From Charles Allen <[email protected]>
Subject Ward 6 Update: Fall Events, Public Safety, Vaccine Guidance
Date September 9, 2023 12:42 PM
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By now, the school year's underway, and the youngest Ward 6-ers are back in the classroom. My own children are thrilled to be back with their teachers and friends - and were more than a little exhausted at the end of their first week! We're also ready to be on the other side of this stifling heat. Hopefully by the end of this weekend, temperatures start to feel more like September. In the meantime, stay cool, and drink plenty of water! As usual, we've got lots of events and news happening all over the Ward, so let's jump in. If you missed the last newsletter - which had updates on Rumsey Pool, new information about DC school test scores, and more - be sure to click here <[link removed]> to catch up.

Quick Links: Public Safety Update <#public%20safety> | Hearing on Public Safety Bills <#jps%20hearing> | Hearing on Dangerous Driving Bills <#te%20hearing> | Pool and Spray Parks Extended <#pools> | DDOT Director <#lott> | Back to School Notes <#schools> | Upcoming School Modernizations <#modernizations> | EV Charging Production Tour <#blink> | DPW Service Updates <#dpw> | DC Library Survey <#dcpl> | H Street Fest <#h%20street> | Cap Hill Art Walk <#cap%20hill%20art%20walk> | Literary Hill Bookfest <#literary> | SW Fall Festival <#SW%20Fall%20Fest> | DC State Fair <#state%20fair> | Vaccine Clinic for Seniors <#vaccines> | Fall Vaccine Guidance <#vaccines>

Public Safety Update  <>

Earlier this week, my team and I joined neighbors around 13th and D Streets, NE with MPD, the Department of Behavioral Health, CSOSA (the federal agency responsible for supervised release of individuals in DC), as well as ANC 6A02 Commissioner Mike Velasquez and neighbors. It was a productive conversation on steps to take to improve safety and updates on ongoing cases.

I'm also leading a public safety walk this coming Monday evening at 7:30pm at 12th/13th and D/E Streets, SE near Watkins. We'll be joined by MPD, the Council Chairman's office, ANC leadership, Community Connections, and residents, and we'll walk the blocks nearby our starting location and visit several nearby businesses. All neighbors are welcome to join. 

There are several additional updates to share specific to Ward 6, but I first want to share the details on two hearings coming up regarding public safety. First, the public hearing for the confirmation of MPD's Acting Chief Pamela Smith before the Council. I've already heard from a few of you with thoughts about the Mayor's nomination, and I've also sat down with Acting Chief Smith to get to know her better and hear some of her priorities. The Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, chaired by my colleague Councilmember Brooke Pinto, will hold a public hearing on the Acting Chief's nomination on Wednesday, September 27 beginning at 11 am <[link removed]>. A public hearing is the best opportunity for residents to raise specific priorities or concerns about public safety - ranging from the big picture to the every day. Click the link above for instructions on how to participate. But if you can't join (or don't want to) but still want me to know your thinking on this selection or public safety more broadly, please reach out.

Second, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a hearing on the District's 911 call center <[link removed]> on October 5 at 9:30 am. You've heard me talk before about the clear need for the call center to urgently improve its performance and stabilize staffing. I've worked with the DC Auditor previously as they conducted comprehensive reviews of management and operations, with specific recommendations issued to improve the agency. Still, I'm regularly assisting constituents who find a call dropped, a call taker unprepared to assist, or just no answer in a time of crisis. Bottom line: I'm very concerned. It undermines the effectiveness of our entire public safety response and trust in government when we can't get a dispatch out timely and accurately. We need to see urgent improvements at our call center, and I urge any residents who have had a bad or troubling experience calling 911 to join me at the hearing and share your perspective as part of the hearing record <[link removed]>. 

Below, I'm including updates on a few Ward 6 public safety incidents where MPD has made arrests. Kudos to MPD for its good work. Swift and certain accountability is a crucial part of deterring the relatively small number of people who commit most of the harm. 

- Arrests made after shooting inside residence at 200 M St., SW <[link removed]>: On Tuesday afternoon, five people were shot inside an apartment in Southwest. This happened nearly across the street from the First District MPD station, and the response was very fast. I was on the phone with First District leadership who made three arrests <[link removed]> in the case, and I've spoken with the building management. More from the Post <[link removed]>.

