While much of GGWash’s advocacy in 2017 centered around housing and land-use campaigns, the region is facing a number of other issues beyond a housing shortage. Accordingly, last year over 2,800 readers and supporters took an active role in GGWash campaigns that covered everything from improving transit options to policy reform. Here’s a look at some advocacy highlights from 2017.
Coming soon: a new express bus for 14th Street NW
Late in 2016, a group of ANC commissioners, transit advocates, and 14th Street neighbors gathered in a Petworth living room to discuss bringing back to life a long-shelved DDOT and WMATA proposal: a limited-stop bus line running the length of 14th Street NW. This area has seen incredible growth in population and popularity in recent years, and transit options simply have not kept up.
So local leaders and volunteers began writing and advocating for the 59 bus, plans for which had been unfunded and ignored years earlier. By the early months of 2017, over 750 neighbors and riders had signed a petition calling for the funding of the 59 bus.
At the same time a unique and powerful effort was underway. Dozens of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners from areas along the route coordinated to pass matching resolutions in support of the 59. They also actively lobbied their council members and got many to declare early support for the project.
Elected leaders took notice, and in March Mayor Bowser publicly announced full funding for the new 59 bus, which will soon serve an area with tens of thousands of residents and over 14,000 businesses. The Mayor simultaneously announced funding for additional bus service on two lines operating in Wards 7 and 8, and supporters continued to track these plans until it was all finalized in June with the passing of DC’s budget.
— David Whitehead (@DavidWhiteheadC) March 29, 2017
The first 59 bus will roll out in early January. Sign up here to get updates and ride it with us one day!
Forcing a conversation about more transparent TIFs in DC
This fall a lot of readers and residents were upset by a public funding package the DC Council put forward for Union Market. Among the $82 million for series of public infrastructure improvements was $36 million to build 600 additional parking spots (on top of about 1,000 spots already planned for the site).
We discussed this issue on the blog and supporters funneled their frustration by sending in over 1,400 emails to DC councilmembers, urging them to use some of that money to fund an improved Metro entrance nearby instead.
The funding package ultimately passed, including the money for the parking, but your emails did not go unheard. Two separate councilmembers (Charles Allen and Elissa Silverman) wrote to better explain their votes on this issue, and one month later Councilmember Allen introduced new legislation that would require more transparency for TIF packages that include parking.
This is a clear case where our community combined news, analysis, and action. We debated a serious issue, drew elected officials directly into the conversation, and ultimately helped to instigate an opportunity for future reforms. Want to learn more about and stay updated on the status of Allen’s bill? Sign this petition calling to have the bill brought forward in committee.
Keeping the pressure on, locally and regionally
There were numerous other moments where GGWash readers took action in 2017, both on big regional issues and smaller local ones. Here are some numbers to highlight a busy year of advocacy together:
- Nearly 500 signatures in support of bike lanes in Dupont and LeDroit Park
- 215 emailed comments to officials and agencies around the region, on everything from transit oriented planning in Prince George County, to design suggestions for the new Southeast Boulevard in DC, to reduced parking minimums in Arlington.
- 430 signatures calling on Judge Leon to stop delaying the Purple Line (last month this legal challenge was finally fully cleared!)
- 137 supporters petitioned Metro leaders on issues big and small
Thanks for reading, writing, taking action, and donating to support this work this year. We could not have done all this without you!
Want to stay updated on all of our advocacy efforts in 2018? Sign up here!