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.
Expect to see a large tethered balloon over Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow afternoon.
The balloon will be flying over the cemetery between noon and 7:00 p.m. to “to help conduct a height study of Washington, D.C.,” according to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall spokesman Stephen Satkowski.
The aerial photography company that’s coordinating the balloon, Falls Church-based Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc., was unable to answer any questions about the project, and referred us to a New York-based architecture firm, which so far hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
The Arlington County Board last night voted to extend the one-hour parking limit for food trucks by another hour.
Food trucks will now be able to serve customers on local streets for up to two hours. They will not, however, be able to stay longer than the time allocated by the meter zone they’re parked in.
The previous one-hour limit had led to complaints and even legal challenges from food truck owners who argued that an hour doesn’t give them enough time to serve hungry customers in busy parts of the county where parking is at a premium.
“The extension of the vending time better reflects typical lunch hours and more closely aligns with the metered parking zones in Arlington,” the county said in a press release. “More than 90 percent of metered parking spaces within Arlington’s metro station areas are regulated for two or more hours.”
In voting unanimously for the change, Board members said food trucks are increasingly integral part of the community.
“Street vending has become a growing part of the retail scene in Arlington,” said County Board Chair Walter Tejada. “These changes, by giving vendors flexibility and ensuring consistent enforcement, provide balance and clarity for all of Arlington’s businesses that serve customers.”
Doug Maheu, Arlington County Director of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington and owner of the Doug Food Dude food truck, said in a statement that food truck owners are largely pleased with the change, but would have liked even more time to vend.
Although the members of Metropolitan Washington Food Truck Association would not consider these amendments perfect, we do understand that they are a work in progress. We look forward to participating in future conversations with Arlington County as well as other stake holders on crafting equitable vending regulations. We applaud the Arlington County Board for moving forward to make Arlington a thriving diverse business community.
Maheu said food truck owners will continue to ask for four hour “block permits” that would allow even more vending time. As for the possibility of an influx of food trucks from D.C. to Arlington, should the District enact strict food truck regulations that have been proposed by Mayor Vincent Gray, Maheu said he’s not overly concerned.
“I believe that the market will take care of competition as it always done,” he said.
Maheu said he’s aware of 3 or 4 D.C. food trucks that have applied for permits to serve customers in Arlington, but added that he didn’t believe those applications were made in response to D.C.’s proposed regulations.
‘Concentration of Poverty’ at APS? — Some parents say Arlington Public Schools have designed school boundaries to concentrate lower-income students in south Arlington schools. At least one parent is hoping the school system creates a rule in which “no school would be able deviate from the district-wide percentage of poverty by more or less than 10 points.” [WAMU]
District Taco Expanding — District Taco, which opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Arlington, is continuing to expand in the District. The restaurant has signed a lease and will be opening a second D.C. location on Capitol Hill. [Washington Post]
Snow in the Forecast Today — Forecasters say there’s a roughly 30 percent chance Arlington could see around 1 inch of snow tonight. If not accumulating snow, there’s about a 60 percent chance of seeing a few snowflakes. [Capital Weather Gang]
Fire at Crystal Plaza Apartments — Updated at 10:05 a.m. — A small laundry room fire broke out in the basement of the Crystal Plaza apartments (2111 Jefferson Davis Hwy) in Crystal City this morning. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and are now working to clear a significant amount of smoke from the building.
Last year we reported that co-owner Andrew Stewart had been raising money for a possible new Clarendon location for Dremo’s. That fell through, and almost exactly one year ago Stewart told Urban Turf that he was looking to open a “huge bar in DC with an in-house brewery.” Today, several news outlets are reporting that Stewart and his brother, Bill, will indeed be opening a Bardo Rodeo location at 1200 Bladensburg Road in Northeast D.C.
The Washington Post reports that Bardo will brew its own beer, using brewing equipment mothballed after the Arlington location ceased brewing operations.
“Everything’s going to be the same,” Bill Stewart, Jr. told the Post. “Same recipes, same equipment.”
Prince of Petworth has photos of the tire store and two adjacent buildings that Bardo will be replacing.
According to a liquor license application cited by Titan of Trinidad, the brewpub will have 98 seats inside and 251 seats at an outdoor “summer garden.”
The new Bardo is expected to open at some point early next year.
