Greater Greater Washington

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Sustainability


Divestment helps local governments fight climate change

Climate change is real and happening faster than scientists ever predicted, posing devastating impacts for our low-lying and vulnerable region. So how are local governments responding to the crisis?


A simulation of extreme flooding from 1936 Potomac flood. Screenshot from Vimeo.

Activists want DC to divest, or take its money out of fossil fuel stocks as one way to demonstrate its commitment to urgent action. Tomorrow, DC Divest will hold an event to educate people about local climate impacts and the local movement for divestment.

The scientific consensus around climate change has been strengthening over the past two decades, while forecasts have only worsened. For the DC region, a 2008 report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments predicts sea-level rise up to a foot by 2030 and over three feet by 2095.

As if our summers weren't hot enough for local farmers or our already-struggling Metro infrastructure, scientists predict temperatures will continue to rise up to 9.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2095. While we narrowly missed the worst of the path of Superstorm Sandy, various studies indicate more extreme weather events like last summer's derecho storm will only become more frequent and intense.

In addition, a recent report from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin predicts climate change could cut water flows in the river by 35% by 2040. The Potomac currently supplies 75% of the region's drinking water.

Summary of climate impacts for the DC region from MWCOG 2008 report.
Summary of climate impacts in the DC region from MWCOG's 2008 report.

Needless to say, climate change poses a major threat to our region's ability to provide very basic necessities like fresh drinking water, protection from flooding and disasters, and access to fresh, local food. Despite the scientific community's certainty and frightening predictions, a mixture of climate denialism, vested special interests, and inertia have combined to stall practically any action on Capitol Hill thus far.

However, the story at the local and regional level tends to be brighter. Local governments, which face less pressure from the fossil fuel lobby, are making some important steps towards lowering emissions from their energy, transportation, and land use sectors. DC recently completed its Sustainable DC Plan, with a goal of making DC the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States.

Earlier this year, the District got started by signing a contract to use wind power for 100 percent of the city's electricity needs. Meanwhile, Governor O'Malley recently announced several ambitious goals for Maryland, including reducing emissions 25% by the year 2020.

Across the river in Virginia, action has been slower. But just a few days ago, mayors fed up with their gubernatorial candidates debating the very existence of climate change gathered to tell them to stop debating and start taking action to protect the state's many low-lying communities. "The fact of the matter is, we've got rising waters," said Republican state senator John Watkins. "We've got recurrent flooding. There are more 100-year storms in the last 15 years than we've ever seen."

While local activists applaud local and state jurisdictions' climate plans, it's clear that we are still doing too little, too slowly to truly address a crisis of this magnitude. So in addition to the very practical and important solutions proposed thus far, local activists have begun encouraging local elected officials and institutions to take a moral stand and "put their money where their mouth is" by taking their investments out of any holdings in fossil fuel companies.

The strategy harkens back to the successful campaigns to end apartheid in South Africa and to urge universities and institutions to divest from the tobacco industry when it became clear smoking was killing people.

Fossil fuel divestment advocates around the nation argue we shouldn't be investing in companies with business plans that rely on wrecking our planet, and that divestment sends a signal that if fossil fuel companies won't get serious about climate change, it's time to leave the industry behind. Here in our region, advocates in DC and Montgomery County have recently started serious campaigns to encourage their elected officials to divest.

Activists in the District are still working to get full disclosure on the amount of the city's retirement funds, General Fund, and Health and Annuity Trust invested in fossil fuel companies. They already know that about 3.3% of the Health and Annuity Trust is invested in fossil fuels. Research shows that that moving the District's modest investments in fossil fuel companies to more socially responsible funds is a very low-risk proposition, and could actually be more profitable.

So far, several DC councilmembers have given DC Divest organizers a warm response. Just a few days ago, Phil Mendelson introduced the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act of 2013 with several co-sponsors.

We need to move swiftly to cut emissions locally if we want a chance at maintaining a livable and competitive region. This includes shifting to wind and solar, and energy efficient buildings. It also includes many of the ideas frequently discussed in this blog, including investing in transit, not more highways, and in the compact, walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented neighborhoods that all contribute to reducing transportation emissions.

If local governments have already committed to these principles and to action on climate change, investing in fossil fuels runs directly counter to their stated goals. Given the negligible fiscal impact, divestment ought to be a no-brainer for local governments and institutions eager to preserve a hospitable region for future generations.

