As we gear up for Thanksgiving, here is my update on what’s going on in our community, on our streets and intersections, in the District as a whole, and at the DC Council.
Ward 4 and Council News
What the DC Council Passed This Week
On Tuesday we held our third-to-last Committee of the Whole meeting and legislative session for this year and for this two-year Council term. Here are highlights on the bills voted on, as well as some other legislative updates:
- At 14.3%, DC has one of the highest rates of food insecurity for seniors in the country. That’s why I was proud to co-introduce the No Senior Hungry Act from Councilmember Mary Cheh, which passed its first of two votes. This bill confronts senior hunger comprehensively by improving outreach, enrollment in programs, and agency coordination.
- We also passed the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Act from Councilmember Robert White on first reading. The bill aims to end gender discrimination in DC government with expanded protections, conducting gender analyses for District agencies, and creating a citywide action plan.
- The Business and Entrepreneurship Support to Thrive Act (with its clever acronym) from Councilmember Brooke Pinto passed its first vote. It aims to streamline basic business licensing in DC by drastically reducing the number of license categories, lowering licensing fees, and removing duplicative requirements.
- A minor but important bill: the Access to Advanced Placement Exams Act from Councilmember Cheh and Chairman Mendelson would allow homeschooled students in DC to sit for AP exams at their by-right DCPS school, or another DCPS school if necessary. The legislation passed its first of two votes.
- Looking to buy (or sell) a home in DC? The Soil Disclosures Modernization Act from Councilmember Cheh allows realtors to use the most up-to-date soil survey for their soil disclosures to homebuyers. The previous soil survey was published back in 1976 and was cumbersome, outdated, and imprecise.
- In addition, we moved to expand automatic voter registration in DC by advancing a bill from Councilmember Charles Allen that will automatically pre-approve DC residents to vote when they apply for an ID or Medicaid benefits. Then, once local officials verify that a resident is eligible to vote, that resident will be able to activate their voter registration simply by casting their ballot in-person or returning a mail-in ballot. Residents will also have the option of opting out of being registered to vote.
- I also want to credit Councilmember Elissa Silverman for moving an emergency bill to boost support for UDC students in nursing and other health programs in order to cover expenses like transportation and meals on campus. These are high-demand medical professions, and we need to set up our students for success.
- And the Council gave final unanimous approval to DC’s criminal code revision. DC’s old criminal code was written by Congress more than 120 years ago. This new code is drafted by DC leaders through a 16-year process, multiple public hearings, and an independent commission of public safety experts. The revised code makes our criminal laws more clear, consistent, proportional, and evidence-based. It creates a fairer system for holding people accountable when they commit crimes, while also moving us away from mass incarceration policies that have devastated our communities. I wrote extensively about the criminal code revision in my November 4 newsletter. If the fiscal cost of this bill is funded, these changes will begin going into effect in 2025.
- Every ten years, DC has a Tax Revision Commission that is appointed by the Mayor and the Chairman of the Council to consider how our tax laws can best be revised. I want to ensure that residents know about the Commission, its plans and timeline, and their upcoming meetings (which are open to the public). The Commission plans to host public input opportunities in the coming weeks.
- And this Tuesday, November 22, starting at 11am, I am excited to hear from DC residents, community leaders, tenants, and organizers about the need to bring social housing to DC at our bill hearing for the Green New Deal for Housing Act!
Traffic Safety Upgrades in Ward 4
Together with neighbors, ANC Commissioners, community leaders, and DDOT, my team and I are continuing to push for traffic safety upgrades in our community. Here are some improvements that have already been approved or implemented:
- After repeated crashes and strong advocacy from neighbors, ANC 4C and Commissioner Barry, and our Council office, DDOT has committed to addressing safety issues at the dangerous intersection of Iowa & Arkansas NW. DDOT has proposed installing pedestrian islands on Arkansas Avenue to improve pedestrian safety and slow speeding cars by narrowing the travel lane on Arkansas Avenue. DDOT has also proposed converting the 4600 block of Iowa Ave NW to a one-way street eastbound to eliminate the traffic pattern that causes most crashes. There is an open NOI for the one-way conversion where neighbors can weigh in.
