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Ward 4 Dispatch: School Repairs, More Buses, Safety around Schools, and DC Attorney General Conversation

Dear Neighbors,

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! We are gearing up at the Council for the Mayor to release her budget proposal this coming Wednesday. I wrote to the Mayor a month ago to share some of my budget priorities, and I look forward to beginning to work on the budget once it’s transmitted to the Council. I am calling on Ward 4 to show up strong for budget oversight hearings (as we always do) and advocate for our community’s needs to be met. There are instructions for how to sign up online, and my team can also point you in the right direction or answer questions. My newsletter this week covers my legislation on school repairs, a call for better bus service in Ward 4, public safety updates, community resources, and plenty of neighborhood events!

Council Backs the Work Order Integrity Act

This week I led the Council in unanimously reintroducing the Work Order Integrity Act. Imagine waiting weeks or months for a contractor to repair something in your home, only to find they made a temporary fix and marked the work as complete. Or they left without telling you the outcome of their work. Or that they couldn’t locate the issue and left without notice. That is what happens in our schools far too often, and it leads to issues going unaddressed, or getting worse and disrupting student learning. This came up consistently in my school readiness tours, conversations with educators and parents, and our performance oversight hearings this month. I reintroduced the Work Order Integrity Act to require that DCPS school staff sign off on repairs before a work order can be marked complete. This is a simple but important step to improve communication between DGS, DCPS, and schools — and ensure that school repairs are getting done and done right. It is also a way to empower school staff, who know their school buildings better than anyone. This bill is only one piece of the puzzle. Longer term, we are partnering with DGS to make school maintenance more strategic. By closely monitoring building conditions, ensuring quality construction and repairs, and doing more proactive upkeep, we can prevent most disruptive maintenance issues before they emerge.

Calling for Better Bus Service: S1, E6, and Lamond

This week I wrote a letter to WMATA as part of their annual budget feedback process to call for improved bus service in Ward 4, starting with restoring the S1 bus. Restoring the S1 route would improve service for the many Ward 4 residents who regularly go to Foggy Bottom or Downtown to work, go to school, attend university, worship, or visit museums, shops, and restaurants. This would also leverage our new bus priority lanes on 16th Street and ensure we have more frequent, reliable service along a critical transit corridor. My letter also called for a new bus route to serve Lamond families, especially students traveling to school. And I highlighted how losing the E6 bus has made it harder for many Ward 4 residents west of Rock Creek Park to get to Connecticut Avenue and the Friendship Heights Metro. Finally, I thanked WMATA for working with me and neighbors to improve safety at the Petworth and Takoma Metro Stations. And I shared our gratitude that WMATA has committed to reopening Northern Bus Barn as an all-electric bus facility that does right by our community and by our planet!

Improving Safety Around Our Schools

Our community has experienced a string of robberies near our schools, including an armed robbery that took place yesterday outside of Coolidge High School and caused the school to go into lockdown. Although no students or staff were physically harmed in this incident, it is frightening and infuriating for this to be happening in our community. My highest priority as Councilmember is always the safety of our community members — especially our most vulnerable community members: children. This is something that will drive the work we do on the DC budget and legislation this year. And I am committed to making sure our agencies are doing the work to keep our students safe before, during, and after school. In response to these robberies, MPD is enhancing its police patrols in the area around Coolidge to help deter further incidents, especially during school pick-up and drop-off hours. Residents can contact Fourth District directly about their presence in this area, which falls under Sector 1.

Since yesterday, MPD has arrested four individuals who are suspected of being involved in multiple armed robberies in Ward 4. MPD has also made progress in other cases involving robberies around our schools. And a lookout has been released for three individuals in a Black Infiniti Sedan related to the robbery near Coolidge. Given the number of safety breaches in this area, I have asked the Deputy Mayor of Education to restore Safe Passage coverage at Coolidge and other nearby schools in a larger geographic area with a new provider that can provide strong support for our students. And we cannot stop there: our school communities need more support from all of District government. I am in conversation with our principals to set up a safety meeting with all nearby schools and leading public safety and education agencies so we can decide what other steps need to be taken to ensure students are safe. Coolidge, Wells, Whittier, and Capital City are wonderful school communities, but they have not received enough support from their government. All of us need to come together and change that.

