(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Change and a fresh perspective is needed on the County Board — that was the overall message from the five Democrats seeking the nomination for two open board seats.
While all of the candidates touted their “progressive values” at Wednesday’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, most suggested that the Democratic status quo is in need of a refresh.
“The County Board needs new insights and perspectives… we need leaders with renewed energy and optimism,” said Katie Cristol, a relative unknown in political circles who delivered an energetic speech to the standing room only crowd. “I am running to bring a fresh start to Arlington County.”
Cristol, an education policy consultant who serves on the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women, said she would remain true to Arlington’s “vision of inclusion, diversity and smart growth.” She spoke of the county government’s need to communicate more effectively with its citizens and to seek out the perspective of younger residents and renters, while also spurring the local economy.
“We can build an agile county government that is responsive to residents,” Cristol said. “As a County Board member I will seek to drive economic redevelopment that preserves our core values of transit-oriented smart growth and the distinctive character of our neighborhoods.”
Cristol also spoke of her advocacy for women’s reproductive rights and on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.
“I will be an unrelenting voice for women and for families,” she said. So far, Cristol is the only woman seeking the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Board members Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.
Christian Dorsey, who sought and lost the Democratic nomination to Chris Zimmerman and Walter Tejada in 2002 and 2003, said he has decided 2015 is the right time to try again and “propel the next progressive wave in Arlington.”
“We are an extremely well-planned community… but even in a well-planned community like Arlington we still face challenges, and those challenges are immense,” Dorsey said, adding that he has “the right set of skills and perspectives for this point in time in Arlington.”
That perspective includes having served on the board of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, as chair of the Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission and as executive director of the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation in the Nauck neighborhood.
“We have to be honest, Arlington is a privileged place but we still have people who are suffering from stagnating wages, many people in our community are on fixed incomes… people don’t have the means that they used to,” Dorsey said. “That means that we have to deliver good government at maximum value, but also come up with innovative ways of making it a little easier for people to go through life.”
“You can save money by doing good,” Dorsey said. “Progressive values often make very sound fiscal sense.”
Andrew Schneider, president of the Yorktown Civic Association and a life-long Arlingtonian, has made “listening” and “solving old problems in new ways” central tenets of his campaign.
“If we’ve learned anything over the past twelve months, it’s been that the public confidence in Arlington has been shaken,” said Schneider. “My candidacy is founded on helping to restore that confidence. You do not restore the public confidence through the sandbox politics and knee-jerk opposition that has characterized our community dialogue over the past two years.”
A dog fell into a sinkhole that opened up right under its tiny feet in Rockwell Park on Wednesday, according to a witness.
The park, which sits at the intersection of N. Cleveland, Edgewood and 1st Streets, is popular for dog walking in the Lyon Park neighborhood. Resident Elsie Frasier told ARLnow.com that two days ago she and her husband “heard someone screaming” at the park from their adjacent house. Someone walking their dog said it had fallen into the hole.
“We initially thought she was talking about the storm sewer openings, and only later, when we went out to the park, did we find out that a sinkhole had opened up right under her dog while they were out for a walk,” Frasier told ARLnow.com in an email. “The dog was on a leash so she was able to haul it out herself.”
The dog was unhurt from the fall, Frasier said.
The sinkhole is right next to the Washington Blvd bike trail, and was caused by a sewer line break, according to Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. County water and sewer crews cordoned off the area Wednesday night and have been pumping water away from the line since then.
Repairs to the line have been delayed due to weather, Kalish said, but the pumping has prevented the line from leaking into the surrounding area. As of Friday afternoon, Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said crews are now working on repairs.
“We have crews there actively repairing it,” Baxter said. “The area is secure and the leak is not causing backups. We do not have an estimated time of repair just yet.”
Another winter with persistent sub-freezing temperatures has led to breaking water and sewer lines all over the county. Along with those line breaks have come rapidly forming sinkholes: a large hole created a substantial hazard on Williamsburg Blvd early last month and a sinkhole formed and caused water and mud to flood nearby properties in north Arlington ten days ago.