- Through advocacy, we are also making progress further north on Arkansas Avenue, where DDOT has proposed converting the crash-ridden intersection of Farragut & Arkansas NW to a four-way-stop.
- In Sixteenth Street Heights, three other intersections have become or will soon become all-way stops: 13th & Ingraham NW, 13th & Hamilton NW, and 15th & Crittenden NW.
- At 14th & Emerson NW DDOT has agreed to improve safety by improving signage, adding pavement markings, and installing flexible bollards to calm traffic and support pedestrians.
- At Arkansas & Decatur NW DDOT approved plans to improve safety by enhancing signage, installing a centerline marking at the intersection, complete high-visibility crosswalks, and installing gore markings to tighten the intersection.
- Over in Brightwood Park, the intersection of 5th & Farragut NW was also approved for a much-needed conversion to a four-way stop.
- Crossing Georgia Avenue at Georgia & Hamilton NW will become safer because DDOT approved plans to install a new High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) signal and a median closure at this intersection by February 2023.
- My team and I also supported our schools and families with securing a new crossing guard at 16th & Kalmia NW to serve Shepherd Elementary and Lowell School.
- After my traffic safety walkthrough in Barnaby Woods with neighbors and Commissioners Gore and Zeldin, DDOT has approved speed bumps on the 6400, 6500, and 6600 blocks of Barnaby Street NW, as well as the 6600 block of 32nd Street NW approaching the intersection of Worthington & 32nd NW.
- NPS has also approved converting the intersection of Beach & Blagden NW into a three-way stop to improve safety and reduce congestion, and is working with DDOT to complete the installation. This is one of the many traffic safety changes I’m advocating for to mitigate the impact of Upper Beach Drive’s ongoing closure.
- And just north of Grant Circle after strong community advocacy, the intersection of 5th & Webster NW has been made safer as a four-way stop.
- In Crestwood, beyond the installation of speed tables on Blagden Avenue, 17th & Decatur NW will get pavement markings and signage improvements; 17th & Blagden NW will get curb extensions, markings, and signage; the 4800 block of 17th Street NW will benefit from signage improvements and pavement markings; and 17th & Colorado NW will get similar improvements as well.
- DDOT is installing or will install speed bumps or speed tables across Ward 4, including the 500 block of Aspen Street NW, the Unit block of Underwood Place NW, the Unit block of Hamilton Street NW, the 5000 block of 4th Street NW, the 200 block of Varnum Street NW, the 500 block of Varnum Street NW, the 500-700 blocks of Quincy Street NW, the 1200 block of Quincy Street NW, the 1600 block of Varnum Street NW, the 1900 block of Upshur Street NW, the 4700-4800 blocks of Blagden Avenue NW, the 4700 block of 9th Street NW, the 5000-5100 blocks of Illinois Ave NW, the 5100 block of 8th Street NW, the 5100-5200 blocks of 7th Street NW, the 5300-5400 block of Illinois Ave NW, and the 5400 block of 7th Street NW.
As a community, we are making important strides in making our streets and intersections safe. Still, we need to keep working together because there are so many other roadways across Ward 4 that still need improvements. One easy step any neighbor can take to request traffic safety upgrades in your neighborhood is to submit a Traffic Safety Investigation request via 311’s website. When you do, be sure to specify one specific intersection or block for your request and describe the specific improvement you’d like to see. Wondering whether there is already an open request for your area of concern? You can find that out by looking at DDOT’s interactive map under the ‘Pending DDOT Review’ or ‘Pending Installation’ tabs.
Turkey Giveaway at Emery Heights Community Center
On Saturday, November 19 from 10:30am-12:30pm the Friends of Emery and the Vernon Davis Foundation are teaming up for a Turkey Giveaway at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW). The event is free and open to the public, and will include live music, fun, entertainment, and — of course — turkeys.
Turkey Giveaway at Lamond Rec Center for Ward 4 Families
On Saturday, November 19 from 11am-1pm I will be co-hosting a Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway for Ward 4 families in need with the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association at Lamond Rec Center (20 Tuckerman St. NE). We’ll be giving out one turkey per family on a first come, first serve basis (please bring proof of Ward 4 residency). See you there!
