County Government Open on Columbus Day — Even though it’s a federal holiday, Arlington County government offices will be open for Columbus Day on Monday. Courts, DMV offices, the Sheriff’s Office and other state-related offices will be closed. Arlington Public Schools will be closed for a teacher work day. [Arlington County]
Antique Plane Fly-Over — About 30 World War II-era planes will be flying over the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery around
12:30 p.m. today 11:55 a.m. Saturday. [WTOP]
Higher Charges for DCA Passengers? — Reagan National Airport is expected to have its traffic increase by another two million passengers next year, while overtaking both Dulles and BWI in passengers by the end of this year. To help keep up with the growth, and perhaps encourage use of the recently-upgraded Dulles International Airport instead, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering an increase of the passenger fee at DCA from $4.50 to $8.50. [WTOP]
Metrorail Ridership Continues to Slide — Ridership on Metrorail is continuing its five-year-slide. Ridership has slipped from a high of 225 million annual trips in 2009 to just over 200 million annual trips now. A shrinking federal workforce, increased telecommuting and increased bike and bus commuting are said to be the main drivers of the decrease. [Washington City Paper]
Office Buildings as Schools — Converting older office buildings into schools is increasingly being eyed as a two-fold solution to office vacancies and a school capacity crunch in Northern Virginia. In Falls Church, a five-story office building was converted into an elementary school — although a full gymnasium has yet to be built. [Washington Post]
‘Historic’ Garage Move Considered — Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will meet on Wednesday and consider a proposal to move a “historic garage” from county property onto the now privately-owned Fraber House site in Cherrydale. Preservationists might not be thrilled about the move, which would also require the removal of an oak tree. “Historic preservation advocates had wanted the county to draw the historic district line around the garage so that this wouldn’t have to happen… oh well,” one tipster told ARLnow.com. [PDF]
Photo courtesy @ClarendonScene
The FAA announced in April that it was considering changing the regulations around airports to accommodate “one engine inoperative” planes — aircrafts that have an engine fail on takeoff and can’t ascend into the air as fast. The new rule, if passed, would restrict the heights of buildings in the area surrounding airports, which could impact redevelopment in Rosslyn and Crystal City.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan sent a letter in July to the FAA stating the county’s opposition to the rule change. In the letter, she wrote “we share the FAA’s interest in ensuring that air navigation in and around airports is safe, with appropriate plans and procedures in place to account for emergency situations.”
“At the same time, Arlington is committed to our long-established smart growth and transit-oriented development policies, which includes creating mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods around investments in transit,” Donnellan continued. “Therefore, we share the view of other potentially-affected communities that the impacts be thoroughly evaluated through the formal rule-making process before any change is made.”
The Civic Federation, a county-wide organization made up of delegates from more than 80 civic and resident associations, could vote on a motion at its meeting Oct. 7 to oppose Donnellan’s letter, made by retired U.S. Navy Pilot Jim Pebley, a Civic Federation delegate. Pebley said Donnellan made only a cursory “head-nod” to safety, instead prioritizing economic development.
“If the FAA delays adopting the proposed rule, buildings in Rosslyn could soon grow past 450 feet,” Pebley said to the County Board this week. “That gives pilots flying a disabled plane two bad choices: try to clear the buildings or turn early and cross over central Arlington… Madam Manager, your letter’s head-nod towards safety and argument about the rule change’s economic impact on smart growth is not the responseI’d hoped my County would make. You know, having a ‘downtown’ airport comes with economic benefits and safety responsibilities. You can’t have an urban airport and unlimited development crowding airliners.”
Pebley’s resolution would “urge” Arlington County government to work with the FAA on building height safety regulations instead of trying to fight such regulations.
The FAA introduced the change as a “proposed policy,” which, according to Rep. Jim Moran, meant the administration could circumvent the typical rule-making procedures, including a cost-benefit analysis by the federal Office of Management and Budget. Moran said the proposed policy was written to allow airlines to overload plans with cargo and passengers, because a plane hitting a building with one engine out of commission “never happens.”
“The airlines and the airports authority are acting out of greed,” Moran said in May. “It’s self-centered on their part. It’s disappointing and it should be stopped in my view. I’m just asking that they go through the normal, standard rule-making procedure where you look at the real-world impact, but they don’t want to consider what the economic impact would be in surrounding communities because their stovepipe attitude is they exist for the benefit of the airlines.”
