Salutations, Streetcar Suburbs!

Welcome to The Streetcar Spotlight. What a difference a week makes! Here’s hoping you’ve weathered the snowstorms and had some cozy times with friends and neighbors. Or maybe you went all out on the outdoor fun like these kids under the snowblower at the Hyattsville Middle School parking lot last week!

Speaking of Hyattsville, the city council authorized the City Attorney to prepare a rent stabilization ordinance this past month that would tie maximum annual rent increases to the consumer price index (CPI). It’ll be interesting to see the final language of the ordinance (and whether it passes). My own college town of Davis, California had a cap of 6% annually on rent increases back when I was a student there, which definitely helped students live in town. With inflation relatively high over the last few years, rent increases tied to the CPI could still allow rents to soar, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. 

In Laurel, proposed expansion of a Vietnamese Buddhist temple has been postponed due to problems with the site plan and application as well as problematic practices on the current property. The temple’s owners illegally removed 10,000 square feet of mature trees on the property without permission, which has led to flooding on neighboring properties from runoff. (Check out this recent column on the shade tree crisis facing the county to see why that matters.) 

Neighbors of the current temple (an old house) had hired a lawyer to appeal the planning board’s initial approval, complaining of extremely loud music during frequent festivals and significant property damage from new flooding. Representatives of the temple accused neighbors of discriminating against them based on religion, but members of the Prince George’s County Council found no evidence of that and sent the application back to the county planning board.

On a related note, in terms of being “up to code,” College Park Here & Now’s Matt Menke gives us a timely and sobering overview of the electrical realities faced by many of our older homes in this area, whose capacities may be especially tested this season with lingering holiday lights and extra electric space heaters during sub-zero temperatures. Menke’s “On the House” column this month is required reading for anyone with older wiring in their homes (ahem, like ours — built around 1926). As someone who never met my maternal grandmother due to an electrical house fire, I read his column with gratitude and close attention.

Lastly, if you missed all those Jan. 1 gym memberships but are feeling stiff from the recent cold snap, check out this free Tai Chi program hosted by the University Park Church of the Brethren, which turned 15 this past month. 

Take a peek at current hyper-local events below. All this calendar-curating has paid off big-time for our own family: I checked my own newsletter for stuff to do last weekend, and we brought home this handsome cat from the Laurel cat adoption event. Say hello to Sebastien!

close-up of brown, black and white striped cat with green eyes lying down next to a computer
Sebastien is settling in to help edit The Spotlight.

As always, feel free to send me a note with your thoughts on local news topics and The Spotlight in particular.

Heather Marléne Zadig, Newsletter Editor 


Upcoming Events

Unless marked with an “$,” events listed do not charge admission.

Jan. 26, 6-10 p.m. — Burns Supper at Maryland Meadworks. Come celebrate Robert Burn’s 265th birthday. Our Burns Supper is an open mic style so come share your artistic gifts whether it is with food, music, poetry, dramatic reading, or dance. All are welcome to share and does not need to be Burns or Scottish.

Jan. 26, 27, 28 — $ “12 Angry Jurors”: Laurel Mill Playhouse. Closing weekend for a play about 12 jurors responsible for deciding the fate of a 19-year-old man standing trial for the stabbing death of his father. 26, 27 and 28. Various times. 508 Main St. For more information, call 301.617.9906

Jan. 27
10 a.m. — **Updated date due to last week’s snow.** Trolley Trail Extension Celebratory Walk starting at Melrose Skate Park. The Hyattsville Community Development Corporation is hosting a walk accompanied by The Wild Anacostias along the new trolley trail extension, ending at the City Building for warm drinks and snacks.

5-8 pmBrentwood Arts Exchange: Opening Reception: “Chosen Family,” and “The Genesis Project: Volume 3” in the lab gallery. Black History Month / Heritage Celebrations. All ages. On View: January 22-March 9, 2024. 

