Council Improves One Mayoral Initiative, Advances Another

  

Most often, the Council provides broad policy leadership in legislative form, and the Mayor’s administration then follows on with a detailed regulatory implementation structure. Occasionally, that setup flips, and mayoral projects take the lead. Such was the case in the Council’s most recent meeting, at which the Council fleshed out and improved a mayoral proposal for next-generation housing for the homeless, while advancing unchanged an Administration-drafted financial incentive package for The Advisory Board.

Shelter Specifics

The Council and Mayor have spoken with a single voice: combatting homelessness is an urgent priority that has drawn the highest level of focus and priority that the government can bring to an issue. A key element of this strategy is the accelerated closure of the problematic and substandard shelter located on the former DC General site. The Mayor has proposed decentralizing shelter services to six smaller facilities spread throughout the District, and legislation addressed today outlined some specifics in regards to how that housing would be provided.

Building on legislation provided by the Administration, Chairman Mendelson fleshed out the proposal, clarifying some points and providing additional detail regarding others. A vocal minority of the Council advocated further modifying the Chairman’s proposed alternate legislation to guarantee private bathroom access within each shelter unit, but this effort was unsuccessful. With the Council’s passage of the measure, the Mayor can move to the next step in the process which includes providing details regarding the six specific shelter site locations her Administration has in mind.

Advising on the Advisory Board

In another key measure on today’s agenda, the Council chose to approve an unmodified version of the incentive package agreed to by the Administration and key District employer The Advisory Board. A series of proposed amendments sought to tighten and extend the deal negotiated by the Administration, but each of these proposals failed in turn. In the end, the deal was passed as originally negotiated, with only one vote in opposition.

Modifying Meters

Earlier this year, the Council proposed and subsequently approved extending parking meter applicability in certain high-traffic neighborhoods until midnight. However, in planning for the subsequent implementation of this change, roadblocks and unanticipated consequences emerged. In an effort to retain the increased revenues the extra parking meter hours would have generated, while addressing the subsequent issues that had developed, a proposal emerged to slightly increase meter rates citywide. The switch from the change in hours in some neighborhoods to a change in rates in all neighborhoods is substantial enough that it triggers a comparatively rare third reading (vote) before the Council. That will occur at the next Legislative Meeting.

Introductions

Among the legislation introduced at today’s Legislative Meeting were measures:

  • Allowing sixteen-year-olds to vote
  • Providing for the DC government’s divestment from fossil fuel investments
  • Reducing red tape for new business startups
  • Memorializing firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty
  • Addressing sidewalk tripping hazards created by tree roots
  • Creating a citywide network of tiny houses to be available to young, low-wage earners
  • Excluding the wages of DC school teachers from local income taxes
  • Increasing the amount of pension exempt from local income taxes
  • Assisting those formerly incarcerated with assistance in incorporating new businesses

The next scheduled Legislative Meeting will be held on December 1.

For a full list of measures voted on at the November Legislative Meeting, please click here.