The Civic Federation meets Tuesday, Oct. 7. If the FAA policy were passed, buildings already built would not be affected — about 170 in Arlington, Moran said — but, if they were to be redeveloped, they would have to be built shorter than they are now.
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates DCA and Dulles International Airport, announced today that it would be opening five new restaurants, including Kapnos Taverna, a Greek restaurant also planning to open in Ballston, and Clarendon’s upscale sports bar, Bracket Room.
The five eateries will go with recently opened Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafood, Vineyard Vines, American Tap Room and Pinkberry, plus under construction Taylor Gourmet, &pizza and Grille District as part of MWAA’s efforts to spruce up the airport’s food options.
“From the beginning of the Concessions Redevelopment Program at Reagan and Dulles, the Airports Authority has been committed to enhancing the passenger experience at both Reagan and Dulles,” Steve Baker, MWAA’s vice president of business administration, said in a press release. “Whether passengers are looking to recharge themselves or their cell phones, we are providing bright, enticing opportunities with exceptional service for our customers’ shopping and dining pleasure.”
In addition to the new food options, MWAA is planning to overhaul three food courts, at Terminal B (gates 10-22), Terminal B/C (gates 23-34) and Terminal C (gates 35-45). Each food court will offer “grab and go snacks,” alcohol and express eating options, like Say Si Bon Gourmet Market, crêpe shop Magic Pan and Asian shop Wow Bao. The food courts will be similar, MWAA says, to the larger redevelopment that is underway at Terminal A.
Metro Work This Weekend — Arlington’s Metro lines will be impacted by significant maintenance work this weekend. Riders on the Orange Line should expect trains to run every 24 minutes, while trains on the Blue Line will run every 20 minutes. The Yellow Line, meanwhile, will only run between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square. [WMATA]
Bracket Room Expanding to DCA — Bracket Room, the upscale sports bar in Clarendon that opened last summer, is expanding with locations in Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. “The two new restaurants will mirror the Arlington location’s upscale, stylish environment complete with infinity-edge televisions making it the ideal spot to grab a meal and watch a game while waiting for a flight,” according to a press release. No word on an opening date. [PRWeb]
Library Lit Ball Will Have 007 Theme — Library boosters Friends of the Arlington Public Library are planning a James Bond theme for the group’s second annual “Lit Up Ball” fundraiser. The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 18 at Artisphere and will benefit the library’s early literacy initiatives. Tickets are $30. [Friends of the Arlington Public Library]
Clarendon Apple Store Camper — Someone is already camping in front of the Clarendon Apple Store, in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s launch of the iPhone 6. [Twitter]
APS To Use ‘Big Data’ to Prevent Dropouts — Arlington Public Schools held a contest this summer for “big data” companies to analyze its student performance data, and plans to use the newly-released results to predict which students are at risk of dropping out of school. The winning company, Deep Learning Analytics, found that APS should refine its data collecting techniques. In addition, it found that, along with attendance, behavior and coursework, socioeconomic standing is a predictive indicator for school dropouts. [Arlington Public Schools]
Military Jet to Land at DCA — The Scorpion, a new military fighter jet, will land at Reagan National Airport on Saturday. The jet — manufactured by Textron AirLand LLC — will stay in a DCA hangar for a week, for marketing purposes. [InsideNova]
County Launches New Blog — Arlington County has launched “Natural Arlington,” a new blog to discuss environmental issues in the county. Recent topics include a discussion of green frogs, the environmental issues with dog poop, and a post about the sale of native plants at local nurseries. [Natural Arlington]
Road Closure for Street Fair — Part of 9th Street S. will be closed in the area of Walter Reed Drive for the annual Prio Bangla Potho Mela street fair. The event is taking place Saturday morning. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bill Ross
Windsor was a rescue technician aboard the U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter on Jan. 13, 1982, when Flight 90, taking off from National Airport during a snowstorm, lost altitude and crashed into the bridge before plunging into the icy Potomac River.
With roads clogged due to the snowstorm, emergency crews had trouble reaching the crash site, and those that did were ill-equipped to rescue the survivors from the water. Windsor and Eagle 1 pilot Donald Usher arrived less than 20 minutes after the crash and began plucking survivors from the river and bringing them to shore.
In bad weather, with the helicopter skids at one point dipping into the water, Windsor and Usher’s efforts were daring — but ultimately pivotal in saving the lives of the five survivors. The rescues earned the pair a valor award from the Interior Department and the Carnegie Hero Fund medal.
Windsor, a Rockville native, most recently lived at Surfside Beach, S.C. He leaves behind his wife of 42 years, Maureen, several sons and daughters, 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.
