5: An oversight roundtable on the 911 Call Center in the DC Office of Unified Communications and the serious issues it faces with staffing, dispatch errors, dropped or missed calls, and inconsistent adherence to agency protocol.
- Thursday, October 12: A bill hearing to consider the Work Order Integrity Act, a bill I introduced to require school verification that a repair was actually made before a DGS work order can be closed. The hearing will also focus on school readiness, including a review of the start of the 2023-24 school year and preparing for the cold season.
Please consider testifying, sending in written comments, or tuning in for these hearings!
Takoma Planting Day
On Saturday, September 30 at 10am, join RiverSmart in planting trees and plants to celebrate the new native plant installation and outdoor classroom at Takoma Elementary School.
Celebrate Rock Creek Park Day
On Saturday, September 30 from 10am to 12:30pm, the Rock Creek Conservancy will be celebrating Rock Creek Park Day. There will be scavenger hunts, activities, and a free children’s book while supplies last. The event will be held at the Rock Creek Nature Center. More information can be found here.
Friends of Soldiers Home Fall Fun Festival
On Saturday September 30 from 1pm – 5pm, Friends of the Soldiers Home is hosting their 9th Annual Fall Fun Festival. There will be live music, food & drink, and kids games. The festival will be held on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Enter at Rock Creek Church Road & Randolph Street NW.
Lafayette Elementary HSA Outdoor Movie Night
On Saturday, September 30 at 6pm the Lafayette Elementary HSA will host a free Outdoor Movie Night on the Lafayette field. They’ll be screening “Book of Life” as part of their Hispanic American Heritage Month celebrations. Gates open at 6pm and the movie starts at 7:15pm.
Takoma Park Street Festival
On Sunday, October 1 from 10am to 5pm join the 42nd Annual Takoma Park Street Festival. Explore over 165 vendors booths, live music from 18 local bands, food trucks and more. The festival will be held from Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park, MD to Carroll Street, NW in Takoma, DC.
Roosevelt, MacFarland & 800 block of Upshur Street Neighborhood Clean Up
On Sunday, October 1 at 12pm, join Commissioner Casey Swegman (4C01) and students & neighbors from around Roosevelt HS, MacFarland MS, and the Petworth Library for a cleanup of the blocks surrounding these facilities as well as the 800 block of Upshur Street. Neighbors will meet by the front steps of the Petworth Library and disperse from there. Please RSVP here.
Crestwood End of Summer Picnic
On Sunday, October 1 from 5pm to 7pm, the Crestwood Citizens Association will host its annual End of Summer Picnic at Crestwood Triangle Park (Argyle Terrace & 18th NW). Neighbors are encouraged to bring a favorite dish or beverage to share, as well as a blanket or folding chair, while water, cutlery, condiments, ice, and paper products will be provided.
Join Us at Ward 4 Senior Jubilee!
On Friday, October 6 from 12:30pm – 3:30pm we will host our second annual Ward 4 Senior Jubilee at Lamond Recreation Center! This will be an opportunity to gather together, celebrate our community, and enjoy music, dancing, food, games, prizes, and important resources from DC agencies. RSVP online or by calling my office at 202-724-8052 to save your spot! Seniors who registered at a rec. center will be able to get transportation to the event from that rec. center, and should call the rec. center to find out the times for pick-up and drop-off.
Fall Family Film Series
On Friday, October 6 and Friday, November 3, President Lincoln’s Cottage will be hosting a Fall Family Film Series. There will be STEAM Activities, Family Crafts, DJ Music, and Food Vendors, and a firm screening. The Lego Movie will be screened on October 6 and Lightyear will be screened on November 3. The festivities start at 5:30pm and the film begins at dusk. President Lincoln’s Cottage is on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Security for the Armed Forces Retirement Home requires visitors to show valid identification at the security gate in order to enter the property. Please be prepared to show your ID.
