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Ward 4 Dispatch: Spring Brings Spring Clean Ups, Budget Hearings, and Traffic Safety Upgrades

Dear Neighbors,

Along with the blooming of the Cherry Blossom trees, spring this year brings us spring clean ups, budget hearings, and more traffic safety in our neighborhoods!

I’m excited to bring you another update from our work on the Council and in our community. Here’s the latest on budget oversight, traffic safety upgrades in Sixteenth Street Heights, and community resources. There’s also a full itinerary of Ward 4 events for you to enjoy this weekend, including two spring clean ups and Cherry Blossom-themed kite events from DPR. Meanwhile, next week we’ll have our Ward 4 CARE Day in Crestwood, and the Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force will have its last meeting to approve its report and send its map recommendations for new SMD/ANC boundaries to the DC Council. All that and more below!

Legislative Updates and Ward 4 News

Speak at an Upcoming Budget Oversight Hearing

Today we wrapped up our first full week of budget oversight hearings. While we’re covering a lot of ground, I’ve been disappointed that turnout so far has been low. DC agencies that play a huge role in our lives and command many millions of dollars in their budget often don’t get any community members testifying at their hearings. There are definitely barriers to participating in Council hearings that we need to address, but I still want to encourage folks to testify on an issue that matters to them or send in written comments. A single person’s testimony can make a big difference in terms of where funds are allocated. When Ward 4 residents testify at our hearings, I do my best to lift up the issues they raise directly with agency directors. In the graphic above, I lay out some of the key hearings this year for you to consider. Remember: you typically need to sign up 1-3 business days in advance to testify so don’t put off signing up. Check out the full schedule of hearings and instructions for signing up to testify on my website. The DC Fiscal Policy Institute also has a great guide for navigating the DC budget process. Please reach out to me or my team with any questions about participating in budget oversight.

Budget Hearing Highlights from This Week

As always, I wanted to share some key points from our budget oversight hearings this week:

  • During our first hearing with the Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL), I spoke about how Ward 4 seniors have requested an expansion of the Senior Villages program to cover the greater Petworth community and transportation services for the senior residences on the Walter Reed campus. I was disappointed that these services were not addressed in the initial proposed budget and asked the agency how much funding it would take to meet these needs.
  • I also called for more proactive work from DACL to protect residents from predatory financial schemes, which is an issue many of our seniors are currently facing.
  • This week I also participated in hearings with the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Department of Corrections (DOC), and Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) to discuss how the proposed budget addresses crime, violence prevention, justice, and better coordination across our public safety agencies.
  • I was encouraged to hear about innovative approaches from ONSE for youth programming this summer, high-intensity services to at-risk residents, and more intentional coordination across violence prevention programs.
  • I’m also grateful that the funding for OAG’s Cure the Streets violence interruption team that’s coming to Ward 4 this spring has been extended so the team can continue serving our community next fiscal year.
  • Also, the long-awaited Pathways transitional employment program that will be shared by Ward 5 and Ward 1 will be based in Ward 5 but serve residents from both Wards.
  • During our hearing with the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), we were able to dig deeper on the hiring challenges the agency has had and the need to develop a workforce talent pipeline for clinicians and social workers. Our ability to expand mental health services in our schools and mental health crisis response teams in our city depends on our ability to recruit and retain the staff that carry out this essential work.
  • I confirmed with the Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure (DMOI) and DPW that the agency is working to acquire additional impound lot space, and that funds are already allocated for leasing this space. I’m excited about this investment because – paired with my legislation – it will enable DPW to more speedily remove abandoned and dangerous vehicles from our neighborhoods.
  • I raised the need to secure “smart” public litter cans on our streets that notify the city when they’re full so they can be promptly emptied.
  • I also pressed DPW on the need to hire dedicated community representatives for each Ward. Currently, a single staff member is responsible for responding to all requests from Councilmembers and Commissioners citywide, causing frustrating delays in addressing issues with one of our most visible agencies. That needs to change.
  • I called for expanding access to the DFHV SchoolConnect program in Ward 4 to provide students a safe alternative to get to and from schools.
  • I questioned DMV Director Robinson about his agency’s role in the District’s Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) system. We’ve heard reports that residents who contest their tickets in person at the DMV adjudication center downtown, rather than by mail or online, had more success getting their citations dismissed. Director Robinson said that roughly 80% of cases are online or by mail, and that the dismissal rate is roughly the same regardless of how someone chooses to challenge their ticket.
  • With DSLBD, I highlighted the need to provide our Clean Teams more funding to keep our commercial corridors in good shape. Clean Teams that manage extensive corridors, such as Upper Georgia Avenue, are understaffed given their large coverage areas of responsibility.
  • I also asked for an update on our Main Street programs and discussed the need for rigorous oversight of all Main Street programs given their critical mission of supporting our small businesses with limited funds.
  • Good news to share: the new Petworth Main Street, which we established in this year’s budget, has received funding to continue its work next year. It has already hired an interim program manager, is supporting Petworth PorchFest, and is preparing to distribute grants to our local businesses in Petworth.
  • More good budget news: Brightwood Elementary School in Ward 4 will be getting a much-needed new playground! The new playground should be ready by the 2023-24 school year. Shoutout to Commissioner Vanessa Rubio and the school community for your advocacy to make this happen.