Photo by Patrick Kennerly via cizauskas/Flickr
Five trucks — Doug the Food Dude, Bada Bing, Lemongrass, Hot People Food and Willie’s Po Boy — were on the docket for the so-called “Arlington Food Truck Invasion” at the Half Street Fairgrounds near Nationals Park. The free event, which also included beer, games of cornhole and a performance by the funk band Sol Roots, was held from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
“We invited 5 Arlington food trucks to give them a chance to vend in D.C. as well as the customers a chance to see food trucks that they don’t see every day,” said Doug “The Food Dude” Maheu, whose wife Andrea helped to organize the event.
Founder Osiris Hoil tells ARLnow.com that the new location, at 1309 F Street NW near Metro Center, will open to the public on Friday. Hoil, who launched the District Taco cart in 2009 after being laid off from a construction job, called new restaurant “my American dream” on Twitter.
The D.C. eatery is District Taco’s second location. Hoil opened the original restaurant, at 5723 Lee Highway in Arlington, in November 2010.
Hoil says El Toro — the District Taco cart that parks in various parts of Arlington during the week — will be out of service for a “couple weeks” to allow the company to focus on training staff and getting the new restaurant off the ground.
Photo via Twitter
Earlier this month Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli publicly spoke out about the law, which is intended to ensure the humane treatment of wildlife by animal control personnel. Cuccinelli told WMAL radio that the law prevents the use of lethal traps against certain pests, while increasing the likelihood that trapped animals — which may carry diseases or parasites — will be illegally brought into Virginia and released. The attorney general called the law “a triumph of animal rights over human health.”
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh later picked up on Cuccinelli’s complaint and blasted D.C. officials on his radio show.
Despite the heated rhetoric, Cuccinelli’s office announced today that D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials have begun a dialogue regarding the Wildlife Protection Act. Cuccinelli issued the following statement this morning:
I have recently expressed concerns publicly that the D.C. Wildlife Act of 2010 could potentially lead to nuisance wildlife being dropped off across the Potomac River into Virginia. Nuisance wildlife includes certain rodents, raccoons, and other animals known to carry rabies, Lyme Disease, and other diseases which can potentially infect humans. These concerns are shared by such organizations as the bipartisan Maryland and Virginia State Sportsmen’s Caucuses, the National Wildlife Control Operators Association, the Wildlife Society, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Like others, I want to ensure the humane treatment of animals, but when it comes to rodents and other animals that often carry diseases, human health must come first.
While I expressed these concerns publicly only recently, I had tried to get the attention of District officials for the last 10 months. After we brought this issue to the public’s attention last week, my staff had a conference call with Mayor Vincent Gray’s office, Councilmember Mary Cheh’s office, Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf’s office, and other D.C. officials. As a result of that call, Mayor Gray has agreed to convene a meeting within the next three months among representatives from the District, Virginia, Maryland, and Congressman Wolf’s office. I want to thank the mayor for his willingness to discuss the concerns his neighbors have.
I am hoping that we can also convene a panel of scientific and wildlife experts, as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to discuss how to best deal with the public health ramifications of this act for our jurisdictions. The alarming increase in vector-transmitted diseases in the metropolitan area is not just a D.C. problem. That is why a regional approach is needed.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli called a local talk radio show on Tuesday to complain about rats in D.C. Specifically, Cuccinelli was peeved about a D.C. law — the Wildlife Protection Act — which, since March 2011, has outlawed some common pest control practices including the use of lethal traps on certain species of rats and mice (and on other wild animals that get stuck in homes).
“Last year, in its finite wisdom, the D.C. City Council passed a new law — a triumph of animal rights over human health,” he told the hosts of WMAL’s ‘The Morning Majority‘ show. “Those pest control people… aren’t allowed to kill the rat. They have to relocate the rat. And… that’s actually not the worst part. They cannot break up the family of the rat.”
“Oh no,” one of the hosts said solemnly as another loudly gasped. But what does any of this have to do with Virginia? Cuccinelli explained that wildlife trappers might now simply take the rats they catch in D.C. into Virginia.
“Actual experts in pest control will tell you, if you don’t move an animal about 25 miles, it will come back,” Cuccinelli said. “So what’s the solution to that? Across the river.”
“It is worse than our immigration policies, you can’t break up rat families or racoons and all the rest,” Cuccinelli continued. “And you can’t even kill them. It’s unbelievable.”
