This blog post is from the May 2020 newsletter created by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Erin Palmer, who serves ANC 4B02 in the central part of the Takoma neighborhood. If you live within the 4B02 boundary, you can contact Erin about community issues at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s newsletter provides details regarding the next (virtual) public meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B, important information about the Mayor’s proposed budget for the District and next steps, neighborhood updates (including ways to support our local schools), and legislative and other local government updates. Please take care during this difficult time, and do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of help in any way. I can be reached at any time at 4B02@anc.dc.gov or (202) 821-6333. Since much information is now being shared online, please feel free to share this newsletter widely and encourage neighbors to sign up to receive it here.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B Virtual Meeting
Tuesday, May 26th, 7:00 p.m. via Zoom
Join Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B for our May Regular Public Meeting on Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00 p.m. Please note the change in the day from the fourth Monday of the month to Tuesday, May 26th because of the Memorial Day holiday. To participate in the virtual meeting, please use the following information:
- For video participation via Zoom on a computer or mobile device, click here. Meeting ID: 895-4942-8082. Password: 237111.
- For voice-only participation on a telephone, dial (301) 715-8592. Meeting ID: 895-4942-8082. Password: 237111.
- To watch (but not participate) via YouTube, click here.
The draft agenda is included below and available on our Commission website.
Materials (including draft Resolutions) for our May virtual meeting will also be available on our Commission website. Special thanks to Commissioner Evan Yeats (4B01) for his work on the website, and Gordon Chaffin, Street Justice, for assisting with virtual meeting technology.
This month’s agenda includes important presentations, including a presentation from DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee regarding the Mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021 and a presentation from At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman regarding unemployment benefits. Councilmember Silverman is Chair of the DC Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
I am offering one Resolution for our May meeting, which calls for an assessment of offerings and plan to broaden municipal Internet. The public health emergency has highlighted the need for universal and reliable Internet to ensure all students are able to engage effectively in distance learning and workforce development training, as well as to ensure all District residents are able to find information about and access government benefits. We know residents in Wards 5, 7, and 8 have the lowest home broadband adoption rates, and that there are disparities in home broadband adoption rates based on race and socioeconomic status. And while the District has significant Internet infrastructure in place, it too often relies on private offerings that fail to provide reliable, free, high-speed home Internet access for lower-income residents. You can read more about the status of municipal Internet in the District here, and you can read my draft Resolution here.
If you have questions about the agenda, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at 4B02@anc.dc.gov.
Learn About the Proposed DC Budget for FY2021
It is officially budget season in DC. On May 18th, Mayor Muriel Bowser released her proposed budget. A Ward 4 focused fact sheet is included below. You can read more details from the Mayor here and a general overview from the Washington City Paper here. While we are facing challenging times due to the public health emergency, it is especially important now to encourage investments in important government services and to consider raising taxes, relying on reserve funds, and closing tax loopholes to cover budget shortfalls.
The DC Council will hold budget oversight hearings in May and June, and it will vote on the budget in July. You can read more on the timeline here. The ability for individuals to testify and the method for receiving testimony will vary by Committee. Please see page 10 of this document for more details about how to testify. The DC Council’s Office of the Budget Director has provided some invaluable resources to delve into the budget. And the DC Fiscal Policy Institute also provides helpful analysis.
I wanted to highlight two budget-related events I am co-hosting. These events are intended to allow neighbors to learn more about the DC budget and how to advocate for improved funding.
- Join me, Commissioner Evan Yeats (4B01), panelists, and neighbors on Wednesday, June 3rd at 6:30 p.m. to hear from panelists on how the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget addresses affordable housing and ending chronic homelessness, schools and education, transportation and infrastructure, and public safety (including violence prevention). The event will have a Ward 4 focus, but will cover broader subject matter areas. Additional details regarding panelists and Zoom registration/login details will be available here.
- Join me, Ward 4 neighbor Leah Muskin-Pierret, and The Way Home Campaign on Wednesday, June 10th at 6:30 p.m. to discuss in detail how the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget addresses ending chronic homelessness. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B passed a unanimous Resolution in support of fully funding efforts to end chronic homelessness, which you can read here. The Mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021 will end chronic homelessness for 96 individuals and 54 families, which falls well short of the needed funding for 1,500 individuals and 300 families experiencing homelessness. You can RSVP for the event here.
*Opportunities to Support Our Local Schools: The Takoma Education Campus PTO and Whittier Education Campus PTA are purchasing and distributing gift cards for food and supplies for families in need. If you are able to help, please click here to contribute to Takoma Education Campus and click here to contribute to Whittier Education Campus. And make sure to check out the Takoma Education Campus Auction, which runs until May 24th! All auction proceeds this year will be used to support Takoma Education Campus families in need due to the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to check out the offerings, including many items that support our local businesses, including Horace and Dickie’s vouchers.