Windsor was 74.
Seven Dems Line Up to Replace Brink — Seven Democrats are running for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Del. Bob Brink, who’s heading to the McAuliffe administration. The candidates, who will compete in a firehouse primary on Sunday, made their pitch to members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee at its meeting in Ballston last night. Also last night, Brink thanked ACDC members for their support over his 17 years in office. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post, InsideNova]
O’Leary to Retire Monday — County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, also speaking at last night’s meeting of Arlington Democrats, formally announced his retirement. O’Leary, who has served more than 30 years as county treasurer, touted his record of reducing tax delinquency rates, increasing the county’s return on financial investments, and improving customer service. His deputy, Carla de la Pava, will be sworn in as interim treasurer after O’Leary submits his resignation Monday. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]
Aurora Hills Babysitting Co-op Turns 50 — A babysitting co-op in Arlington’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Babysitting is free in the co-op, which requires members to contribute by babysitting each other’s children. [Washington Post]
SoberRide Returns for July 4 — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free taxi rides on Independence Day tomorrow through its SoberRide program. Revelers can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride home from 10:00 p.m. on July 4 through 4:00 a.m., as long as the fare is under $30. [WRAP]
DCA Warns of Long Lines — The Fourth of July holiday is expected to result in longer lines and wait times at Reagan National Airport this weekend. The airport is advising travelers to arrive two hours early, especially during its “peak travel times… typically during the early morning (5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.) and late afternoon (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).” There may also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Adding to the problems, the airport reports that some airlines are canceling flights due to Hurricane Arthur. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
JetBlue Adding Service from DCA — JetBlue Airlines will begin direct service from Reagan National Airport to Charleston, S.C.; Hartford, Conn.; and Nassau, Bahamas on June 19. On July 2 the airline will add a second daily flight between DCA and Tampa. [InsideNova]
Beyer Accused of Using Car Dealership Ads to Boost Campaign — Del. Patrick Hope is accusing fellow Democratic congressional candidate Don Beyer of trying to “buy an election” and increase his name recognition by increasing ad buys for his eponymous Don Beyer Volvo dealership. Hope’s campaign says radio station WAMU has pulled ads for Don Beyer Volvo until after the June 10 primary. [Blue Virginia]
Celebrity Spotting in Shirlington — Actor and director Beau Bridges was reportedly spotted having dinner at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington this past Friday night. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
The Federal Aviation Administration is considering a policy change that would lower the maximum allowable building heights near airports, a regulation that could severely hamper future development in Arlington’s urban centers of Rosslyn and Crystal City.
On April 28, the FAA formally announced it was considering changing the regulations regarding “One Engine Inoperative” safety procedures, the rules dictating precautions that should be taken in case one engine fails on a plane during takeoff.
This afternoon, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) introduced a bill that would require the FAA to put the policy change through “standard rulemaking procedure,” including a cost-benefit analysis by the federal Office of Management and Budget and studies by other agencies before taking effect. The FAA advertised the new rule as a “proposed policy,” which would circumvent the rulemaking procedure, Moran told ARLnow.com.
“The airlines and the airports authority are acting out of greed,” Moran said. “It’s self-centered on their part. It’s disappointing and it should be stopped in my view. I’m just asking that they go through the normal, standard rule-making procedure where you look at the real-world impact, but they don’t want to consider what the economic impact would be in surrounding communities because their stovepipe attitude is they exist for the benefit of the airlines.”
Moran said the regulations are unnecessary as it stands because, unless commercial planes are overloaded, they can ascend well enough to clear the current maximum height restrictions.
“There are millions of flights that go in and out of our airports and it never happens,” Moran, referencing the threat of a One Engine Inoperative situation that leads to a crash into a building. “The reason for this rule change is that they want to make more money by overloading the planes with cargo, passengers and fuel… They need to exercise some restraint so that if one engine was to become inoperable they could continue climbing.”
According to Moran, almost 170 structures in Virginia, largely in Crystal City and Rosslyn, would be impacted by the regulation. While the buildings that are currently built would not be affected, any redevelopment would have to come in the form of shorter buildings, meaning the property values of current buildings could plummet.
It’s unclear at this point what the new maximum height for the buildings would be, according to Moran’s office, but it’s likely buildings like 1812 N. Moore Street and the under-construction Central Place would exceed it. Crystal City especially could be hurt, Moran said, because of the vacant buildings that are in line for redevelopment after the military’s Base Realignment and Closure Act rendered many of them vacant.
