A car flipped on its side on a residential street near Washington-Lee High School this morning.
A Honda sedan was traveling eastbound on 15th Street N., near N. Vermont Street, when the driver hit the curb and part of a tree, causing the car to flip on its side. Airbags were deployed. The driver made it out of the car safely and was not reported to be injured.
The accident drew a small crowd of neighbors. As they looked on, a tow truck managed to use its wheel lift to push the Honda and flip it back on its wheels.
More photos, after the jump.
Election Day in Virginia — Voters are going to the polls in Virginia today to vote in a rare mid-August primary. In addition to the date, which was pushed back thanks to this year’s redistricting process, this year’s election is unique because it features “more Latino candidates on the ballot than ever before in General Assembly races… running for both Democratic and Republican nominations.” Arlington’s 51 polling places will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. [NBC Washington, Arlington County]
O’Leary Predicts High Turnout — Arlington County Treasurer and amateur election prognosticator Frank O’Leary believes that about 11,850 votes will be cast today, seven times the turnout of the 2007 primary. O’Leary based his projection on the number of absentee votes cast this year, which is higher than usual. [Sun Gazette]
Wedding Interrupted by Tow Truck — An Indian wedding procession in Ballston was interrupted over the weekend when the truck and trailer that transported the groom’s white horse to the area was towed from a parking lot. According to a witness, wedding organizers eventually talked the tow truck driver into dropping the truck. [ARLnow Forums]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
The political blog Blue Virginia points out that a $2,500 donation to County Board member Barbara Favola’s state Senate campaign from Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill, reported here last week, came just five days before a Board vote on increasing the county’s towing fee.
On April 26, the Board voted 3-2 to increase the trespass towing fee — collected by companies like Advanced Towing — from $115 to $125. Favola was one of the three to vote in favor of the fee increase.
“I do believe towing services are a necessary part of urban living,” she said at the time. “I feel that I also have to be fair to the towing operators.”
While the vote’s timing raises questions, it is consistent with the last vote Favola cast on towing. On May 16, 2009, she voted to increase the towing fee by $15.
Update at 1:10 p.m. — Favola’s Democratic primary opponent, Jaime Areizaga-Soto, has released a statement that renews his call for Favola to resign from the Board.
Barbara Favola has violated the Arlington County Code of Ethics. It is time for Barbara Favola to resign from the County Board and quit using her public position for political gain, this is the worst of politics and shows disrespect for the values that Democrats believe in and fight for.
Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey wrote on his blog today that he recently witnessed cars being towed and license plates recorded in the Campbell parking garage in Shirlington.
That would be a departure from the lax enforcement system that has been in place for a while. In January we reported that the Harris Teeter — which had just installed parking meters for its reserved spaces in the garage — was not planning on “actively” enforcing its parking rules at the time.
McCaffrey writes that he witnessed parking enforcement monitoring the one-hour-only, non-reserved spaces on the second level of the garage.
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) A reader sent us these photos, taken today at the intersection of N. Edgewood Street and Wilson Boulevard.
The tipster said he spotted an Advanced tow truck idling in a no parking zone close to the intersection, in front of the Clarendon Whole Foods. Upon closer inspection, he says he noticed that the driver was asleep and the engine was running. The truck sat there “for at least 45 minutes,” hindering the ability of Edgewood Street drivers to see cars and pedestrians coming up Wilson Boulevard, according to the tipster.
“If I did this I’d be towed,” he declared.
Board Approves Higher Towing Fees — It’s going to cost you an additional $10 if your car gets towed in Arlington. The County Board last night voted 3-2 to increase the maximum towing fee from $115 to $125, five dollars higher than the maximum rate in the District. The board rejected a recommendation that would have added $25 to tows performed on nights, weekends and holidays. [Sun Gazette]
‘British Goodies’ For Royal Wedding — Want to go all-out for the royal wedding Friday morning? Pick up some Yorkshire Gold tea and some Branston Pickle from the Classic Cigars & British Goodies store (2907 Wilson Blvd) in Arlington. [Patch]
Fairfax Won’t Sue Over BRAC Plan — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is critical of the decision to relocate thousands of Defense Department workers to the Mark Center in Alexandria, but it will not be filing a federal lawsuit in the wake of a damning report from the DoD’s inspector general. Rep. Jim Moran is urging localities to seek an injunction against the moves, scheduled for later this year. [Washington Post]
The proposed changes would increase the amount towing companies can charge and would require more detailed signs at businesses where towing is enforced.
