A majority of Arlington residents between the ages of 25 and 34 say they are likely to leave the county within five years because of the cost of housing, according to a county-sponsored survey.
According to the survey, which polled 1,744 Arlington residents, 60 percent of 25-34 year olds responded “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to the question: “In the next five years or so, how likely is it you will have to move out of Arlington because you would not have the kind of housing you want at the price you can afford?”
Thirty-four percent of respondents said it was “very likely” they would move away.
The survey is a component of the county’s ongoing affordable housing study, which launched in July 2012 and is being run by Arlington’s Affordable Housing Working Group. Michael Spotts, the vice chair of the working group, said the high cost of housing in Arlington is an impediment to those hoping to start families here.
“It was a little surprising to me,” Spotts, 30, said about the survey results, “but I think whether [current 25-34 year olds moving out of Arlington] will actually happen depends a lot on how consumer preferences change moving forward.
“I’m a millennial myself and my wife and I live in Arlington, and we bought a house in Arlington and are very happy here,” Spotts continued. “I think it was a little surprising, but given how expensive it is, especially as people get older and start a family, it’s not particularly surprising.”
According to the study, 39 percent of the 25-34 age range said they want to buy a home at some point in the future, and Arlington is out of their price range. The study also included the figures on which ARLnow.com reported earlier this week that suggested residents generally approve of the Arlington County Board’s affordable housing policies and priorities.
County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes is the Board’s liaison to the working group, and she presented the survey to the Board last week. While Hynes said everyone is aware of the housing struggle in Arlington, even she was surprised that so many younger residents were planning to leave.
“The numbers do jump out at you,” Hynes told ARLnow.com on the phone from Los Angeles yesterday. “It is one of the reasons we’re being so proactive around housing, because we know it’s a challenge for people. It’s not just a challenge for Arlington, it’s a challenge for the whole region.”
The same question about moving within five years, when asked to minority groups, received a lower but still high “likely” response.
Forty percent of Hispanic respondents and 50 percent of African Americans said they were somewhat or very likely to leave Arlington within five years due to housing costs. The lowest “likely” response came from current property owners, at 28 percent.
The region’s economic prosperity is generally viewed as the main factor that housing prices have escalated to the point where such a study is even worthwhile, but Spotts said Arlington may have inadvertently contributed to its own predicament.
“One of the things that a lot of people, generally speaking, would find surprising is that all of the things that go into the county that make it great are also things that can add cost to housing,” Spotts, who studies affordable housing policy as his career, said. “You want to protect your parkland and streams, and there’s a direct cost of those elements in terms of maintaining green space, but there’s also sort of an indirect cost. If you’re restricting some of the housing you can build because of other goals, then that drives up the cost of housing.”
‘Republican’ Not Found on GOP Candidate’s Signs — Republican candidate Dave Foster, who’s running to represent the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, has a notable addition and omission on his campaign signs. Foster’s signs include a union label, but do not include the word “Republican.” Foster will face Democrat Rip Sullivan in a special election on Aug. 19. [InsideNova]
Arlington Transportation ‘What Ifs’ — Three shelved transportation proposals could have had a big impact on Arlington over the past 50 years. One would have seen a new 22-mile Blue Line built through Arlington, under the Potomac via a new tunnel, to Georgetown and eventually to RFK stadium. Another would have converted Route 1 through Crystal City to “Interstate 595.” A third would have built a new bridge from Spout Run Parkway to Georgetown. [Washington Post]
Clarendon ‘Good Morning Guy’ Profiled — Robert Gordon, the Express newspaper distributor who excitedly wishes Metrorail commuters in Clarendon a good morning on weekdays, says his is “the best job I can ever have in the world.” [WJLA]
Blues and Brews in Crystal City Tonight — Clarence “Bluesman” Turner is scheduled to perform in Crystal City tonight for the monthly summer “Blues and Brews” concert. The event, in the courtyard of 2121 Crystal Drive, also features a craft beer garden. [Crystal City]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
According to a survey, cited during last week’s County Board meeting, 65 percent of 1,744 respondents believe it’s “very important” to help senior citizens age in place. Meanwhile, 60 percent believe affordable housing options for the county’s workforce are “very important,” and 58 percent believe it’s important for “moderate and low-income families with children in public schools” to have affordable housing options.
When “very important” answers were combined with “somewhat important,” those figures jump to 92 percent, 88 percent and 90 percent, respectively.
