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Ward 4 Dispatch: Safe Routes to School, Laws We Passed, Holiday Markets, and EdFest!

Dear Neighbors,

Are you done with your holiday shopping yet? Me either! Thankfully this installment of the Ward 4 newsletter features six holiday markets and pop-ups for you to find just the right gift for the special people in your life — while also supporting our community. And those are not the only fun events we have coming up! Also, I share updates about the DC School Lottery applications opening up next week, WMATA increasing bus frequency on two key lines, road adjustments for the Northern Bus Barn project, and the status of leaf collection. I know it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that’s happening at the Council, so I’m sharing a recap of bills we passed this week and how they may impact your life. I’m also really excited that we passed the Safe Routes to School Act and all of the traffic safety improvements it will bring.

Council Passes Safe Routes to School Act!

Just under a year ago, I introduced the Safe Routes to School Act to drastically improve traffic safety around our schools, which serve our most vulnerable road users: children. On Tuesday, the Council passed the Safe Routes to School Act unanimously! Here is how the legislation will make the streets around our schools the safest in our city:

  • Installs Traffic Safety Infrastructure Around Schools. The bill requires DDOT to proactively install a sweep of traffic safety infrastructure around all public schools, including: raised crosswalks and curb extensions at every intersection adjacent to a school; speed bumps or speed tables on roads adjacent to school entrances; in-street crosswalk warning pylons or flashing pedestrian signs; and all-way stops or traffic signals at every intersection within a school zone. Better road design is the most effective way to improve safety on our streets, and we cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to our schools.
  • Expands and Standardizes School Zones. The legislation more than doubles the size of school zones to be 350 feet surrounding a school and includes crossing points even beyond that boundary. Recognizing that most schools are located in residential neighborhoods near parks and playgrounds and serve as community hubs, the bill makes the daytime speed limit in school zones (15 mph) on non-arterial streets effective seven days a week. In doing so, we improve safety for both students and the surrounding community.
  • Strengthens Crossing Guard Program. The Safe Routes to School Act simplifies the process for schools to apply for crossing guards by creating one simple online form, instead of each school needing to email their request ad hoc. The bill also allows schools to request crossing guards outside of regular school hours to provide coverage for students with atypical schedules or extra-curricular programming. And the legislation also enhances the training that crossing guards are required to receive.
  • Equitable Approach to School Traffic Safety. Recognizing traffic safety infrastructure is not equitably distributed in the District, the bill directs DDOT to prioritize schools that are most vulnerable to traffic violence and schools that serve the most at-risk students.

There’s transparency, accountability, and data collection built into the law. School action plans completed by DDOT must be implemented within a year. School safety requests must be tracked on the public-facing TSI dashboard. And failures to implement the bill’s requirements must be explained in writing and justified based on safety or engineering requirements. This bill was passed jointly with Councilmember Henderson’s bill to strengthen the Safe Passage program, which mobilizes staff on major school corridors to ensure that students arrive to and from school safely. In addition, the Council passed a mechanism to fund the Safe Routes to School Act by dedicating future traffic camera revenue to implementing the bill. Rather than be pocketed into the city’s general funds, it is only fair that the revenue from traffic cameras be reinvested back into making our communities safer.

Thank you to all the neighbors, community leaders, SBOE representatives, and ANC Commissioners who advocated for this bill. We would not be passing such a major bill in less than a year without your resolutions, testimony, organizing, hard work, and input. DC residents are calling out for safe, walkable communities. We cannot limit ourselves to working to improve safety at one intersection at a time or one school at a time. This legislation creates a proactive, comprehensive, and equitable approach to keeping our students safe.

Legislation the Council Passed This Week

On Tuesday, the Council held a marathon legislative session with more than 50 bills on the agenda. How did it end up this way? Because any bill that did not receive its first vote at this legislative session would die at the end of the year and need to be reintroduced next Council term. So, many bills that already had hearings, debate, markups, and support from the Council ended up being referred to us this Tuesday for a vote. Beyond the Safe Routes to School Act, here are highlights of the bills we passed during our 12-hour session. Keep in mind that most of this legislation will not go into effect for a few months, or even years in some cases. And some bills that require new spending will not go into effect until or unless the Council funds them in an upcoming budget. Here we go:

