The board approved a supplemental commercial property tax in Ballston to pay for the formation of a Ballston Business Improvement District. It did so with the encouragement of many large property owners — like JBG, Shooshan Company and Ballston Common Mall owner Forest City — but over the objections of a few, like the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Nature Conservancy.
“A Business Improvement District for Ballston is the best vehicle for building on Ballston’s already considerable assets and positioning it for the future,” Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a statement. “With the success of our BIDs in Crystal City and Rosslyn, we know that this new BID will contribute greatly to the future success of Ballston.”
County staff took a hard line on the issue, recommending that the board reject the request to add 75 taxis to Arlington’s current licensed fleet of 765 cabs. Cab drivers spoke passionately at the board meeting about their difficulty making ends in Arlington, arguing that allowing new cabs would impose an additional hardship.
EnviroCab, which currently operates 50 taxis in the county, and a would-be start-up called GoGreen Cab had hoped to win board approval for new environmentally-friendly taxis. In the end, county staff pointed out that Arlington has a taxi density that rivals New York City and Chicago when the county’s size and population is figured in.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Tim Kelley
With Circa in Clarendon “just weeks away from opening,” according to its Facebook page, the restaurant has started hiring the bulk of its staff.
Circa is seeking servers, bartenders, barbacks, hosts and food runners for its first Virginia location. Interested parties can apply via this Craigslist posting.
Interior work is still on-going at the restaurant, located on the ground floor of the Clarendon Center project’s south building, at 1200 North Garfield Street. The restaurant released new construction photos (above) on Thursday.
Today, in response to Cuccinelli’s lawsuit, a federal judge ruled that a key provision in the health care law which requires individuals to obtain health insurance is unconstitutional. Obama administration lawyers are planning to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a short Twitter message, Cuccinelli refrained from taking a long victory lap.
“[The health care] ruling is in. Virginia won this round,” he said succinctly.
The ruling will have little immediate effect in terms the law’s implementation. The White House says it expects the challenge to be resolved before most of the health care law’s key changes are implemented in 2014.
Update at 1:50 p.m. — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is scheduled to appear on Fox News between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. to discuss the ruling. Read McDonnell’s statement on the court’s decision here.
Update at 2:05 p.m. — White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs responds to the ruling: “We are confident that the affordable care act will be upheld.”
The nationwide law enforcement and public outreach initiative — with the tagline “Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest” — will spend more than $7 million on national TV and radio advertising starting Wednesday. It seeks to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes around the holidays. Last year, 753 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during the month of December alone.
Today LaHood highlighted the new “No Refusal” strategy that a number of states are adopting. “No Refusal” allows police officers to quickly obtain warrants from on-call judges in order to get blood samples from suspects who refuse to take a breathalyzer test.
“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” LaHood said in a statement. “I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the ‘No Refusal’ approach to get drunk drivers off our roads.”
LaHood was joined by National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland and Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Laura Dean-Mooney at a press conference at the Arlington County Jail. A number of law enforcement officials from around the country were also present at the event, which kicked off at 10:30 this morning.
Virginia has a form of the “No Refusal” strategy currently in place. The state’s “implied consent” law calls for a drivers’ license to be suspended if he or she refuses to take a chemical test when stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on a state road.
(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) There were major delays on westbound I-66 between George Mason Drive and East Falls Church this morning as police investigated a series of wrecks apparently caused by a airport shuttle van.
We’ve heard reports of at least six crashes caused by the van between the Roosevelt Bridge and Sycamore Street on I-66. At least two additional crashes have been reported outside of Arlington. We’re hearing that two drivers required medical treatment.
Police temporarily shut down the ramp from westbound I-66 to Sycamore Street to allow an ambulance to access one of the crash sites.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is now confirming that airport police have arrested the driver of a blue Super Shuttle van at Dulles Airport in connection with the crashes.
“Our officers located driver and the van in front of the main terminal at Dulles, and he was taken into custody,” said airport spokesperson Courtney Mickalonis. “We’re working with other police agencies to determine exactly what happened.”
Mickalonis said airport police were initially alerted by a motorist who was struck by the van on the Dulles Access Road. She added that police did not find any passengers inside the van. It’s not known whether passengers might have gotten out before police arrived.