The survey, which was conducted in English and Spanish, is a component of the county’s ongoing affordable housing study, which was launched in July 2012. The study’s recent work includes a review of best practices, a preliminary report on housing needs and a “complete assessment of strategies/program approaches, with community review.”
County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes said the survey revealed “strong support for what [the County Board] has been doing.” She also said that the survey wasn’t an attempt to “duplicate census information,” but rather measure the priorities of the community.
“We were instead trying to find out what people thought about how housing is at the moment in Arlington,” she said. “As well as their attitudes about housing objectives and policies that this board has been pursuing… It’s good validation for us, and really helpful information for our group as they continue to work on refining what will become, we hope, a comprehensive plan.”
The study weighed residents’ opinions on the county’s affordable housing policies. Forty-six percent of respondents “strongly favor” Arlington’s affordable housing ordinance — which allows developers bonus density if they dedicate affordable housing units or donate to the county’s affordable housing fund — while 44 percent strongly favor the county’s affordable housing grant program. Twenty-four percent of survey takers either somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the affordable housing ordinance.
The County Board is expected reveal more survey results at its September meeting. Another phase of the affordable housing study is expected to conclude in June 2015.
Arlington County dedicates about 5 percent of its non-school budget to affordable housing investment.
Morgan Fecto contributed to this report
A month after a particularly rowdy St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl this year, the county announced in April that it’s exploring the idea of establishing new regulations for pub crawls, perhaps also providing a bigger police presence and making crawl organizers pay for the police and medical support.
Meanwhile, the county has created an online survey, asking those who live and work in Arlington for their thoughts on setting a time limit for bar crawls; a cap on the number of bar crawls per year, per month or per neighborhood; and who should pay for police, fire department and street cleaning services.
The one area where there is nearly universal agreement: bar crawl organizers, not the county, should pay for the added police, fire/EMS and street cleaning services.
There was also a free-response section for “other views and suggestions” on bar crawls. Opponents of the bar crawls — who seem to outnumber those who support such events in the survey’s “responses” section — didn’t hold back.
Excerpts of some of their responses:
- “Bar crawl participants should be prohibited from entering residential areas adjacent to the commercial area where the bar crawl occurs, unless they (1) can demonstrate they live there, or (2) have parked there and pass a breathalyzer test.”
- “Beer bottles in my yard; drunks found sleeping on neighbors’ porches… I think the hours of the crawl need to be limited… much, much too long.”
- “‘Bar crawling’ needs to be sharply curtailed. The noise and public urination at these events lowers property values, resulting in lower tax revenues for the County. Even worse, the binge drinking that occurs at these events can prove fatal to the drinker.”
- “I am shocked that our county board promotes public drunks and for MONEY no less… What kind of a reputation does that render?”
- “Organizers should need to obtain a license/permit to hold such an event, and that should cost money. “
- “We are not U St (I don’t want to live there), so an overabundance of large professional bar crawls would not be pleasant for those who have lived here for a while. I would be more in favor of an event where they shut down streets where the crawls are located, hopefully making it safer for both drivers and revelers.”
- “I think these are totally inappropriate events. They encourage binge drinking, littering, public obscenity, assault, and other bad behavior. I have seen a group of 40-50 bar crawlers walking through my neighborhood (Lyon Park), directly in front of my yard in broad daylight. They were drinking from solo cups, swearing loudly and littering — and this was only on the way TO the event.”
- “We already have bar crawl participants throwing up on lawns in the Clarendon area. It is unfair to expect people who live nearby to absorb this level of nuisance. Bar crawls also model bad behavior for Arlington teens.”
- “My main concern with bar crawls isn’t the crawls themselves (although they have an annoying impact on parking availability), its the long-term impact they may have on the character of the business’ that move into the area. There’s been a trend over the last few years for restaurants to close down and be replaced by ‘sports bars’ and other establishments dedicated solely to getting smashed.”
- “Residents with or without kids should not have to put up with the additional late night noise and other nonsense (fights, vomit, public urination, black outs requiring paramedics, petty property crimes) that can reasonably be expected to happen from time to time when dealing with groups of drunken pub crawlers.”
- “The police and fire/EMS are busy enough on regular weekends and holidays without adding unnecessary insanity and work. Actually, the more I think about this, the more I think we don’t need bar crawls at all. They’re more of a headache than they’re worth.”
There were also comments generally supportive of bar crawls:
The number of homeless individuals — adults without children on the street or in one of the county’s shelters — dropped from 268 to 178 from 2013 to this year, a 34 percent decrease, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which published the report.
