(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) The proportion of Arlington households making at least $200,000 annually has tripled in the past decade.
As part of the county’s ongoing Community Facilities Study, staff from the county government and Arlington Public Schools presented data to a working group this week that will come as little surprise to anyone who follows the county’s demographic trends.
In 2000, less than 6 percent of Arlington households made $200,000 or more. The largest income group in the county was those making between $75,000 and $99,999 (about $100,000-$135,000 in 2013 dollars, according to the county).
In 2013, more than 18 percent of the county was earning $200,00 or more — which is more than any other income group. The second-biggest segment is the $75,000-$99,999 group, at less than 13 percent of the county’s population.
More relevant to the overflowing schools problem that continues to plague the county: the size of the average family has increased. Non-family households made up 53.9 percent of the county population in 2013, down slightly from 54.5 percent in 2000.
Four-person households saw the single-biggest growth over the same time period. In 2000, there were 6,715 four-person families in Arlington. In 2013, there were 8,263 — marking a 23.1 percent increase. These are the households that generate the most significant portion of APS students, according to the county.
To compound the growth in the sheer number of larger families in the county, more families than ever before are sending their kids to Arlington schools. In 2000, 82 percent of school-age children in Arlington attended public school in the county. That number climbed to 91 percent in 2010.
According to U.S. Census data, there were 145 more total school-age children in Arlington in 2000 than in 2010, but the APS population added 1,837 children anyway.
What the Community Facilities Study and the Arlington County Board do with this information is still to be seen. The group has been meeting for about two months, and will continue to meet this summer. The group is charged with determining the best way to use the county and school system’s buildings, property and open space to serve everyone.
Updated at 2:40 p.m.: The Arlington County Police Department has cleared the scene. It is re-opening roads in the area, and shoppers and employees will soon be able to re-enter the mall.
Earlier: The Pentagon Centre Mall is under evacuation this afternoon as the Arlington County Police Department investigates a bomb threat.
The ACPD brought bomb-sniffing dogs to the complex that includes a Best Buy and Costco to evaluate the threat, received at 12:21 p.m., police said. Several streets in the area are shut down, plus the South Hayes Street entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station. Pentagon Police are assisting with the investigation.
Police have yet to find anything but continue to search, ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. Officers are sweeping the entire center, including the large Costco parking lot.
“It’s going to take a while to do a full sweep just because of the sheer size of the center,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com.
The bomb threat was called in to the mall’s front desk, Sternbeck said.
Police say a male suspect put the victim in a chokehold while a female suspect went through his pockets and stole a cell phone.
From the ACPD:
ROBBERY, 150325003, 5100 block of Columbia Pike. At 12:38 am on March 25, an unknown male suspect placed the victim into a choke hold while a female suspect went through his pockets and stole his T-mobile cell phone. The male suspect was described as a black male in his 20′s, approximately 6’0 and 230 lbs. He was wearing a dark color baseball cap, dark long sleeve shirt and dark color pants. The second suspect was described as a black female in her 20′s. The suspects fled the scene on foot prior to officers arrival.
Last weekend, police found a man who had been knocked out, lying on the ground in Clarendon. A 49-year-old Woodbridge man was arrested and charged with malicious wounding.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 150322006, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At 12:30 am on March 22, officers located a 26 year old male victim on the ground and unresponsive. The victim was transported to George Washington Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Investigation revealed that the suspect assaulted the victim. Ivan Deloria, 49, of Woodbridge, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The suspect was held with not bond.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
Todd Moore, inventor of the White Noise app and founder of app development company TMSoft, testified before Congress this week (his testimony begins at 1:06:40), advocating for a bill that would curb “patent trolling.”
Patent trolling, Moore says, is when a company that has bought patents threatens small businesses with frivolous patent infringement lawsuits, which, if a small business tried to fight, will often bankrupt it. As relief, the trolls tell the company to send them thousands of dollars to obtain a license.
“It feels like you’re being bullied,” Moore told ARLnow.com yesterday. “That’s what these guys are, they’re well-financed bullies, and they’re abusing the system.”
Moore was eventually saved from paying thousands — if not millions, he says — by the nonprofit Public Patent Foundation, which provided him with a pro bono lawyer. Once Lodsys, the shell corporation suing Moore, learned the entrepreneur had retained a no-cost lawyer, it dropped the suit.
Most startups aren’t so lucky, Moore said. Many will simply pay the licensing fee to make the patent troll go away — which makes them susceptible to other trolls seeking to profit from more frivolous lawsuits. Others will fight, but the way patent law is set up leads to lawsuit defenses, even against lawsuits with minimal legal standing, prohibitively expensive.