- H St Arrests for Distribution of a Controlled Substance: This is a problem intersection my team and I have been very involved with -- making 8th and H Street NE safer. I want to give kudos to First District officers who have made two arrests recently for serious drug distribution and firearm possession. But the work will be ongoing, and there's more in the works. I hope to share an update on soon.

- Five teens arrested in carjacking and robbery cases across Capitol Hill <[link removed]>: Last week, MPD made arrests tied to a number of carjackings and robberies involving five juveniles. While the arrests are welcome news, it's a cold reminder of the true challenges we face that the youngest arrested was just 13. 

- Three teens arrested for car theft from early Tuesday morning at 6th and L St., SE <[link removed]>

- MPD announced a host of arrests for car thefts citywide <[link removed]>

- Arrest Made in June Homicide in Southwest <[link removed]>

- Arrest in July 4 NoMa Shooting <[link removed]>: MPD announced an arrest in a homicide dating back to July 4. This is one where officers had updated recent community meetings that they had some good leads on.


September Hearing on Two Public Safety Bills

We need you to testify at the Council! Two bills I introduced this spring will be part of a public hearing on September 18 <[link removed]> before the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.

First, a bill I introduced <[link removed]> after a series of break-ins in our commercial corridors would support small businesses by expanding the existing Private Security Camera Rebate Program <[link removed]> to include rebates for interior devices like cameras and glass break sensors. 

Second, I was proud to work with the D.C. Forensic Nurse Examiners <[link removed]> to introduce legislation to support survivors of sexual violence. A major issue in successful prosecutions of sexual assault cases comes from the failure to preserve medical evidence - also known as "rape kits" - when the survivor doesn't want to immediately report the crime to the police. The District doesn't have a protocol for receiving and storing these so-called "anonymous kits", and that means that if a survivor does come forward in the future, there may not be the evidence needed to make the case and hold an offender accountable. If the evidence no longer exists, it also can't be uploaded into national databases that help connect cases and identify serial offenders. Read this good write-up in Washington City Paper <[link removed]>.

It's very important that we get community testimony to help move the bills forward. For the private security camera legislation, we especially want to hear from H Street and Penn Ave neighbors along our commercial corridors. To testify, here's how to register. <[link removed]>


Public Hearing on Safe Streets Legislation

On Wednesday, October 4, I'll be holding a joint public hearing with my colleague Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, chair of the Committee on Public Works and Operations, on four bills before the Council all taking on dangerous driving. This includes my STEER Act (Strengthening Traffic Enforcement, Education, and Responsibility <[link removed]>) which proposes many new ways the District can hold dangerous drivers accountable - here's a story about the bill from the Post <[link removed]>, and here's the press release <[link removed]> from when the bill was introduced, which runs through the major provisions. If you feel strongly about making our neighborhood streets safer, please sign-up to testify or submit written comments <[link removed]>! 


Beat the Heat: Select Pools and Spray Parks Extended to Sept 21

Given the extreme, unseasonable heat that settled in right as pools were closing for the year around Labor Day, DPR wisely has extended hours at two public pools and 18 spray parks across the District until Sept 21. This is going to be our new normal as summers get hotter and longer - we'll be counting on this kind of infrastructure not just to help us have fun on a hot day, but to keep people cool and safe. Find out about pool hours here <[link removed]> and spray parks here <[link removed]> (including Eastern Market and Watkins).


DDOT Director Lott to Step Down

Director Everett Lott was a collaborative partner, and he built a strong team that leaves DDOT in good hands until a replacement is named. I thank him for his years of service to the District. During his time at DDOT, the agency has added bus lanes, redesigned intersections to prioritize pedestrians, and expanded and improved connections in our bike lane network.

As Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, I'll be looking for a bold leader in the next director. Not just to continue DDOT's work to make our streets safer, but to lead with vision and innovation. To make Vision Zero mean something, by building safer roads to stop dangerous driving. Someone who can truly make DC a world-class city of the future. Someone who will take on long-standing racial inequities in our transportation system with urgency. This is a time for bold thinking, and I hope to see that ambition in the next nominee.


