In Arlington County, residents who own dogs must pay a for a license.
The license costs $10 per year or $25 for every three years. Despite the abundance of dogs in Arlington, the tax only brought in $59,664 from about 7,000 licensed dogs during a recent fiscal year, according to the Sun Gazette.
That has prompted enquiries from County Board member John Vihstadt.
It also led the president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, who fervently advocates for lower taxes, to suggest that the fee might be raised to help pay for the county’s dog parks.
What do you think should be done with the county’s dog license fee?
Today is Tax Day across the nation. Meanwhile, next week, the Arlington County Board will set the Fiscal Year 2016 real estate tax rate.
Last year, in advance of the Board’s FY 2015 budget vote, we asked what you think about the county’s tax rate.
Only 6.5 percent of respondents said the tax rate should be raised, while 27 percent said the tax rate should be held steady and 66.5 percent said it should be lowered.
(The Board ultimately lowered the rate from $1.006 per $100 in value to $0.996.)
This year, the Board advertised a tax rate of $1.011, giving itself the flexibility to raise the rate by up to 1.5 cents. Such a tax hike could be used to help fully fund schools, which are facing a $6.2 million funding gap.
On the other hand, because of higher residential assessments this year, the Board may consider lowering the rate to ease the increasing tax burden on homeowners.
What do you think should be done this year?
Last week a driver with Advanced Towing hooked a car at the CVS parking lot on Columbia Pike, before realizing that there were children inside. The driver unhooked the car but the car’s owner still told his story to a local TV station.
Towing has historically been a hot topic in Arlington. Last year we reported that food delivery vehicles were being towed off private property by Advanced. In past years it was towing fee increases, towing disputes and crimes against tow companies that have made headlines.
Then, last night, more towing drama: ESPN sportscaster Britt McHenry had her car towed by Advanced during dinner in Arlington. She was not happy about it.
Just got towed after eating dinner at an establishment in Arlington. How corrupt is Advanced Towing?
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) April 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom in the Hunan parking lot, where I ate dinner. On a Sunday night!
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) April 6, 2015
Apparently McHenry wasn’t the only television personality to be towed from that lot in Clarendon recently.
— Jummy ABC7 News (@JummyTV) April 6, 2015
Throughout it all, there’s typically a debate: are tow truck drivers predators who employ shady methods to tow your car away and collect your cash? Or are they simply doing the job that they’re hired to do: protecting private property owners from drivers who park on their lots against the property’s rules?
Inherent in that question is another question: when the towing company does mistakenly tow a car that parked without violating the rules, is it an honest mistake or a cynical “mistake.”
Putting aside the above cases in the Hunan lot, sometimes the emotions of being towed can cloud a simple fact: that you were, in fact, violating the property owner’s parking rules, no matter what was in the car or how short your intended stop.
What do you think?
Peak cherry blossom season begins soon, bringing hordes of admirers to the Tidal Basin.
Are you planning on fighting the crowds to see the District’s most famous grouping of trees, are you happy to see fewer trees elsewhere?
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
About 4-5 inches of snow fell in Arlington Monday night and Tuesday morning.
County crews worked throughout the night and day to clear primary and secondary roads, before starting to tackle neighborhood streets. Compared to past, disruptive snowstorms, they had some things working in their favor:
- The snow fell overnight, not during a rush hour
- It was predicted correctly well in advance
- It was a light, fluffy snow and, because the ground was already cold from the frigid weekend, there was minimal melting and refreezing
- Schools and the federal government closed for the day, limiting vehicle traffic
Regardless of the circumstances, how would you rate the county’s job in clearing the streets Tuesday?
Almost four years ago, we asked who the dating game in Arlington was more difficult for, men or women.
The question came after Bloomberg News declared that single women faced “long odds” in the D.C. area. By a slim majority — 53 percent to 47 percent — ARLnow.com readers said women had a harder time finding a suitable mate in Arlington.
Today, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, we’re posing the question again. But this time, a bit of additional information: while women are overrepresented in the District — 52.6 percent of the population in D.C. compared to the nationwide average of 50.8 percent — in Arlington women actually only comprise 49.9 percent of the population, according to 2013 census data.
So, if you have first-hand knowledge of the local dating scene, who has it worse, men or women?
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Two weeks ago, the Arlington County Board said “not now” to a planned elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
Opponents of the plan cheered the County Board’s action, saying that plans to build on the TJ site would eliminate land that could later be used as parkland. Arlington Public Schools will now go back and conduct more studies and community engagement in order to figure out how to deal with its capacity crisis in south Arlington.
Supporters of the school plan said delaying the construction of urgently needed school capacity could result in 45 new trailer classrooms next to south Arlington schools by 2018.
While the “Save TJ Park” group that opposed APS’ proposed placement of the school was the most vocal during the lead up to the County Board vote, those who supported the school are now making their voices better heard.
In a letter to the Sun Gazette, Arlington resident Nathan Zee writes that the County Board decision shows that there is “an unquestionable divide” between north and south Arlington.
“The County Board’s direction to APS to keep working with the community until consensus is reached is nothing short of a total absolution of leadership and decision-making responsibility,” Zee writes. “There could always be more planning, but the time to act was now.”
