Power Issues at Rosslyn Metro — All elevators and escalators were out of service at the Rosslyn Metro station from around 5:30 to 7:00 this morning. The outage was due to a “power problem.” Metro temporarily provided bus service from the station for those who needed it. [Twitter]
County Board to Buy Douglas Park House — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to approve the purchase of a house on S. Quincy Street. The house abuts Douglas Park and would be torn down to expand the park. The expansion plan is predicated on the Board also purchasing neighboring houses when they come on the market. [Sun Gazette]
Crowded Congressional Primary – Election officials are expecting a turnout of about 64,000 votes for the upcoming Virginia Eighth District congressional primary. With 11 candidates in the race, it could take as few as 12,000 votes to win. ”What we are talking about here is a Democratic nominee, who is almost certainly assured of election given this district, could be elected with about the size of a decent size high-school basketball game fan base,” a political science professor told reporter Michael Lee Pope. [Connection Newspapers]
Arlington Couple’s Wedding Profiled — Washingtonian profiles the wedding of Arlington residents Lynn Chheang and Ryan Hill, whose first date took place in the former Ray’s Hell-Burger. [Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Wakefield Falls in Semifinals — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team lost in the 5A state tournament semifinals Saturday. Wakefield lost to Henrico 63-55, ending their season. [Sun Gazette]
Contract Loss Could Cost 165 Jobs in Arlington — Some 165 Lockheed Martin employees in Arlington are set to lose their jobs after the company lost a contract with the U.S. Army for information technology work. The contract was instead awarded to General Dynamics. [Washington Business Journal]
Construction Contract Awarded for New School – The Arlington School Board voted last week to award a $32.3 million contract for the construction of a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The school “is anticipated to be the first Net Zero Energy School on the East Coast,” thanks to a large solar array on the roof. With design, contingencies and “soft costs” factored in, the total cost of the school is projected at $43.8 million, down from the original $46.5 million cost estimate. [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Falls to Yorktown in Shootout — Yorktown high school hockey club defeated Washington-Lee 3-2 in a four-round shootout Saturday night at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. It was the last game of the season for both teams.
Big Lines for Car Washes — With spring-like temperatures on Saturday came spring-like lines at local car washes. Motorists lined up to get the salt residue and winter grime washed off their cars. The line for Mr. Wash on N. Glebe Road extended all the way to Route 50 at one point. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Arrow, the cat found that was found in Ballston shot with more than 30 BBs, including at least 20 that remain lodged in his head, was adopted today at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
Bluemont resident Anne Hancock took Arrow — who the shelter estimates is 6 years old — home after an emotional goodbye with AWLA staff. Arrow was brought to AWLA Jan. 18 by someone who found him wandering near Ballston Common Mall.
He came in with an upper respiratory infection and when he was given an X-Ray, veterinarians were shocked to find his body riddled with BBs and buckshot. One eye had to be removed, and he’s blind in his other eye.
Hancock’s daughter and grandson volunteer with AWLA — in fact, her daughter transported Arrow from the shelter to the vet — and they told her about the cat who, despite being horrifically abused, was so friendly and gentle around people.
“He seemed to be a special cat,” Hancock said. “He’s affectionate, sweet and very, very dear.”
Hancock will take him to a home with two other cats — cats that she said have been lonely since her third cat, which was similar in age and color to Arrow, died from cancer a few months ago.
Hancock was one of about 15 who expressed interest in adopting Arrow after ARLnow.com and other news outlets reported on him last month, AWLA Adoptions and Rescue Coordinator Amy Laferrera said. Frequently, animals that have been abused take longer to find homes, but Arrow was quickly in demand.
“We were shocked at how, all of a sudden, there was this huge outpouring of support,” LaFerrera said. “People not only wanted to adopt him but they wanted to donate and help the shelter any way they could.”
Arrow quickly became a favorite around the shelter, coming to humans who called for him or made noises to let him know they were nearby. Hancock picked him up at 2:00 p.m. today, and Arrow spent all morning saying goodbye to the staff at the shelter.
“I’m sad, in a good way, to see him go,” Charnita Fox, an animal care manager whose desk was just a few feet from Arrow’s pen. “I knew he was special when he was brought in because he pretty much let us do anything to him. We didn’t believe he was blind at first because he uses his other senses so well.”