First Weeks of School in the Books

Last week and this week marked the beginning of the school year for all of our DCPS and DC Public Charter School students and teachers. And so far, it seems like we're off to a good start. My team and I have been checking in with our school and parent leadership to help troubleshoot issues and escalate needed repairs. If there's something we can help with in your school, let me know. A few reflections from this week:  

- First, we were thrilled to see President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visit the students at Eliot-Hine <[link removed]>! While Eliot-Hine might now be just over the Ward 6 border after redistricting, it's a middle school for many Ward 6 families and an important part of our Ward 6 DCPS feeder pattern. I was proud to help ensure we had a phenomenal modernization of the school, and it was ready to shine on day one. It means everything to have the President spend time at Eliot-Hine with our incredible students. What a day!

- My team and I have been keeping in close contact with our schools through the first weeks, particularly with an eye toward making sure our buildings are ready. And all in all, I think most schools seemed to be in a pretty good place. We've got a list from a few schools we're prioritizing with DGS and DCPS, including multiple classrooms without A/C, roof repairs, and street safety issues.  - To include a tip from my constituent services team, if you happen to have a 311 number associated with your concern, please be sure to share that as well. It helps us run the problem down more quickly with our agency counterparts. You can always send any concerns directly to me, but please add the right staff member from my constituent services team for your quadrant <[link removed]> to ensure we flag it immediately. 

- My team stopped by Tyler Elementary School <[link removed]> on the first day of school to join parents in calling for slower traffic on nearby streets. This is an issue I want to see DDOT take on with far more urgency. Our school zones cannot be raceways, and the steps needed to do so are easy enough. Often it's our wonderful Traffic Control Officers  who are putting themselves between drivers and kids and families getting to school -- but we need better street design, more limits on the flow of traffic during pick-up and drop-off, and prioritizing school zones. I've asked DDOT to make immediate improvements in the flow of traffic around Tyler, in particular, which has been an issue for years. 


Ward 6 DCPS School Modernizations Coming Soon

Earlier this week, I met with Chancellor Ferebee to start outlining initial plans for a slate of school modernizations coming down the line in Ward 6. Over the past few years, improving our school buildings has been a major priority of mine, and many are now in the capital budget pipeline. And I’m particularly excited about some of the new school libraries we’re creating! Every student (and every teacher) deserves a vibrant, safe, imaginative, and dignified space to learn. Just walk around one of our beautiful, modernized schools in Ward 6, and you’ll see what’s possible. 

Thus far, we’ve been able to modernize all our middle schools – Jefferson, Eliot-Hine, and Stuart-Hobson. And we’ve also rebuilt several of our other schools – Payne, Watkins (pictured), School-Within-School at Goding, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, and Van Ness.

And now we’re working together to line up the next round of modernizations. Beginning next school year (SY24), JO Wilson will start its full modernization. The following year (SY25), Brent Elementary will begin its own full rebuild. After that, each year will see another school begin its full-scale modernization with Tyler, Amidon-Bowen, and Ludlow-Taylor Elementary Schools in the queue.

During each modernization, the school temporarily swings onto another campus so we don’t mix a student’s classroom with a construction site. These temporary campuses are dedicated for this purpose to house a school for a short time during construction and provide everything a school needs like classrooms, fields, playgrounds, and cafeterias. And while that makes sense both for the magnitude of construction that takes place and the safe operations of a day-to-day school, it comes with challenges.

In each case, DCPS provides free shuttle and bus transportation to and from the current school and its temporary campus to reduce impacts on families -- you'll still drop-off and pick-up at your school if you like. It’s important to start these conversations and planning now to work toward solutions that support the school community and can be implemented by DCPS whenever possible. The end product of a fully modernized school is something we'll all celebrate, but the collaboration to bridge students and families through that construction takes time. I look forward to working with each of our school communities through those efforts in the years ahead, and thank you to the parents who are already reaching out with your priorities.


Visit to Blink EV Charging Facility in Bowie

Last week, I visited Blink EV charging just down Route 50 in Bowie, MD. I joined Bowie City Councilmember Jarryd Hawkins to tour a facility where EV chargers are being manufactured and deployed. Blink works with private buildings, cities, and even single family residences to install different types of EV charging infrastructure. They're also the contractor selected by OSSE to provide EV charging as the District coverts its bus fleet to all electric. This spring, I chaired a public hearing at the Council on legislation I introduced <[link removed]> to help shape how the District approaches electric vehicle infrastructure. There's considerable federal funding currently available and coming soon to help make that transition, and having the conversations with DDOT, the Department of Energy and the Environment, and the public helps us debate the best approach. The decisions we're making now will shape our public space for years to come. More on our visit on Instagram <[link removed]>.