To learn more about climate change's impact to our region, and the movement to divest from fossil fuels, visit DC Divest and attend their upcoming "Draw the Line DC" event tomorrow at 2pm at Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill. Organizers will have displays illustrating future sea-level rise along the DC waterfront and other impacts we will face if we fail to act.

Kelly Blynn was a co-founder of 350.org and is currently the Next Generation of Transit Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. However, the views expressed here are her own.

Development


Clarksburg residents call to protect environment, add transit

The 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan envisioned a "transit- and pedestrian-oriented community" in upper Montgomery County with comprehensive transit service, a bustling town center, and phased development to protect the environment. 20 years later, many residents feel the promises have been broken.


Photo by Dan Reed on Flickr.

Instead, Clarksburg has little transit, no town center, and children who are bused across the street to school. Residents have formed a new organization, the Liveable Clarksburg Coalition, to influence the process for the final stage of development, which they call "our last chance to get it right." Their first meeting on May 26 drew a standing-room only crowd of 250 people.

The Liveable Clarksburg Coalition wants to halt further development until the plan's promises are fulfilled. And they warn against any development that might put pristine, environmentally-sensitive Ten Mile Creek at risk.

A town without a center, TOD without the T

The Master Plan called for 4 stages of development. Property owners in some areas could not build until adequate sewer infrastructure, some roads, and parts of the town center were in place. Meanwhile, safeguards tried to protect the health of Ten Mile Creek, called the county's "last, best creek."


Map of Clarksburg showing each of the 4 stages along with existing and proposed transit. Click on the image to see an interactive map.

The first stage was Clarksburg Town Center, which broke ground in 2000. Stage 2, including the Clarksburg Village and Arora Hills developments, started around 2003. And work began on the third stage, Cabin Branch, last year. The continuing construction suggests that development has gone smoothly. But actually, the opposite is true.

In 2004, residents discovered hundreds of site plan violations, a scandal that led to the resignation of the Planning Board chairman. The town center that was supposed to come first never got built; instead of stores, a supermarket, and a library, there are 17 acres of vacant land.


A man walks through Clarksburg's future town center. Photo by dan reed! on Flickr.

For Clarksburg to get its first supermarket, set to open in Clarksburg Village this year, the County Council had to pass a limited amendment waiving the master plan's requirement that commercial development happen in the town center first.

Meanwhile, the promised "comprehensive transit system" has turned out to mean 2 Ride On routes: the 75, which runs every 30 minutes on weekdays between the Germantown Transit Center and the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, and the 79, which runs non-express every 30 minutes during rush hour between Clarksburg and Shady Grove.

The Corridor Cities Transitway was supposed to stop in Clarksburg at Comsat, 2 miles south of Town Center and across I-270 from Cabin Branch. Now, the Maryland Transit Administration plans for the still-unfunded line to end at Metropolitan Grove in Gaithersburg, 9 miles south.

And as for pedestrian-friendly roads: children in the Gateway Commons neighborhood take the bus to a school across the street because it's unsafe for them to cross on foot. There will be a crosswalk and traffic signal after a bypass of Route 355 is built, as the master plan calls for. However, the bypass would go through the school.

Plan requires more evaluation before developing around Ten Mile Creek

The fourth and final stage of Clarksburg development is on the east side of Ten Mile Creek. Because the creek is environmentally sensitive, the master plan requires the County Council to evaluate its water quality before Stage 4 can begin.


Photo by Dan Reed.

If the water quality is worse, they must decide whether to require property owners in Stage 4 to take extra measures to improve the creek, study the water quality further, make changes to Stage 4 to prevent additional deterioration, or just let Stage 4 go forward anyway. In 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection completed the required evaluation and found that construction in Town Center had degraded the water quality in the Ten Mile Creek watershed.

The Planning Board recommended that the County Council amend the master plan to change Stage 4. Instead, the council appointed a water quality working group to study whether planned development could occur without harming the watershed.

The working group's recommendations split along predictable lines. Consultants felt that development could continue without problems thanks to more stringent requirements for stormwater management and sediment control.

However, the majority of the group, including county government staff, a Clarksburg resident, and a member of an environmental group, felt that the planned development could not happen without harming the Ten Mile Creek watershed. They cited studies that show urbanization at any level degrades water quality, as well as the way construction at Town Center had already degraded one Ten Mile Creek subwatershed.

This majority recommended changing the master plan for Stage 4, and last October, the County Council asked the Planning Department to prepare a limited amendment to the plan.