“[The policy] would stop any high-rise redevelopment,” Moran said. “If you’re going to make the public investment in Metro, you’ve got to have the high-rise, high-density development around it to pay for it. This would prohibit that.”
Moran’s co-sponsors on the bill are Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). The bipartisan-supported bill could slow the regulatory process significantly if it passes, Moran said. The FAA advertisement solicits public comment for 60 days, after which it could proceed to implement it. If the bill passes, the process would likely take more than a year.
“I think we’ve got a shot at it,” Moran said. “Frankly, I think the real impact of the bill is going to be to alert FAA that there is a lot of congressional resistance to what they want, and they’ll take it into their own hands and go through the normal procedure.”
Sweet Leaf Cafe Coming to Ballston – Sweet Leaf Cafe will be opening a second Arlington location. In addition to the existing Courthouse location, the local salad and sandwich chain will be opening a new cafe at 650 N. Quincy Street in Ballston, on the ground floor of the Residence Inn hotel. [Washington Business Journal]
Businesses Optimistic About County Ombudsman – Local businesses and developers hope that the appointment of assistant county manager Shannon Flanagan-Watson as Arlington County’s “business ombudsman” is another sign that that the county is serious about cutting red tape and being friendlier to business interests. [InsideNoVa]
GGW Blasts Streetcar Referendum Idea – Greater Greater Washington writer Canaan Merchant says that the Columbia Pike streetcar referendum proposal floated last week by Congressional candidate Del. Patrick Hope and County Board candidate Alan Howze is “pointless and possibly destructive.” [Greater Greater Washington]
TSA Opens Pre-Check Office in DCA – The Transportation Security Administration has opened a Pre-Check enrollment center at Reagan National Airport. The Pre-Check program allows “known travelers” who sign up to go through expedited screening lines at the airport. [Washington Post]
County to Provide Super Stop Update – County officials this afternoon will be holding a media briefing to provide an update into the comprehensive review into the $1 million “Super Stop” bus stop. Construction of the other 23 planned Super Stops is on hold while the county reviews cost and functionality concerns associated with the first Super Stop.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Arlington Has Highest Tax Burden for the Poor — Arlington County has the highest tax burden for low income people in the D.C. area, according to a new study. In response, County Board Chair Jay Fisette suggested that the higher taxes go to providing more services, like affordable housing and better public schools, compared to other jurisdictions. [WAMU]
Op-Ed: Lower The Tax Rate — Local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki says that the the County Board should reduce the property tax rate by 1.5 cents by utilizing part of the $37.1 million in unspent funds left over from Fiscal Year 2014. Kubicki suggests calling the tax rate reduction a “Vihstadt Dividend.” [InsideNoVa]
National Issues Didn’t Help Dems in Local Race — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze and his allies tried to corner opponent John Vihstadt on issues like Medicaid and his past support of Republican candidates. But it didn’t work, and Vihstadt was elected in a virtual landslide, the first non-Democrat on the County Board in 15 years. Concludes “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark: “Superimposing state and national ideological issue tests on genuine local disputes won’t trump voter focus on the individual candidates’ qualifications and clarity of message.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Venture Fund Founder on Crystal City — Paul Singh, founder of the new $50 million Crystal Tech Fund, which will focus its investments on post-seed stage tech companies, talked to a reporter about why he chose to locate the fund in Crystal City. He said Crystal City is an “attractive” location for tech company founders because of Metro access and airport proximity, along with “great restaurants and great living environments.” [Washington Post]
National Airport Cab Fares May Rise – The cost of taking a cab from Reagan National Airport may rise starting in September. The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering raising the dispatch fee for cabs picking up passengers from $2.50 to $3 per trip. The board is also considering a requirement that all cabs accept credit cards. [InsideNoVa]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The list of new restaurants and retailers coming to Reagan National Airport continues to grow.
Taylor Gourmet, &pizza, a politically themed restaurant named Grille District and a new Starbucks location are expected to open in Terminal B and C by the end of the year, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced this week. That’s in additional to the under-construction Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafoods, American Tap Room, Vineyard Vines, Pinkberry and Lacoste, which are expected to open within the next few months.
Along with the retail additions, Terminal A, which has been in the process of renovating, will complete its redesign by the spring of 2015, according to MWAA. The terminal will have a full-service spa, expanded security checkpoints, publicly accessible iPads and charging stations as well as yet-to-be-announced new retail and restaurant options.
