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Ward 4 Dispatch: School Readiness, Beach Drive, Dance Loft, Fort Stevens Day, and Run for ANC

Dear Neighbors,

From new legislation to support school readiness, updates on Dance Loft and Beach Drive, and info on running for ANC, to our recess schedule, valuable community resources, and countless Ward 4 events — here is my dispatch for the week!


Ward 4 and Legislative News

School Readiness Emergency Legislation Passed

This fall, DC students deserve to return to safe, supportive learning environments. Last year, there were major issues with school readiness for the full return to in-person learning. We had dozens of buildings with broken HVAC systems, staff stuck in a backlogged clearance process, and schools with visibly broken or inadequate technology. That’s why this Tuesday, I introduced and passed the Back-to-School Safely Emergency Act with Chairman Mendelson so we can track progress on key issues such as HVAC units and HEPA filters, safety systems like door locks and security cameras, and the status of pediatric immunizations and immunization outreach efforts. Given everything that happened last year, there’s a critical need to be proactive in our oversight over the return to school. Regular reporting on these metrics will help DC better prepare for returning to school safely. This bill is just part of my work to support our schools with reopening; like last year, I will also tour every DCPS school in Ward 4 with school leaders and DC government agencies to push for each school in our community to have the repairs and supplies it needs for a smooth reopening come the first day of school on August 29.

Safe Passage Program Expands into Ward 4

I’m excited to share that the Safe Passage program will expand into Ward 4 next school year to serve Petworth and Brightwood Park. This is something I advocated for, and I’m grateful to the Deputy Mayor for Education for partnering to get it done. Safe Passage teams will be placed on identified safe routes to help students travel to and from school safely. They will also participate in violence prevention and mediation efforts, host after-school programs, and strengthen relationships with students and school personnel. The new Safe Passage program in Ward 4 will focus on Roosevelt STAY, Capital City PCS, EL Haynes, McFarland, Ida B. Wells MS, Paul PCS, and Deal. Meanwhile, Roosevelt and Coolidge are both already served by a separate Safe Passage program. Check out the Request for Applications seeking an organization to manage the new Safe Passage site in our community.

Zoning Commission Approves Dance Loft Project PUD

Yesterday the DC Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the PUD and consolidated map amendment for the Dance Loft / Heleos Affordable Housing Project on 14th Street in Sixteenth Street Heights. The Commission found the application to be consistent with the Future Land Use Map & Comprehensive Plan and noted ANC 4C’s careful examination and support for the project. It also noted that the small businesses in the current building reached an agreement and withdrew their opposition to the project. In April, I wrote in Petworth News about why I believe this project is essential for confronting our dire affordable housing crisis. I’m grateful for the new neighbors, affordable housing, deeply affordable housing, family-sized units, transit accessibility, sustainable design, retail space, and permanent arts building that this project will bring to our community. And every affordable housing unit created through this project will prevent a family in DC from being severely burdened, displaced, or left homeless.

NPS Proposes Seasonal and Weekend Closure of Upper Beach Drive

After an extensive public comment period, National Park Service is proposing a seasonal closure of Upper Beach Drive during the summer months between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day each year, with Upper Beach Drive reopening to vehicular traffic the rest of the year except for weekends and holidays. The decision is not yet final; there is a new public comment period that will last until August 11. Please visit the NPS website to submit your comments at the bottom of the page if you would like to weigh in on this proposal. There will also be a virtual public meeting on Monday, July 18 from 6:30pm-8pm that can be accessed at the same link. In addition, you can read NPS’s full environmental assessment for their’ rationale, further detail, and the potential effects on traffic, the environment, disability access, etc… Upper Beach Drive will remain closed to cars until NPS makes their final decision after reviewing this round of public comments. If this proposal holds, that could be as early as September 6, but it is much more likely to be later in the fall. As your Councilmember, I’m committed to keeping our community informed on the status of Upper Beach Drive and sharing every opportunity there is to weigh in. I will also coordinate with DDOT and NPS to mitigate congestion and improve traffic safety regardless of what the final decision is.