After Hancock signed the adoption paperwork, Arrow was brought to AWLA’s front desk in crate to meet his new owner. He meowed a few times when his crate was closed, but when he was let out he quickly explored the desk he was on. Once Hancock picked him up, he settled peacefully into her arms as he was showered with affection. One AWLA staffer, after snapping a few cell phone photos, excused herself, saying “I’m going to go cry now.”
“He’s a special fella,” Hancock said after meeting him. “I feel like I won the lottery.”
A Nintendo gaming system was stolen from a home in the Douglas Park neighborhood on Saturday.
According to this week’s Arlington County crime report, the suspect seemingly made a clean getaway.
BURGLARY, 140301049, 3500 block of S. 15th Street. Between 11 am and 7 pm on March 1, an unknown suspect(s) entered a victim’s residence and stole a Nintendo gaming system. There is no suspect(s) description.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
APS Announces New Make-Up Plan — After losing two additional school days this week due to snow, Arlington Public Schools plans to make March 31 — previously a teacher grade preparation day — a full make-up day. If there are no additional school closures due to weather, APS will maintain its Memorial Day holiday and spring break plans. [Arlington Public Schools]
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines This Weekend — Orange and Blue Line trains will run every 20 minutes this weekend, starting at 10:00 tonight, due to track work between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon on the Orange Line and Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line. Also, the Metro Center stop will be closed to allow for Silver Line sign installations. [WMATA]
Reminder: Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.).
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
More Homes Awaiting the Wrecking Ball — Another 11 homes are set to be torn down in Arlington, after applying for demolition permits in February. The group Preservation Arlington says three are located in historic districts. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” the group writes. “Many had the potential for renovation and additions, or, at a bare minimum, reclamation/reuse of building materials.” The group is currently seeking nominations for its annual “Most Endangered Historic Places” list. [Preservation Arlington]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — Arlington resident Virginia Blake turned 100 last month. Blake, whose paternal grandmother lived to 111 years old, only moved out of her Military Road home and into a senior living facility last fall. [Sun Gazette]
Potomac Yard, Prior to Development — A photo from the 1990s shows the Arlington portion of Potomac Yard before apartment and office developments were built. [Twitter]
Teen Book Fest Comes to Arlington — Updated at 11:35 a.m. — The NoVaTeen Book Festival will take place at Washington-Lee High School on Saturday. NoVaTeen bills itself as “the first-ever festival celebrating Young Adult literature in the Northern Virginia/DC metro area.” [NoVaTeen Book Festival]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
The debate, at the Arlington Civic Federation’s monthly meeting, was relatively short and did not give the candidates much time to delve deeply into issues. But by and large, Republican- and Green-endorsed independent candidate John Vihstadt tried to position himself as a choice that would be palatable for local Democrats who oppose the county’s big-ticket streetcar and aquatics center projects.
“I don’t want to upset the applecart, I just want to rearrange some of those apples,” said Vihstadt, who arguably has the best shot at being elected to the Board of any non-Democrat in years. “[My wife and I] love Arlington, we want to give back to Arlington.”
Vihstadt said he uses mass transit to commute on a daily basis, but “this $310 million streetcar is not the way to go on Columbia Pike.” He instead said he favors “a modified form of bus rapid transit.”
Vihstadt also differed from the current County Board in calling for an independent county auditor, by wanting to “break down the silos” between county government and Arlington Public Schools, and by suggesting that he opposes some of the development currently taking place in Arlington.
“I have serious differences with this Board about density and where that is taking our county right now,” he said to applause from the Civic Federation delegates.
Vihstadt, however, was also careful to point out areas where he agrees with the County Board. He supports gay marriage, increased spending on schools, and the new homeless services center in Courthouse.
“I support the new homeless shelter,” he said. “On balance I think it’s the right place and the right thing to do.”
“I’m not going to hide my Republican background, but i’m running as an independent,” Vihstadt said. “I’m running to add balance… because we need to recalibrate our spending priorities. We have to concentrate on core services like public education… roads and infrastructure maintenance… and neighborhood quality of life.”
“I’m giving voice to so many people across the political spectrum who are frustrated, who are concerned about where we are going as a county and where we are spending of our dollars at a time of skyrocketing school enrollment,” he said, pledging to be “fair, even-handed, bridge-building and nonpartisan.”
Democrat Alan Howze enters the race as the odds-on favorite thanks to the party’s well-honed get-out-the-vote effort, which will be needed as the race will be decided by a special election. Howze largely toed the party line — supporting a social safety, affordable housing, a “progressive community,” etc. — but suggested that he would be a bit more cautious when it comes to spending and a bit more aggressive when it comes to economic development.