Open Streets Georgia Avenue
On Saturday, October 7, DDOT we will be giving away 170 bicycles at the Open Streets Georgia Avenue event. District residents can complete this survey by Thursday, October 5 at 8:00pm to apply for the bicycle giveaway. Winners will be announced via email and must pick up their bicycle at the event on Georgia Avenue between 9am and 3pm on the 7th.
Church of Champions Annual Fall Festival
On Saturday October 7 from 10am to 4pm, First United Church of Jesus Christ, Apostolic is hosting its Annual Fall Festival. There will be food, crafts, and games. The church is located at 7901 16th Street NW.
Treasures in the Attic – Antique Evaluation
On Saturday October 7 from 1pm to 5pm, you can have a special item appraised by a panel of experts. All proceeds of the fundraiser will go towards Chevy Chase Main Street in their efforts to support small businesses in the community. Registration is encouraged.
Emergency Rental Assistance Will Be Available October 1
After several months with no funding available, the Department of Human Services will once again have emergency rental assistance available to District Renters. Residents can apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) at erap.dhs.dc.gov beginning October 1. Residents with no or limited access to technology (computer, tablet, or Smart Phone) can call the ERAP Hotline at 202-507-6666 to get help in submitting applications. Residents can also contact the ERAP Hotline or email DHS at email@example.com with questions or to follow up on their applications.
DHS has made changes to the application process and timeline for this year’s launch. In the past year, DHS received an influx of applications and closed the application portal in March 2023. To serve residents effectively and efficiently throughout the year, DHS will open the ERAP application portal on October 1, 2023, January 1, April 1, and July 1, 2024. DHS will close the portal once 3,500 applications are received in each quarter. Residents seeking emergency rental assistance are highly encouraged to note the new dates and submit applications in a timely manner. Click here to learn more about documents needed to submit a complete application.
My colleagues and I recognized the critical need for rental assistance as housing prices continue to rise and we deal with the remnants of the COVID pandemic. The Mayor’s original budget proposed only $8 million for this program. Together the Council increased the ERAP budget to $43 million. It is still not enough to need the growing need but is enough to prevention thoughts of DC families from being evicted from their homes.
DPW’s Curbside Composting Pilot Program Coming to Ward 4!
Starting next week, DPW’s Curbside Composting Pilot Program will be available in Ward 4! The program offers free weekly collection of food waste. All participants will receive an email the week before their starter kit is to be delivered. More information can be found here.
Open Street Georgia Avenue Street Closures
Three miles of Georgia Ave. will be closed on October 7 from 7am to 5pm for Open Streets Georgia Avenue. Buses operating on or near Georgia Ave., including the 62, 64, 70, 79, E4, H2, H4, and H8 will be detoured during the event. Cars and trucks will be detoured around the event route to Missouri Avenue, North Capitol Street, 13th Street NW, Barry Place NW and Bryant Street NW. Maps and more information on the event’s street closures can be found here.
E-Waste Collection Event at Uptown Farmers Market
On October 14 from 9am to 1pm, DOEE is hosting a eCYCLE collection event Near Uptown Farmers Market on north end of Colorado Ave. Learn more about the importance of recycling electronics and what electronics is and is not accepted at this event.
Proposed SNAP Settlement
A federal court has preliminarily approved a settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the District of Columbia concerning the administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) between June 2016 and August 2023.
The settlement impacts people who:
- Submitted an application or recertification application for SNAP benefits to the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) between June 1, 2016 and August 24, 2023 and did not receive a decision within 30 days, or
- Were due to recertify for SNAP benefits with DHS between June 1, 2016 and August 24, 2023, did not receive the proper notice from DHS to do so, and had your benefits terminated.
Order Free Rapid COVID Tests
The federal government is again offering to mail free COVID tests to any US household. Each household can receive up to four free rapid tests, which are designed to detect the variants that are currently circulating. COVID hospitalizations are on the rise, so testing and keeping up with your vaccine boosters remain important. Go to this website to place your order.