Community Resources

The Time Is Now to Run for ANC Commissioner in Ward 4

If you have been thinking about how to serve our community, a great option could be running to serve as the ANC Commissioner for your neighborhood. ANC Commissioners are nonpartisan, part-time volunteer elected officials who represent the interests of their immediate neighborhood (approximately 2,000 residents) on issues ranging from development, public safety, traffic changes, and much more. One of my greatest privileges of being Ward 4 Councilmember is working closely with our extraordinary ANC Commissioners in service to our community. We need more of these civic heroes! Yet because of ANC redistricting and current Commissioners choosing not to run again, there will be many vacancies in Ward 4.

Petitions to run for ANC become available on July 20 and must be submitted back to the Board of Elections by August 10 with at least 25 valid signatures from registered voters in your Single Member District (SMD). Please consider running or encouraging a neighbor who you believe would do a great job. Here are some resources that could be helpful as you consider running:

Pre-Register to Receive the Monkeypox Vaccine in DC

DC residents can now pre-register for Monkeypox vaccination appointments by visiting preventmonkeypox.dc.gov. Once appointments become available, individuals will receive an email invitation to make a vaccination appointment and have 48 hours to claim their appointment. Here are the current eligibility criteria for monkeypox vaccination, but residents who do not meet the current eligibility criteria are still encouraged to pre-register so they can notified about appointments if eligibility expands. DC has had 91 Monkeypox cases so far.

DC Health Now Offers At-Home COVID Testing

DC residents who need reasonable accommodations, especially those who have difficulty leaving their homes, can now receive at-home COVID testing from DC Health every Monday through Saturday. Appointment requests can be made by calling the DC Health COVID Call Center at 855-363-0333 at least one day in advance. A registered nurse will arrive at the resident’s home with both PCR and rapid-antigen testing options and assist with tests.

Petworth Main Street Hiring Director, Upper Georgia Avenue Seeks Community Board

The new Petworth Main Street is hiring a Deputy Director to run the organization and help Petworth small businesses continue to grow and succeed. Learn more about the position on Petworth News and share the job posting on Idealist. Meanwhile, Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street is in search of community advisory committee members. They’re looking for residents, business owners, or community leaders to help shape the priorities for UGAMS as it supports businesses along our Upper Georgia Avenue business corridor. If you are interested, please email jessicam@nonprofitadvacement.org

DC Residents 21+ Can Now Self-Certify Their Need for Medical Cannabis 

As of July 6, DC residents who are at least 21 years old can now self-certify when applying for a medical cannabis patient registration, instead of having to secure a recommendation from their healthcare provider. By registering, DC residents can purchase cannabis from one of DC’s licensed dispensaries, including Takoma Wellness Center in Ward 4. Registering is completely free until August 18, and registrations issued through September 30 are valid for two years from date of issuance. The new self-certification flexibility is the result of DC Council legislation

Relief for DC Homeowners, Condo Owners, and Coop Owners Who Feel Behind 

The $50 million DC received in federal relief funds are now available for DC homeowners who fell behind during the pandemic. This program can cover up to $120,000 per eligible household in mortgage payments and other expenses, such as: housing association fees, condo fees, coop fees, property taxes, utilities, internet bills, and more. To be eligible, you must be a DC homeowner with your home serving as your primary residence since June 2021, must have fallen behind on housing or utility expenses, must fall within the income guidelines, and must have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic. To learn more or apply for these essential funds, visit haf.dc.gov. 

DC’s Minimum Wage Now Up to to $16.10 Per Hour 

Effective July 1, DC’s minimum wage increases from $15.20 to $16.10 per hour – higher than any state in the country. For tipped workers, the tipped minimum wage also went up to $5.35 per hour, with employers required to make up the difference to $16.10 if not covered by tips. DC residents will have the opportunity to approve extending the regular minimum wage for tipped workers with Initiative 82 during the November 8 general election. 

Council Office Recess Schedule.

Now that the Council is in recess, our team is taking extra time to plan for next year, research and draft new legislation, preparing for new programs funded in the budget, and be in our community over the summer months. Our office will remain open on Mondays-Thursdays from 10am-4pm. We will be closed on Fridays, but a staff member or myself will be on call to monitor for urgent requests. Each DC agency under the Executive has a community representative to assist with constituent needs, as well as community representatives for each Ward that can address issues. And of course, our office is happy to assist with constituent requests, agency oversight, and getting issues over the finish line.