Asked about something about which he disagreed with the County Board, Howze said the design and cost of the $1.6 million James Hunter dog park in Clarendon “well exceeded what was needed for the space and the community.”
Howze touted his private sector experience working at IBM and said he would work to “help strengthen the commercial base in Arlington,” thus combating rising office vacancy rates.
Like Vihstadt, Howze said he supports gay marriage, the county’s new homeless shelter, and increased spending on schools. (“Rising school enrollment is the biggest challenge facing our community,” he said.) Howze, however, supports the Columbia Pike streetcar project and has said he would like to see the Long Bridge Park aquatics center built provided it doesn’t exceed its original $79 million budget.
“We need to improve our community,” he said. “We can’t give any project a blank check, but neither can we stand still. I’m not chicken little… the sky is not falling. We can’t just say no — no is not a solution. Short term solutions that are politically expedient today but don’t lead to long-term prosperity.”
The D.C. council yesterday passed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, but so far there are no plans to change marijuana laws or enforcement in Arlington.
The D.C. bill, which is expected to be signed by Mayor Vincent Gray, would make the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. Under the District’s current laws marijuana possession is a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In Virginia, state law makes marijuana possession a crime punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense, and up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for subsequent offenses. There are no proposals in the Virginia General Assembly this year to change that, and police in Arlington County say they have no plans to change the way they enforce the law.
The decriminalization of pot in the District ”will have no effect on our policies or procedures,” Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck tells ARLnow.com. ”We will continue to enforce all laws in the same manner we currently do.”
In other words, District residents who bring marijuana into Virginia shouldn’t expect any leniency from police, despite the fact that an infraction that could cost less than a parking ticket in D.C. is punishable by jail time in the Commonwealth.
In 2012, Del. David Englin (D), who represented part of Arlington, proposed studying whether Virginia ABC stores should sell marijuana. Englin’s measure failed in committee.
A bill introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) in the House of Representatives this week would clear the way for states and localities to take full legislative authority over regulating the towing industry.
Tow trucks were classified federally as “interstate carriers,” in 1994, putting its regulation under federal oversight, preempting state and local towing laws.
A year later, according to Moran’s office, Congress legislated away the regulatory body that oversaw the industry, leaving it vulnerable to predatory towing without consequences.
Moran’s bill, if passed, would remove the federal preemption and bring towing regulation fully under state and local control.
“Our state and local governments are the most logical places to regulate towing and many already have an established body of law in place to do so,” Moran said in a statement. “This bill would bring those laws back into effect by removing federal preemption and allow state and local governments the ability to establish common-sense, pro-consumer towing protections for their residents.”
Moran’s announcement of the bill — called H.R. 4131, the “State and Local Predatory Enforcement Act” — comes less than two weeks after Arlington passed a new set of towing regulations aimed at protecting car owners, while raising the trespass towing fee car owners must pay to $135.
Moran co-sponsored an amendment in 2005 that gave states and localities some towing oversight, but some governments were still open to liability with their towing laws. If Moran’s bill passes, that would no longer be the case.
“Representative Moran has long been a champion on this and many other issues important to state and local governments,” Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in the press release. “Dating back to 1994, he has worked to make certain we have the ability to enact common-sense, pro-consumer trespass towing protections for our residents and visitors. Arlington County’s towing ordinance is in place and successful today because of his efforts, and we thank him for the introduction of this legislation to remove the last vestiges of federal preemption.”
The full text of Moran’s press release is after the jump. (more…)
Walter Reed Drive Water Main Break — Drivers should expect traffic impacts and slippery conditions when driving on Walter Reed Drive in the area of S. Pollard Street, between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. The water from a 16-inch water main break has frozen and the southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are reportedly blocked. [Twitter]
School Board Candidates Critical of Budget Proposal — The three candidates running for the Democratic endorsement in the Arlington School Board race have qualms with Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $539.4 million budget. Specifically, the candidates were concerned about Murphy’s proposed cuts to diploma programs for students over the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]
Opower Prepares for IPO — Courthouse-based energy efficiency tech firm Opower is preparing for a $100 million Initial Public Offering. The company, which has been losing millions every year as it focuses on growth, will go public under the New York Stock Exchange OPWR. [InTheCapital]
Registration Open for Phoenix Derby — Registration is now open for the inaugural Phoenix Derby. The urban cyclocross bicycle race will be held on May 17 in a Crystal City parking garage. The event will benefit local bike education nonprofit Phoenix Bikes, which is in the process of raising funds for construction of a new headquarters along the W&OD Trail. [Crystal City]
Peak Bloom Date Predicted – The National Park Service revealed its cherry blossom peak bloom prediction yesterday. The famous blossoms are expected to be at their peak from April 8-12. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The neighborhood, one of the smallest in the county, spans from Glencarlyn Park to 7th Road S. and Tyriol Hill Park. The Forest Glen Civic Association has grown increasingly concerned over non-residents — specifically, residents of apartment buildings in neighboring communities — taking up available street parking they feel should be reserved for only neighborhood residents.