Shepherd Park Thanksgiving Food Box Distribution
On Saturday, November 19 from 12pm-3pm Shepherd Park Christian Church will be giving out Thanksgiving food boxes to community members from its parking lot at 7900 Eastern Ave NW. Please register if you plan to pick up a box to ensure you receive a box. In addition, the church’s Little Free Pantry located at the church entrance is open 24 hours a day year-round to provide nonperishable items to those who need them.
Coolidge Colts Compete in the Gravy Bowl on Saturday
On Saturday, November 19 starting at 12pm our Coolidge High School football team will face Bell High School for the DCIAA Gravy Bowl! The game will take place at Roosevelt High School, and tickets to enter cost $10. Bring it home, Colts!
DPR Turkey Giveaway at Emery Heights Community Center
On Monday, November 21 from 6pm-8pm the Emery Heights staff and Friends of Emery will give out turkeys to the community at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW). This is one of several Thanksgiving events hosted by DPR around DC.
Join the Crestwood 2022 Turkey Trot
On Thursday, November 24 at 9am the Crestwood Citizens Association will hold its 7th annual 5k run and 1-mile walk (strollers and wagons welcome) from Triangle Park at 18th & Argyle Terrace NW. Registration online includes a Crestwood Turkey Trot t-shirt.
Roosevelt Riders Take on Dunbar in the Turkey Bowl
On Thursday, November 24 at 11am our Roosevelt Rough Riders football team will square up against Dunbar for the DCIAA Turkey Bowl. The event will be at Eastern High School with gates opening up at 10am and a $10 ticket. Come out to support our Rough Riders!
Free 13th Annual Sit-Down Thanksgiving Day Dinner
On Thursday, November 24 at 3pm-7:30pm CEASE FIRE…Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters, in conjunction with Universal Madness, will host their Free 13th Annual Sit-Down Thanksgiving Day Dinner at 4708 14th Street NW for the homeless, senior citizens, ex-prisoners, at-risk youth, current/former gang members, and anyone else who wants to join. A scrumptious meal will be prepared by Chef Moe of Highlands Café & Grill.
Miracle on Upshur Street in December
On Saturday, December 3 from 10am-1pm Petworth Main Street and Petworth Peanuts will host Miracle on Upshur Street at Petworth Rec Center (8th & Upshur NW). Enjoy a visit from Santa, free photos with Santa, and lots more holiday fun.
Holiday Celebration at the Parks at Walter Reed
On Saturday, December 3 from 5pm-7pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host a holiday celebration with friends and neighbors as a 20-foot tree and 12-foot menorah are lit and the choir sings holiday tunes. Warm up with hot beverages, fire pits, s’mores, and tasty treats for kids and grown-ups. RSVP online!
Visit your local Farmers Market. This is the last Uptown Farmers Market and the last Petworth Community Market for the season!
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette Elementary on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
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!
Bridge Fund 3.0 for Small Businesses
Small businesses in the retail, restaurant, and entertainment sectors who experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic will soon be able to apply for grants worth $5,000 to $45,000 from DC’s Bridge Fund. Businesses that have not received prior relief grants will receive priority. Applications open on November 28 and close on January 13.
DCPS Requires COVID Tests to Return from Break
Reminding you that DCPS requires students and staff to provide proof of a negative COVID test on Sunday, November 27 before returning to school after Thanksgiving. Learn more.
Take the Parks at Walter Reed Events Survey
The Parks at Walter Reed just released their annual survey for neighbors to have a say on what types of events and activities they’d like to see at the Parks this coming year. Weigh in!
Metro’s Silver Line Now Serves Dulles and Loudon County
Just in time for the holidays, Metro has started operating six new Silver Line stations with service to Dulles Airport and Loudon County, Virginia! More details on WMATA’s website.
DC Public Library Expanded Hours
DC Public Library has now added 15 more hours of operation at its libraries across DC, including all of its Ward 4 and Ward 4-adjacent locations! The new hours run from 10am-9pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 1pm-9pm on Thursdays; 10am-6pm on Fridays and Saturdays; and 1pm-5pm on Sundays. Learn more from DCPL.