School Immunization Mobile Clinics

Make sure your child is caught up with their required immunizations ahead of school! DC Health is hosting a series of immunization mobile clinics to help families get the necessary shots, including a mobile clinic at Truesdell Elementary (800 Ingraham St NW) in Ward 4 on Wednesday, July 27. All clinics listed in the graphic below take place from 10am-4pm. Visit DC Health’s dedicated webpage with more information.


Neighborhood Events

TONIGHT: Late Night Hype Block Party at Emery Heights Community Center

On Friday, July 15 from 6pm-10pm DPR will hold a Late Night Hype block party at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW) featuring bounce house, music, food, video games, and more! People of all ages are invited to enjoy the extended hours, music, and good vibes at Emery.

Fort Stevens Day Commemorating the Battle of Fort Stevens

On Saturday, July 16 from 10am-2pm the National Park Service and the Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defense of Washington will jointly host Fort Stevens Day, which commemorates the historic Civil War Battle of Fort Stevens, the only time in the nation’s history that a sitting President (Lincoln) came under direct enemy fire. This year’s event will focus on the role of women in the Civil War Defenses of Washington and will feature an opening reception at 10am, historical reenactors, speakers, children’s activities, live authentic music, food trucks, drinks, bathrooms on site, and a cooling space at the Emory building if needed. 

International StoryFest at Shepherd Park Library

On Saturday, July 16 at 10am-12pm Shepherd Park Library will host International Storytime Fest with storytime in several languages, book giveaways, crafts, games, and children’s music. Amharic/English storytime will be at 10:15am, a music break at 10:45am, Spanish/English storytime at 11am, and games and music will kick off at 11:30am.

Summer Saturdays at the Garden at 516 Kennedy Street NW

On Saturday, July 16 at 10am-12pm (and every Saturday through August 13) City Blossoms invites neighbors to join Summer in their Studio Garden at 516 Kennedy Street NW for Summer Saturdays. Bring your family, friend, or just yourself to explore the garden and enjoy a community gathering space with kid-friendly activities. Anyone who comes to lend a hand is welcome to take home some garden goodies as part of the “you help, you harvest” policy.

Organizing Skillshare with Ward 4 Mutual Aid

On Saturday, July 16 at 11am Ward 4 Mutual Aid will host an organizing skillshare workshop at Mosaic Church of the Nazarene (16th and Webster NW). They’ll discuss how we can build relationships with our neighbors around common mutual aid goals. Please RSVP if you plan to attend, and donuts and coffee will be provided!

Jazz in the Parks at Walter Reed: Brent Birckhead

On Saturday, July 16 from 5pm-8pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host their next Jazz in the Parks event on the Great Lawn with award-winning Saxophonist Brent Birckhead performing at 6pm. Before that, favorite children’s performer Baba Ras D will perform at 5:30pm. Bring your own picnic blanket, lawn chairs, and refreshments, and enjoy popular food trucks, including J&J Taqueria, Pepe (José Andrés’ food truck), Capital Kettle Corn, and ice cream!

Crestwood Ice Cream Social at The Triangle

On Sunday, July 17 at 2pm the Crestwood Citizens Association will host an ice cream social at The Triangle (Argyle Terrace & 18th Streets NW). Come for ice cream from the Mister Softee truck and stay to socialize with neighbors. Please bring your own picnic blankets and folding or camping chairs!

Engagement Meeting with Ward 4 Mutual Aid 

On Tuesday, July 19 at 8pm Ward 4 Mutual Aid will host their next engagement meeting via Zoom. This is a great opportunity for Ward 4 residents to learn more about how to receive goods or volunteer and the variety of ways to get involved. Sign up for the meeting through W4MA’s volunteer page. And check out their general flyer for more ways to plug into Ward 4 Mutual Aid and the work they do for our community.

Senior Office Hours at Hattie Holmes Senior Center

On Wednesday, July 20 from 10am-12:30pm my team and I will be at Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center (324 Kennedy St NW) for community office hours. Come by to get help with constituent issues, share insights on legislation, or talk about how to improve our community!

Senior Office Hours at Fort Stevens Rec Center

On Thursday, July 21 from 10am-12:30pm my team and I will be at Stevens Recreation Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) for community office hours. Come by to get help with constituent issues, share insights on legislation, or talk about how to improve our community!