ANC 4B Student Art Submission Contest
Students in the 3rd-12th grades who live in or attend school within ANC 4B boundaries can submit original art to 4B08 Commissioner Alison Brooks (4B08@anc.dc.gov) for the 4B Student Art Contest. Winners will receive a prize and be featured in ANC 4B’s annual report.
Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Open Houses
DDOT is planning a series of open house events to share potential concept design alternatives for the Georgia Avenue NW Bus Priority Project. Remaining open houses in Ward 4 include Emery Heights Community Center on October 3 and Shepherd Park Juanita Thornton Library on October 4. Stop by these events anytime from 4:30pm-7pm to review potential design concepts and weigh in on the project.
Sidewalk Closures for Sixteenth Street Bridge Project
Starting this week, there is a month-long double sidewalk detour on Sixteenth Street Bridge (over Piney Branch Parkway) as part of the Sixteenth Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project. Pedestrians walking on Shepherd Street will have a detour on the East sidewalk, and will have to cross again to the West sidewalk as crews conduct historical repairs and traffic signal electrical work. We have asked if there is a less burdensome alternative for this phase of the project given the impact on pedestrians. On the more positive side, the current pedestrian detour on the North end of Shepherd Street are ending.
New Playground at Brightwood Elementary
In addition to Barnard, Brightwood Elementary also received new playgrounds this summer through capital investments in the DC budget. One playground serves 1st-5th graders while the other is dedicated to pre-K students. Thank you to DGS and DCPS for completing the work in time for the new school year. Brightwood students are already enjoying the new playgrounds!
Ward 4 in the News
Washington Post: New DC Bill Would Boost Upkeep of the City’s Forested Land
Channel 9: DC Councilmember Says Cleaning Up Parks Contributes to Public Safety
Petworth News: The Pitch Tavern is back on the mound (and on Georgia Avenue!)
DCist: DC’s Annual Art All Night Festival Returns With New ‘Dine All Night’ Event
WTOP: DC Delays Implementing Fines for Using Bus Lanes, Extends Warning Period
DC Line: Recent Reforms Helping DC Distribute Unused Vouchers for Foster Youth
US Department of Education: Roots PCS in Ward 4 Selected as Blue Ribbon School
DC Water: Major Piney Branch Sewer Rehabilitation Project to Begin Work This Month
Washington Post: The 9 Best Coffee Shops in DC, According to the Woman Trying Them All (featuring La Coop and Zeke’s in Ward 4)
Team Rayceen Interview: Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, Ward 4
Urban Turf: 3,000 Units, 20 Acres of Open Space: Zoning Change Looks to Pave Way For DC’s Biggest Development at Soldiers Home
Fiscal Policy Institute: DC Made Progress on Poverty Thanks to Public Investment
DCist: Growing Share Of DC Renters Spend At Least Half Of Their Income On Rent
Washington.Org: 5 Reasons to Experience the World Culture Festival
Rock Creek Conservancy: 2023 Rock Creek Weed Wrangle to Remove Invasive Plants
Ward 4 Dispatch: Conservation Legislation, Council Recap, Petworth CARE Day, and Chevy Chase Day
One of the things I look forward to most every year is our CARE Days. If you haven’t joined one in the past, these are our Community Access, Resource, and Engagement events and they’re designed to bring the resources of District government to the community rather than having the community having to track down the resources. Our final CARE Day of the season was this week at the Petworth Recreation Center, and it was one of the best yet. Petworth neighborhood residents came out to visit with my staff and to get information from agencies like the Departments of Health, Parks and Recreation, Behavioral Health, and so many more. I also was able to spend time with a group of young people completing Petworth’s incredible submission for DPR’s Art for Change contest. We also spent a few hours walking around the neighborhood and knocking on doors to talk to people about what they need from District government. I’m already looking forward to next season’s CARE Days!
Enjoy this events-packed weekend, neighbors!
Yours in Community,