Updates on DPW Services

Passing along some helpful info from DPW on several services available to residents, as well as a reminder on changes to key programs, including yard waste removal and e-waste: 

- Yard Waste Collection is now year-round. Residents must call 311 to make an appointment. Residents can also visit <[link removed]> to make an appointment or download and schedule an appointment using the 311 mobile app available at the Google Play and Apple App stores. DPW only collects yard waste in paper bags. DPW will collect up to 20 paper bags of yard waste from residences that receive DPW’s trash and recycling collection services. Scheduled yard waste collection is an enhancement to the yard waste program. Residents are still able to leave their paper yard waste bags at the point of trash collection. Residents who wish to can drop off their yard waste at the Fort Totten Transfer Station during normal residential business hours.

Special Waste Collection Events (i.e., Household Hazardous Waste, electronics recycling, and document shredding) have been relocated to RFK Lot 3, 2400 E Capitol St NE (across from the DC Armory), due to the temporary closure of the Benning Road Transfer Station. Special Waste Collection Events will take place on one Thursday and one Saturday each month through March 2024. View the current schedule here <[link removed]>.  

- DPW’s Curbside Composting Pilot Program, which will offer free weekly collection of food waste to approximately 9,000 households, is off to a great start! Starter kits have been delivered to participating households in Ward 7 and Ward 8. Food waste collection started this week in Ward 8 and will start in Ward 7 next week. More wards will follow as DPW phases the Pilot’s rollout. For more information click here <[link removed]>. 

- DPW helps community groups that organize Saturday neighborhood clean-up projects through the Helping Hand Program. The program will lend tool kits that include five rakes and brooms, two shovels, and 20 trash bags. A $20 refundable deposit is required for all tool kits loaned under the Helping Hand Program. DPW will collect trash at the end of the clean-up. For more information click here <[link removed]>.  


Help Shape the Future of the DC Public Library!

From our friends at DCPL: "DC Public Library is gathering input on how it can best serve District residents. Your needs may have changed the last three years, and the Library would like to know how they can help meet them. Please consider taking this survey (only about 10 minutes of your time). Your feedback will help shape their strategic framework plan. The survey is available in English and Spanish. Access it here <[link removed]>."


H Street Festival Returns in One Week!

It's hard to believe, but the H Street Festival is nearly here...again. This is one of DC's biggest street festivals, stretching from 2nd Street to Starburst Plaza. Live music, live performances and art, culture, fashion, food, local makers, and more -- all set along the entire H Street corridor with some of the best restaurants and small businesses in the District. I hope you'll come by, walk the entire stretch, and if you spot our team, say hello! Kicks off at noon until 7 pm. More info here <[link removed]>.


Capitol Hill Art Walk this Weekend

This weekend, don't miss the Capitol Hill Restoration Society's Arts Walk, a collection of 50 micro-galleries display local artists' work. Download the map, and get all the details here <[link removed]>. Looks incredible!


Literary Hill BookFest Returns Sept 17

For a change of pace after the H Street Festival, on Sunday, September 17, from 11 am to 3 pm in the North Hall of Eastern Market come by for the 12th annual Literary Hill BookFest <[link removed]>, a beloved annual celebration of books and authors on Capitol Hill. More from the event organizers: "This year, the event features more than 40 authors, poets, booksellers, publishers, literacy groups, and more, including acclaimed national bestselling novelist Louis Bayard, author of The Pale Blue Eye, a mystery thriller adapted into a recent hit Netflix film starring Christian Bale. Other featured authors include debut novelist and former spy I.S. Berry; naturalist and certified forest therapy guide Melanie Choukas-Bradley; National Book Award finalist Carole Boston Weatherford; Washington Post columnist and Thurber prize finalist Alexandra Petri; award-winning educator and author Liz Kleinrock, whose TED talk, "How to Teach Kids to Talk About Taboo Topics," has garnered more than two million views; two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist Cheryl Head; and many more. Visitors will meet some of their favorite authors of fiction, history, children's literature, mystery, poetry, memoir and more and enjoy timely panel discussions and a full slate of family-friendly activities in our bustling Children's Corner. The BookFest is completely free and open to the public, with a popular poetry open mic immediately following the main event, where established and aspiring poets will entertain an enthusiastic crowd."