Community Resources

Major Road Closures this Saturday

Brace for major road closures, parking restrictions, and bus diversions on Saturday, March 18 from the early morning hours to 2pm if you plan to venture south of Petworth. These closures are part of the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll race. Check out MPD’s traffic advisory for details.

Sign Up for DPR Summer Camp Lottery

Parents can now sign up for DPR’s new lottery sign-up system for summer camps. Instead of all residents competing to sign up for programs at the same time, the new lottery system will allow residents to submit their top camp preferences until April 5. Once the sign-up window has closed, the system will randomly select participants and announce camp placements on April 18 so parents can make their payment and lock in their registration. DPR has added about 5,000 slots to help address part of the massive demand for summer camps. Learn more about the new system and 2023 summer camp offerings on DPR’s website and FAQ.

DDOT Switching to New Parking Permit System

Mayor Bowser is encouraging neighbors with residential parking on their street to sign up for ParkDC, which is DDOT’s new system for using, issuing, and applying for permits for parking for visitors, home health aides, contractors, and school staff. Neighbors can access ParkDC online, on the mobile app, or at 202-671-2631. DDOT also announced that the 2020 visitor parking passes (paper placards) will stop being valid after April 15, 2023.

Convert Your Tax Lot to a Lot of Record 

The Department of Buildings (DOB) is temporarily offering a substantially reduced fee of $100 for homeowners who want to convert their tax lot to a lot of record. Why is this important? A tax lot designation limits homeowners from being issued permits for home improvement projects. How do you find out if your property is recorded as a tax lot or lot of record? Review your deed or consult this database. Learn more about this process and get started on DOB’s website.

Expanded Hours at Emery Heights and Ward 4 Rec Centers 

Starting Monday, March 27, Emery Heights Community Center in Ward 4 will extend its hours to 6am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays — adding 39 extra hours of recreation each week! The same change will be made at seven other centers citywide, including Columbia Heights Community Center and Turkey Thicket Rec Center. Then, later in April, all other Ward 4 rec centers will have their hours expanded, too. Expanding recreation opportunities for young people is something that I have been fighting for alongside our community, so it is exciting to see these changes take effect! 

Street Sweeping Is Underway: Avoid the Ticket 

On March 1, DPW restarted street sweeping to clean up residential streets and prevent trash and pollutants from spilling into our waterways. DPW has now started issuing tickets (instead of warnings) so look out for posted signs restricting parking during street sweeping hours.

ANC Commissioner Vacancies in 4A03 and 4C07

Ward 4 has two important vacancies for Commissioners to serve in ANC 4A03, which encompasses the Parks at Walter Reed and nearby homes, and 4C07 in Petworth south of Grant Circle. If you live in these Single Member Districts, please consider stepping up to serve your neighborhood. The Board of Elections has all the information you need to run. The petition gathering period for ANC 4A03 is running from March 13 to April 6, while the petition gathering period for ANC 4C07 will run from March 20 to April 13. Spread the word to neighbors!

Neighborhood Events

Plaque Unveiling: Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library

On Saturday, March 18 from 1:30pm-4:30pm the Committee to Rename the New Lamond-Riggs Library will host a renaming ceremony and reception to celebrate the new library building, unveil its new plaque, and honor Mrs. Lillian J. Huff for her three decades of advocacy for this library. Learn more about the event in this flyer.

Opening Reception: “A Woman of Color”

On Saturday, March 18 from 3pm-6pm Art of Noize Gallery (821 Upshur St NW, Rear) will host a free, family-friendly opening reception for the “A Woman of Color” exhibition featuring the work of Artist Greta Chapin-McGill. “Greta’s work is abstractly real, and tells the stories of her time through the eyes of a Black American woman, a feminist, and global citizen.”

Final Community Celebration with Culture Coffee Too

On Saturday, March 18 at 7pm Ward 4’s Culture Coffee Too and Mrs. V will host a big party to celebrate its wonderful time in our community as it prepares to close at the end of the month. DJ One Luv, DJ Tim, and DJ Sid will be performing. This is our last chance to come and experience the magic at Culture Coffee Too!

Lamond 4B07 Community Clean Up 

On Saturday, March 18 at 9:30am-11am Commissioner Cohen will host a family-friendly and pet-friendly community cleanup for Single Member District 4B07 in the Lamond neighborhood. Bags, gloves, and rakes will be provided. Check out the flyer for all the details. 

