Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4A returned from its summer recess with a relaxed meeting Tuesday evening at the Metropolitan Police 4th District Headquarters. Though the meeting extended beyond the planned two-hour time frame, most of the discussion involved reviewing information that had already been shared with the public. Here are my highlights from the meeting.
Georgia Avenue Open Streets Event on October 5th
On October 5th, the city’s Department of Transportation will sponsor an Open Streets event on Georgia Avenue from 10 am to 2 pm. Open Streets is an international program that temporarily closes streets to auto traffic so that people may use them for just about any activity except driving. The goal is to support health, wellness, physical activity, increase transportation choices. 70 cities across North America hold similar events.
The Georgia Avenue Open Street will run from Missouri Avenue to Barry Place NW. For reference, this is approximately the same route that DC’s former Caribbean Day parade used. Car traffic and buses will be routed around their area from 6 am to 5 pm.
Special activities for the day will include bike rodeos, exercise classes, a rock wall, and three stages with music performances by local artists. Neighborhood businesses are encouraged to participate and share their goods and services with the community.
Interestingly, right before DDOT’s presentation, a neighbor spoke out against the city promoting alternative forms of transportation such as dockless bicycles, bike lanes and scooters, saying they are a “danger” to senior citizens. Commissioner Moss questioned the fairness of closing Georgia Avenue NW for a day while thoroughfares in other parts of the city remained open. The room certainly did not seem to welcome the concept with open arms. ANC meetings always have a generational divide, but this topic raised that effect to a stark relief.
For more information, visit https://godcgo.com/open-streets-dc/
Public Financing Program
Ms. Perry, a representative from the Office of Campaign Finance, stopped by to share information about the city’s new Public Financing Program. In 2018, the DC Council created the Fair Elections Program (FEP), a voluntary public financing vehicle for local political campaigns in the city. Aspiring candidates for Mayor, Attorney General, Councilmember and State Board of Education can receive matching funds and lump sum base amounts. Individuals can receive matching funds at a 5:1 ratio which is an outstanding incentive for new candidates to throw their hat into the ring.
Candidates who agree to participate in the program must agree to certain restrictions:
- There is a lower contribution limit for individuals
- A total ban on corporate, business and Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions
- Limits on the amount that candidates (or their family members) can contribute to their own campaigns
- Candidates must participate in public debates
To qualify for the program, candidates must raise qualified small dollar contributions above a certain threshold (sorry, Mr. Calvin Gurley). For example, a candidate for Ward Councilmember must raise $5,000 on their own before they receive public money.
WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle illustrated two candidates’ differing approaches to public financing for the upcoming Ward 4 Council race in an August article. Challenger Janeese Lewis George will accept public financing and had raised around $18,000 as of yesterday. She could potentially receive as much as $95,000 in public funds to jumpstart her campaign and another $20,000 once she qualifies for the ballot. She said:
“Fair Elections (Program) is allowing for more candidates who are representative of the city and from all different backgrounds to have a fighting chance,” George says. “Shirley Chisholm said, ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’ And I think Fair Elections gives more people the opportunity to bring a folding chair to the table.”
Conversely, incumbent Councilmember Brandon Todd opted out of FEP, stating:
“When you literally have to scrape together $300,000 to support a program in the government, what that tells me is that public dollars are precious,” he says. “When we’re making these really tough budget decisions, I did not think the best way to use those public dollars would be to run my campaign.”
The councilmember raised $180,000 during the first two months of his reelection campaign.
Public financing has always been in interesting concept that promised to free candidates from the hassle of fundraising. It will be interesting to observe if FEP’s combination of generous matching funding and restrictive campaign limits is successful at leveling the political playing field. Ms. Perry stated that so far, ten candidates had applied for the program and three had been certified.
Children’s Hospital at Walter Reed Update
Irene Thompson from Children’s National Medical Center presented an update on their portion of the Walter Reed project. As you know from our previous reporting, Children’s was awarded an 11-acre site on the northern part of the campus. The hospital intends to reuse three existing building and an above ground parking structure. These facilities include an outpatient pediatric care building, an auditorium and what they call a Research and Innovation building. Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has signed up to open one of their J-Labs innovation incubators in the space.
Ms. Thompson indicated that the new facility should be open for business by the end of the 2020. She also stated that the new buildings will not have their own cafeteria because they intend for employees and visitors to utilize the retail offerings provided on the rest of the Walter Reed campus.
Walter Reed Developers Seek Exception for Town Center Building
Finally, Katie Wiacek from the development team gave a brief presentation on a small aspect of one of the town center buildings, known as Building IJ. The developer was seeking support for an exception from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for a regulation that requires that no single retailer occupy more than 50 consecutive linear feet along Elder Street NW. The problem is that with the current design of the building, cutting that corner to just 50 feet would leave a space that would be practically unusable by a retail tenant.
The Commission voted to support the developer’s BZA exception request.
Upcoming Community Events
- Shepherd Park – Brightwood Community Yard Sale | September 7-8 | throughout both neighborhoods
- Rock Creek East One Livability Study Public Workshop #3 | September 9th 6:30 pm | MPD Fourth District HQ
- Fort Stevens Recreation Center Environmental Restoration Project Public Meeting | September 10th 6:30 pm | Fort Stevens Rec Center
About Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4A represents the Ward 4 neighborhoods of Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, Brightwood, 16th Street Heights and Crestwood. An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected to two-year terms and serve without pay.
The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government. Although they do not have to follow the ANCs’ advice, District agencies are required to give the ANCs’ recommendations “great weight.”
These are the members of ANC 4A:
|Single Member District||Commissioner||Neighborhood|
|4A01||Phyllis Caudle Green||Colonial Village||4A01@anc.dc.gov|
|4A02||Stacey Lincoln||Shepherd Park||4A02@anc.dc.gov|
|4A03||Stephen A. Whatley||Shepherd Park/Walter Reed/Brightwood||4A03@anc.dc.gov|
|4A06||Candace Tiana Nelson||Brightwood/16th Street Heights||4A06@anc.dc.gov|
|4A07||Marlene Moss||Brightwood/16th Street Heights||4A07@anc.dc.gov|
|4A08||Gale B. Black||Crestwood||4A08@anc|