The stakes are high

On June 20, the Planning Board will hold a worksession to present and discuss the proposed amendment. A public hearing will follow in September. If the Planning Board votes to endorse the amendment, it will then go to the County Council for a final vote that will determine how Stage 4 development will proceed.

Groups including the Sierra Club, Audubon Naturalist Society, and the Liveable Clarksburg Coalition are calling for changes to the Clarksburg Master Plan to protect Ten Mile Creek and support the vision of Clarksburg as a transit- and pedestrian-oriented town.

However, the two major developers in the watershed are pressuring the county to let Stage 4 proceed without major changes. Pulte Homes owns 538 acres in the Ten Mile Creek watershed and says they've spent $70 million preparing for the 1,000-unit development they're already advertising. And the Peterson Companies want to build a Tanger Outlet Center on a 98-acre property in the creek's watershed east of I-270.

Councilmember Craig Rice, whose district includes Clarksburg, has introduced 2 bills that would let projects with pervious pavers include more paved surface area than the Master Plan's limits would otherwise allow. Planners say that these bills "propose a solution to a problem that does not exist, and would create new problems."

For nearly a generation, development in Clarksburg has been a history of missteps, mistakes, empty words, and broken promises. Instead of a transit- and pedestrian-oriented town, the first 3 stages of the Clarksburg Master Plan have produced a car-dependent, transit-less sprawl. With the master plan amendment on Ten Mile Creek, Montgomery County has one last chance to get development in Clarksburg right.

Events


Get parking right and many more events

Spring is here (or maybe it's just an early summer), and that means there's lots to do both inside and outside! Next week is an exciting Coalition for Smarter Growth forum on parking with guest Jeff Tumlin, and CSG has many great walking tours through June.


Photo by elgringospain on Flickr.

You can learn about DC's civil war forts, celebrate Earth Day on April 20 itself or at fairs before or after, go to happy hours and hear speakers on public space.

And if you can't wait to do something, tonight is a public meeting on the Union Station-Georgetown streetcar segment. DDOT will brief the public on its analysis of "premium transit" (i.e. streetcar) through downtown to Georgetown. DDOT director Terry Bellamy has also promised to update people on wireless technologies which can preserve clear viewsheds.

The meeting is tonight, Thursday, April 11 (or last night for those reading the daily email), 6-8 pm at the Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square, L'Enfant Map Room.

Learn about forts: BF Cooling and Gary Thompson, founders of an effort to preserve DC's civil war circle of forts, will give a talk about the forts and their history on Monday, April 15, 7-8:45 pm at the Tenley-Friendship Library.

Get parking right: Next Wednesday, the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) is hosting national parking expert Jeff Tumlin to talk about ways cities are fix parking policy to match supply and demand and build a system that works better for everyone. Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT planning head, will talk about how DC might use Tumlin's ideas.

The forum is April 17 at the Center for American Progress, 1333 H St. NW. There are refreshments at 6 and then the program from 6:30-8:30. RSVP here before it fills up!

Be green around Earth Day: Saturday, April 20 is Earth Day, and there are a lot of great events to celebrate and learn more about how to help the environment. The Anacostia Watershed Society is having a cleanup and celebration, first helping clean up the river at 20 sites from 9 am to noon, followed by a celebration at Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

The Town of Vienna is having a Green Expo on Thursday, April 18, 6:30-9 pm to show off ways to make your own home and life more sustainable, while Loudoun is having a festival on Sunday, April 28th.

Be happy in Arlington: CSG and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization are cosponsoring a happy hour in Arlington on Monday, April 22 from 6:30-8:30 pm at William Jeffrey's Tavern, 2301 Columbia Pike. Ask questions about what's going on down the Pike or just meet people and have fun!

Improve the public realm: That same day, NCPC is hosting a speaker from London, Helen Marriage, to discuss ways that city is making its public spaces better. A panel afterward will talk about how some of the ideas could come to DC. That's also 6:30-8:30 pm on Monday, April 22 at NCPC, 401 9th Street NW, Suite 500 North.

The RAC is listening: The WMATA Riders' Advisory Council wants to hear from more riders, especially about how upcoming Silver Line service and changes to buses and trains will affect riders. To that end, they're holding listening sessions outside WMATA HQ, starting with one on April 24, 6:30 pm in the Charles Houston Rec Center, 901 Wythe Street in Alexandria near Braddock Road Metro.

