Ward 2 council member Brooke Pinto looks up these days.
With the Biden-Harris administration in town, pandemic mitigation, and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget allocating funds to neighborhoods in the district, Pinto has worked closely with community groups in Georgetown to improve safety and quality. life of residents.
Pinto celebrated a year as a district council member on June 27 and thanked his constituents on social media. Two weeks earlier, on June 11, the day Washington, DC lifted its last pandemic capacity restrictions, The Georgetowner met with Pinto remotely to discuss his priorities.
After four years under the Trump administration, the return of Democrats to the White House is fundamental for Pinto. “It’s so exciting to have a federal partner who is on the same page in treating people with dignity and respect, getting everyone tested and vaccinated, believing in science, understanding the need to focus on the loss of learning for our young children in school, giving our schools the resources they need to serve our families well and to have increased investments in our infrastructure and in our parks. It is a complete game-changer for everything we want to do that we know is so important to the quality of life of our residents, ”said Pinto.
Funding for the Biden administration’s US bailout and closing the district’s $ 750 million federal budget deficit left by the Trump administration has helped funnel significant resources to neighborhoods in DC. “Having access to adequate federal funding is going to be hugely impacting in next year’s budget,” Pinto said.
Not only will such funding help Georgetown’s recovery and business development, but social services, parks, schools and affordable housing can all be taken care of.
“Ward 2 has the largest number of homeless people living in the city,” Pinto said. “We know it’s not just a problem that DC is experiencing. This is a regional and national issue and it is extremely important that the federal government recognize this and invest in more housing funds as we work to move more of our neighbors to housing which is a top priority for me and my office this year.
The revival of the Georgetown commercial district is also a top priority.
“We continue to hear the people of Georgetown share with us their concerns about vacant storefronts and support for our small businesses,” Pinto said. “Supporting our small business community has always been at the center of our priorities. This is a big reason why I got into the race to represent Ward 2 in the first place and it has become even more evident and disastrous throughout the pandemic just how badly there is need and what support they have. will need following the devastating effects of the pandemic. “
For small businesses, Pinto introduced the Great Streets Amendment Act which for the first time extends the opportunities of the Great Streets grant program to Ward 2. To meet the needs of Georgetown restaurants, she introduced a bill with McDuffie. , member of the Council of Ward 5, to extend the restaurant program “until the rest of 2021”.
As a tax attorney who previously served in the DC Attorney General’s office, Pinto is committed to reducing the licensing red tape for Georgetown startups and small businesses and the steep license fees imposed.
The current requirements, she said, are “extremely obscure” and “confusing”. At the DC Council, Pinto recently introduced the BEST (Business and Entrepreneur Support to Thrive Act) law. The legislation would reduce the number of business license categories from 128 to 10 and remove archaic elements from existing laws such as “horse carriages” and “slaughterhouse” requirements.
“I think it will be good for new businesses and ultimately it will be great for our workers who are looking for new jobs in our city,” Pinto said. “It will be good to deal with the vacant storefronts that we see all over town and I know they are of particular concern to so many Georgetown residents. Ultimately, it will be great for our tax base and our economy to have an inviting business environment, including here in our community.
Pinto discusses his collaboration and partnership with the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC2E), the Citizens Association of Georgetown, the Georgetown Business Improvement District, Georgetown Main Street, Georgetown University, Georgetown Heritage and other groups community. She is excited about the Georgetown Canal Improvement Project and the new Visitor Center.
Pinto applauded Georgetown Main Street for its recent American Express award for its Tuesday takeaway promotions. She cited the BID for helping to maintain the strength of the commercial sector. She also commended the Friends of Rose Park and Volta Park for their efforts to rejuvenate the park spaces and farmers’ markets.
During the pandemic, one of Pinto’s main concerns has been the increase in violent crime in the district. “Crime in our city is a huge challenge and concern. We have seen an increase in gun violence in our city, ”she said. Addressing the “root causes” of the problem is a top priority.
She supports Bowser’s call to institute “violence interruption models” to intervene before violence occurs, as well as the mayor’s $ 15 million investment in Building Blocks DC, a program designed to provide support services to those most at risk of committing or being victims of gun violence in the city.