For a deeper dive on the Mayor’s proposed budget, check out my recap from last week.

More Traffic Improvements in Ward 4: Sixteenth Street Heights

Picking up the thread from last week’s newsletter, I wanted to report back on some more traffic safety improvements in Ward 4. This week I’m zeroing in on Sixteenth Street Heights, where we had a traffic safety walkthrough late last year. Here are some updates:

  • 13th and Ingraham St NW will be converted to a 4-way stop intersection.
  • New speed bumps for the 1200 block of Crittenden St NW
  • New speed bumps for the 1100 block and 1300 block of Allison St NW
  • New speed bumps for the 1300 block of Nicholson St NW

Thank you to the neighbors who joined our traffic safety walkthrough and Commissioners Vanessa Rubio and Maria Barry for their advocacy and leadership to secure the all-way stop at 13th and Ingraham St NW. We’re continuing to follow up with DDOT about remaining traffic safety needs in the areas we covered during the walkthrough, including 14th & Emerson, 13th & Hamilton, Iowa & Arkansas, and Arkansas & Decatur. This is just the beginning.

City Services and Community Resources

Fort Totten Transfer Station Closing for Six Months

This week DPW announced that Fort Totten Transfer Station will be temporarily closing after April 2 for six months of repairs to improve the quality of the stormwater runoff generated at the site. During this period, bulk and residential drop-off will be moved to Benning Road Transfer Station (3200 Benning Road, NE) on Wednesday-Friday from 10am-2pm. Read DPW’s full announcement for more information. Household hazardous waste and e-cycling services will be offered every Saturday from 7am-2pm at Benning Road, as well as the Thursday preceding the first Saturday of the month from 10am-2pm.

DCPS Shifts Last Day of School to Friday, June 24

Yesterday DCPS announced that it moved the last day of instruction for students back to Friday, June 24, instead of Monday, June 27 as it had recently announced. The June 27 date unnecessarily delayed summer vacation for many families and conflicted with summer camps and other programs. Here’s to an earlier summer!

Citywide Increase in Tire Thefts

DC is experiencing a troubling citywide increase in tire thefts off of parked cars. Compared to this point last year, reported tire thefts increased from 38 to 133. Beyond the work MPD is doing to address these crimes, Captain Porter from the Fourth District shared the following tips for preventing tire thefts: park in a well-lit area, buy lug nut locks or a tire alarm, park close to the curb, or turn your wheels to a 45 degree angle to make it more difficult to access your tires.

Rock and Roll Marathon Street Closures

Rock and Roll runners won’t make it up to Ward 4 during tomorrow’s race, but I still want to make our community aware of the road closures that are happening tomorrow in case they impact you. Most road closures and detours will be in effect between 7am-2pm. Learn more.

Last Chance: Survey on the Roosevelt High School Pool.

Since November, DC residents have been able to enjoy the pool at Roosevelt High School every weekday from 6-8am and 5-9pm. 4C05 Commissioner Audrey Duckett and other community members made a survey to find out more about how residents are using the pool. Fill out the survey by March 31!

Neighborhood Events

First Baptist Church Health Fair in Petworth

On Saturday, March 26 at 10am-2pm First Baptist Church in Petworth (712 Randolph St NW) is hosting a health fair with free COVID tests, exercise demonstrations with a fitness expert, healthy recipes, free health kits, free smoothie bar, free fresh fruit and vegetables, and job tips the American Job Center. Join for an excellent day of free health and fitness activities.