Moore tells a story about college students developing a product in a startup incubator who were threatened with a lawsuit by a patent troll. They were developing promising technology, but instead folded their company because they couldn’t even pay the licensing fee — $3,500 in Moore’s case — that trolls ask for to avoid a lawsuit.
“It’s hard enough to build and run a successful startup,” Moore said. “I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent trying to fix this issue. That’s time I could have spent building my products.”
Moore went before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet to advocate Congress passing the Innovation Act, which would close several loopholes in patent law. It would require anyone suing for patent infringement to: specifically name which part of a patent is being infringed upon, the principal business of the suing party, and the actual company or person suing the business.
Lodsys is said to be a “patent monetization firm” with “no assets or employees other than a few patents.” The company asked Moore to mail the money overseas, presumably so the company doesn’t have to pay U.S. taxes. It’s an issue that’s stifling the innovation economy, Moore says, which is what Arlington is trying to grow.
“It’s harming startups and small businesses, and, big picture, it’s hurting the economy,” he said.
New Democratic County Board Contender — A field of six has been finalized for the Democratic Arlington County Board primary. The candidates include all five who spoke before the Arlington County Democratic Committee earlier this month, plus Bruce Wiljanen, “who is largely unknown to the Democratic political establishment.” [InsideNova]
New Tenant for Fmr. Marvelous Market Space — Empty for years, the former Marvelous Market storefront at 888 N. Quincy Street in Ballston has a new tenant. The space is being built out as an office for the real estate sales and marketing firm Smith | Schnider.
Coming Soon: More Dedicated Bus Lanes — A mile of dedicated bus lanes for the new Metroway route are set to open in Arlington this summer. Another 1.3 miles of peak-hour bus lanes are also planned. The route runs from the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria to Crystal City. [Washington Post]
Medal of Honor Recipients in Arlington – On Tuesday, 26 living recipients of the Medal of Honor flew in to and then attended a luncheon at Reagan National Airport. The following day, on national Medal of Honor Day, they gathered for a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. [Army Times, Stars and Stripes]
Grant for APS Program — Arlington Public Schools has received a $25,000 grant from Rosslyn-based Graham Holdings to support the school system’s award-winning Traveling Trolley summer reading initiative. [Arlington Public Schools]
A Columbia Pike church preschool has shut down indefinitely after asbestos dust was found in the floors.
Trinity Episcopal Church‘s School of Early Learning sent out a letter to parents on Tuesday, confirming the presence of asbestos dust in the air at the school. The church’s rector, Rev. Kim Coleman, also serves as the school’s headmaster and said the more than 100 students will not be allowed to enter the building for an “indeterminate amount of time.”
“We are presently looking for a temporary site for the school and as soon as we have more information we will let you know,” the letter states. “Please know that we are sorry for these unexpected developments and hope you understand that the measures we are taking we consider to be in the best interest of our students and staff.”
When reached by ARLnow.com, Coleman declined to comment before she could speak to the church’s board. A tipster, who sent us Coleman’s letter, said volunteers were cleaning the preschool when they ripped up flooring, releasing asbestos dust into the air.
“Chaos ensued when folks figured out what had happened,” the tipster wrote. “School was canceled indefinitely. Testing occurred, it came back positive, and now 100-plus kids don’t have a daycare to go to. Who knows if the church has the money to remediate asbestos.”
Coleman’s letter said the church has “consulted a professional asbestos remediation company” and was hoping for an estimate yesterday. The Trinity Church building was built in 1957, and the congregation is 111 years old. Trinity traces its origins back to a chapel for local slaves built by George Washington Parke Custis in the early 1800s, according to the church’s website.
Update at 4:05 p.m. Friday — Rev. Coleman tells ARLnow.com: “We have been dealing with this situation with an abundance of caution and with the advice of environmental professionals since we became aware of it. We will develop a plan of action for going forward as soon as possible and we are keeping the parents apprised of the situation. Our building was built in the early 1950′s and our program currently has 75 students enrolled.