  • Metro for DC. I wrote in depth about this last week, but this bill will provide 24-hour service on 12 major MetroBus routes; make MetroBus free in DC in July 2023; fund a $10 million annual bus improvement fund for new bus shelters, bus lanes, and more frequent service; and provide a monthly transit subsidy for DC residents to use MetroRail in 2025. The first three of these provisions will go into effect first because they’re funded by revenue that DC already collected and that exceeded revenue estimates.
  • Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. Domestic workers are the unsung heroes of our economy. Working as house cleaners, nannies, and home health aides, these overwhelmingly Black and Brown women play essential roles in our homes. However, they are currently excluded from even basic worker rights, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The law we passed this week will give domestic workers protections against discrimination and harassment, shield them under DC’s occupational health and safety laws, require written contracts between them and their employers, and create an outreach and education program for domestic workers in the District.
  • District Government Parental Bereavement Leave Act. Workers should not have to sacrifice their paycheck if they need to take time off to grieve for the loss of a child. On Tuesday we passed legislation to provide District government employees up to 10 days of paid bereavement leave after experiencing a stillbirth or the death of their child.
  • Give SNAP a Raise Act. 135,000 DC residents rely on SNAP benefits to put food on the table, but the benefits have not kept up with the increasing cost of food and rising food insecurity in our communities. We passed the Give SNAP a Raise Act to boost SNAP benefits for families by 10% of the federal maximum allotment per household. Once this bill is funded, a household with $1,000 in monthly income that receives $358 in monthly benefits will receive $419 in monthly benefits. Giving SNAP a raise would reduce food insecurity, promote health, and improve children’s educational outcomes.
  • Reforms to DC Jail, Forensics Lab, Record Sealing, and Police Chases. We approved legislation to strengthen oversight of the DC Jail, where we have had alarming conditions and a lack of transparency about deaths at the facility. We also passed a bill to overhaul DC’s troubled crime lab, which lost its accreditation last year after a series of errors. In addition, we approved a bill to expand and streamline record-sealing and expungement for returning citizens and residents with past convictions, charges, arrests, or citations. And we passed my legislation to codify into law and strengthen DC’s existing policy against police car chases, which are extremely dangerous for officers, bystanders, and those being pursued. These pursuits caused the tragic death of Karon Hylton Brown in our community, and they should only be used when truly necessary.
  • Promoting Animal Welfare. We also took steps to protect animals in the District by passing Mary Cheh’s Animal Care and Control Act and Migratory Local Wildlife Protection Act. DC will have stronger protections against animal fighting, pet stores will only be allowed to sell rescued pets, animal control officers will be able to use police sirens and lights when needed, and new buildings will have to use bird-friendly material.
  • Solar Expansion Act. I am a strong supporter of renewable energy, but I was the sole vote against the Solar Expansion Act because it would put the cost of increasing support for solar energy squarely on DC ratepayers, including low-income families that cannot afford solar panels. The bill is expected to sharply increase energy costs for households in DC over the next two decades and was criticized by environmental groups, labor, businesses, and the Council Office of Racial Equity. We can and should support deepen our support for solar energy without forcing working families to bear the steep price.

Neighborhood Events

Friends of Petworth Library Used Books Sale

On Saturday, December 10 from 10:30am-3pm the Friends of Petworth Library will host a used book sale and community event in the library’s meeting room (4200 Kansas Ave NW). There will be a used books sale, kids activities, puzzles and game swaps, merch sales, and a raffle for people of all ages. Come out to support our local library!

Life Success Center Holiday Exchange (Coat Drive)

On Saturday, December 10 from 12pm-4pm the Life Success Center will host a holiday exchange at 5th & Kennedy NW where residents can bring extra coats for our neighbors in need. They’ll be serving hot chocolate, cool egg nog, and cookies for anyone who drops by. And families in need of winter coats can contact Carmella at 202-389-7117.

Holiday Sneak Peek Pop Up at Lovely Lady in Manor Park

On Saturday, December 10 from 1pm-4pm Lovely Lady Boutique (6213 3rd Street NW) will host a Holiday Sneak Peek Pop Up to debut a new shoe/boot line, a new housewares line, refreshed branding, and lite snacks. Thanks to The Parks Main Street for their support with this event. Visit to see all that Lovely Lady Boutique has to offer ahead of the holidays.