In order to find out (unscientifically) how the community as a whole feels, we’re putting it to a poll: do you support the County Board’s decision?
Robocall in County Board Primary — No candidate has officially announced for Arlington County Board yet, but one likely candidate is already doing some polling. Peter Fallon reportedly sponsored a “robocall” poll last night that asked questions about local issues important to the voter and whether the voter wants experience or a fresh face in this election cycle. [Blue Virginia]
Suspicious Item at Falls Church City Hall — Falls Church City Hall was evacuated yesterday evening due to a suspicious object found in the lobby. The Arlington County bomb squad investigated and determined that the object was “a training aid used by explosive K9 teams.” The building reopened around 8:15 p.m. [City of Falls Church]
Arlington Man Charged with Rape — A 33-year-old Arlington man has been charged with raping a Maryland woman in a Delaware hotel over the weekend. [News Journal]
Photo courtesy Peter Roof
Over on Greater Greater Washington, a mini debate is raging in the comments section about whether this Capital Bikeshare station (pictured, left) in Crystal City is a good idea.
It’s located on S. Eads Street at 23rd Street S, in what was previously a shared bike lane and vehicle travel lane (albeit one with a CaBi station on the side of the road). Now, the lane consists only of a protected bike lane and an in-street Capital Bikeshare station.
In support of the station, some say it has improved safety for cyclists while keeping the station off of the sidewalk. Also, it prevents conflict among drivers when two cars heading straight have to abruptly merge into one lane at the end of the intersection.
Those arguing against the station say it reduces lines of sight, making it harder for drivers to see cyclists and pedestrians crossing the intersection. It also is vulnerable to an errant driver and eliminates a lane used by cars turning onto 23rd Street. Finally, those returning and checking out bikes at the station may come into conflict with those using the bike lane.
Do you like or dislike the placement of the station?
(Updated at 9:40 p.m.) Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending that the county close the Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn after the first half of 2015.
Donnellan said Artisphere “has not lived up to projections” and would likely require substantial taxpayer support to stay open — more than $2 million per year.
Based on subsequent comments from County Board members, it appears that the Board is likely to adopt the manager’s recommendation next year.
Do you agree that Artisphere should close?
Arlington County has been trying to figure out how to better reach out to the hordes of young apartment-dwellers who make up a significant portion of the county’s population, but who are usually nowhere to be found during community meetings.
“It’s not always easy to reach certain parts of the community,” Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh says in a new county-produced video (above). “We’ve tried several methods over the years — community meetings in schools, in community centers — and typically the same people would come out each time. So what we decided we needed to do was try something different.”
To help design events and services tailored to the elusive mid-20s to mid-30s professional set — dubbed “Metro Renters” — county staff is taking an approach called “Design Thinking,” which builds a needs profile through interviews with members of a given group.
“Design Thinking is a system of methods and processes that uses a designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with what is feasible and viable,” explains Dept. of Environmental Services program manager Joan Kelsch.
Via interviews, the county developed the following profile of “Metro Renters.”
- They want their resources to be quick and convenient and are willing to pay top dollar if it fulfills their needs in a hurry
- They’re tech savvy and they can’t function without their mobile devices
- They’re highly educated with varied reading interests
- They listen to NPR on weekday mornings and track the news online all day
- They work hard and play hard
- Hanging out with friends is important
- They like good food
- Many don’t have cars so location is important
- They enjoy a quiet, relaxing environment for conversation with a friend
- Many are also interested in meeting potential life partners, so activities and places that give them something to do where they can meet new people with common interests are good
- They consider themselves hard working and busy people without a lot of free time, so anything they attend should have an immediate impact on their lives or otherwise be important to them
If you have first-hand familiarity with the “Metro Renter” set, how would you grade the county’s job of producing a broadly accurate profile of the average 25-35 year old Metro corridor renter in Arlington?
ARLnow.com is considering options for building a dedicated mobile app in 2015.
While we believe the experience of visiting ARLnow on a mobile browser is adequate for most users’ needs, there are certain enhancements that a mobile app could bring. For instance, features could include:
- Breaking news alerts
- Event calendar optimized for mobile
- Local-specific weather, traffic and/or transit info
- Instant deals/coupons at local businesses
If we built such an app, would you use it? Also, tell us in the comments if there are any other features you’d like to see.
Forecasters say above-freezing temperatures should preclude more than an inch or so of accumulation locally. Still, the storm has the potential to have a major impact on Thanksgiving travel from Washington to Boston on Wednesday.
If you’re planning to travel for the holiday, is the storm affecting your travel plans?
After years of planning, community meetings and debate, Arlington’s planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system was scuttled yesterday following a somber press conference and brief vote.
County Board Chair and streetcar supporter Jay Fisette said the voters had spoken in their election of streetcar opponent John Vihstadt, and “political realities” meant that the streetcar project must be derailed.
Do you agree with the decision?
Most explanations seem to center around concern about county spending projects. Among them: the delayed and increasingly expensive streetcar system, the indefinitely delayed $80+ million Long Bridge Park aquatics center, the delayed and occasionally problematic $1.6 million Clarendon dog park, and the delayed and occasionally problematic $1 million bus stop.
If you voted for Vihstadt, which of the following, if any, was foremost in your mind in the voting booth?