Actions start at the lowest Level. What about in your community? D.C. Ward Commissioner Testimony to City Council on Environmental Concerns of Residents. October 2020
Single Member District 8C07
Official Testimony to the Council of the District of
Committee on Facilities and Procurement
Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act
Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020 is a very important issue for the residents of the
District of Columbia, especially for our underserved
communities. African American, Latin, immigrant and other
underserved communities are often subjected to environmental
racism. Environmental racism is the enforcement of regulations and
laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic
waste facilities, excluding people of color from leadership of the
ecology movements and the official sanctioning of the
life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our
communities. Lead is one of such pollutants.
Research conducted by the
National Center for Biotechnology Information found that high
levels of lead can lead to developmental delays in children under
the age of eight. These studies suggest that there is no safe
level of lead exposure for young children and no matter how small,
these effects are enduring and possibly permanent. This is of
extreme importance to the residents of the District of
Research published by the Brookings Institute revealed that populations exposed to lead in their
drinking water causes much higher homicide rates 20 years later,
relative to similar communities where there was less exposure.
Currently, the homicide rate in the District of Columbia is
up thirteen percent, per the Metropolitan Police Department. Culminating
all of this data and research one can logically conclude that
having lead in the water of the residents of DC is one of the many
factors that are contributing to an increasing homicide rate.
Therefore, the passing of this
bill is not just a matter of passing another piece of legislation.
This is a matter of the Council of the District of Columbia
valualing Black Lives. This is a matter of addressing many societal
ills that Single Member District 8C07 faces because of years of
environmental neglect. Environmental justice is as much an issue as
any other issue that adversely impacts African American
communities. On behalf of the residents of Single Member District
8C07 we advise the council to pass the Public Facilities
Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020, with the following
should include conditions regarding the impact of emergency hazards
that may impact District-owned buildings such as extreme weather,
should include a focus on buildings built before 1978 and the high
probability that there may be lead exposure. The recommendation is
to adjust the definition of “substantial renovation” to include the
condition (caveat) requiring a building built before 1978 to be
considered “substantial renovation” with any renovation (1%>)
should incorporate aspects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensuring
that all public meetings or public postings (i.e. the Department of
General Services’ website) are accessible in all languages
reflective of the impacted members of the community. Additionally,
there should be provisions for ASL signers if a need is indicated.
Website postings should have a reading application to support
individuals with hearing impairments.
to assessments and testing, the Bill should require a neutral
external contractor to conduct the assessment while DGS serves as
the monitoring agency. This recommendation is to eliminate bias in
testing. Fair contracting practices should be executed and made
transparent to the public (e.g. transparent bidding process for
potential contractors, the manner in which the assessment will be
conducted, community monitoring and oversight of the assessment,
and the eligibility of the contractor).
and air quality should be added to the list of conditions included
in the assessment.
instance that the assessment reveals environmental hazards, the
recommendation is for public notification of the report findings
within 3 business days as opposed to 5 business days.
should require a detailed communication and outreach plan requiring
robust and transparent strategies for multiple types of
opportunities for community engagement (e.g. include social media
engagement, automated phone calls, mailings, partnerships with
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners etc.)
to the DC Playground aspects of the Bill, a clear and consistent
threshold for remediation should be determined as no level of lead
exposure is safe.
instance where a playground is found to have elevated lead levels
in surfaces, turf, etc., accessibility to Blood Level Lead testing
should be made free and available to children and youth (ages 1-18)
who may have been exposed.
“regulatory standards” in which synthetic fields and playgrounds
are evaluated should be clear, transparent and research-based.
Additionally “durable materials” should be clearly identified,
available to the public and supported by credible research.