Council Takes Action on Two Major Portfolios with Passage of Public Safety, Walter Reed Measures

In action at its 22nd Legislative Meeting, the Council unanimously advanced its cornerstone public safety measure, and one of the District’s primary economic development projects.

The public safety measure is known as the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2016, or NEAR Act. Rejecting the purely punitive crime fighting strategies of the 1990s, the NEAR Act instead addresses public safety from a public health perspective, using data-driven methodology. Rather than repetitive cycles of incarceration with ever-stricter penalties for violations, the NEAR Act seeks to identify the worst offenders and treat the underlying causes that trigger and perpetuate their criminal behavior. Those most likely to commit, or fall victim to, repeat criminal offenses will be offered a rigorous program of therapy, job training, mentorship, with a goal of mapping out a clear path to a crime-free life. If, and only if, this entire curriculum is successfully completed, participants will receive a stipend.

The NEAR Act has now received the necessary two votes by the full Council, which means that it is now on its way to the Mayor’s desk.

Also receiving its second vote at today’s meeting was the legislation necessary to kick off the redevelopment of the District’s portion of the former Walter Reed campus. The measure allows the District government to formally acquire the land in question from the U.S. Army, and then to lease out that same land to a private developer for a nearly 30-year period. The property will be redeveloped to include more than 100 townhomes, and over 200,000 square feet of commercial property.

Final approval was also provided to a compromise extension of the expanded Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. The program was extended for two additional years, to 1,000 individuals aged 22 to 24, just as was done this past summer. During these two years, the effectiveness of the program will be monitored with an eye towards potential changes if needed.

A number of other measures were addressed at today’s meeting:

  • A reorganization of the District’s transportation functions, including substantial changes to the DC Taxicab Commission, and the creation of new advisory boards
  • Confirmation of Food Policy Council, Board of Zoning Adjustment, and DC Taxicab Commission nominees
  • Surplus and disposition of St. Elizabeths properties
  • An omnibus youth suicide prevention measure

Bills introduced at the meeting included measures:

  • To facilitate converting vacant, blighted, or abandoned property into affordable housing
  • To limit the fees that landlords can charge for late rent payment to 5 percent
  • To create a task force to investigate ways of providing free wifi access in the District
  • To expand the “false claims” law to include tax code violations, so that whistleblowers are encouraged to report tax cheats
  • To expand the District’s renewable energy portfolio targets, include energy generation from sewer treatment as renewable, and install solar arrays on all low-income buildings’ roofs
  • Entitled the Social Equity Empowers Dreams Acts, one regarding health reforms, and one including economic development reforms
  • To approve school-based behavioral health through a telemedicine pilot in Wards 7 and 8
  • To provide a tax abatement for the Park 7 at Minnesota-Benning project
  • To provide free graduation caps and gowns to recipients of the free and reduced lunch program
  • To establish a $50 million District government cash contribution limit towards the Wizards practice facility in Ward 8
  • To provide the District government with the ability to recoup funds expended to assist tenants displaced by landlord misdeeds, and to impose liens to collect these funds
  • To create a task force on ending street harassment

For a complete list of all actions taken at today’s Legislative Meeting, please click here.