*Neighborhood Infrastructure Improvements: The intersection improvement construction at 4th / Cedar / Blair is nearly complete. It features lots of improvements, including a protected bike lane, back-in parking on 4th Street, NW (which is now one way), and bioretention features, among other improvements. A special thanks to Commissioner Evan Yeats (4B01) for pressing on the District Department of Transportation’s failure to adhere to the previously proposed and presented changes to the intersection configuration of the North crosswalk across Blair Road, NW. He worked with the District Department of Transportation to ensure a more visible crosswalk, as well as more space for pedestrians at that intersection. The modified plans to correct for the change are pictured below. You will also notice the completion of re-paving and striping on Piney Branch Road, NW, including ladder crosswalks for improved pedestrian safety.
*Opportunities to Support our 4th Street Commercial Corridor: Our local businesses have been hit hard by the public health emergency. You can support them by donating to the Takoma Micro-Grant Program here. You can find a list of take-out and delivery options for local restaurants here. And in good news, Donut Run is moving ahead and will be opening soon! (I’ll share more details as I have them.) Main Street Takoma is working hard to support our local businesses, and I want to again thank Laura Barclay, Executive Director, for her amazing efforts.
New & Notable
What’s happening in local government?
Check out these DC Council legislative and other updates.
- Mayor Bowser’s ReOpen DC Advisory Group and Committees prepare to release reports. Mayor Bowser has extended the declared public health emergency until June 8th, with the option of ending the public health emergency sooner if certain metrics are met. As part of the effort to plan for “re-opening” the District, the Mayor appointed individuals to the Reopen DC Advisory Group and several subject matter Committees. The Committees’ membership was criticized as heavily favoring business and moneyed interests. More here. The Committees are set to release their reports today. More here.
- DC Council passes additional emergency legislation to address the public health emergency. Since my last update, the DC Council passed additional emergency legislation More here and here. Notably, the Council squabbled over whether to extend the requirement for rent repayment plans for tenants affected by the public health emergency to landlords who rent less than five units. Both the DC Council Chair, Phil Mendelson, along with Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, voted against the inclusion of these landlords. The change nonetheless passed, providing expanded relief to more renters. In addition, despite an initial proposal to expand outdoor cafe options to restaurants to facilitate social distancing, the Council removed those provisions at the instructions of the Chair. I was happy to note the inclusion of a recommendation raised by Commissioner Evan Yeats (4B01) and me for a food access study to compile data and analyze food insecurity, and develop a plan to address needs during and after public health emergency. We called for more data collection and accountability around food insecurity in light of the disparate sources providing services and lack of information regarding who qualifies for and is receiving assistance. You can read the input provided by me and Commissioner Yeats here and here.
- Learn more about the Ward 4 Council candidates. Three candidates are running in the June 2nd Democratic primary for the Ward 4 seat on the DC Council: Marlena Edwards; Janeese Lewis George; and our sitting Councilmember, Brandon Todd. Janeese Lewis George has been endorsed by Attorney General Karl Racine, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Washington Teachers’ Union, Jews United for Justice, DC for Democracy, Black Lives Matter, and Sierra Club, among other groups. She is a fair elections candidate. Councilmember Brandon Todd has been endorsed by DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Democrats for Education Reform, the DC Police Union, AFSCME District Council 20, and Associated Builders and Contractors, among others. You can read the Petworth News candidate questionnaires here and a high-level overview of the District’s races here. There has been a lot of interesting discussion on the listservs about Democrats for Education Reform, a sometimes criticized organization that has sent numerous mailers in support of Councilmember Todd, many of which do not relate to education issues. Don’t forget to request your mail-in ballot by May 26th, and to sign and mail in your ballot by June 2nd.
Are you interested in or following pending legislation or a city-wide issue? Send me an email, and I will include updates in this newsletter.
SMD 4B02 Remote Office Hours
Let’s chat about the neighborhood by phone, email, or video! During this time, I am canceling my in-person office hours. Please feel free to email or call me to talk about neighborhood issues. We could even try a video chat. If you are welcoming to background kid noise and other home-life chaos, I can be reached at any time at 4B02@anc.dc.gov or (202) 821-6333. I will do my best to be available to neighbors.
You can always contact me:
Phone: (202) 821-6333
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Paid for by Erin Palmer, 715 Van Buren St, NW, Washington, DC 20012.