“We know that when our young people are left unattended, especially between the ages of 13 and 17, it can lead to an increase in crime,” Pinto said. “So we’re thinking about city-wide issues to increase our models of discontinuing violence, to increase our funding for after-school programs, including the Jelleff Recreation Center, to make sure our youth are in. individuals and people in the most vulnerable communities have other alternatives to turn to than getting involved in a dangerous crime.
To deal with the recent increase in violent crime in Georgetown, Pinto worked in “close coordination with [her] The partners of ANC2E, the BID, the [CAG] and others to ensure that “the approach used is fully ‘comprehensive’. Together they are working with DDOT to make sure the “streets are better lit”. They work closely with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to reduce carjackings. Additionally, Pinto is working to tackle late night car gatherings on Water Street and the “increase in drag racing, fireworks and other reported drug activity” in the area. , noting the “terrible homicide” that took place there last year.
In the wake of the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests last year, Pinto has supported the work of the DC Police Reform Commission and applauds the group’s “creative approaches” to tackling police brutality. His approach to police reform is more centrist. It supports the funding of mental health and alternative intervention approaches. However, she does not want the police to be removed as first responders until funding for alternative approaches is approved and data demonstrating the effectiveness of alternative programs is collected.
“The police are part of our public safety toolkit,” Pinto said. “I am extremely grateful for the efforts of our officers to keep our communities safe and I believe that tackling violent crime and instituting the necessary police reforms” can be done in tandem.
Parking problems are also major for Georgetown residents, Pinto acknowledged. Residents told him of their frustrations with the lack of parking control in neighborhoods during the pandemic. “It has been so frustrating for so many people,” she said. To improve the parking situation in Georgetown, PInto is planning to deploy a “Pilot Program for Ward 2” to collect public feedback. The plan would provide unlimited parking within ANC boundaries for residents, but a two-hour parking limit if parking in another ANC district. “We think this will be helpful in prioritizing the limited parking spaces for residents who live in this neighborhood, but will also be good for turnover to support our restaurant and our small business community.”
Pinto also insists on the need to get new building owners and developers to include public parking in their plans. She would also like Georgetown parking lots to “prioritize and offer discounts to DC residents because parking is so limited and these parking lots are some of our best space opportunities.”
Georgetown presents its own unique challenges for its board members. One of the most controversial issues Pinto has had to face concerns the danger of pedestrians on the one hand versus historic preservation on the other.
Few of Georgetown’s features are as iconic as its brick sidewalks. Nevertheless, the growth of tree roots under the bricks of the paths often damaged the masonry work and created the risk of falls. In response to the immediate risk, DDOT began using Soft Porous Liner (PFP) rather than brick for spot repairs. The community’s reaction was swift.
“Regarding the sidewalks, according to the municipal code,” said Pinto, “Georgetown is a historic district and sidewalk repairs need to be done in brick. Our brick sidewalks are a really important and special part of the neighborhood, so we have to see them maintained. “
Given the risks, however, Pinto understands that DDOT has an obligation to make repairs quickly: “In my dialogues with DDOT, I made it clear that before we do anything, we need to have a conversation with the Old Georgetown board as well as ANC2E to invite the community to participate, talk about the alternatives that existed and how we can move forward. There has been a lot of backlash from the community. People were very frustrated and there was a strong desire to do brick repairs.
Of the 18 sidewalk repair sites designated by DDOT, only four were redone with PFP rather than brick due to the heavy root growth. “So we’re going to work to coordinate additional community meetings and collaboration opportunities with DDOT, because I regularly hear from residents that people are really interested in rebuilding them and that’s what we’ll be fighting for.” , Pinto promised. .
KeywordsANC 2ECitizens Association of GeorgetownCOVID-19 crime and public safetyDDOTGeorgetown Burleith Hillandale Advisory Neighborhood CommissionGeorgetown businessGeorgetown Business Improvement DistrictGeorgetown Main StreetMor Muriel Bowserpolice reformsidewalkWard 2 Council Member Brooke Pinto