Holiday Market at Hellbender in Riggs Park

On Saturday, December 10 from 1pm-7pm Hellbender Brewery (5788 2nd St NE) will host its holiday market with local artists, makers, authors, musicians, food, and beer in partnership with The Parks Main Street. Join them for holiday shopping and fun!

Biometric Wellness Screening at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church

On Sunday, December 11 from 11am-3pm Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (4606 16th St NW) will be teaming up with Quest Diagnostics to offer biometric wellness screenings for any Ward 4 adult. Promote a healthy lifestyle by knowing your body’s critical health indicator numbers, including blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol. Contact Health Navigator Janyce Jefferson at or 410-804-9325 to register for a wellness screening.

Live Nativity and Petting Zoo at Simpson-Hamline UMC

On Sunday, December 11 from 4pm-6pm Simpson-Hamline UMC will host a Live Nativity and Petting Zoo on the front lawn of the church (16th & Allison NW). They’ll have live animals, music, warm treats, and space for community to gather in fellowship. Attendees can also check out the interior of the church. All are welcome!

Shepherd Elementary Holiday Gift Bazaar

On Wednesday, December 14 from 5pm-8pm Shepherd Elementary will host a Holiday Bazaar marketplace featuring local vendors. It’s a great opportunity to find holiday gifts, support small businesses, and enjoy the hot cocoa and baked goods that will be on sale. Event entry is free, and the bazaar will take place at the Shepherd Elementary Atrium (7800 14th Street NW).

Upper Georgia Avenue Holiday Vendor Pop-Up

On Friday, December 16 at 9am-12pm Upper Georgia Avenue will host a holiday vendor pop-up at Tomoka Coffee (7711 Georgia Ave NW) will host a holiday vendor pop-up. Local vendors will be selling handmade jewelry, spiritual stones, and local honey made right in Ward 4 at the Brightwood Bee Ranch! More vendors to be added.

Petworth Peanuts Holiday Happy Hour

On Friday, December 16 at 5pm-7pm Petworth Peanuts will host a holiday happy hour at Capitol Cider House (3930 Georgia Ave NW). Join other families for a relaxed holiday happy hour. Holiday sweaters are encouraged, and RSVPs are requested but all are welcome.

NPS Visit to Sherman Circle and Grant Circle

On Saturday, December 17 at 10am National Park Service officials and 4D04 Commissioner Zach Israel will lead a visit to Sherman Circle and Grant Circle with neighbors to discuss needed improvements at both parks. The group will meet at Sherman Circle to begin the visit, and all neighbors are welcome to attend.

Ward 4 PTO Holiday Mart at Powell Elementary

On Saturday, December 17 from 10am-2pm the Powell Padres, Truesdell FTO, Barnard Bears PTA, Lewis Elementary PTO, and Dorothy Height PTO are teaming up for a Holiday Mart at the Powell Elementary Parking Lot (14th & Taylor NW). Come support our local schools and local vendors at the same time, while also getting some holiday shopping done!

“Unsilent Night” Soundwalk in Petworth

On Wednesday, December 21 at 7:30pm Unsilent Night, which was dubbed DC’s most unique music nonreligious holiday event, comes to Petworth starting from Sherman Circle. Community members will carry portable speakers and boom boxes simultaneously playing four instrumental tracks by NYC composer Phil Kline in synch to bring communal, festive fun to the neighborhood for 45 minutes. Learn more about the event and how to participate.

Community Resources

WMATA Increases Bus Frequency on S2 and 70

This week WMATA announced it will increase service starting December 11 on several key MetroBus routes across DMV, including the S2 and 70 buses that run through the center of Ward 4. The S2 bus will run every 10 minutes (instead of 15) during rush hours and every 20 minutes late nights, while also adding additional southbound trips on weekday mornings between 7:35am-8:05am. Meanwhile, the 70 bus will operate every 12 minutes (instead of 15) on weekdays between 5am and midnight. Learn more from WMATA’s press release.

Bus Barn Project Moves to Next Phase

Speaking of WMATA, Metro’s Northern Bus Garage project in Sixteenth Street Heights is moving towards the next phase with demolition scheduled to begin in early 2023. As part of the project, WMATA has closed the sidewalk on the east side of 14th Street around the bus barn, closed the sidewalk along the west side of Arkansas Avenue, removed all parking along the adjacent block of Buchanan Street and converted the street to a one-way eastbound traffic only, and closed the sidewalk on the north side of the current facility, which connects 14th Street to Iowa Avenue. Check out the updates from the December 2021 community meeting for additional information, and stay tuned for more updates on this important project in Ward 4.