Police: Pair Stole Car, Shrimp, Underpants — (Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A man and a woman allegedly under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol were arrested in Rosslyn Tuesday afternoon. Police say the pair had stolen a car, men’s underwear and a “large quantity of shrimp.” [MyFoxDC]
Playgroup Controversy in Fairlington — Members of a cooperative playgroup that uses the Fairlington Community Center say that Arlington County is attempting a “takeover of the group.” The parents say the county is trying to buy the playgroup’s toys, take over registration and raise the playgroup fee from $20 to $190. [Patch]
How One Teacher Is Using iPads — There’s some question about just how well Arlington Public Schools has trained its teachers on the use of technology in the classroom — particularly the individual iPads and MacBooks that are being assigned at certain grade levels. One teacher at Carlin Springs Elementary School, however, is taking advantage of the iPads in a big way, using them for various interactive lessons. That, officials say, is indicative of how such technology will increasingly be used in schools. [InsideNova]
ACFD Metro Training — Arlington firefighters are participating in department-wide Metro safety training this month. [Twitter]
Construction on the project to replace the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 next to the Pentagon is now underway.
The $29.5 million endeavor will replace the existing bridge — built in 1941 and now “considered structurally deficient,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation — with a new structure that expands the shared-use path to 14-feet wide, add an 8-foot sidewalk and is longer, wider and taller than the existing bridge.
While construction has begun, traffic impacts won’t start until May.
“VDOT will maintain a minimum of two lanes in each direction on both Routes 27 and 110, other than temporary night closures to install bridge girders,” VDOT said in a press release. “Pedestrian traffic will be shifted to a temporary bridge in 2016.”
When complete, the bridge will include homages to the military, with four medallions commemorating the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. This is the second Washington Blvd bridge VDOT is replacing with a medallion-adorned new structure — just down the road, the new bridges over Columbia Pike will have medallions commemorating Arlington’s Freedman’s Village.
The new bridge was originally scheduled to start construction in 2014 and wrap up this year. VDOT has adjusted its timeline, and now expects to complete the bridge by May 2018.
Images via VDOT
(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) Many of the sidewalks built over the last two years in Arlington are already crumbling, and the county is trying to figure out why.
At least a dozen sidewalks all over the county — like the ones pictured above — appear significantly damaged, their surfaces crumbling and creating tiny pieces of debris. These are not pieces of aging infrastructure that plague the county, these are recently installed sidewalks that have worn down rapidly.
Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services oversees the sidewalks, and Engineering Bureau Chief Ramzi Awwad said DES knows about the issue and has been investigating it for “several months.” All of the sidewalks they have inspected — between six and 12, he said – were installed within the last one or two years. All of them have been built by the same specifications the county, and other surrounding jurisdictions, have used well before these issues came to the fore.
“Each location is unique with its specific properties,” Awwad said today. “There’s elevated water content in the top millimeter or two. When salt is applied to newly poured concrete, that’s when the deterioration occurs.”
Awwad said it’s not a safety issue — the damage is just to the very top level of the sidewalk — but he said the elevated water in the concrete was present during construction, not a result of excess precipitation. At this point, the county doesn’t know how the excess water got into the concrete, and doesn’t have a plan to repair it.
The specific type of deterioration occurring in Arlington’s newest sidewalks could be attributed to freezing and thawing. According to engineering training center PDHOnline, freezing and thawing can take its toll on any concrete with excess water underneath the surface. The photo used to illustrate freezing and thawing damage (on page 6 here) looks nearly identical to the issues Arlington’s new sidewalks have encountered.
According to a paper by concrete supplier Cemex, “It is not uncommon in the concrete industry for the contractor to add water to the load prior to or even during the unloading process to increase the slump and improve the workability of the concrete.” Too much water can cause the concrete to be more permeable, and therefore more susceptible to further water infiltration
Awwad said all of the sidewalks DES has inspected for deterioration were county projects completed by private contractors. Some private developers install their own sidewalks, adhering to county specifications, and none of the privately built walkways have reported this problem.
“The majority of what we’ve observed and we’re aware of has been county projects built by contractors,” Awwad said. He said different contractors have built the sections of now-deteriorating sidewalks.
Since discovering the problem, DES has instituted some changes.
“We’ve studied and implemented some best practices that will help this from occurring in the future,” he said. “That’s our first goal. In addition, as part of our investigation, we are studying repair methods that can remedy the issue.”
Awwad said the investigation should be wrapping up in a matter of weeks. He said the county investigates based on resident complaints, and the spots they have inspected so far have been brought to them by the public. The public can report crumbling sidewalks online or on Arlington’s app.
“Our residents are really our eyes and ears, particularly in capital improvement projects,” he said. “Residents are the ones who notified us, and we’re always appreciative when they do.”