7 p.m. — $ Joe’s Movement Emporium, An evening with Bumper Jacksons — a fiery five-piece band, with horns and pedal steel — who have been honored multiple times as the mid-Atlantic’s Artist of the Year, Best Country/Americana Band and Best Folk Band at the Washington Area Music Awards. 3309 Bunker Hill Rd., Mt. Rainier. 301.699.1819

7-10 p.m. — Wiley Gaby and Teresa Jiménez bring their classic country duets and soulful originals to Maryland Meadworks. (tipping encouraged). 4700 Rhode Island Ave., Suite Bee. 201.955.9644.

2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.  — Experimental Dance Concert: The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at UMD presents choreography by graduate dance students. Register for tickets (required). 

 2-6 p.m. — $$ Fleur Design Workshop and Happy Hour @ Nest Proper in Hyattsville. Floral Designer, Bethany Karn of Butterkup Flowers, provides step-by-step expert guidance and teaches key techniques to create fresh and modern arrangements with tulips and curly willow – the perfect, welcoming adornment for the new year! Happy hour to follow.

 7 p.m. — Totoro Band: Live @ Denizens, Riverdale Park.
4550 Van Buren St., Riverdale Park, MD 20737

 Jan. 28, 2 p.m. — Marshmallow Roast and Hike, Patuxent Research Refuge. Children up to age 10 are invited to bundle up for an outdoor storytime and marshmallow roasting around a campfire followed by a walk around Merganser Pond. Subject to change or cancellation due to weather or low enrollment. For more information and to register, call 301.497.5887. North Tract, 230 Bald Eagle Drive.

 Feb. 1, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Publick Playhouse in Cheverly. The documentary film “Descendants” follows descendants of the survivors from the Clotilda, the last ship that carried enslaved Africans to the U.S., as they reclaim their story. Ages 60 and up. Register at PG Parks Direct online. 5445 Landover Rd. 301.277.1710 

Feb. 2, 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.$Mardi Gras Skate,” Herbert Wells Ice Rink. Your whole family can get their glide on. 5211 Campus Dr. For more information, call 301.277.3717

 Feb. 2–10, var. times — $ Macbeth by William Shakespeare, at The Greenbelt Arts Center. The Rude Mechanicals in Residence. Directed by Liana Olear. “In a near-future Scotland beset by rebellion, treason, malice domestic, foreign levy, and troublesome prophecies, who is fit to govern?”

Feb 3
9a.m.-12p.m. $$ — Practical Masonry Workshop. Come and learn how to make blocks out of rocks! 3804 38th St, Brentwood Maryland. Email to sign up. Taught by guest expert carver Patrick Plunkett.

10:30-11:30 a.m.  — $  “Janice the Griot: Fun with Animal Folktales & Soar with the Eagles”: Publick Playhouse. Join this accomplished storyteller and official Griot of Maryland as she shares interactive tales from the African and African American experience featuring fun, instruments, puppets, songs and rhymes. Register at PG Parks Direct online. 5445 Landover Rd., Cheverly. 301.277.1710 

1 p.m. —Beyond Hip-Hop: Black Voices in the Arts,” Montpelier Arts Center. A panel discussion focusing on Black classical music, past, present and future led by a musician, a historian and a social scientist. 9652 Muirkirk Road, 301.377.7800

1-5 p.m. — 2024 Winter Cask Classic @ Denizens in Riverdale Park. Back for the first time since 2020, come enjoy delicious cask beer from some of your favorite local MD, DC, and VA breweries. Tickets online or at the door include souvenir glass, and unlimited cask beer for 4 hours. 21+.

7-10 p.m. — Little Red and the Renegades @ The New Deal Café in Greenbelt. Zydeco, New Orleans Funk & Swamp Rock!! Come get your Mardis Gras on with this WAMMIE-nominated, high energy, fun group of musicians! Tipping the band strongly encouraged.