BM4F Keeps Up the Political Advocacy Energy on a Local DC EJ Bill

Sep 27, 2020 | BM4F Spotlights, Uncategorized, Young, Gifted & Green Blog Series | 0 comments

On September 30, 2020 12:00 PM ET, Black Millennials 4 Flint will be testifying before DC Council at the Facilities & Procurement Public Hearing on B23-0665, the “Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020“. The deadline to register to testify is by close of business September 28, 2020.

Watch Live:– On the Council site, OCTFME site, or on Channel 13 (Local DC station).

What is the Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020?

B23-0665, the “Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020”, was introduced on February 18, 2020 by Councilmembers Robert C. White Jr., Nadeau, Gray, Cheh, Bonds, and Allen. The purpose of the legislation is to conduct assessments of environmental conditions, to identify and mitigate environmental hazards that impact human health in all District-owned buildings that are occupied during demolition, excavation, substantial renovation, and construction activities, to require the Department of General Services to develop publicly-available protocols for these assessments, and to require the Department to publish plans for remediation where an environmental hazard is identified and conduct community engagement. The legislation is also intended to require the Department to conduct community engagement and outreach regarding synthetic material removal and replacement, to test all District-owned and maintained playground surfaces for lead, and to conduct a thorough analysis of all playground surface materials currently or potentially available to ensure their safety and durability. Click here to access the draft of the bill.

Black Millennials 4 Flint’s Policy Recommendations

–The Bill should include conditions regarding the impact of emergency hazards that may impact District-owned buildings such as extreme weather, fires, etc.

–The Bill 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%>)

–The Bill 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.

–In regards 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).

–Soil quality and air quality should be added to the list of conditions included in the assessment.

–In the 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.

–The Bill 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.)

–In regards 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.

–In the instance where a playground is found to have elevated lead levels in surfaces, turf, etc., accessibility to Blood Level Lead testing should made free and available to children and youth (ages 1-18) who may have been exposed.

–The “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.

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