Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B held its June 2020 public meeting Monday evening via Zoom. This blog post will highlight some of the top stories from that session. You can view a recording of the live stream here:
COVID-19-Related Legal Information | Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
Attorneys Ellen Peterson and Caroline Fehr joined the meeting to introduce the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. This organization assists low-income residents with legal issues in DC. They serve non-English speakers, people with disabilities, and undocumented immigrants.
The public health emergency caused by COVID-19 has affected every aspect of life and that includes legal issues. The Legal Aid Society specializes in helping residents navigate the following areas:
Public Benefits – They help people who have been denied public benefits, including unemployment insurance
Domestic Violence – People who are experience Domestic Violence, may have had their situation become even worse during the lockdown. Residents can reach out to their support hotline which offers a variety of ways to assist, including access to emergency shelters. Current civil protection orders have been extended through August 14th.
Family Law – Only emergency hearings for custody, child support, and divorce are being heard right now. The office is hoping that the courts will expand access to online hearings soon. Any existing custody orders will stay in effect until it is modified.
Housing – The office represents tenants in housing issues. The DC Council has prohibited the filing of new eviction proceedings during this health emergency and for sixty days after it ends. Physical evictions are also prohibited.
Foreclosure and Debt Collection – Homeowners should continue to pay their mortgage if they are able. If you are unable to your mortgage due to job loss, you should first contact your lender and make arrangements. If you have issues with that, you can contact the Legal Aid Society to talk about your options. Foreclosure sales are prohibited during the health emergency. This period is scheduled to end on July 24, 2020.
The Legal Aid Society’s web site includes many legal resources, including issues related to COVID-19. Please visit them if you would like more information.
Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence TEXT Hotline: 240-292-9597
Metropolitan Branch Trail Update | District Department of Transportation
Michael Alvino and Samer Alhawamdeh from the District Department of Transportation joined the call to present the latest updates on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) is an important transportation route, providing connections to homes, work, and play between Union Station to Silver Spring, MD. At this meeting, the DDOT team discussed the plans for the phase of the trail that will run from Fort Totten to Takoma Metro.
Key Design Elements of this section include new off-street and on-street trail segments, traffic calming features, stormwater management infrastructure. New traffic signals at Riggs Road and First Street NE and at New Hampshire Ave and McDonald Place NE will help to manage that particularly congested corridor.
Probably the most discussed feature of the trail is the portion that will run on Blair Road next to the giant CRX train wall. One northbound traffic lane will be removed and replaced by a 10-foot wide shared-use path. A cement divider will separate the shared use path from vehicle traffic.
The final design process began in January and is expected to be complete this coming winter. It is anticipated that construction will begin in the fall of 2021 and be finished in the fall of 2023.
There are still outstanding questions about how the proposed update will affect the ongoing Livability Study area. You can read more about this pivotal project for the community at the project web site and view the presentation that was delivered at this meeting.
Report from Office of Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon T. Todd
Deputy Chief of Staff Dolly Turner joined the webinar to provide a brief update from Councilmember Todd’s office. The Council’s Budget Oversight hearings are continuing. Budget season has been slightly delayed because of COVID-19. The hearings for the Committee on Government Operations, which is chaired by Councilmember Todd, have been completed.
Construction of the Takoma Dog Park should begin in a few weeks. Other construction projects around the Ward, such as the revamping of the 4th and Blair intersection, will be completed soon.
Report from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services
Mr. KeShawn Harris from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services kicked off his segment with information about the Mayor’s Coronavirus response. As of Monday, the city is now in Phase 2 of the recovery plan. Indoor shopping at non-essential retailers is now allowed, as well as indoor restaurant dining. Playgrounds are open and personal services such as nail salons can operate at a reduced capacity. Visit coronavirus.dc.gov/phasetwo to see the complete details.
A new walk-up test site is now available at the Engine 24 Firehouse at Georgia Avenue and Gallatin Street NW on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
I normally don’t cover ANC resolutions, but in light of the protest movement that has sprung up in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I felt that this discussion was worthy of investigation.
Resolution #48-20-0605 is titled, “Calling for Divestment of Local Police Funding and Reinvestment in Community-Based Supports and Services”. Yes, that name is a mouthful, but the resolution is a useful touchstone for understanding what the “Defund the Police” movement is actually calling for.
The action items in the resolution include:
- Asking the DC Council to pass permanent legislation that requires MPD to promptly and retroactively release footage from body-worn cameras and prohibits MPD from hiring cops who were previously fired for disciplinary actions.
- Calling for the Council to reject the Mayor’s proposed budget increase for the department.
- Enhancing funding for the city’s fledgling Violence Interrupters program
- Asking for the Council and Mayor to reduce the role and presence of police in our communities and increase non-police intervention
The discussion of the measure echoed themes that have played out on the national scene. Commissioner Alison Brooks (4B08) stated:
I represent a diverse community. I have a lot of seniors. The word ‘defund’ is unsettling in a lot of cases, and I think we need to understand that not everyone agrees on what ‘defund’ means…when you use the word ‘defund’ in a broader context, people automatically assume that we’re not going to have a police department and there’s going to be lawlessness.
Commissioner Tiffany Nicole Johnson (4B06) responded by saying:
The actual title of the resolution does not say ‘defund’, it says ‘divestment’, which is very different. It calls for divestment of local police funding and reinvestment in community-based support and services.
The discussion continued on from there. I would recommend that you view the conversation (link) to get the full context. It was a very good example of how grassroots activism can help shape city-wide and even national issues. The final vote on the resolution was 7 in favor, 0 against, with 2 abstaining.
About Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4B represents the Ward 4 neighborhoods of Takoma, Manor Park, and Lamond-Riggs. 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 4B:
|Single Member District||Name|
|4B06||Tiffani Nichole Johnson||4B06@anc.dc.gov|
|4B09||LaRoya A. Huff||4B09@anc.dc.gov|