Walk and tour: CSG's spring walking tour series kicks off April 27 with a tour of White Flint, followed by 14th Street, Fairfax's Route 1, Wheaton, and Fort Totten in May and June. Space is limited, so RSVP for your favorite tour now!

Sustainability


Appreciate our furry ecosystem engineers

The DC area's beaver population has boomed in the past 20 years, and that's a great thing.


Beaver at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Photo by Glyn Lowe Photoworks on Flickr.

It's a sign that our region's waterways, having suffered from decades of channelization, pollution, neglect and mismanagement, are starting to regain their ecological health, though much work remains to be done.

The industrious creatures' presence brings challenges when their work conflicts with human activity, but beavers, which biologists recognize as a keystone species, benefit the environment far more than many people realize.

There are many tools for coexisting with beavers and the other creatures their ponds attract, even in highly developed areas. The alternatives to coexistence tend to be inhumane, ineffectual and shortsighted.

The beaver, North America's largest native semiaquatic rodent, is often misunderstood and greatly under-appreciated. Yes, they do cut down trees and build dams that can flood parts of low-lying areas. But these activities bring a host of benefits for ecosystem health, biodiversity, other wildlife, and for water quality, erosion abatement, flood control, and even act as carbon sinks that take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Beavers abounded throughout North America prior to Europeans' arrival, and they were almost certainly abundant in our region, which boasted a great deal of marshland and a plethora of streams, some of which humans have built over or removed by human activity.

Beavers were hunted and trapped nearly to extinction by the turn of the 20th century, mainly for their fur. But one of the greatest success stories of the modern wildlife conservation ethic has seen the industrious rodents return to almost all of their historic range.

At the same time, efforts to allow native vegetation to grow along stream beds in urban and suburban areas to improve water quality has recreated attractive habitat for beavers. They have come to inhabit creeks and streams in urban and suburban areas across the US, where their activity has at times come into conflict with human desires.


Sign at Lake Artemesia in College Park. Photos by the author.

Nature's engineers now inhabit a number of waterways in our region, including Rock Creek, the Anacostia River and its tributaries (including Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens), Lake Artemesia in College Park, Roaches Run Pond in Arlington, and Lake Accotink in Springfield, just to name a few.

Stories of trouble stemming from beavers' handiwork have appeared with regularity in the Washington-area press in the past two decades. In some cases, such as when beavers felled some of the beloved cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in 1999, trapping and removal of the beavers is unavoidable (luckily, this particular colony was able to be relocated to a more favorable site in the area). But in others, humans have harassed or killed beavers and destroyed their dams for no good reason.

One such incident occurred in Hyattsville's Magruder Park (located, aptly enough, on Beaver Dam Park Road) in the spring of 2011. One or more beavers dammed up the small stream draining into the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia on the park's west end, creating a small pond, which also covered a small portion of the adjacent parking lot. This did not seem to present a significant inconvenience to park visitors, and park managers cut a hole in the dam in attempt to let some water drain while retaining the beavers. But sadly, the dam was found broken up one morning in April along with the carcass of its architect.


This beaver-created pond still stands at Magruder Park in Hyattsville. Photo by the author.

The trouble with exterminating beavers is that, as long as the habitat in question remains reasonably healthy, other beavers are likely to come to the same spot. Each year, beaver parents evict their one or two-year-old offspring from their lodge and they go in search of new homes. And no matter how many times humans destroy a beaver dam, beavers will keep rebuilding it.

So in places like Magruder Park, unless park managers were to remove all the vegetation around the stream and keep the area clearwhich would be undesirableto keep removing beavers each time they show up is to fight a losing, and ecologically foolish, battle.

It is far better for people to learn to coexist with their wild neighbors. In cases where flooding or high water levels are the issue, several devices exist to regulate water levels while leaving beaver dams intact and tricking beavers so that they do not seek to raise the water level.

Trees can be protected by wrapping their trunks in cylindrical cages, and a low fence will keep beavers away from a particular group of trees. Beavers tend to fell fast-growing tree species that have little commercial value, and this culling makes room for more, bushier growth the next spring, restoring a more diverse mix of flora to the wetland area over time. Beavers largely subsist on seaweed, clover, and land and aquatic plants other than trees.

Beaver ponds attract and sustain other wetland-dependent creaturessuch as turtles, herons, otters, ducks, and many types of birds and fish. They also do a good job of retaining stormwater runoff, allowing pollutants to settle out before the water moves downstream. Beavers have also become a unique cultural asset to cities and towns: they are local celebrities in places like the Bronx River in New York and Chicago's Lincoln Park.