SW Fall Fest is Coming Sept 24

Hosted by the SWBID at The Lot at 4th and M SW, look for live music, games (including a video game truck), food, painting, and more. 


DC State Fair is Today!

The DC State Fair <[link removed]> returns today, Saturday, September 9 at Franklin Park in downtown. Enjoy live music, performances, giveaways, dancing, and more from 10 am to 4:30 pm. Bring home those blue ribbons, Ward 6! 


Southwest Waterfront Village Vaccination Clinic for Older Adults

On October 11, our friends at the Southwest Waterfront Village will host a vaccination clinic to promote COVID-19 and flu vaccinations for local residents aged 60 and better. The event will take place at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church from 9-11 am and is open to the public. The Village will provide breakfast and cover the costs of shots for those who are uninsured.


DC Health Releases Fall Vaccine Guidance

Last, but certainly not least, DC Health recently sent around guidance on fall vaccines. There's a risk of an overlapping triple threat of viruses -- the flu, RSV, and COVID -- so paying attention to what's recommended is going to be very important. I'm including this info at the end only because the guidance is quite long. From DC Health: 

"Please share the following information on vaccines which remain our best strategy for keeping our residents safe. All specific medical questions should be directed to a residents’ primary care provider.

Children and Infants

- Get a flu shot in September or October.

- That can be obtained at pediatrician offices or pharmacies – it can also be requested by community groups through the Vaccine Exchange* or for a home visit through our Home Vaccination Program**.

- Get the newest COVID-19 booster when released in late September.

- It can be obtained at their primary care providers, pharmacy, or the Home Vaccination Program**.

- Community groups can host events and request vaccine administrations through the Vaccine Exchange*.

- For infants aged 8 months or younger, get the RSV prevention treatment when available.

- The monoclonal antibodies are not yet available from the CDC.

Older Adults

- Get a flu shot in September or October.

- That can be obtained at primary care providers or pharmacies – it can also be requested by community groups through the Vaccine Exchange* or for a home visit through our Home Vaccination Program**.

- Get the newest COVID-19 booster when released in late September.

- It can be obtained at their primary care providers, pharmacy, or the Home Vaccination Program**.

- Community groups can host events and request vaccine administrations through the Vaccine Exchange*.

- For those age 60 and older, get the RSV vaccine.

- The vaccine is currently available at pharmacies. DC Health is waiting on the CDC for other vaccination options.

General Population and Workers

- Get a flu shot in September or October.

- That can be obtained at primary care providers or pharmacies – it can also be requested by community groups through the Vaccine Exchange* or for a home visit through our Home Vaccination Program**.

- Get the newest COVID-19 booster when released in late September.

- It can be obtained at their primary care providers, pharmacy, or the Home Vaccination Program**.

- Community groups can host events and request vaccine administrations through the Vaccine Exchange*.

- The RSV vaccine is not currently needed for adults under age 60.

*Vaccine Exchange – DC Health connects community groups with vaccine providers ([link removed] <[link removed]>)

**Home Vaccination Program – Providers will visit homebound individuals and can be accessed at 1-855-363-0333.

District government agencies and nonprofits can request free COVID–19 tests, free KN95 masks and PPE supplies from the Office of Contracting and Procurement <[link removed]>. Residents can also purchase KN95 and COVID-19 tests at pharmacies or online. At this time, we don’t plan to reopen any COVID centers but will leverage existing access points, including temporary pop-up sites and home vaccinations, to ensure equitable access to both vaccines and mitigation tools (tests and masks).

Finally, we are monitoring vaccine coverage, healthcare system impact (hospitals, nursing homes, and other health facilities), and wastewater. The COVID-19 hospital admission level in the District is currently low. If rates increase or an insufficient number of vaccinations are administered, we will adjust our strategies accordingly."

See you around the neighborhood, and enjoy the transition into those first few days of fall!

Charles Allen

<[link removed]>


Councilmember Charles Allen - 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 110, Washington, DC 20004, United States

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