A homeowner on the 200 block of N. Fillmore Street says he woke up just after midnight to the sounds of someone trying to open the front door. He went downstairs and discovered a man apparently passed out on the porch.
After trying but failing to wake him up, the homeowner called police. In an email, he described to ARLnow.com what happened.
Last night at 12:05 am (early Thursday morning 3/05/15) I was woken up by what sounded like somebody trying to operate the handle on my front door. That was followed by a ring of the doorbell. I walked downstairs and turned on my porch lights to discover somebody slumped over on my porch furniture. I turned on all of the outside lights hoping that would force him to move, but it didn’t work so I called 911 to report it. The operator said she would send medics and police.
A few minutes later one fire truck, one ambulance and one police car arrived. It took them a few minutes to get the man to respond to them. I overheard him tell the officer that he lives at “Pottery Barn,” but eventually I’m pretty sure he said he lives somewhere on Lee Highway.
He was placed in the back of a police cruiser and presumably taken to jail. He was VERY inebriated.
According to Arlington County police spokesman, the man was arrested, charged with being drunk in public and held at the jail until sober.
This past Saturday, in a similar incident, a homeowner in nearby Ashton Heights woke up and discovered a 22-year-old Arlington man asleep and covered in vomit in his dining room.
Tejada is the last member of the County Board who still defends the now-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar “unapologetically and unequivocally.” He has been one of the more vocal supporters of adding affordable housing and providing immigrants safe haven in the county.
“I will never apologize for these efforts,” he told the Arlington County Democratic Committee Wednesday night.
Tejada touted Democratic accomplishments during a 14-minute-long speech, including the county’s triple-AAA bond rating, its low crime and unemployment rates and a host of recognitions as a great place to live. He challenged the criticism that the County Board has ruled with a “groupthink” mentality; he said it’s been a good thing for the county.
“The group-thinking mentality that was created got us to be one of the best communities in the United States,” he said. “And yes, we have some genuine challenges to confront ahead. Yet, some of our problems are first-world problems to tackle. Are we victims of our own success?”
Among Arlington’s problems are a school capacity crisis that seems to grow every year, one that some critics say the County Board and School Board have not acted swiftly enough to fix. The county’s urban corridors are redeveloping with increasing density, in some cases threatening open space and forcing even more tough decisions from county leaders. Then there are rising housing costs, which have prompted Tejada and his Board colleagues to place affordable housing among their chief priorities.
While the county faces these challenges, the voting landscape appears to have shifted to favor “change” candidates. Independent John Vihstadt was elected twice in 2014; Tejada reminded the partisan crowd that Vihstadt “has been named Republican volunteer of the year, who ran on an anti-government agenda and who does not share our Democratic values.”
Tejada expressed concern that Democrats’ reaction to last year’s elections will make them stray from the “progressive and Democratic values” he holds dear; he repeated that phrase a half-dozen times during his remarks.
“What are we, as Democrats, going to do about it,” he asked, “when we allow ourselves to become a new Arlington of rich, entitled people, lacking in compassion, empathy and a sense of community, viscerally opposed to government of any kind, opposed to everything in alleged overspending on every front?”
Tejada and County Board Chair Mary Hynes are both retiring at the end of their terms in December.
Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”
Is this déjà vu all over again? Didn’t we go through an endless winter last year? This week’s snow storm hasn’t stopped the real estate market in Arlington.
Sellers this week put more properties on the market than any week so far this year with 65 new listings ranging in price from $120,000 to $1.9 million. Buyers should be thrilled with lots of new inventory, mostly condos. With spring officially just two weeks away, buyers this week are not waiting for the cherry blossoms.
They ratified 59 contracts this week ranging from $180,000 to $3.9 million, a glitzy Turnberry Tower condo in Rosslyn. The average list price of ratified contracts was $587,000 and the average days on market was 46.