But perhaps the best-known "downtown beaver" success story comes from Martinez, California, a Bay Area city that rehabilitated part of the creek that runs through the center of town. When a beaver colony established itself there in 2008, the local government threatened to have them removed. But citizens' organization Worth a Dam rose to the creatures' defense, and the city has come to celebrate its newfound furry, feathered and finned denizens, which have even attracted visitors from around the country and overseas (many of whom arrive on Amtrak).

The challenge of coming to terms with beavers in urban areas is a microcosm for the necessary large-scale work of reconciling human needs and desires with the natural systems that sustain all life. In our region, we can and should find ways to allow, and even help, beavers to do what they do best: maintain healthy wetlands. In return, we will enjoy cleaner water, better regulated stream flows, less severe flash floods, and the chance to interact with a wide array of wild creatures.

Sustainability


Barry: "Have courage" and pass the Maryland bag fee

Yesterday morning, DC Councilmembers Marion Barry and Tommy Wells went to Annapolis together to brief the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus on the success of DC's 5¢ disposable bag fee, and ask them to support a similar proposal currently before the Maryland General Assembly.


Photo by the author.

The Community Cleanup and Greening Act (HB1086/SB576) would mirror the District's Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act and Montgomery County's bag law, which impose a 5¢ charge on all disposable plastic and paper bags retailers give out.

As in DC and Montgomery County, the bill intends to reduce the number of disposable bags shoppers use, and thus reduce litter and water pollution. Grocery stores report giving out 70% fewer bags since the fees took effect.

Delegate Michael Summers (D-Prince George's), a lead sponsor of the bill, introduced Barry as "everybody's mayor," and caucus members and the audience responded with a standing ovation. Barry went on to explain how Councilmember Tommy Wells had convinced him of the need for the bill by taking Barry out to the banks of the Anacostia River and showing just how much plastic bags pollute the river.

Wells provided context and rationale for the bag fee, and called it the "most successful environmental initiative in DC." He described how discount grocery stores like Aldi and Save-a-Lot have never given bags away for free, as part of their commitment to keeping prices as low as possible.

Barry concluded the briefing by urging his Maryland counterparts to "have courage," noting that the "community benefits are worth far more than five cents." After the meeting, Barry committed to further supporting the effort. "We have to do more to educate them," he said.

While the Anacostia River has seen significant reductions in plastic bag pollution, more than half of the river's watershed is in Prince George's County, which does not yet have a bag fee.

The Community Cleanup and Greening Act was heard by the Senate's Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The next public hearing, before the House Environmental Matters Committee, is scheduled for March 8. In addition to Summers, the bill's sponsors are Delegate Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), Senator Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), and Senator Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery).

Roads


Invest in transportation to enhance places, not bypass them

Should the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) use its scarce transportation resources to bypass cities to relieve congestion? Or should VDOT invest in main street infrastructure that increases safety, preserves historic streetfronts, and grows local economies?


Gilbert's Corner roundabouts. Image from VDOT.

Panelists at the the Virginia Conservation Network's 2012 Virginia Environmental Assembly argued that more state transportation dollars should flow to making existing roads work better, rather than building new ones.

Chris Miller, President of the Piedmont Environmental Council, described how citizen activism reshaped VDOT planning for a historic segment of Route 50 passing Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, VA, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. VDOT came up with the conventional solution: expand the road into a 4-lane, divided highway with bypasses around the small towns.

The citizens, however, had another vision: an innovative "traffic calming" plan that would address the problems on the roadway while promoting local business and protecting the rural and historic character of the area.

One of the most innovative sections of their approach design is a network of roundabouts replacing the conventional signalized intersection at the junction of Routes 50 and 15, said Miller. VDOT has been convinced, has already completed a of roundabouts at Gilbert's Corner, at the intersection of Route 50 and Route 15. The agency will finish 3 other traffic calming projects in the area in the next few years.


Gilbert's Corner roundabouts. Image from VDOT.

The roundabouts also cost considerably less than the bypass idea. The plan, which has improved levels of service on Route 50 from D and E to A and B, cost around $17 million dollars. This is a fraction of the $450 million VDOT estimated for their original plan.