“Residents even drive a car from the apartment complex, park it on our street, and get into a different car already parked on our street,” Shawn Brown, a Forest Glen resident, wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “That’s pretty crazy and really unacceptable.”
Forest Glen residents say street parking is nearly impossible to find late at night, with the streets filled not only with cars, but commercial vans and trucks. The civic association has prepared a draft appeal for the county to institute permit parking, citing the source of the problem as “the overcrowded apartments, condominiums, and duplexes that are located to the south of our neighborhood (between 7th Road S. and Columbia Pike and between Carlin Springs Road and Dinwiddie Street).”
However, any parking zone created by the civic association’s request under the current parking ordinance would also include residents of neighboring Columbia Heights West, which includes those apartment buildings. That’s something the civic association wants to avoid.
County Parking Manager Sarah Stott says she considers Forest Glen and Columbia Heights West “basically one community.” The county is currently conducting a study to determine whether, instead of restricting parking, more street parking can be created along the streets.
“Maybe there’s one space here, one space there [to add],” Stott said, adding that the “signs team” is studying if signs can be moved to create spaces. “We’ve got some wide streets there, we could put in angled parking and see if that could work. That could gain you a lot more spaces than parallel parking. We’re having engineers see if there’s a way to do that.”
If the study yields results the civic association finds unsatisfactory, it may submit its draft appeal, which suggests creating its own special parking ordinance for Forest Glen. If it does, Stott says she’s not exactly sure what would come next.
“I don’t know what that process would be,” she told ARLnow.com. “We haven’t had that before where a civic association, or anybody has appealed to the county to write its own ordinance.”
The appeal also references the special parking zones that have been established in the much-larger neighborhoods of Douglas Park and Columbia Forest, which restrict nighttime street parking. Even if the draft were to become an official ordinance, Forest Glen residents may not be too pleased with the results. Connor said he doesn’t see a need to increase parking for Forest Glen homeowners.
“The design folks are going to look at that entire community, but the intent isn’t to create the capacity in Forest Glen, which is a single-family neighborhood” he said. “Ideally the county is going to be able to create capacity in the higher-density neighborhoods.”
The full text of the civic association’s appeal is after the jump.
Update at 9:20 a.m. – Forest Glen Civic Association President Ron Ross said the neighborhood’s “ideas for a possible appeal have not been finalized” and said the appeal sent to ARLnow.com does not reflect the civic association’s official stance. He added, “There is a considerable amount of parking in Forest Glen by non-residents, decreasing the parking space for Forest Glen homeowners. The additional vehicles have also brought peripheral problems, such as trash left on the neighborhood streets and lawns, noise during nighttime hours, as well as blocking driveways of homeowners.”
The Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington Sheriff’s Office will jointly conduct the DUI checkpoint at an as-yet undisclosed location in the county. It’s part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving crackdown.
“Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers,” ACPD said in a press release. “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 a first DUI conviction is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.
