CM Henderson Talks Health and Safety at ANC 7D

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 7D met Oct. 10 via Zoom. Commissioners Siraaj Hasan (7D01), Wendell Felder (7D03, chair), Commissioner Mike Davis (7D04), Ebony Payne (7D05), Marc Friend (7D06), Brett Astmann (7D07, treasurer), Brian Alcorn (7D08, vice chair), Ashley Schapitl (7D09), secretary) and Brianne Eby (7D10) were in attendance. Commissioner Siraaj Hasan (7D01) was absent. Single Member District 7D02 remains vacant.

DC Councilmember Christina Henderson (I-At Large), the chair of the DC Council Committee on Health, briefed commissioners on key legislative issues focused on public health and safety. She expressed gratitude for DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) declaration of an opioid public health emergency. The District is “certainly at a crisis point” and emphasized the need for all of the District government agencies to collaborate on a solution.

One part of the solution, said Henderson, is vending machines containing Narcan and fentanyl strips which test for the presence of fentanyl. Some machines are located on the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus and fire stations. The city is still searching for other businesses and organizations willing to host these machines outside of their properties, she reported.

Crime, Henderson said, is connected to the issue of drug use and sales as well. “If you attack one, you can definitely impact the numbers of what you’re seeing with the other,” she said, noting that public safety and health campaigns work in tandem. While she is “not looking to criminalize substance use disorder,” Henderson noted a need for accountability for criminals selling and distributing these lethal drugs in the District’s communities.

Commissioner Schapitl pointed out the relationship between crime and chronic absenteeism in the DC Public Schools (DCPS). Henderson acknowledged the problem, which she attributed to multiple causes. Medical and targeted social outreach are needed to “reconnect” with students to combat truancy, she stated.

There is a need for an individualized approach to addressing the root causes of truancy with someone the students trust as opposed to a law enforcement approach alone, Henderson stated. Alternative schools may better meet the needs of some students, she stated.

Other Matters
Michael Halvin, president of Friends of the DC Streetcar (www.friendsofdcstreetcar.wixsite.com), briefed the commission on the delayed extension of the streetcar project. The organization serves as an advocate for transportation equity and environmental justice. It lobbies to reconnect underserved communities through extensions of the streetcar framework. Streetcars possess  unique advantages over other modes of public transportation including providing a smoother ride, higher capacity and level boarding which makes transit more accessible for individuals with disabilities. It is importance to fund the eastward extension of the existing H Street line, Halvin said.

Kelly Jeong-Olson, community engagement manager for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) explained the agency’s new Traffic Safety Input (TSI) dashboard to commissioners. The dashboard, located at ddot.dc.gov, can be used to submit a new TSI, track progress on pending requests and learn more about DDOT initiatives in the neighborhood. There is a submission and tracking process for community feedback, she said.

The commission voted to:

  • approve several community members to serve on the commission’s Transportation and Public Space and Public Safety Committees;
  • request Verizon Wireless address the issues of trespassing, trash, alcohol and drug use, fighting and loitering on their property located at 580 23rd Place NE;
  • write to the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) in support of the renewal of the alcohol license for Economy Market, 1804 D St. NE;
  • support DDOT’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to reduce the posted speed limit from 25 to 20 miles per hour on East Capitol Street NE between Eighth and 19th Streets NE; and on 19th Street NE between Benning Road and East Capitol Street NE with an additional request to have posted speed limits in the school zone, which are under 20 miles per hour, remain in place.

ANC 7D will meet next on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. You can learn more about the commission and register to attend at 7d0761.wixsite.com/anc7d-1.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.