Alleged Bank Robber Was Staying at Retirement Home – The FBI tracked down an accused bank robber in an Arlington on Friday thanks to his cell phone usage. The so-called Bicycle Bandit is accused of a dozen bank robberies, including a robbery in Alexandria just a few hours prior to his arrest. Investigators used phone records to figure out his identity. The suspect, Woosen Assaye, was staying at his father’s apartment at The Carlin retirement home at the time of his arrest. [NBC Washington - WARNING: Auto-play video]
Arlington Named Healthiest County in Va. — A new study has named Arlington County as the healthiest county in Virginia. Albemarle, Fairfax and Loudoun ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. [Associated Press]
Fehr Reads to Key Students — Washington Capitals player Eric Fehr read his new anti-bullying book to students at Key Elementary School yesterday. [NBC Washington - WARNING: Auto-play video]
Blue Line Issues — A Blue Line train suffering mechanical problems offloaded passengers at the Pentagon station this morning, causing overcrowding on the platform. [Twitter]
A big milestone has been reached in the construction of a new Washington Blvd overpass over Columbia Pike: Washington Blvd traffic is now using both new bridges.
The Virginia Department of Transportation changed the traffic pattern today, directing eastbound traffic onto the newly constructed bridge. Before today, eastbound and westbound traffic shared the first bridge built as part of the $48.5 million, three-year long construction project.
The bridge is expected to fully open by late this summer and be named Freedman’s Village Bridge, after the freed slave community that was founded a few miles away.
“We wanted to pay respect to the local significance of Freedman’s Village,” VDOT Project manager Christiana Briganti-Dunn told ARLnow.com today. “Four pylons will show the name and there will be medallions on the bridge replicating scenery in the village, taken from a Harper’s Weekly story from 1864.”
The remaining work to be done includes completing the box culverts to redirect Long Branch Creek, which flows underneath the interchange, ramp reconstruction, a shared-use path, a sound barrier and painting. VDOT spokeswoman Jenni McCord said they are planning a “big celebration” when the bridge opens up.
This morning, in the shadow of the bridge, VDOT hosted a kick-off event for National Work Zone Awareness Week, highlighting the dangers for motorists and construction workers in highway work zones.
“So many lives are at risk when a driver fails to follow the rules of the road in a highway work zone,” Virginia State Police Capt. James De Ford told a crowd of about 50 workers, transportation agency employees and media. “Drivers must stay alert in work zones. The consequences are too severe not to.”
Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said that Arlington in 2014 had fewer work zone injuries than any of the previous five years. In Virginia, 15 people were killed in work zone accidents in 2014 — all of them motorists.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) A car ran into and knocked over a light pole on S. George Mason Drive this afternoon.
The crash involved a single vehicle — a Ford Mustang convertible — and happened around 2:00 p.m. in front of the Army National Guard Readiness Center, near Route 50.
We’re told that the driver suffered minor injuries as a result of the wreck. She was transported via ambulance to a local hospital.
The northbound lanes of George Mason Drive are temporarily closed between 4th Street S. and Route 50. Southbound lanes of George Mason are still open.
Dominion Power crews are on scene, preparing to assist with the clean-up.
Nancy Tinoza, an immigrant from Zimbabwe, was killed in the collision at about 3:12 a.m. on the 3400 block of Eastern Avenue NE, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. She was pronounced dead after being transported to the Washington Medical Center’s trauma center.
The driver of the car and another passenger were also hospitalized, and after officers interviewed the driver, Momodu Bello, they arrested him and charged him with second-degree murder.
According to the criminal complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court, Bello, a 35-year-old Fort Washington, Md. resident, was intoxicated and speeding on Eastern Avenue, which has a 25 mph speed limit. According to police, Bello said he had two beers and a shot of Hennessy at Club Mango in Bladensburg, Md., before driving, and “thought that the truck was moving.”
Bello was driving a Volkswagen Passat, which “submarined” under the truck during the collision. Tinoza suffered “massive blunt force trauma” to the head and was rendered unconscious.
“[A witness] saw the defendant had dragged [Tinoza] out of the vehicle by her arms and began shaking [her] violently when she did not respond to the defendant’s attempts to speak with her,” the complaint reads. “At one point, the defendant dropped the unconscious decedent, causing her head to strike the asphalt pavement.”
Bello was denied bond at an arraignment hearing yesterday, District of Columbia U.S. Attorney spokesman Bill Miller said in an email. His first preliminary hearing is on Friday.
Tinoza worked as a research assistant with the International Monetary Fund, according to her LinkedIn profile, and graduated from the College of Wooster in 2012 through the U.S. Student Achievers Program (USAP), which places international students in U.S. colleges. The program has set up a fundraising page to support her family in Zimbabwe — as of 1:30 p.m. the page has raised $8,483 of a $20,000 goal.
