October 6, 2021 | Update

Ward 1 Update: Back From Recess, Amigos Park, and Pool Hours


Hi neighbors, 

Council is back from recess, so I'm sharing highlights from our first Legislative Meeting back and several community updates.

Council Updates

Council Vaccine Mandate 
This week, the Council voted to approve a vaccine mandate for Councilmembers, staff, interns, and any individual who provides services to a Councilmember’s office or works on-site at the Wilson Building. Employees must present proof of full vaccination by October 31 and all newly hired staff must present proof of full vaccination before commencing work at the Council. 
Education Emergency Legislation 
In response to pleas from parents city-wide, the Council adopted legislation that does the following:  

  • requires that DCPS or any public charter school local education agency offer distance learning to students with certain high-risk medical conditions whose physician recommends that they receive distance learning and students who are ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and live with an individual with a high-risk medical condition
  • Adds 350 virtual learning slots for DCPS students
  • Expands the definition of excused absences to include certain absences related to COVID-19 infections for school year 2021-22
  • Requires classroom-level reporting of COVID-19 cases at each local education agency and DCPS facility issues
  • Expands school testing from 10% to 20%, and more explicitly require that parents be notified of any COVID case in classrooms. 

My goal is to restore confidence in our schools system so that parents can send their kids to school in person knowing that we are taking all precautions and actions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Although the Council is limited in the action we can take through emergency legislation, with this legislation we are taking important steps to keep students healthy and safe. I will continue pushing and advocating for more accountability from our education agencies.
Extending Foreclosure Moratorium  
I voted in favor of an amendment, authored by Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, to extend DC’s foreclosure moratorium to February 4, 2022. This should provide adequate time for the District to distribute the $50 million in federal funding to aid in foreclosure prevention. By extending the expiration date to February, we are also ensuring that families will not lose their homes over the holidays.  
Sense of the Council on Amigos Park  
The Council passed my Sense of the Council Supporting the Establishment of Amigos Park.  
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Mount Pleasant neighborhood became home to a large population of Central American immigrants, particularly Salvadoran residents fleeing conflict and establishing communities in the District of Columbia. Throughout the following decades, these residents created in Mount Pleasant a hub of Salvadoran and Central American community organizing and culture, including tenant organizing, musical performance, restaurants, grocers, retail, and healthcare clinics. The intersection of Mount Pleasant Street, N.W., and Kenyon Street, N.W. known as “La Esquina” – became a central gathering place for many Latino/Hispanic residents. Despite being one of the most well-used public spaces in Mount Pleasant, most of the  
space is fenced-off, leaving residents to sit on milk crates rather than on park benches. 
For many years, Esquineros and other residents have advocated for an improved park space at this intersection. By introducing the resolution, I am following the community’s leadership. There is strong support from ANC 1D, Mt Pleasant Village, the Mount Pleasant Main Street, and Green Spaces for DC.

The main barrier to improving the space is that it is split between public space and a private property owner. That property owner is ready and willing to work with the District to improve the space through a lease or other agreement. However, after several years of advocacy and broad support, we have encountered resistance from District agencies in moving forward. It appears that Amigos Park is seen as too small to be a meaningful contribution to DC’s inventory of public spaces. This does a disservice to those who prove this space’s meaning every day. So in passing the resolution, the Council is adding strong support to the chorus of voices coming together to create a genuine and distinguished public space for those who have long advocated for it, and for those who already use it. While I am hopeful this resolution is enough to encourage executive action, I am also prepared to move more compulsory legislation if necessary. We will get this done.



Check out this video by Rick Reinhard to hear from community members leading the effort to establish Amigos Park. Thanks, Rick!

Alice Washington Way 
In 2020, I received a letter from ANC1B requesting the Council to ceremonially designate the 2700 block of Sherman Avenue after a local civil rights icon, Alice Washington. In their letter, ANC1B shared:  

“Alice Washington, the proud homeowner of 2727 Sherman Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., spent 50 years strengthening our community with a commitment to removing any barriers that may have negatively impacted Ward One Residents. Mrs. Washington was a fierce advocate of the Senior Citizen community and their ability to exercise their right to vote and to also be heard and to be visible within the political landscape of the District. From helping to secure voting rights to volunteering in various other Community Service initiatives, Mrs. Washington made it her mission to make a difference.”

I introduced the legislation earlier this year, and we’ve just been notified that a hearing date is set. The Committee of the Whole Public Hearing on Bill 24-214, the “Alice Washington Way Designation Act of 2021 is scheduled for Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 10:30AM. Those who wish to testify should register at http://www.ChairmanMendelson.com/testify by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 2021.  
Thank you to ANC1B for your work to honor a Ward 1 champion! In honor of Ms. Washington and her tireless advocacy work, and in accordance with her family's wishes, I am proud to support the dedication of the alley behind her home of 50 years as "Alice Washington Way." 