Interest rates edged a tiny bit lower this week but still hovering right at 3.75 percent for a 30-yearr fixed rate. The mortgage industry has recently seen some new products, and return of some old products as well, such as no-doc loans. If you are a buyer, be sure to ask your lender about new products that might be just right for you.
- 1742 RHODES ST N #5-302, ARLINGTON, VA 22201- $265,000
- 4501 ARLINGTON BLVD #824, ARLINGTON, VA 22203- $294,900
- 2916 BUCHANAN ST #A1, ARLINGTON, VA 22206- $399,000
- 3278 UTAH ST S, ARLINGTON, VA 22206- $459,000
- 2402 WALTER REED DR S #C, ARLINGTON, VA 22206- $483,000
- 900 21ST ST S, ARLINGTON, VA 22202- $810,000
- 2134 POLLARD ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22207- $899,999
- 3519 PERSHING DR, ARLINGTON, VA 22201- $949,900
We hear that county roads crews have been unable to fully treat some treacherous stretches of roadway this afternoon due to the salt shortage, leaving drivers stranded on hills and frustrating police officers trying to reopen roads where there have been accidents.
Jessica Baxter, spokeswoman for the Dept. of Environmental Services, confirmed the salt shortage in an email to ARLnow.com this evening.
It’s been a really rough winter season, not only in our region but across the nation. The County is experiencing end of season low inventory levels of salt. Stock piles from our regional contractor are near depleted. We received mid-season resupply, but it was not enough due to the severity of this winter. We’re doing everything we can to receive additional tons as soon as possible.
Crews are working around the clock and their primary effort will be to plow snow from the streets. We’ll use salt conservatively and supplement with sand.
The problem is apparently impacting some other jurisdictions in the region as well. Additional information from Baxter:
We utilize a regional contract [for salt]. Almost all salt in our region comes from the port of Baltimore. We believe all jurisdictions are working carefully to manage their remaining supply.
Arlington has two salt storage facilities, one north side and one south side. Our maximum capacity is about 8,000 tons. We start the season each year at full capacity and refill during the winter.
About 5-6 inches of snow has fallen on Arlington so far today, with the snowflakes beginning to taper off. The snow has caused numerous accidents, stranded drivers, temporarily blocked roads and even the GW Parkway, and forced businesses to close early.
Nats Player’s Townhouse for Rent — A townhouse owned by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is available for rent. The three-bedroom home, at the Bromptons at Clarendon development, is listed at $5,750 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Budget Cuts for ‘Complete Streets?’ – Updated at 9:25 a.m. — As part of budget discussions, Arlington County is considering cutting $800,000 from its “complete streets” program, which funds pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The cuts would still leave $4 million in the program’s budget, however. The county is also considering eliminating two bicycle planning positions. [WAMU]
Arlington Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). [Arlington Home Show]
Underground Bike Races in Crystal City — Every Wednesday night this month, Crystal City is hosting a series of bicycle races on the bottom level of a parking garage. The races are being dubbed “Wednesday Night Spins” and feature a course shorter than a kilometer with almost a dozen turns. [WJLA]
‘Honeysuckle Hill’ Property for Sale — A large property next across from Overlee Pool on Lee Highway is for sale for $3.325 million. The property is divided into four lots, one of which includes a 75+ year old Colonial Revival home that’s expected to be preserved. [Preservation Arlington]
Photo courtesy @Norr_Fit
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington County Police were involved in a vehicle and subsequent foot pursuit through the Lyon Park and Courthouse neighborhoods this afternoon.
The pursuit started around 12:20 p.m. According to initial reports, an officer trying to make a traffic stop on Route 50 at 10th Street N. was dragged when the driver took off.
Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the suspect, a D.C. resident, was pulled over for a red light violation. Police found a gun in the suspect’s car after taking him into custody.
The chase went through Lyon Park and ended following a foot pursuit at Fairfax Drive and N. Barton Street, next to Rocky Run Park in Courthouse. The suspect’s car blew out its two right tires and crashed into a squad car. He consequently took off running in the neighborhood and was caught soon afterwards.
