Present: Commissioners Amber Gove (Chair), Mike Soderman, Ruth Ann Hudson, Brian Alcorn and Stephanie Zimny. Commissioner Phil Toomajian, Marie-Claire Brown and Sondra Philips-Gilbert were absent.
Councilmember Charles Allen Updates on DC Corona Virus Response
Speaking to the ANC via a remote conferencing application, Councilmember Charles Allen shared some updates and data regarding how the District is managing the current health crisis. As of the time of the ANC meeting, 56,000 DC residents had applied for unemployment benefits. This sudden and dramatic increase has strained the existing antiquated system, slowing down the processing of each application. Managing the inclusion of the additional $600 per week from the Federal Government has only added to this strain. The DC government is working to update these systems and process unemployment applications as quickly as is possible. Fortunately, DC already had a healthy unemployment trust fund so those in immediate need will have access to funds, but this level of unemployment assistance is not sustainable if the area is facing long-term unemployment increases.
Over time the DC government has a been able to set up a “rainy-day” fund equivalent to approximately 60 days of government spending. This additional money can be used to bolster government functions hit hardest by the decrease in revenue. However, these funds will not last indefinitely and, according to Councilmember Allen, Washington DC is receiving Federal assistance as a territory and not that equivalent to the other states meaning DC may potentially miss out on $750 million in Federal assistance. Similarly, Washington DC has received less than half of 1% of the personal protective equipment (PPE) requested from the federal stockpile. The DC government has been able to offer some assistance, though, such as establishing a $25 million micro grant fund for small businesses and nonprofits and temporarily easing some regulations allowing restaurants to offer to-go alcoholic drinks to encourage continued patronage and implementing an eviction moratorium for the period of the emergency. There is also an on-going push to add corona virus testing sites across the city.
Ultimately, Councilmember Allen explained, this health crisis will likely lead to long-lasting economic constraints as the Mayor’s budget, which typically would have already been released, is expected to show a $600 million reduction this year alone when announced sometime in May. He urged residents to stay in as much as they can, obey CDC guidelines and to stay safe. Contact Councilmember Allen at [email protected].
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Jeff Marootian
Director Marootian shared that 2019 for DDOT was a banner year having paved over 100 miles of roads and restriped over 1500 crosswalks. He believes DDOT is still on track for a similar performance in 2020 as DOOT will be continuing much of the infrastructure and safety improvement work already scheduled. However, the department is now transitioning to planning for the unknown future needs of the city after this emergency has waned. In response to a concern about budget cuts, Director Marootian explained that DDOT receives funding from a variety of sources and is always comparing projects to available funding. On-going projects like C Street NE and Maryland Avenue NE and improvements on Florida and New York Avenues are expected to progress as scheduled.
- The Commissioners voted, unanimously, to a letter to the Zoning Administrator requesting expedited review for a revised permit for Eliot-Hine Middle School that reduces on-site parking in exchange for building athletic fields that allow for on-site hosting of sport activities.
- The Commissioners voted, unanimously, to send a letter of support to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for Councilmember Charles Allen’s proposal requesting COVID-19 related street closures to allow for safe use by pedestrians and cyclists.
- The Commissioners voted, unanimously, to support the application for a new Retailer’s Class “C” Restaurant License for Mozzeria DC LLC, d/b/a Mozzeria (1300 H Street NE) and approve the Settlement Agreement between ANC 6A and Mozzeria.
The Commissioners all expressed gratitude for those that have been assisting neighbors and helping their local communities. They encouraged all residents to do what they can to help decrease the strain of the current situation on others be it donate to a food pantry, pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor or simply patronizing a local business but above all, keep yourself safe and healthy.