The Arlington Department of Human Services coordinated the local study, and staff and volunteers with the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) performed the field work. The number of chronically homeless in Arlington fell 52 percent from the 2013 survey, from 156 to 74. The number of homeless families in Arlington also dropped 46 percent, but the county explained in its press release that some families who were counted as homeless in the study last year no longer fit the homeless criteria.
Arlington’s homelessness officials warn that, while the numbers are undoubtedly encouraging, observers shouldn’t give too much credence to a “point-in-time” count. The survey was conducted the night of Jan. 29 this year, when temperatures dipped down to 13 degrees overnight.
“Some people may be homeless and we may not be able to count them,” Jan-Michael Sacharko, director of development for A-SPAN told ARLnow.com. “We did find abandoned tents or places that used to be used for shelter. People might have rented a hotel room for the night or pooled resources with each other for shelter.”
The survey is conducted to comply with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s snapshot surveys. HUD changed their methodology this year, requiring localities to conduct the study overnight, where previously it was conducted from sunup to sundown, Sacharko said.
The COG’s report said the cold may have “depressed the unsheltered count,” but Sacharko doesn’t think the numbers should be disregarded entirely. To give an idea of just how harsh the winter was, Sacharko said the Emergency Winter Shelter opened for full days 30 times this winter, compared to just eight times in 2013.
“We don’t know the exact numbers, but we know we’ve reduced the [homeless] population,” he said. “There’s definitely been a reduction in the number. There are definitely more people getting into housing.”
In addition to A-SPAN’s volunteer efforts, Sacharko credited Arlington’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and the 100 Homes Campaign, which places previously homeless individuals and families into permanent housing, for the reduction.
“The point-in-time count is one of several important indicators we use to gauge progress in the effort to prevent and end homelessness in our community,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in the press release announcing the study. “There is still much work to do, but I commend the organizations and individuals who have played a role in this effort.”
(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Arlington will be rolling out a pilot program for S. Eads Street this fall that will give residents an idea of what the future of the Pentagon City/Crystal City corridor will look like for years to come.
The county has decided that the four-lane road, which runs parallel to Jefferson Davis Highway from Army Navy Drive to Four Mile Run, is unnecessarily wide, and should be changed to a three-lane road — the center lane for left turns — with increased pedestrian and bicycle amenities.
The county’s Department of Environmental Services recently released a survey asking residents which plan for S. Eads Street they prefer: a regular bike lane with a buffer and a larger parking lane, a street-level “cycle” track with a physical buffer, or a “raised cycle track” with a larger barrier less space for both parked and driving cars. The survey will be open until June 18.
“The reallocation of the available street space allows for other uses such as widened sidewalks, bicycle facilities, pedestrian median refuges, and on-street parking, all to meet the existing and future needs of S. Eads Street,” the county writes at the beginning of the survey. “This pilot program will include many elements that may be included in the final design of S. Eads Street. During the pilot, various aspects of roadway operations will be monitored, including travel times and vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts.”
The pilot program this fall will reduce the traffic to three lanes and institute a “protected bike facility,” as well as increased pedestrian crossings and reconfigured parking. The program will be installed between 15th Street and 23rd Street S., according to DES spokesman Eric Balliet, and most closely resemble “Option 2,” which includes the street-level cycle track. Balliet said the dimensions of the program will differ from those presented as the long-term Option 2 changes.
The Crystal City Sector Plan calls for increased density along parts of S. Eads Street closer to Army Navy Drive, which is also a part of the alignment for the Crystal City streetcar. There will be a meeting for residents to discuss their thoughts and concerns over the future of S. Eads Street on Wednesday, May 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the Aurora Highlands Community Center (735 18th Street S.).
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Arlington County surveyed more than 250 residents, workers and visitors to Courthouse Square to assess public opinion of the area’s future.
The survey was conducted as part of the county’s “Envision Courthouse Square” initiative, which is trying to get the public involved in the process of planning the future development of the 9-acre area surrounding the county’s large surface parking lot.
That lot in particular was the subject of many survey respondent’s suggestions, who desire to see it become an underground parking lot with a different use for the surface area up top.
“I live in the neighborhood, so for me the parking is a waste,” one respondent said. “However I recognize the need for parking near the courthouse and government buildings to serve other residents of Arlington. I would think that an underground parking structure with a public space on top would be the best way to balance these needs.”
“Please underground the parking,” another said. “The surface parking detracts from the neighborhood’s streetscape. We should create a walkable environment that encourages visitors to utilize Arlington’s multimodal options.”
