Takoma Neighborhood News by Erin Palmer – February 2021

This is a reprinting of ANC 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer’s monthly community newsletter. It is always packed with useful information.  Enjoy.


Neighbors,

This month, as we honor Black History Month and Transit Equity Day, I wanted to highlight a project by Shepherd Park neighbor – George Derek Musgrove – that explores the Black Power Movement in the District, as well as efforts led by Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Delia Houseal regarding transit equity for residents east of the Anacostia River. These efforts provide important insights into the history of our city and how we can work to make it more equitable.

February has been a busy month as more individuals become eligible for COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccinationssome children return to in-person learning, and the District enters agency oversight and budget season. **Please mark your calendars for a Takoma / Manor Park Budget Engagement Forum on February 27th (more details below), and please complete a related Budget Engagement Survey to help inform budget related advocacy for our neighborhood.** In addition, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B is hard at work on a number of issues, including transportation and infrastructure within our Commission area and improved government services.

You will find below in this month’s Takoma Neighborhood News information Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s February public meeting; ways to learn more about and get involved in District agency oversight and the DC budget process; the current status of the District’s COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccination rollout; traffic safety and infrastructure updates; updates regarding new and notable DC Council and Mayoral actions; and resources for neighbors in need. If you have any questions, please always feel free to reach out.

Take care,

Erin

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B Virtual Meeting

Monday, February 22nd, 7:00 p.m. via Zoom
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Join Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B for our February Regular Public Meeting on Monday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m. 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: 842-1424-9196. Password: 964318.
  • For voice-only participation on a telephone, dial (301) 715-8592. Meeting ID: 842-1424-9196. Password: 964318.
  • To watch (but not participate) via YouTube, click here.

The meeting agenda is included below and available on our Commission website. Materials for our February virtual meeting (including draft Resolutions) are also available on our Commission website.

This month’s meeting agenda includes one item from me: a Resolution calling for improved mechanisms to address abandoned cars. This Resolution is the result of years of assisting residents in their attempts to address cars that are or appear to be abandoned and includes straightforward fixes for the relevant agency webpages and 311 process, as well as more detailed recommendations regarding the definition of an abandoned car.

Also of potential note: Commissioner Geoff Bromaghim’s (4B07) Resolution providing feedback on the 65 percent design of the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Fort Totten to Takoma, which includes details regarding the intersection at Aspen Street and Blair Road, NW, as well as Commissioner Evan Yeats’s (4B01) Resolution opposing WMATA’s proposed budget and service cuts. More regarding WMATA’s proposed budget and how to weigh in here.

In addition, we will welcome a presentation from East Rock Creek Village regarding their work assisting residents 65+ in signing up for COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccination appointments, as well as helping residents get to their appointments.

If you have questions about the agenda, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at 4B02@anc.dc.gov. The Commission will next meet on Monday, March 22, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.

 

DC Budget & Agency Oversight Process

Make your voice heard!

It is officially DC budget and District agency oversight season!

There are many ways to learn more about and provide feedback on the DC budget. Along with Commissioner Tiffani Nichole Johnson (4B06) and Commissioner Evan Yeats (4B01), I am hosting a Takoma / Manor Park Budget Engagement Forum to provide information on the DC budget process and gather feedback on resident values and priorities as related to the DC budget. **Please complete our related Budget Engagement Survey to help inform budget related advocacy for our neighborhood.**

Although we consistently hear “hard choices” messaging from some elected officials, it is more important than ever to invest in basic needs and consider mechanisms to grow revenue and ensure a just and equitable recovery. This includes fully and equitably utilizing additional federal funding, possible reconfiguration and use of the District’s reserves, and increasing taxes on the highest earners.

For additional information, a number of organizations offer materials and instructional presentations related to the DC budget process, including DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Fair Budget Coalition, and Bread for the City. You can also watch the Mayor’s Budget Engagement Forums here.

The DC Council holds agency performance oversight hearings from early February through March 19. More details here. These hearings provide an opportunity to voice concerns or recognize the good work of our government agencies. You can testify about anything that relates to the work of a particular agency. For example, I plan to testify regarding heavy trucks on residential roads during the District Department of Transportation’s oversight hearing on February 26th.

Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George has provided useful information regarding the schedule and how to testify during DC Council oversight hearings. In addition, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless has provided simplified instructions for key hearings. Some Committees will allow video or voicemail testimony, so please make sure to check the instructions for the specific hearing to see what might be easiest for you. If you have questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.

COVID-19 Vaccination Update

On January 18, Mayor Bowser announced that individuals who work in a grocery store setting, health and human services and social services outreach workers, individuals who work in manufacturing, and individuals who work in food packaging are eligible for the  COVID-19  (coronavirus) vaccine.

Mayor Bowser also announced that DC residents who are 16-64 years old with qualifying medical conditions (Phase 1C Tier 1) will be eligible for the COVID-19  (coronavirus) vaccine starting the week of March 1. You can find a full list of qualifying medical conditions here.

Vaccination appointments for eligible individuals can be made via the vaccinate.dc.gov portal or by calling the District’s coronavirus call center at 1 (855) 363-0333. Moving forward, vaccination appointments will become available on an alternating weekly schedule, with appointments becoming available at 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays one week, and at 9:00 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays the following week. More details and ways to get assistance here and here.

The District Department of Health has indicated these changes are an effort to address the racial, socio-economic, and geographic disparity in who is receiving vaccinations. More here. You can view an interactive dashboard providing neighborhood-level data regarding who is receiving vaccinations here.



Traffic Safety & Infrastructure

The District Department of Transportation has offered two proposals to address safety concerns at the intersection of Piney Branch Road, Whittier Street, and 8th Street, NW. These proposals are the result of significant community advocacy for traffic calming and safety improvements at this intersection and along Whittier Street, NW.

I am holding a community meeting for feedback on these proposals on Thursday, February 25th at 7:00 p.m. RSVP here. In addition, you can provide comments to the Department of Transportation on the proposals by March 31, 2021, at this link.

In December 2020, the District Department of Transportation released its final Report for the Rock Creek East I Livability Study. The Livability Study considered traffic calming and safety improvements for a broader area –  here, Rock Creek and the Maryland border to the West, Eastern Avenue the North, New Hampshire Avenue, NE, and the Red Line Metrorail tracks to the East, and Military Road, NW, Missouri Avenue, NW, and Riggs Road, NE, to the South – with the goal of improving the transportation network. One of the focus areas is Piney Branch Road, NW, from Butternut Street, NW, to Eastern Avenue, NW. (See page 83 of the Report for more details.) The suggested improvements provide opportunities for continued advocacy for implementation of traffic safety improvements.

To weigh in on traffic safety more broadly, please consider completing the moveDC survey. moveDC is the long-range transportation plan for the District of Columbia, which establishes goals, policies, strategies, and metrics for District Department of Transportation to invest in transportation facilities and programs that address the future needs across all Wards. And if you are looking for traffic safety improvements on your street, including via the traffic safety assessment process, please do not hesitate to reach out.



New & Notable
What’s happening in local government?

*Linda Harllee Harper, a local neighbor, was appointed the District’s new Director of Gun Violence Prevention. More here.

*The District Task Force on Jails and Justice released a report recommending reducing DC’s jail population, transferring individuals in federal prisons back to DC, and reducing the Metropolitan Police Department’s budget. More here.

*Fiscal Year 2022 initial school budgets for DC Public Schools are live here. Some local schools are reporting less funding due to projected declining enrollment.

*Read a petition asking for cancellation of PARCC (standardized) testing this year here.

*Read more about how families made the decision keep their kids home or send them back to school for in-person learning here.

*Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George introduced the DCPS Technology Equity Act of 2021, a bill requiring DC Public Schools to develop a comprehensive tech equity plan every three years. More here.

*Mayor Bowser has created a task force to provide recommendations to address the rent crisis. The task force has been criticized for not adequately including tenant voices. More here.

*Despite 100% federal reimbursement, the DC government will not expand the program using hotels and similar facilities to provide safe shelter to people experiencing homelessness. More here.

*Washington City Paper has provided guidance for residents in need to access local elected officials’ constituent services funds. More here.

*Ward 4 Mutual Aid has provided an incredibly helpful list of resources for neighbors here.



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 call me to talk about neighborhood issues during my office hours on the third Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. or any other time. I can be reached at at (202) 821-6333 and by email at 4B02@anc.dc.gov.

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