“We are saddened and devastated by this loss — she will be remembered for her kindness, energy, optimism and brilliance,” the USAP wrote on the fundraising page. “She was a role model to many, and full of promise and potential. She will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and all she has touched.”
Photo via Facebook
Arlington County appears ready to move forward with selling Rosslyn Highlands Park to a developer in exchange for a new fire station, and some residents are protesting the deal.
This Saturday, a new group called Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park will host a rally at the park (1555 Wilson Blvd) to try to garner support and more signatures for its petition to the Arlington County Board. The rally will run from 10:00 a.m-noon and the group says it has invited all members of the County Board and the six announced candidates to attend and listen to park advocates’ concern.
Of particular concern to the group: the revelation that Arlington signed a letter of intent with developer Penzance to trade the piece of land for a new fire station in January 2013, six months before the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) was launched.
“Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, along with neighboring civic associations and countless citizens, are dismayed that a negotiation behind closed doors would threaten, and in effect predetermine the fate of, one of Arlington’s cherished neighborhood parks,” Katie Elmore, spokeswoman for Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, said in a press release. “Such action by the County Board corrodes public belief in the ‘Arlington Way’ and the viability of future public processes.”
The WRAPS Working Group was formed by the County Board to determine the best mix of uses for the area between 18th Street N., Wilson Blvd, N. Quinn Street and the edge of the 1555 Wilson Blvd office building. The WRAPS group has met regularly since the summer of 2013 and the County Board will vote on the area’s future next month.
The park currently includes a small playground, basketball court, parking lot and some open green space; a total of 30,182 square feet. It’s adjacent to a 45,000 square foot playing field behind the Wilson School that will stay in place when the site becomes the future home of H-B Woodlawn.
The proposal that county staff recommended to the Board earlier this month would reduce county park space to 11,500 square feet, but add a publicly-accessible plaza in between new high-rise, mixed-use office and residential buildings.
The proposal also calls for Penzance to construct a N. Pierce Street extension between Wilson and 18th, even though some residents said they preferred an extended N. Ode Street, slightly farther east. County staff say Ode Street would interfere with traffic from the new fire station and the new school.
While preserving open space and parkland has been a stated County Board priority, the panel has made it clear that it would be willing to sell the land in exchange for fulfilling other priorities. Residents say not only is the county selling one of the last remaining green spaces in Rosslyn, but it’s not even getting a good deal.
“This is trading a public good for private gain, the sale price of the land is significantly undervalued, the financial trade off is short-sighted and not ‘fiscally responsible,’ and the board has been deaf to the input of residents on this issue,” Elizabeth Schill, who lives nearby, told ARLnow.com in an email. “This is not a NIMBY issue, but rather one in which we are opposed to the sale of rare and irreplaceable parkland to a private, commercial developer at below-market rates for purely private gain.”
Some of county staff’s proposals for Rosslyn Highlands Park’s replacements include more urbanized versions of playgrounds, or basketball courts integrated with plaza seating like the new plaza on 19th Street N. But the Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park say it just won’t be the same as the park they’ve been bringing their children to for years.
“The park is a second backyard, a friendly place,” Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park leader Anna Duran said in an email. “The park for us is a place to relax, a place to nod in humanity at other humans, perhaps unknown at the time, but just a moment away from friendliness. There, we’ve gotten much further with making friends than in passing each other on the street — and much further than in passing through a jungle of tall business buildings.”
Photo, bottom, courtesy of Anna Duran
A cyclist was hurt this morning in Rosslyn when the backseat passenger of an Uber car opened a door in his path.
The incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on N. Lynn Street, just south of Wilson Blvd. Initial reports indicate that the white BMW was stopped next to the bike lane when the Uber rider opened the rear passenger-side door just as the cyclist was about to roll by on a Capital Bikeshare bike. The cyclist slammed into the door.
Police and paramedics were called and the cyclist was treated on scene. He refused treatment to a local hospital.
The BMW’s door was damaged and would not fully close. No damage was visible to the Bikeshare bike. The cyclist was visibly shaken but did not have any outward sign of injury. No other injuries were reported.
The cyclist declined to comment to ARLnow.com, except to confirm that the car was moved closer to the curb after the accident.
Police took statements from the driver, the passenger and the cyclist. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed.
The incident happened as Arlington County Police officers were conducting a pedestrian safety detail just a couple of blocks down Lynn Street.