More than 13 percent of respondents listed “market events” as their preferred future use of open space in Courthouse Square, followed by 12.2 percent in favor of outdoor movies and evening events. Social gathering and social seating received 11.7 and 9.8 percent of the vote, respectively.
When asked if public events, celebrations and demonstrations should be encouraged in Courthouse Square, 73.1 percent of those asked answered, “yes,” but some said they worried the events would benefit only those from other areas.
“Courthouse Square should be a place for those who live there or nearby to enjoy the open space,” one response said, “not an area for out of towners or others to use to hold political events.”
Of the “yes” answers, many cited Courthouse’s civic identity as a reason to encourage First Amendment expression in the open spaces.
“It should be celebrated as THE civic space in Arlington,” one answer said. Another respondent said only, “Because America, that’s why.”
A majority, 53 percent of respondents said Courthouse Square should be a “beacon” for all of Arlington, while 29 percent said it should be mostly designed for the surrounding neighborhood. Only 17 percent said it should be designed for use by the entire D.C. metro area or region.
“Courthouse does not currently have much of neighborhood feel,” said one of the “neighborhood” respondents. “It is nice to feel some smaller community in a large city. New York City neighborhoods have this and it makes them unique. It also draws people from other places to experience their unique aspects.”
“We all have plenty of regional attractions,” said a respondent who thought Courthouse should be designed for all of Arlington. “[We] need to develop sense of place — Arlington specific, beyond just being across river from D.C.”
Said another: “Arlington needs a town center. An identity. A place people can say ‘I’ll meet you on the town square.’ Arlington lacks that now — and I think that harms our identity and cohesiveness.”
Clarendon Center Wins Architectural Award — The Clarendon Center development has won a 2013 Charter Award, which is a global architectural award for excellence in urban design. The building straddles the 3000 block of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. Clarendon Center was highlighted for being an example of walkable urban density in a suburban context and for its use of Art Deco styling. [Congress for the New Urbanism]
Arlington Transit Bus Survey — Arlington Transit is asking residents to fill out an online survey regarding the county’s bus service. Survey respondents are asked to suggest improvements for ART and Metrobus service. The information will help shape updates to the county’s six-year Transit Development Plan. The survey closes on Friday, June 28. [Arlington Transit]
Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony on Friday — Twenty-nine students from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax will be honored at Friday’s Dream Scholarship award ceremony. Undocumented students in good academic standing qualify for the scholarship if they or one of their parents were born outside of the United States, and the student will attend an accredited college or university. The ceremony takes place on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the Arlington Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street). [Facebook]
Arlington Assists With Falls Church Barricade — The Arlington County Police Department’s SWAT team relieved the Fairfax County SWAT team overnight at the scene of a barricade situation on Hillwood Avenue in Falls Church. Despite efforts to coax him out, an armed man remains in a Hillwood Avenue house, in a standoff with police. Alexandria’s SWAT team is now relieving Arlington’s team, ARLnow.com is told. Paramedics from the Arlington County Fire Department are also on the scene. [WTOP]
Survey: More Residents Will Ride Streetcar — According to a survey cited by Arlington County officials, 60 percent of area residents say they will never take the bus, while 60 percent of residents say they’re willing to try a streetcar. In an ARLnow.com survey on Friday, just over 50 percent of respondents said they would prefer a streetcar on Columbia Pike, versus bus options. [Washington Post]
Citizen Seating at Bus Stops — A local resident has added plastic chairs to 10 bus stops along major thoroughfares in Arlington and Falls Church. The chairs demonstrate “a latent need for dignified seating at the region’s bus stops,” according to writer Matt Caywood. [Greater Greater Washington]
Leonsis on Kettler Iceplex – At the inaugural annual meeting of the new Ballston Business Improvement District, Washington Capitals owner and former top AOL executive Ted Leonsis said Ballston’s Kettler Capitals Iceplex is essential to the team. “I’m not sure if we [the Washington Capitals] would be able to keep MVP-caliber players, like [Alex] Ovechkin, without a facility like the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston,” Leonsis said.
This is the third time Arlington has done a Resident Satisfaction Survey; the first took place in 2004, with another in 2008. The county uses the results to target areas for improvement, and to figure out the public resources residents find most beneficial.
This year’s results showed that overall satisfaction with county services increased to 89 percent, up from 87 percent in 2008. Satisfaction with overall quality of life in Arlington increased from 87 percent in 2008 to 92 percent this year.