DC Public Library Go Go Unit and Games on Kennedy Street

On Thursday, July 21 from 3pm-6pm the DC Public Library’s Go-Go mobile unit will be on the 600 block of Kennedy Street NW. There will be a bilingual dance class led by Dance Loft, lawn games, books to check out, library cards, bubbles, and giant chalk. There will also be a special read-along with our very own Donna Henry of Soup Up featuring her new children’s book, My DC My Go-Go! This is all coordinated by Uptown Main Street, which is planning to do this on the third Thursday of every month throughout the summer.

Outdoor Movie Night with “Turning Red” at Larry Allen Park in Brightwood Park

On Thursday, July 21 starting at 7pm DPR’s Roving Leaders will host an outdoor movie night at Larry Allen Memorial Park with a screening of “Turning Red” for families. Bring your own chairs and blankets and head over to Larry Allen Park at the intersection of Illinois Ave, Gallatin, 9th, and Hamilton Streets. Thank you to 4D04 Commissioner Zach Israel for his work planning this event!

Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library Community Day

On Saturday, July 23 from 11am-3pm the Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library (5401 South Dakota Ave NE) will host a community day for neighbors to celebrate their new library! Come out to contribute to the Lamond-Riggs (Lillian J. Huff) Library Heritage Wall, enjoy a performance by family favorite, Grammy-nominated artist Uncle Devin, explore the beautiful new library with guided building tours, participate in crafts, and other fun activities for all ages.

Movies on the Lawn at the Parks at Walter Reed: “Hidden Figures” 

On Saturday, July 23 from 5pm-10pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host a free outdoor movie night on the Great Lawn with a showing of Hidden Figures. The event will feature local vendors providing cider, ice cream, tacos, and more. Blankets will be available (if the ground isn’t too wet). Bring your own chairs, picnics, and popcorn, and enjoy this family friendly movie. 

DPR Jazz in the Parks Series in Ward 4

DPR is hosting a series of pop-up Jazz in the Parks music and art installations at parks across DC, including in Ward 4. The events are free and feature local artists, musicians, and civic demonstrations celebrating DC culture. Ward 4 Jazz in the Parks events are taking place on:

  • Thursday, July 21 at 6:30pm at the Shepherd Park Rec Center (7800 14th St NW)
  • Thursday, July 28 at 6:30pm at the Riggs LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Rd NE)
  • Thursday, August 11 at 6:30pm at the Petworth Rec Center (801 Taylor St NW)

DPR Summer 2022 Outdoor Movie Nights in Ward 4

One of the best summer traditions in DC are outdoor movie nights. Check out the outdoor movie screenings hosted by DPR’s Roving Leaders this summer, including many at our Ward 4 parks and rec centers. Please keep in mind that outdoor movie nights are subject to cancellation due to weather.

  • Thursday, July 21 at 7pm: Larry Allen Park, Illinois Ave & 9th St NW (Turning Red)
  • Tuesday, July 26 at 7pm: Petworth Rec Center, 801 Taylor St NW 
  • Tuesday, August 16 at 7pm: Upshur Park, 4300 Arkansas Ave NW

And visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9am-1pm:     


Local Links

Washington PostDC Schools Must Report on Classroom Door Locks, Faulty HVACs Under Proposal

WUSA9: DC Council, Nonprofits Call on Mayor Bowser to Assist Migrants Bused from Texas

Global Wire: More Affordable Housing Coming to Shepherd Park in Ward 4

Petworth NewsShare your opinion on what type of restaurant might open on Upshur

Petworth NewsPetworth Jazz Project music line up announced

WashingtonianPeople Are Lining Up for This DC Ramen Shop’s Tsukemen Tuesdays

World Architecture Festival: John Lewis Elementary in Ward 4 Shortlisted for Design

Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Last Legislative Session, Citi Open, Local Events, and Caribbean Community Affairs


Ward 4 bid farewell to 3 Stars Brewing Company last weekend after a decade of fun memories, great beer, and always giving back to our community. I’m so grateful to Mike and everyone on the 3 Stars team for all their hard work over the years and wish them well. Let us always remember to enjoy and support our local business in Ward 4. We’re lucky to have them!

Yours in Service,
—Janeese