The combined efforts go along with MWAA’s goal to either convert or reconstruct 95 percent of all restaurant and retail options at DCA and Dulles Airports.
Photos courtesy MWAA
The light snow has, however, caused some flight delays at Reagan National Airport.
Inbound flights are being delayed an average of 52 minutes at their origin, according to Flight Aware. Departure delays are averaging about 45 minutes.
Few other snow-related problems have been reported in Arlington. The National Weather Service, meanwhile, has upped its predicted snow total a bit.
… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING…
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW.
* ACCUMULATIONS… 2 TO 4 INCHES.
* TIMING… SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH EARLY EVENING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS EXPECTED LATE THIS MORNING INTO THE MID AFTERNOON.
* TEMPERATURES… AROUND 30 THIS MORNING… RISING INTO THE LOWER TO MID 30S THIS AFTERNOON.
* WINDS… SOUTHEAST 5 TO 10 MPH… BECOMING NORTH 10 TO 15 MPH THIS EVENING.
* IMPACTS… ROADS WILL BE SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY IN SOME AREAS THIS MORNING. MOST SURFACES WILL BECOME WET AND SLUSHY THIS AFTERNOON WITH TEMPERATURES RISING ABOVE FREEZING.
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES… AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.
H-B Parents Peeved By Document Disappearance — Some parents of H-B Woodlawn students are up in arms after three documents that questioned a proposal to move the secondary program to a new building disappeared from an Arlington Public Schools website. One parent called the removal of the documents “heavy-handed and disturbing.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Man Charged With Fairfax Sex Assault — Sloan Wilson Rappoport, a 44-year-old Arlington resident and former George W. Bush administration official, has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman he met at a Bailey’s Crossroads clothing store. Police say Rappoport invited the woman into his Mercedes-Benz, then drove to a nearby location and sexually assaulted her. [Washington Post]
Clement to Run for School Board — Perennial Green Party candidate Audrey Clement is planning on running for Arlington School Board. Currently running in the race are three candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement: Barbara Kanninen, Greg Greeley and Nancy Van Doren. [InsideNoVa]
Airline Changes at DCA — As a result of changes related to the American Airlines/US Airways merger, JetBlue, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines will all be expanding their presence at Reagan National Airport. [MWAA]
Endorsements for Howze, Vihstadt — Arlington County Board candidates Alan Howze (D) and John Vihstadt (I) have picked up notable endorsements in the past week. Howze has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, which says he has a “depth of knowledge and understanding of key environmental issues facing the County.” Vihstadt has been endorsed by the local firefighters union, which says it shares Vihstadt’s spending priorities — an emphasis on core services and opposition to projects like the streetcar and the aquatics center.
Will Arlington Regret HOT Lanes Opposition? – Writing about what may be the area’s “worst commute” — from Fredericksburg to the District via I-95 and I-395 — highway historian Earl Swift suggests that Arlington may ultimately regret its opposition to HOT lanes on I-395. Running HOT lanes from I-95 to just before Arlington on I-395 “could spawn new and fearsome jams on I-395, choking Arlington County with the exhaust of idling legions of cars,” Swift writes. “The HOT lanes could be so popular, and inspire so fierce a public demand for their extension to the Potomac, that talks between state and county resume.” [Atlantic Cities, Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Airlines to Drop 17 Nonstop Flights at DCA — American Airlines and US Airways are dropping nonstop service to 17 cities — including Detroit, San Diego, Minneapolis, Myrtle Beach and Nassau, Bahamas — from Reagan National Airport. The move is part of a deal with the government that was struck in order to win approval for the merger of the two airlines. [WJLA/Associated Press]
Preservationists Worry About Home Tear-Downs — The pace of home tear-downs in Arlington has been steadily rising over the past five years. Preservation Arlington says 179 houses, out of the county’s stock of 28,400 single-family homes, received permits to be torn down in 2013. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” the group said in a blog post. [Washington Post, Preservation Arlington]
Rich Getting Richer Faster in North Arlington — The northern-most parts of Arlington, along the Fairfax County border, have seen a dramatic 25+ percent rise in incomes over $200,000 in the past decade or so. That far out-paced areas along Arlington’s Metro corridors. [Patch]
Volunteers Needed for Homeless Census — Volunteers are being sought for the annual “Point in Time” count of homeless individuals in Arlington County. The count will take place this year between Jan. 29-30. [Volunteer Arlington]
Photo courtesy @flyidca