Women’s History Month Open Mic at Petworth Library

On Wednesday, March 22 from 7:30pm-8:30pm Petworth Library will host a Women’s History Month Open Mic for poets, musicians, and artists that would like to share and build community. All are invited to participate and share original and cited works about Speaking Truth to Power.

Listening Session with DC Attorney General Schwalb

On Thursday, March 23 at 6:30pm I will join DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb for a community listening session at Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Avenue NW). Neighbors will have the chance to learn about the work and services of OAG, share their concerns, and discuss ways to collaborate. Space is limited, so please RSVP online.

Race, History, and Rock Creek: Women Who’ve Made a Difference in Rock Creek 
On Thursday, March 23 from 5:30pm-7:30pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service will host a virtual conversation at the intersection of race, history, and Rock Creek Park. The event will focus on women who played an important role in Rock Creek Park’s History, like Rachel Carson, Beatrix Farrand, and Elizabeth Proctor Thomas. RSVP online

Farewell Party for Petworth’s Carol and George

On Friday, March 24 starting at 7pm on the third floor of Commonwealth Cantina, Petworth News and Pipkin Creative are hosting a going-away party for Carol Herwig and George Morgan, two stalwarts of the Petworth community. Come wish them all the best before they move out of state after nearly four decades supporting our community. Please RSVP to attend.

South Manor Neighborhood Association Cleanup

On Saturday, March 25 from 10am-12pm the South Manor Park Neighborhood Association will host a neighborhood clean up. They will meet at the South Manor sign at the intersection of Longfellow & New Hampshire Ave NE. Trash bags and tools will be provided. Come join!

Upcoming DPR Events for Ward 4
DPR is hosting several great events for Ward 4 families:

Ward 4 Community Jobs Fair at Coolidge

On Saturday, April 22 from 11am-3pm I will co-host a Ward 4 Jobs Fair with the DC Business Gun Violence Prevention Coalition at Coolidge (6315 5th St NW) with lunch provided! We will have federal agencies, DC government, and local business sharing openings and interviewing candidates; building trade unions accepting resumes and applications for apprenticeship programs; and community groups highlighting job readiness programs and signing people up for social services. If you’re an employer, please contact to participate. Residents can register to attend on Eventbrite. Please spread the word with this flyer!

Local News Links

Washington Informer: DC Council Members Introduce Bills on Lead Pipe Replacements

Washington City Paper: DC in Danger of Missing 2030 Deadline To Remove Lead Pipes

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Unveiling of Lillian J. Huff Plaque at Lamond-Riggs Library

Riders Times: Roosevelt gets much-needed space to accommodate growing enrollment

Fox 5: Roosevelt student chefs show off cooking skills in DC Culinary Competition

DCIAA: Ida B Wells and Coolidge Finish 1st and 2nd in DCIAA Cheer Championships

Hellbender: New Cherry Blossom-Inspired Beer “In Bloom” Released

DPR: Crestwood Triangle Park Construction Update for March 2023

Celebrate Petworth: 2023 Festival Date Announced for Saturday, September 23

Washington City Paper: More Than Two-Thirds of People Arrested in DC Never Charged

Washington Post: Opinion: I helped revise the DC criminal code. Biden is wrong

DCist: DC Is Giving Preschool Teachers A Pay Bump. Here’s How It’s Making a Difference To Them

Washington Informer: New DC Council Bill Tackles Teacher Retention Problem

Urban Turf: Whole Foods at the Parks at Walter Reed To Open This Summer

DC Water: FREE Downspout Disconnections Program with a Free Rain Barrel

Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Lead-Free DC, Summer Camps, Council News, and Hands Off DC

Ahead of next week, I share my wishes with everyone in our community celebrating Nowruz or observing the holy month of Ramadan. May this be a time of peace, hope, and renewal.

Last night I had the privilege of joining The Parks Main Street Association’s annual meeting to reflect and build on their important work supporting our small businesses in Manor Park, Lamond, and Riggs Park. A highlight of the event was celebrating Culture Coffee Too owner Ms. V, who will be closing shop at the end of this month. Ms. V has been a change-maker in our community, providing a welcoming space for neighbors, supplying great coffee, featuring local vendors and local artists, advocating for justice, and hosting countless live music shows, civic events, and pop-ups. Our community has a chance to celebrate Ms. V and Culture Coffee Too at their big party this Saturday. Thank you for all you do and who you are, Ms. V!

Have a great weekend, Ward 4.

Yours in Community,