Front Door Policies for a More Livable Ward 3
A campaign focused on giving voice to the issues at the doorstep of Ward 3 residents, while upholding the core progressive values of Takoma Park.
Here are Alex’s resident-driven priorities:
By making Ward 3 more livable, our corner of Takoma Park can be the best community to call home or run a business. Our community is among the most diverse and vibrant in Montgomery County, has great schools, and unparalleled access to Washington, DC and nearby metro areas via public transit, bike paths and state administered roads. However, Ward 3 residents have seen their quality of life strained due to the combined pressures of the rising cost of living, the ongoing public health crisis, persistent crime and climate change. The City and community have been resilient through unprecedented times, but Ward 3 residents and businesses need an increasingly direct, personal and cost-conscience City Government to respond to immediate challenges than ever before.
Prepare for Growth
Ward 3 is surrounded by fast paced metro-area growth, such as Takoma DC, Walter Reed Redevelopment, Fort Totten and Takoma-Langley. There are nearly 1,000 planned condo units being built within walking distance of every Ward 3 resident. Takoma Park must prepare for more visitors, passer-throughs and commercial activity. This means incorporating the realities of nearby growth in all City planning and investment.
Multijurisdictional Coordination and Communication
Ward 3 residents need better multijurisdictional coordination and communication. Ward 3 is a gateway into Maryland; it is Takoma Park’s front door. We share a border with Prince George’s County and the District, making residents acutely affected by neighboring jurisdictions. Residents are frustrated at the extent to which their interests and concerns are overlooked. Ward 3 needs better visibility and participation in community consultation on adjacent infrastructure projects (eg Eastern Ave) and public safety issues (eg New Hampshire Ave).
Include More Voices in the Conversation
Ward 3 is incredibly diverse socioeconomically, racially and culturally. Our community has modest modular homes, large new and historic single-family homes, townhouses, duplexes, multi-dwelling apartments buildings and the housing insecure. We are informal laborers, sole proprietors, small businesses owners, federal and non-profit workers and some of the country’s largest brands and franchises. We are veterans, families, immigrants, single- or overworked-parents, the disabled, artists, retirees, and advocates. Yet, despite this diversity, City politics is often most responsive to the “squeaky wheel” of residents with the loudest voices and the most resources. We need to incorporate the voices of the economically, racially and culturally marginalized members of our community into the conversation, as they are often the most disproportionately affected by gaps in livability, affordability, and safety in our community. As the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us, we are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us.
Takoma Park has been a national leader on sustainability issues for generations. However, the City’s sustainability efforts and resources need greater focus on education and promotion of actionable household-friendly policies, incentives and investments that support Ward 3 residents’ ability to make clean energy transitions, become pedestrian-first, and combat direct environmental risks. Residents lack support to address the invasive species that pose the gravest, immediate threat to the City’s tree canopy. Useable, interconnected sidewalks often disappear while afoot, encouraging reliance on automobiles. Stormwater installations are often non-existent and homes flood. The City lacks policies that incorporate mandates for (i) smart stormwater management solutions to be constructed when installing or improving road or sidewalk surfaces on existing impermeable surfaces and (ii) installation of sidewalks on both sides of all City streets.
Climate change is the greatest existential threat of our lifetime. The budget-constrained City needs to better leverage existing federal, state and utility incentives by educating residents on current programs that will assist them in energy transition or efficiency improvements, such as certain Ward 3 residents’ ability to subsidize rooftop solar with lucrative DC solar renewable energy credits.
Improve Government as a Service
Takoma Park has an exceptionally dedicated, values-driven and hardworking staff in City Government. However, Ward 3 residents are often unsatisfied with the quality of service and accountability of City offices. Ward 3 faces unique and often severe challenges compared to other wards, due to historic underinvestment in communities along Eastern Ave and New Hampshire Ave. Important quality of life issues are often brushed off as multijurisdictional challenges or falling into a chasm of responsibility between Montgomery County and the City. The City’s response under its authorities often lacks conformity to ordinances or uniformity across situations. Near-term improvements to the City’s website, MyTkPk mobile app, 911 dispatch, and enforcement under existing authorities (eg public safety, planning and illegal dumping), should be paired with long-term focus on investing in service excellence factoring in data- and risk-weighted resource allocation.
Promote Community Art, Music & Play
The benefits of the arts and play are undeniable. We need more of it, don’t you think? Let’s improve overlooked and forgotten spaces in Ward 3 that can be activated to foster a sense of community, activity, creativity, gathering and expression.
Case Study: educate, promote and leverage existing programs for more rooftop solar in Ward 3
Barriers to Rooftop Solar in Ward 3
Many Ward 3 residents and building owners are interested in offsetting their energy consumption by generating rooftop solar power. The costs of installing rooftop solar can be prohibitive for many homeowners and landlords.
Leverage Current Subsidies
Many Ward 3 residents don’t realize their homes are being served by PEPCO’s Washington, DC grid. In addition to federal and Maryland rooftop solar incentives and tax credits, certain Ward 3 residents are eligible to take advantage of solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) sold back into Washington, DC, the country’s most generous energy offset market.*
*Washington, DC SREC = $285 MW vs MD $55 MW (8/31/2022)
Let’s build a better community.
Paid for by Friends of Alex Hadden