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Assessing Direct Community Impact from Proposed 250-Bus Depot

Washington, DC

Featured image for the project, Assessing Direct Community Impact from Proposed 250-Bus Depot

Children from the Brentwood Community walking down W Street, where buses are planned to be located on this street. (Kyna Uwaeme for The Washington Post)

The heavily industrialized Brentwood neighborhood in Washington D.C. has many polluting facilities sited within the community. Now, the D.C. government is proposing to site a 250-bus depot and associated fueling station on W Street NE in the disproportionately burdened Brentwood community, directly across from residential homes. The D.C government conducted a study to assess the project’s impact on traffic from a single day on April 24, 2019 starting at 6 am which did not account for fluctuation in traffic and the growth of the community since the study. The Brentwood Community was not made aware of the air quality assessment conducted by the government, nor does the assessment take into consideration cumulative impacts. The Brentwood Community wants to conduct an impact study to assess the environmental and health impacts from the proposed bus depot on the neighborhood to inform decision makers and legal counsel, and prevent project proposals that would be detrimental to community health and well-being. The community would like the study to take into consideration a broad range of impacts, including air and noise pollution and traffic, as well as cumulative impacts from existing facilities. 

Description

Located in the Northeast quadrant of D.C. in Ward 5, the Brentwood community is a historically African American community that has begun to change to a mixed-socioeconomic, multi-racial community. Ward 5 has been targeted with racist urban planning and zoning which has led to a disproportionate presence of industrial facilities, including a garbage transfer center, a residential trash company, a maintenance yard, a USPS fueling station, an Amtrak maintenance facility, a construction plant, and a cement company. The only community park is located between the garbage transfer center and the residential trash company, making the park unusable. While some in the community have lived in Brentwood for 40-50 years, others have only recently moved to the neighborhood. Community engagement varies, with activists aware of and involved in the issues, while others, such as renters, are less engaged, often unsure whether they can participate. Community members have partnered with Empower DC to form the Justice for Brentwood Coalition and the community has begun litigation to halt the development of a project, which never conducted an environmental impact study, which is required for projects over $20 million. 

The community would like to assess the environmental and health impacts from the proposed bus depot and fueling station and share it with decision makers and legal counsel so that they can prevent the perpetuation of racist and discriminatory zoning and urban planning practices. This will result in ensuring the health and well-being of the local community, which have been disproportionately affected by cancer, respiratory illnesses, and other comorbidities. 

  • Activities: Assess environmental and health impacts, disseminate to decision makers, lawyers, and the media. Involve the local community in these decisions. 
  • Actors: Brentwood community, Empower DC, Justice for Brentwood Coalition, Candidates for Ward 5 Council Person, Council Members for Robert White and Kenyan McDuffie, ANC Commissioner 5CO5 Darlene Oliver, ANC Commissioner 5CO6 Sabrena Rhodes, Legal Counsel Johnny Barnes, and the Center for Applied Environmental Science. Target Audience: DC Government, particularly the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Mayor Bowser, and the Brentwood Community. 
  • Outputs: Develop an impact study specifically analyzing impacts to the Brentwood Community, taking into consideration air and noise pollutants, traffic, and cumulative impacts to inform decision makers, lawmakers and lawyers of the impacts in order to prevent racist and discriminatory planning and zoning practices.   
  • Outcomes: The community will benefit from assessments that take into consideration direct impacts to the community, which will help to prevent the siting of projects that compound existing health and environmental impacts of the health of the residents in the Brentwood Community. 
  • Impact: These assessments will not only help prevent harmful projects and activities, but also strengthen the community’s basis to remove/decommission projects that negatively impact the community. This will provide a roadmap for other communities and other scientists who want to use data and information to prevent racists and discriminatory planning practices. 

Project Team

Community Leads

 

Catasha Davis HeadshotCatasha Davis, PhD, Brentwood Resident

 

Darlene Oliver HeadshotDarlene Oliver, ANC Commissioner 5C05, Brentwood Resident

 

Community Science Fellow

 

Elena Perez HeadshotElena Perez

Scientist Wanted

The Community is looking for a scientist and/or urban planner that will be able to conduct an impact study that takes into consideration cumulative impacts. If possible to collect data to demonstrate the burden of pollution already experienced by the residents of Brentwood.

  • The community is okay with remote engagement.

Desired Skills and Qualifications:

  • Experience with air quality analysis and urban sustainability
  • Experience and/or desire to participate in community education, outreach, and engagement
  • Strong listening and collaboration skills
  • Willingness to connect science to local concerns

Thriving Earth Exchange asks all scientific partners to work with the community to help define a project with concrete local impact to which they can contribute as pro-bono volunteers and collaborators. This work can also position the scientists and communities to seek additional funding, together, for the next stage.

Interested in volunteering as a scientist? Apply now!

Collaborating Organization(s)

Empower DC Logo

Empower DC, an organization that prevented the development of a bus depot in Ivy City, another community located in Ward 5, in Washington DC. They are providing guidance and legal expertise.

 

Justice for Brentwood Logo

Justice for Brentwood, a coalition formed in partnership with Empower DC and members of the Brentwood Community. Leading efforts to prevent discriminatory planning practices in the Brentwood neighborhood.

 

CAES Logo

Center for Applied Environmental Science, Think Tank offering to help identify a scientist who can provide written testimony to prevent harmful development in the Brentwood neighborhood.