The state should take care to consider how to adopt this model to transportation challenges that it now tries to solves with expensive major projects, including a $250 million bypass for Route 29 near Charlottesville. That project has drawn criticism for its projected environmental impact, said Jim Bacon, who blogs at Bacon's Rebellion.

State Senator Barbara Favola pointed out that by 2017, there will be no construction dollars remaining in the state of Virginia's transportation budget. As transportation challenges mount, Bacon emphasized, the state needs to seek the best return on investment (broadly defined) for the transportation dollar.

One of the best returns would be great investing in smart growth. Northern Virginia contributes 44% of the state's funding, while receiving only 7% of the state transportation pot, said Favola. Despite this, cities like Arlington have led the way with linked transportation and development planning and the provision of effective multimodal service, all paid for overwhelmingly by local funds.

VDOT should view the progress made in Northern Virginia as a model, not an outlier. Virginia can invest in a handful of major transportation projects, or it can invest in smart growth. It can't do both.

Events


On the calendar: Parking Think Tank today and much more

Today at noon is our online Parking Think Tank with DDOT's Angelo Rao. Stop by from 12-1 to weigh in with your comments on parking in DC!


Photo by michael_reuter on Flickr.

I'll also be speaking on a few panels next week, Wednesday night with Ward 3 Vision to talk about how to advocate for smart growth, and Thursday at Congresswoman Norton's parks town hall.

These and many other important events in the coming weeks are on the Greater Greater Washington calendar. Here's what's coming up that you might want to go to:

Virginia Environmental Assembly (Sat. 10/20, 8 am-4 pm at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington): The Virginia Conservation Network's conference focuses on infrastructure, especially home energy efficiency and transportation.

An afternoon panel will talk about how residents and communities are pushing back against VDOT to get better transportation choices. Greater Greater Washington readers can get a $10 discount on the $45 registration, which includes a reception Friday night as well. Register here and use code GGW.

DC Historical Studies Conference (10/18-10/21): The annual conference on the District's history starts tonight and runs through Sunday. Registration is $20 and gives access to many panels, tours and lectures.

Hearings on Metrobus changes (10/22 to 10/30, 6 pm): WMATA's latest slate of Metrobus route tweaks and changes will make the A9 into a limited-stop MetroExtra, add Saturday 79 service, split the 2A/2B and 23A/23B, and many more.

Public hearings are Mon. 10/22 in Anacostia, Wed. 10/24 in Shirlington, Mon. 10/29 in New Carrollton and Falls Church, and 10/30 in Lamond-Riggs, all with an open house at 6 and then a presentation at 6:30. To speak, sign up by emailing speak@wmata.com; or submit written testimony at writtentestimony@wmata.com.

5 Gyres Last Straw Tour's DC stop (Tue. 10/23, 3 pm at the National Aquarium): A team is biking 1,400 miles along the East Coast to raise awareness of the garbage patches plastic bags and other waste have formed in the oceans. Their stop in DC includes a forum with folks from the Anacostia Watershed Society and Trash Free Maryland to talk about how plastic pollution affects our local waterways as well. RSVP here.

Advocating for Smart Growth with Ward 3 Vision (Wed. 10/24, 7 pm at the Tenley/Friendship Library): The pro-Smart Growth citizen group Ward 3 Vision is hosting me, former DC planning director Ellen McCarthy, and Cleveland Park activist Jeff Davis to talk about how residents can advocate for more walkable, bikeable, livable, and inclusive neighborhoods.

Norton's parks town hall (Thu. 10/25, 6:30 pm at the Wilson Building): Congresswoman Norton's 2nd annual town hall with officials from the National Park Service will cover how NPS can best work with neighbors and contribute to a better DC. I'm speaking on the panel alongside NPS Regional Director Steve Whitesell, Rich Bradley of the Downtown BID, Danielle Pierce of Downtown DC Kids, and Catherine Nagel of the City Parks Alliance.

Getting Parking Right with Jeff Tumlin (Mon. 10/29, 5:30-8:30 pm at NCPC): If you haven't gotten your fill of parking talk, CSG is hosting a forum with Jeff Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard, a consulting firm that is, among other things, a national leader on parking. He has a list of 16 ways parking policies can better match demand and reduce negative consequences.

How to ride your bike through winter and at night (Sat. 11/3, 2-4 pm at Francis A. Gregory Library in Hillcrest). A clinic from Black Women Bike aims to help black women and all other humans feel more comfortable riding at colder or darker weather, which is a necessary part of most bike commuting as we get into the winter.
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