DC School Lottery Virtual EdFEST on Saturday

If you’re a parent planning to send your child to a DCPS or PCS school or Pre-K next year, mark your calendars! On Saturday, December 10 at 10am, MySchool will host its virtual EdFEST where students and families will be able to explore the city’s public and public charter school options (PK3 – Grade 12), chat directly with school representatives, and learn about the public school lottery (RSVP).

DC School Lottery Applications Open on Monday

Just two days later, on Monday, December 12, DC lottery applications will open for DC families. The application deadline will be February 2023 for Grades 9-12 and March 2023 for Pre-K through Grade 8. Check out the My School DC website for more info.

Free Citywide Child Care Fair at Stadium Armory

Separately from the virtual EdFEST, the DC Association for the Education of Young Children is hosting a free citywide child care fair on Saturday, December 10 from 10am-3pm at Stadium Armory (2001 East Capitol Street SE) for families to explore DC’s diverse child care offerings. Staff from child care centers and homes from across DC will showcase their unique programs, and community service groups that offer resources to families of young children and early educators will be on hand to share information. Reserve your spot before you go.

Flu Shots, Boosters, Masks, and Tests at our COVID Centers

With the holidays upon us, remember that our DC COVID Centers offer free COVID shots, the bivalent booster, flu shots, masks, rapid tests, and walk-up PCR tests. We are fortunate to have a great Ward 4 COVID Center with dedicated staff at 4704 13th Street NW that is open six days a week. Be sure to stop by for anything you need to stay healthy! Earlier today, the FDA authorized use of the COVID Bivalent Booster for children under age 5. DC Health expects to make the COVID Bivalent Booster available at COVID Centers sometime next week after it coordinates the logistics and trains staff. Keep an eye on DC Health’s website and my next newsletter for updates.

Information about the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) 

DC Health has shared some important information, which has been hitting vulnerable populations like young children and older adults particularly hard this year. Check out these flyers in English and Spanish with key information, common symptoms, and how to protect your health and your family’s health. 

Leaf Collection Update for Next Week
Leaf collection next week (December 12-18) will continue in Area C and is anticipated to start in Area D towards the end of next week. Be sure to rake your leaves onto your curb or tree box (not in bags or on the street) so they can be collected. Due to leaves falling earlier than expected this year, the first pass of leaf collection is behind schedule. Please check DPW’s online tracker to see whether crews have reached your area.

Local Links

DPR: Wilson Pool Closed for Temporary Repairs

DCistDC Council Advances Solar Bill Despite Equity Concerns

Greater Greater WashingtonWMATA is a laggard on electrifying buses

DC Urban Turf: 435 Apartments, Open Space and Climbable Art: A Detailed Look at the Plans For the Takoma Metro

Washington Post: It’s time to support the hidden workers in our economy

Washington PostDC lawmakers pitch a plan for ‘Green New Deal for Housing’

Ward 4 Dispatch: Expanding Bus Service, Council News, EdFest, and Events!

Listen Local First: Holiday Playlist of Holiday Favorites by DMV Based Artists

Are you looking to serve our community and support small businesses in an engaging new role? Apply to be Deputy Director for Petworth Main Street!

Last weekend my mom and I had the chance join the East Rock Creek Village to mark the holidays for its first in-person indoor holiday party since the pandemic began almost three years ago. East Rock Creek Village is a neighborhood-based, volunteer-managed nonprofit group that enriches the long-term quality of life of residents over the age of 50 in Colonial Village, North Portal Estates, Shepherd Park, Takoma, Brightwood, and Manor Park. It’s one of several seniors villages across DC, but East Rock Creek Village has become a model for the city because of its incredible volunteers and and all the ways they have stepped up to support our neighbors. There have been countless times when they have driven residents to their vaccine appointments, picked up prescriptions during inclement weather, or otherwise given back to our seniors. Thank you East Rock Creek Village, and thank you Northwest Neighbors Village for your fantastic service to our seniors west of the Park!

Wishing you a fun and productive weekend ahead! Don’t forget to pencil one of our Ward 4 holiday markets in your calendar and enjoy the sunshine on Saturday.

Yours in Community,