(The audio can be found at 92:35 here.)
Earlier this year crews started nighttime rehabilitation work on the main runway at Reagan National Airport. That work directed planes landing after 11:00 p.m. to another runway, which in turn steered them over a larger portion of Arlington. Some frustrated residents have told ARLnow.com that since the construction started they have been woken up several times by loud, low-flying jets.
The late night runway change also steered planes heading in from the south over portions of southeast and southwest D.C. That prompted D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to send letters to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority last week, asking for an end to the redirected late night flights.
“Residents have continued calling [Holmes'] office, saying that they have experienced deafening, terrorizing noise and lights from planes flying directly over their homes in the dead of night,” the delegate’s office said, in a press release.
In response to the letter, the airports authority announced that it was scaling back the start of construction from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., leaving the main runway open later. The change took effect last Friday. The main runway will continue to reopen at 6:00 a.m. following the overnight construction.
“This will significantly reduce the number of late-night flights using alternate flight patterns to reach the airport,” MWAA said.
First Day of Fall, Flash Flood Watch — Today is officially the first day of fall, but it’s not going to feel like it. A storm system bringing tropical moisture to the area will provide warm temperatures and heavy rains that may produce flash flooding. [Capital Weather Gang]
Reminder: DUI Checkpoint Tonight — As part of a national DUI crackdown, Arlington County Police will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint somewhere in the county tonight.
What If Arlington Was Part of D.C.? — The Washington City Paper wonders aloud: What would the District look like had Arlington and Alexandria not been retroceded back to Virginia? The move, which would place part of North Arlington in Northwest D.C. and the rest in Southwest D.C., would add 252,000 registered voters, 56 public and charter schools, and 44 Starbucks locations to the District. [Washington City Paper]
Fisette to Be Honored for HIV Outreach — County Board member Jay Fisette will be honored by the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry as its 2011 Honoree at the organization’s Red Ribbon Gala next month. “NOVAM is proud to honor a well-known community leader who is a strong community advocate for HIV prevention and care for nearly 25 years,” the group said. [Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry]
ACFD Captain Retiring — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Ed Hannon is retiring after 28 years. As he was recounting his years of experience during a TV interview, Hannon’s colleagues decided to pull a prank: they sneaked up from behind and smeared his face with whipped cream as cameras rolled. [MyFoxDC]
D.C. Fire and EMS investigated the smell, which was concentrated around the Foggy Bottom area, and later said that they “believe the Army Corps of Engineers drained a catch basin” in Georgetown, “resulting in stink.”
Via Twitter, Arlington residents told us where they caught a whiff of the foul odor.
“Something did smell odd near Virginia Square,” one Twitter user told us. Two other users agreed that Virginia Square was particularly odorous.
“Noticed the smell around Lyon Village,” said another Twitter user. “Particularly bad near Lee Hwy & Spout Run.”
“Crystal City was a little odd for a bit but that could just be normal Crystal City,” said yet another.
Others reported the smell along the GW Parkway, Lee Highway and Route 50, as well as in Hayes Park.
Update at 11:35 a.m. — As this story was being written, NBC4′s Tom Sherwood reported on Twitter that the D.C. fuel surcharge will now apply to both in-city and out-of-town trips.
New fuel surcharge rules in the District are giving cabbies another reason to refuse Virginia fares.
Anybody who’s ever tried to take a cab from the District to Arlington late at night or on a holiday knows that D.C. cabbies do not like driving into Virginia. It’s more lucrative for cab drivers to make frequent short trips around the District than to make a longer trip to Virginia, only to have to drive back to D.C. on unpaid time.
Now add another disincentive for taking Virginia fares. A new fuel surcharge allows D.C. cab drivers to charge an extra $1 per trip, but only for trips inside the District. Trips that start or end in Virginia or Maryland are not subject to the surcharge, which is set to expire on July 25.
We’ve heard reports that some cab drivers have been refusing Virginia fares since the surcharge went into effect on Monday.
Crystal City resident David Hyde says his wife had trouble catching a cab from George Washington University Hospital to their apartment yesterday morning.
“Three different cabs refused to take her after they rolled down the window and heard her destination,” he said. “I assume this is because they don’t get the fuel surcharge for Virginia trips.”
It is against D.C. taxi regulations for a cab driver to refuse a fare due to their destination.