No word on charges at this time, but we’re hearing that the driver spit on officers while being taken into custody.
Update at 3:30 p.m. — Virginia State Police have sent out an updated press release (after the jump). Note that VSP is only counting the incidents their troopers responded to, and we stand by our count of eight crashes.
Now that Arlington County has on its books an official snow removal ordinance, which makes failure to clear the sidewalk in front of your property a civil offense punishable by fines, demand for the county’s snowblower loan program is apparently skyrocketing.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the board on Saturday that the county has received requests for 50-60 snowblowers so far this winter. Arlington only has about ten snowblowers available to loan to local civic associations.
Faced with that news, the board seemed willing to expand the snowblower loan program, the goal of which is to allow citizens to clear publicly-owned sidewalks in their neighborhoods. The program also allows civic associations to clear sidewalks for elderly or disabled neighbors who aren’t capable of doing so themselves.
“The goal has to be to get the sidewalk shoveled,” said board member Barbara Favola. “This, in my mind, is a tool to get us there.”
“The snowblower program… allows those area that are the county’s responsibility to get done earlier than if we waited for county employees to get done with their snow clearing responsibilities on the roads,” noted board member Mary Hynes. The board asked Donnellan to report back on the program, but did not take any concrete action.
While the board was unanimous in its praise of the program, at least one local civic association leader cautioned that the program could “grow out of control.”
“The county lacks storage space, and buying snowblowers or snow shovels for us is not your role,” said Chick Walter, president of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association. He said the program has been “glaringly unsuccessful” in terms of only benefiting a few county neighborhoods.
Walter urged the county to end the program and donate the existing snowblowers to local civic associations.
If you were sitting on the board, what would you do?
A small fire in a light fixture at the Metro Center station is having major repercussions for Metro commuters this morning.
Feel free to share your Metro horror stories in the comments.
Update at 9:10 a.m. — Metro is now reporting a switch malfunction between the Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations, cutting off Orange and Blue Line service between the two stations. Via Twitter, there are reports of trains being offloaded at Arlington stations.
Temperatures have been hovering around freezing, raising the possibility that roads wet from yesterday’s rains could freeze. Last night VDOT began treating bridges, ramps and other freeze-prone stretches of road with salt, as a precaution.
So far, however, it would seem that ice is not a factor in the morning commute. No significant accidents have been reported as of 7:30 this morning and there are currently no major delays on local highways.
Three separate county construction projects will be combined into one bond issue to save money on financing costs.
On Saturday the board unanimously approved up to $15 million in bonds to fund the last phases of the Cherrydale Fire Station 3 project ($7.5 million), the initial construction of the Arlington Mill Community Center ($5 million), and the construction of a new park at the Buckingham Village 1 apartment complex ($850,000).
The projects were previously approved as part of the county’s Capital Improvement Programs.
“Arlington is fortunate to be able to continue its investment in critical facilities and infrastructure, even during hard economic times,” Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Our sound financial practices and balanced smart growth approach are allowing us to follow through on long-standing commitments to our community.”
The new Cherrydale fire station is expected to open in summer 2011. The $7.5 million needed to fund the final construction phases is $5.5 million less than originally anticipated. Construction bids for the project were well below estimates, county officials said.
Wreath Ceremony At Arlington National Cemetery — Volunteers helped to lay some 24,000 wreaths on the graves of military personnel at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. More from NECN.
Flight Delays at DCA — It was a miserable Sunday for many air travelers, as bad weather caused some big delays for flights arriving and departing at Reagan National Airport. More from the Washington Post.
Christening Set for USS Arlington – A new naval vessel bearing the county’s name will be christened in March. The USS Arlington will essentially serve as a means of transportation for Marines, landing craft and helicopters. The county board heard a presentation about the warship at its meeting on Saturday. More from the Sun Gazette.
Bungalow Billiards Sells Its Shirlington Location — The Bungalow in Shirlington has been sold, according to a blurb picked up the the Shirlington Village Blog. No official word yet on what changes, if any, may be in store, but the blog reports that renovation plans are in the works.
Flickr pool photo by Team Rank