Ward 4 Mutual Aid Grocery Distribution
Ward 4 Mutual Aid has updated our community that their grocery distributions are now taking place once per month. You can find them at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church (744 Jefferson Street NW) providing gift cards, diapers, food, and other items to the first 100 families on the following dates: Saturday, November 19 at noon, Wednesday, December 14 at 5pm, and Saturday, December 17 at noon. They also offer a limited number of home deliveries on Saturdays. If you physically cannot make it to the church, please call or text the Ward 4 Mutual Aid Hotline at 202-681-3098 to sign up for delivery.
A Community History: Walter Reed
The Parks at Walter Reed has unveiled a fascinating project that traces the history of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and its surrounding neighborhoods. The project entailed a year of research and engagement, including interviews with more than 115 participants. The result is a comprehensive timeline of Walter Reed that traces back to the opening of Walter Reed General Hospital in 1909, the influenza pandemic in 1918, the first Easter egg roll on the Great Lawn in 1923, and the decades-long struggle for racial equity on the campus.
Leaf Collection Continues in *Area B* Next Week
Leaf collection is scheduled to continue this coming week (November 21-23) in Area B, which includes Sixteenth Street Heights, Crestwood, and Petworth west of Georgia Avenue. Be sure to rake your leaves onto your curb or tree box (not in bags or on the street) so they can be collected. While this coming week was supposed to have collection in Area C, DPW’s online collection tracker shows that crews will first need to cover Area B. If your leaves aren’t collected, please wait at least two weeks after your collection week (to allow for delays due to weather or staffing) then call 311 to request service.
Channel 7: Parents demand DCPS renovate 100-year-old Whittier Elementary
Business Journal: DC’s Rock Creek Golf Course in line for big changes, upgrades
DPR: Concept Designs for Triangle Park in Crestwood (18th & Argyle Terrace NW)
Popville: Zeke’s Coffee Coming to Sixteenth Street Heights in Winter 2023
PoPville: San Matteo from folks behind Al Volo, Soleluna et al is coming to Petworth
Events DC: $100,000 Grants Requests for Proposals Open for Cultural Institutions
Building Blocks DC: $5,000 Grants for Community Initiatives to Prevent Gun Violence
DPW: New Law on Removing Abandoned or Dangerous Vehicles
DC PLUG: Overnight Road Closure of Oregon Avenue on November 21-22
Petworth News: Reader Request: What’s with the lights at 13th, Kansas & Quebec
Previous Ward 4 Dispatch: Turkey Giveaway, Council News, and Walter Reed History
This week we said goodbye to Ms. Virginia McLaurin after a full and fulfilling life of 113 years. She was a beloved Ward 4 community member in Petworth, a tireless DC schools volunteer, a fearless tenant leader, a tutor and mentor, and a devoted foster grandparent. She fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2016 when she visited the White House and met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama — where she spontaneously broke into dance. Please join me in keeping Ms. Virginia’s friends and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. She will forever be remembered for her passion for service and infectious joy.
If you live in the part of Ward 4 west of Rock Creek Park, chances are that Randy Speck has helped improve your quality of life. As an ANC Commissioner for the past 10 years and chair of ANC 3/4G since 2015, Randy has showed exemplary leadership and service to our Chevy Chase, Hawthorne, and Barnaby Woods communities. His work has included working with DDOT on the reconstruction of Oregon Avenue, advocating in support of the Chevy Chase Community Center and Chevy Chase Library, helping develop the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan, and conducting invaluable research on the removal of lead service lines. This week we got to gather and honor Randy as he retires from serving as an ANC Commissioner.
Randy is one of the many tireless and dedicated Ward 4 Commissioners stepping down this year. We are grateful for their service and all the ways they’ve made our community stronger.
Wishing everyone a great weekend, safe travels, and a wonderful Thanksgiving. And good luck to our Coolidge Colts in the Gravy Bowl and our Roosevelt Rough Riders in the Turkey Bowl!
Yours in Community,