Kite Flying & Cherry Blossoms at Takoma Rec and Lafayette-Pointer

On Saturday, March 26 from 11am-1pm DPR is teaming up with the National Cherry Blossom Foundation to invite neighbors to fly a kite in their neighborhood! DPR Park Ambassadors will host kite decorating and provide free kites while supplies last. They’ll be at Takoma Recreation Center (300 Van Buren St NW) and Lafayette-Pointer Rec Center (5900 33rd St NW) and six other DC locations. Learn more on DPR’s website!

South Manor Park Neighborhood Clean Up

On Saturday, March 26 at 10am the South Manor Park Neighborhood Association is hosting an adopt-a-block clean up! Meet them at the “Welcome to South Manor” sign (North Capitol St NE & Longfellow St NW) to tidy up the neighborhood with neighbors. They’ll have rakes, grabbers, gloves, and bags so bring friends and family!

Riggs Park Community Clean Up

On Saturday, March 26 from 1pm-3pm the Parks Main Street will host a community clean up to pick up litter in surrounding Riggs Park neighborhoods. Meet in front of Culture Coffee Too (300 Riggs Rd NE) to pick up supplies and a free cup of coffee for the first 30 volunteers to register! Bring your own gloves and come make new friends while beautifying our community.

Closing Reception for “Highland: Continuity of the Black Family”

On Saturday, March 26 from 3pm-6pm Art of Noize Gallery in Petworth (821 Upshur St NW Rear #2) is hosting a closing reception for its March exhibition, “Highland: Continuity of the Black Family” by Greta Chapin-McGill. This is a free event with light refreshments available on a first come first basis. Artwork is still available for purchase.

Buy Books to Support Our Ward 4 Public Libraries

Two of our public libraries in Ward 4 have used book sales to support the libraries and other community activities. It’s a great chance to do good and get some great books for very cheap!

DC Health Smarts: Navigating Your Health Insurance

On Monday, March 28 at 2pm DC HealthLink is teaming up with the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs for a virtual town hall conversation on making health insurance work for you. Presenters will discuss issues and cases relevant to the LGBTQ community. RSVP at this link.

Final Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force Meeting

On Tuesday, March 29 at 7pm the Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force will have its last meeting to finalize a report with its recommendations for new ANC/SMD boundaries for Ward 4! At its previous meeting, the Task Force voted to approve this map with new ANC/SMD boundaries for our ward based on community testimony and population growth in the 2020 Census. The recommended map and accompanying report (once finalized on Tuesday) will be submitted to the DC Council’s Subcommittee on Redistricting, which will hold its own public input process before approving a new map.

Ward 4 CARE Community Outreach Day in Crestwood

On Thursday, March 31 from 4pm-7pm my team and I and community volunteers will be bringing Ward 4 CARE Day to Crestwood starting from 17th and Upshur St NW. Join us as we check in on our neighbors, share resources, problem solve with DC agencies, and bring our community closer together. Sign up to join!

Share a Seed Spring Planting Day at Upshur Community Garden 

On Sunday, April 3 from 10:30am-1pm Share a Seed and Slow Food DC on Sunday, April 3 are hosting another wonderful Spring Planting Day at Upshur Community Garden! They’ll be sharing seeds, swap plants, helping prepare Upshur Community Garden for the the spring, and gathering as a community. Ward 4 Mutual Aid will also be in the house collecting canned goods and new or gently-used clothing. RSVP and learn more on Eventbrite

Ward 4, Mark Your Calendars:   

  • The Parks at Walter Reed will host their grand Spring Celebration on Saturday, April 23 from 10am-12pm with activities for all ages including relay races and an egg hunt.   
  • Petworth PorchFest returns on Saturday, April 30 from 2pm-6pm (sign up to volunteerperform, or host a band on your porch).  
  • Crestwood’s second annual plant swap will be help on Sunday, May 1 to share your extra seedlings, thinned non-invasive perennials, or excess house plants and cuttings.   
  • The Shepherd Park Citizens Association Garden Tour will be back and bigger than ever on Sunday, May 22.  
  • The Kennedy Street Festival will return this summer (tentatively June 25) and is looking for volunteers! Fill out this form to help bring back this amazing festival. 

There was no better way to cap off Women’s History Month than to join students at Whittier Elementary this week for Women’s History Read! I’m just so in awe and proud of our bright scholars. Thank you for having me, Principal Johnson.

Enjoy the weekend and all the great events we have coming up, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,