Sternbeck said that initial reports that the officer was dragged were slightly overblown. He was leaning into the Chrysler Pacifica when the suspect took off, and was carried for about five steps before he could disengage. The officer didn’t suffer any injuries, Sternbeck said, just “muddy boots.”
N. Barton Street was blocked off between Fairfax Drive and 11th Street for about two hours. Police officers and a K-9 conducted searches for an item the suspect might have thrown out of the car during the pursuit, but Sternbeck said he didn’t know if anything was recovered.
The department did not specify where exactly the checkpoint would be, but did say that Fairfax County would also be conducting its own checkpoint in conjunction.
From an ACPD press release:
On Friday, March 6, 2015 the Arlington County Police Department will conduct a joint sobriety checkpoint with assistance from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, and the Fairfax County Police Department across two jurisdictions. These enforcement efforts are in support of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National crackdown program on drunk driving that focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.
Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers. Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.
The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.
When trying to view the cameras on the website Trafficland.com, which the county’s own website links to, residents hoping to monitor traffic conditions on Wilson Blvd, Glebe Road and Columbia Pike are faced with a blue screen that reads “this image is temporarily unavailable.”
The feeds have been down, off and on, for months. In addition to residents trying to plan their commute, the cameras are also often used by members of the media for traffic reports and for reporting on crashes and road conditions during storms.
Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services says 90 percent of the county’s cameras are operational, and all the viewing issues lie with TrafficLand.
“Many cameras on TrafficLand can be down at any given time, and this is due to connectivity issues between functioning cameras and their website feed,” Baxter wrote in an email. “The county provides TrafficLand access to our video feeds. The connection between our feed and their server is up to them to maintain.”
There is no alternative place for the public to view these cameras, DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter told ARLnow.com. A random sampling of other jurisdictions’ cameras revealed that most VDOT, D.C. and Montgomery County traffic cameras were working on Trafficland.
While the county maintains that the public’s inability to view the feeds is TrafficLand’s fault, it is currently undergoing a technological overhaul of the system. Starting next month, DES will begin to replace the copper wiring in its communication system with a fiber optic system as part of its ConnectArlington project, Baxter said. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2016.
“The new technology is expected to improve the connectivity and reliability of the County’s CCTV camera system,” she said. “It’s anticipated that the fiber upgrade will resolve the cameras that are down and improve reliability.”
Baxter could not say whether the fiber replacement would improve access to cameras via TrafficLand.
So far, TrafficLand has not responded to a request for comment.
Screenshot via TrafficLand
Police say a homeowner on the 700 block of N. Lincoln Street awoke around 2:00 a.m. Saturday, went downstairs to let his dog outside and discovered a man he did not known passed out on his dining room floor, covered in vomit.
The homeowner attempted, unsuccessfully, to wake the man up. He then called police.
“The subject was highly intoxicated and confused,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “He was unable to stand on his own.”
The man was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, then arrested upon being released. Matthew Needles, 22, was charged with unlawful entry and felony destruction of property — for allegedly destroying a rug worth more than $1,000.
Police say Needles admitted that he had been drinking at Mister Days the night before. He didn’t know how he got into the house, Sternbeck said.
Police say they caught a man they suspect of breaking into dozens of cars in Rosslyn “red-handed” over the weekend.
The arrest happened around 1:40 a.m. Saturday, on the 1100 block of Wilson Blvd.
Arlington County police officers were conducting a plainclothes detail in Rosslyn, in response to the break-ins, when they spotted a man who looked like a “person of interest” seen in earlier security camera images.
The man, 54-year-old Antoine Kennedy, was “caught red-handed attempting to break into a vehicle with a screwdriver,” according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Kennedy, who is homeless and was known to stay in the Rosslyn area, is suspected of “at least 50 vehicle break-ins in the month of February,” Sternbeck said. Police are continuing to investigate whether Kennedy might have been responsible for even more break-ins.
Kennedy has been charged with habitual petit larceny, possession of burglarious tools and felony destruction of property. He was held without bond.