File photo via WJLA
Richmond Named Acting AED Director — Cynthia Richmond has been named the acting director of Arlington Economic Development following the untimely death of Terry Holzheimer. Holzheimer died of a sudden heart attack over the weekend. Richmond was serving as the deputy director of AED. Arlington County plans to begin a recruitment process to find a permanent director for AED soon. [Arlington County]
FBI Cracking Down on Corruption in N. Va. — The FBI has created a task force to investigate public corruption in Northern Virginia. Public corruption is the FBI’s “number one criminal investigative priority” at the moment and the agency has “cases in all categories in Northern Virginia.” [Loudoun Times]
Man Sentenced in $30 Million Fraud Scheme — A Florida man has been sentenced in a $30 million scheme that defrauded NASA into awarding contracts on false pretenses. Michael Dunkel, 60, was awarded contracts by NASA intended for minority-owned businesses by claiming he was an employee of an Arlington company supposedly run by a woman of Portuguese descent. Dunkel in turn paid kickbacks to the company. [Associated Press, U.S. Justice Department]
APAH to Purchase Apartment Building — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is purchasing the Arna Valley View apartments near Glebe Road and I-395. The purchase will allow 101 apartments to remain as committed affordable housing for at least the next 60 years. [Sun Gazette]
Fundraising for Pike Documentary Book — Photographer Lloyd Wolf is raising money to print a book based on photos taken by the Columbia Pike Documentary Project. [GoFundMe]
Photo courtesy Kimberly Suiters/All News 99.1 WNEW
About 4-6 inches of snow fell in Arlington, barely meeting the low end of the National Weather Service’s forecast. But the snowfall still managed to cause plenty of problems around town.
The local Virginia State Police barracks reported a total of 111 crashes, 84 disabled vehicles and 372 calls for service as of 3:00 p.m. That’s on top of numerous accidents reported on local Arlington County streets.
ART and Metro bus service has been suspended for the day, but is expected to resume tomorrow. Trash collection service was also canceled in Arlington today. Flights resumed at Reagan National Airport around 3:00 p.m., after arrivals and departures had been suspended for most of the day due to snow-covered runways. Some 360 flights were canceled at the airport today.
Snow removal crews in Arlington are currently in a “Phase 2 Alert” — clearing only primary and arterial roads. Contract snow crews are expected to start using dump trucks to clear snow from Arlington’s Metro corridors starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight. Arlington Parks and Recreation crews, meanwhile, are clearing the sidewalks in front of county facilities.
Arlington’s emergency winter homeless shelter in Courthouse is open all day today due to the snow.
The snow has claimed at least one major event casualty. The Clarendon Alliance has postponed its annual Mardi Gras parade, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening.
“The Clarendon Alliance is announcing that the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade is being postponed, due to snow and ice along the parade route,” Clarendon Alliance executive director Matt Hussman said in an email. “We intend to reschedule the parade as soon as possible — possibly around St. Patrick’s Day… but we need to consult with County officials before we can announce the new date.”
Arlington County will review the big jump in commercial real estate assessments in Clarendon first reported by ARLnow.com last week.
The county said Friday evening that it will take a look at “all commercial real property assessments with a 50% or greater increase from calendar year 2013.”
There are nearly 90 such properties, including Rien Tong restaurant (3131 Wilson Blvd), which saw its assessment increase 197 percent, and Spider Kelly’s (3171 Wilson Blvd), which saw its property valuation increase 83 percent.
The assessments are updated annually and used to calculate county property taxes.
“A small number of commercial property owners did see substantially increased assessments, and this review is meant to correct any mistakes that may have been made,” said county finance director Michelle Cowan, in a press release, below.
Arlington County has begun a review of all commercial real property assessments with a 50% or greater increase from calendar year 2013, including several parcels in the Clarendon area that saw significant increases.
The review will affect fewer than 90 properties, of approximately 3,300 total commercial parcels. Both the original assessments, and the underlying data for each of the affected properties, will be re-examined to determine whether the assessment should be sustained or changed.
“A small number of commercial property owners did see substantially increased assessments, and this review is meant to correct any mistakes that may have been made,” said Dept. of Management and Finance Director Michelle Cowan. “We want to ensure fair and equitable assessments for all property owners.”
Arlington’s Real Estate Assessment office is mailing letters to property owners of all properties whose assessments increased 50% or more. Upon conclusion of the administrative review by the County, property owners will still have the ability to appeal their assessment through the Board of Equalization. It is anticipated that the County’s administrative review will take 30-45 days.
Overall, commercial assessments, which include office buildings, apartments, hotels and retail, grew 5.4 percent over CY 2013, primarily fueled by new construction and strength in apartment properties due to rising rents. The specific parcels that were questioned in the Clarendon area fall into the general commercial category class, which includes retail and other types of properties, excluding office buildings and apartments. The general commercial assessment category increased by 12.4 percent over CY 2013.
Assessments for most commercial properties are based on an income approach and evaluate how much income a property would produce if it were rented as an apartment, store, factory, etc. This approach considers operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the profits most people would expect from the rental. The net income after operational costs, plus a capitalization rate, determines the assessment value. It is not based on the profitability of a particular business; rather the assessment value is based on the rents and expenses of the property and building in which the business is located.