Human Services 
The District recently announced a pilot program with the objective of providing intensive case management to encamped individuals while connecting them to housing opportunities. The pilot program also includes clearing encampment sites, regardless if the individuals have qualified for a housing resource. 
To be clear, providing intensive casework and determining housing eligibility for those living on the street is important work. In fact, I was the one who established the Homeless Street Outreach Team a couple of years ago, and in the current budget funded 2,400 units of housing for those experiencing homelessness and housing instability.  
However, I have concerns about the efforts to force homeless residents out of public spaces. I have publicly expressed concerns about this. There are risks involved in asking people to move all of their belongings and risks involved in forcibly removing people from their home. There is no room for mistakes. So while I support funding housing solutions for our unhoused neighbors, as evidenced by the major investments I’ve fought for to help end homelessness, I continue to have concerns about the pilot program. On Monday, during a clearing, a person still inside a tent was hit by a skid-steer loader driven by a city worker, which was attempting to remove the tent. I’ve expressed my concerns directly to Deputy Mayor Turnage and suggested we immediately revisit the protocols for the pilot. 
Street Harassment Prevention Amendment Act 
In 2017, I introduced the Street Harassment Prevention Amendment Act. The legislation was groundbreaking by creating the first legal definition of street harassment in the United States and by uniquely focusing on prevention through education rather than criminalization. Last week, my office hosted the first Stand Up to Street Harassment Bystander Intervention Training. 
Street harassment can be a daily occurrence for many, and while it's a complex issue to address I'm proud DC continues to be a leader as we implement this law. Last year (amid everything else going on) the report from the Office on Human Rights on Street Harassment was released. As one of the contributors to the report and its recommendations, we saw it as critical to legitimize and act on the voices of those who have experienced harassment. The survey results reinforce just how widespread street harassment is; we've got much more to do to fully implement the Street Harassment Prevention Act, but I'm looking forward to the trainings and reporting tools coming online in the near future.




Fall Crime Initiative 
Last Friday, Mayor Bowser announced five areas that would be included in the Fall Crime Prevention Initiative. Columbia Heights (Third District) was selected as one of the focus areas. The Fall Crime Prevention Initiative runs from October 1 to December 18. According to Police Chief Robert Contee, areas selected for previous initiatives have seen reduced violent crime from nearly 15% to more than 35%. Leading the effort in Columbia Heights will be Captain Francis Jenkins. My office works closely with Captain Jenkins, and we will be in regular communication with him throughout the initiative to ensure that MPD is focused on employing strategies that will keep all ward 1 residents safe.
Marie Reed Pool Hours 
Several neighbors wrote to me about the hours at Marie Reed pool being shortened. I reached out to DPR and starting October 12, 2021, Marie Reed pool operations hours will be restored to 6:00am to 9:00am & 4:00pm to 9:00pm, Monday – Friday. The Saturday operation hours will remain the same from 10:00am to 5:00pm and closed on Sunday. 
Fire Safety Reminder 
Last month, there was a house fire in our community that tragically resulted in the death of a child. I arrived at the scene to check in with Fire and EMS and community members. Fire and EMS confirmed that smoke alarms were functioning, which allowed them to contain the fire before it reached neighbors’ homes. The next day, my team joined Fire and EMS to walk through the neighborhood to ensure residents had functioning smoke detectors installed.  
If you do not have a smoke alarm installed, DC has a free smoke alarm program. Smoke alarms may be requested by contacting the Department’s Fire Prevention Division directly by calling (202) 727-1614 or by emailing your request to fems.fireprevention@dc.gov. The Office of the Fire Marshal/Fire Prevention Division will contact eligible residents within 14 days of initial request to schedule an in-home fire safety and prevention consultation and the installation of the smoke detector. 



It was great to see so many of you at Open Streets DC this past weekend! Here are a few more upcoming community events:
A Night on the Farm! by Common Good City Farm: Thursday, October 7, 2021, 6:30PM – 8:30PM & Tuesday, October 19, 5:30PM - 6:30PM 
Common Good City Farm has partnered with several restaurants to offer a series of Nights on the Farm. Join for one or come for multiple nights on the farm. All of these events will be held outside at Common Good City Farm. Each event will feature dishes highlighting produce from the farm creatively prepared by local chefs. 

Jubilee Housing COVID Vaccination Clinic: Saturday, October 10, 10AM - 2PM 
Jubilee Housing’s Clinic will have Pfizer vaccines and booster shots, free testing, music, face painting, and pizza! Stop by 2525 Ontario Rd NW to join in.  
(Virtual) The Price You Pay: Straight Talk About Climate Change and Environmental Injustice: Saturday, October 16, 10:00AM - 1:00PM 
Join the DC Office of the People’s Counsel for a virtual event about the impact of climate change on District residents. Click here to register
DC Startup Week 2021: October 18 – 22, 8:00AM - 6:00PM
Every year, DC Startup Week brings together entrepreneurs and change-makers for a five-day conference where they exchange ideas, network, grow, and celebrate the DMV’s largest entrepreneurial community. For more information, click here.  
Comcast RISE Investment Fund Program: Application period is October 1 - 14
Comcast will award 100 District of Columbia small businesses owned by people of color with $10,000 grants. To apply, visit https://www.comcastrise.com/apply/