Snow Chance Today — Arlington may get some snow, sleet and freezing rain this afternoon. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory, although forecasters think areas north and west of Arlington are at more of a risk of wintry weather and slippery roads. [Weather.com]
Two Dems Running for School Board – The deadline for candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for school board was last night and two candidates filed before the deadline: Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold its school board caucus on May 14 and 16.
Opower Losing Money, Hiring — Courthouse-based Opower, a publicly-traded energy software company, reported its latest financial results yesterday. For 2014, the company reported $128.4 million in revenue, a 45 percent increase over 2013. Its operating loss was $40.8 million. The company is continuing its hiring spree, adding employees locally and at its offices in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Singapore. [DC Inno, Yahoo Finance]
Armed Bank Robbery in Falls Church — A Wells Fargo bank in Falls Church was robbed yesterday by two armed men known as the “Black Hat Bandits.” The men are suspected of robbing seven other banks around the D.C. area. Arlington County police assisted Falls Church police in looking for the suspects immediately after the robbery. [Falls Church News-Press]
Old Map of Arlington — An 18th century map of what is now Arlington County shows mills along Four Mile Run and the “Road To The Falls,” known now as Glebe Road. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Parade Now Scheduled for March 10 — The Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade has a new make-up date. After being postponed due to snow last month, the parade was originally rescheduled for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. However, “the Arlington County Special Events Committee determined that ACPD resources would be over-stretched were the parade to be held on that date,” according to a press release. “A poll of the Parade Participants led to the decision to reschedule for March 10.” [Clarendon Alliance]
Urban Chicken Issue May Be Clucked — Those who want to raise chickens in their backyards in Arlington are losing their last ally on the County Board. It was Chris Zimmerman, who left the Board early last year, and Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of this year, who were the primary supporters of urban hen raising in Arlington. As for those seeking the two available County Board seats this year, per County Board member John Vihstadt: “Any attempt to introduce poultry into the 2015 campaign would quickly lay an egg.” [InsideNova]
Christian Dorsey Officially Announces Candidacy — Christian Dorsey has officially announced his candidacy for County Board. In doing so, he also announced endorsements from Del. Patrick Hope, Schools Board member Abby Raphael and Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy. “We must become an engine of innovation to provide maximum value for the resources our taxpayers provide,” Dorsey said in his announcement. “Many of our taxpayers are facing stagnating wages… We must attract investment so that our growth is sustainable and includes opportunities for all.” [Christian Dorsey]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
ACPD announced the new cameras in a press release late Friday afternoon, saying they will be installed “in the near future” and, when installed, they would be operational 24 hours a day.
Plans have been in the works for the cameras since March 2012. The cameras were reported delayed in June 2013, “still delayed” in October 2013 and “still in the works” in August 2014. The police department’s press release said “construction is expected to start” at Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
The cameras will be placed at the following intersections, according to ACPD:
- Eastbound on Columbia Pike at S. Glebe Road
- Westbound on Columbia Pike at S. Glebe Road
- Eastbound on Columbia Pike at S. George Mason Drive
- Northbound on N. Glebe Road at Washington Boulevard
- Westbound on Lee Highway at N. George Mason Drive
- Northbound on 23rd Street S. at US Route 1
- Southbound on 23rd Street S. at US Route 1
The intersections were chosen, police said, based on accident rate, pedestrian safety, the rate of red light violations and the “ability of police to apprehend violators safely within a reasonable distance from the violation.”
Motorists photographed running a red light get a written warning for 30 days after the cameras are installed. After the month-long grace period, violators will receive a $50 citation, but not be assessed points on their driving records. There are already four red light cameras in Arlington — two on Lee Highway in Rosslyn, one at N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive in Ballston and one at Lee Highway and Washington Blvd in East Falls Church.
Those four cameras have issued almost 35,000 citations since they were installed in 2010. Per Virginia State Code, police are only allowed to place cameras at 10 intersections in the county at one time.