Some areas for improvement were also identified by the survey. By a wide margin, maintenance of county streets and management of traffic flow were identified by respondents as areas that are “most important for the County to improve.”
Other trouble areas where the county hopes to improve include quality of human services, management of smart growth practices, preserving affordable housing, preserving nature areas and enforcing traffic laws. There was also a lower satisfaction rating this year for the hours of library operation, which county staff hopes will be solved by an already-funded increase in library hours starting in July.
When compared against other communities of similar size Arlington came out 32 percentage points above the national average for satisfaction with county services.
“I’m pleased with the results of the survey. It shows we are clearly moving in the right direction — and that we need to continue to invest in our streets and infrastructure,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “Having objective data from the community on where we are doing well and where we need to improve is critical to our work.”
The survey was conducted in April by ETC Institute, and information was gathered via phone, internet and mail. More than 1,300 households participated. Full results are available online.
An online taxi survey has been set up to gather information about experiences with the cabs throughout Arlington. Residents, visitors and businesses are all encouraged to fill out the survey.
According to Richard Viola, the supervisor for the transportation planning section with Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, the county is in the midst of re-evaluating how many taxi certificates to issue. It’s a process that takes place every other year, and cab drivers must have a certificate to operate in the county.
Viola says the survey will help to determine how well the current system is working, and whether the public is interested in expanding the number of taxis available throughout the county. It will also help to point out areas in need of more cabs, or certain times when more would be beneficial.
“We want to make sure the right number of cabs are on the street,” Viola said. “Putting too many on the street could be detrimental. You’ll see them waiting, circling and creating more traffic. It also hurts the cab drivers because they don’t have enough business and can’t make a living.”
There are currently 765 taxis throughout Arlington. So far, there has never been a decrease in the number of certificates issued; most years the number holds fairly steady.
The survey will be available through the middle of June. Soon after that, a summary with the results will be released.
The survey is an effort to “measure residents’ satisfaction with major County services and to gather input about issues facing the community,” according to a press release. The survey asks residents to weigh in on a number of topics, including public safety, parks and recreation, public works, transportation, and human services. The survey also asks residents about their perceptions of Arlington County, how safe they feel in their neighborhood, and how they get news and information about Arlington.
A market research firm out of Kansas City is conducting the survey on behalf of the county by mailing survey forms to 3,600 randomly selected Arlington residents. An online version of this year’s survey is also available. Results from the survey will be published this summer on the Arlington County website.
The last survey, in 2008, concluded that 87 percent of residents were satisfied with the quality of county services and overall quality of life in Arlington. (See chart of specific satisfaction responses, above.)
“This important research will help us find out how we’re doing across many different service areas — and also pinpoint where we need to improve,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “The survey will provide information to guide future decision-making, long-range priorities, and strategic planning.”
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has launched a study, called the Super NoVA Transit/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Vision Plan, examining transit in Northern Virginia. It evaluates issues such as commuting patterns and projected travel demand for what is considered one of the most congested areas in the entire state.
The study will look at possible enhancements for transit and provide a vision for improving mobility throughout the region without increasing the number of vehicles occupied by only one person. When completed in the fall, the study will lay out short-term strategies along with long-term solutions through 2040.
Meetings are being held throughout Northern Virginia to explain the study and collect public input. DRPT will hold an open house on Tuesday at the Crystal City Shops from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in front of the Rite Aid Pharmacy (1671 Crystal Square Arcade).
An online survey is also available until March 1 for those who cannot attend the open house but would like to give feedback.
The 2011 ACCS WalkArlington Study gathered input from 985 respondents, and found that more than half walk daily throughout the community. 86% report making a trip entirely by walking at least twice a week.
The top reasons for walking include running errands and getting exercise. Commuting is another reason, with 56% of people saying they walk for at least part of their commute at least once a week.
In regards to safety, the county’s walkers aren’t overly concerned about crime, but worry about sharing the roads with vehicles. 54% say aggressive or inattentive drivers pose a safety threat to walkers.
WalkArlington is a county initiative aimed at getting people walking more for health, environmental and commuting benefits. 44% of survey respondents had heard of the initiative, but only 21% have used the organization’s services.
The survey found that two-thirds of respondents participated after seeing the request on ARLnow.com. Full survey results are available here.
Arlington County has concluded its annual vacuum leaf collection service.
Though the vacuum trucks have stopped running, Arlington will continue its biodegradable leaf bag collection service — which takes place on the next business day after your normal trash collection day — through Jan. 13.
The county is asking residents to fill out a survey to provide feedback about this year’s vacuum leaf collection.