County staffers are recommending the board increase the base towing fee from $115 to $125, the maximum rate allowed by Virginia law. The rate would apply to vehicles under 7,500 lbs., according to Brian Stout, who handles towing issues for the county. Stout says the increase is consistent with the rates charged by neighboring communities.
Another proposed change would apply to large trucks over 10,000 lbs. The fee for those vehicles would be raised from $250 to $500. The rate for vehicles between 7,500 and 10,000 lbs. would hold steady at $250.
Local towing companies have been lobbying for fee increases for months.
Lastly, the proposed ordinance change would require towing companies to mark towing advisory signs at businesses with the name and address of the business. The change is designed to make it easier for drivers to know where not to park in lots that serve more than one businesses.
If the board advertises the hearing this weekend, Stout said the changes would likely be considered for final approval at the April 16 board meeting.
A large apartment complex on the eastern end of Columbia Pike sent the following email to residents yesterday, in response to complaints from the county.
One building in the complex is prone to false fire alarms, particularly when the power goes out.
Recently we have received numerous complaints from Arlington County regarding our residents consistently parking in fire lanes throughout the community. Per your lease agreement parking is not permitted in the fire lanes at the community at any time, for any reason. Any car parked in a fire lane at the community will be towed immediately without any additional warning; this will be considered your only warning.
Loading and unloading can be completed in the loading dock entrance of your building. Any car parked unattended in the circular drive will be removed immediately by A1 towing at your sole risk and expense.
Please feel free to contact the Management Office at [REDACTED] with any questions you may have.
We’re sure they’re not alone in this policy. Just something to think about next time you park next to a yellow curb in Arlington.
“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” — On Dec. 7, 1941, the American naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked suddenly and without warning, costing 2,402 lives and leading to the United States’ entry in World War II. More from Wikipedia.
Towing Fines Aren’t Enforced — Towing companies have been found to have violated Arlington’s towing laws more than a dozen times in the past two years. But so far, none have ever been fined. That’s despite the fact that the county’s towing ordinance allows fines of up to $1,000. More from TBD.
VDOT Aims for More Conscientious Plowing — After a blizzard of complaints last winter about snow piles on sidewalks and in bus shelters, VDOT is trying to clean up its act. The agency is asking its contractors to be more careful when plowing roads in the county. VDOT is responsible for plowing state-owned roads in Arlington, including Glebe Road and Washington Boulevard. More from the Sun Gazette.
Just in case you’re not sick of towing stories yet, here’s one we happened to catch while checking out the new Michael Landrum seafood restaurant (update: lots of people coming and going from the brown-papered doors, but still no returned calls from Landrum).
Across the street from the new restaurant, an Advanced tow truck and a guy in a Mercedes were locked in a towing stalemate in the parking lot of the shopping center that houses Ray’s Hell Burger. In one corner, the tow truck and its crew of two had the Mercedes in its steely grips. In the other corner, the Mercedes driver was laying on the horn and refusing to get out of the car.
Ten minutes into the struggle, an Arlington police officer showed up and mediated. After some discussion, he allowed the tow truck to haul the Benz off to the Advanced impound lot.
The driver, who would only give his first name of Abe, was left fuming.
“Now I have to find a way to get to my bank to get cash, to get to the lot to have my car returned, then I would probably have to take a day off to go to court to sue them if I want justice,” Abe said. “They’re crooks because the car was not parked illegally and they’re getting away with it… we have no recourse, the police seem to be working against us, not with us.”
Abe explains that he was at the shopping center to drop off four boxes at a package center for a friend. He circled the crowded lot several times before deciding to park behind a couple of parked cars. He left a friend outside to make sure no one needed him to move his car.
Within two minutes, he said, the tow truck arrived. He somehow managed to get in his car while it was being hooked up, which prevented the towers from going anywhere, for safety reasons. The ten minute standoff then ensued, with the horn blaring, a small crowd watching and a number of people in parked cars blocked from leaving.
Abe says he wasn’t offered the chance to pay a drop fee (usually $25), but two witnesses we talked to told a different story. They said the driver was offered the chance to pay a drop fee, but started cursing and becoming belligerent instead, at which point the tow crew retreated to their truck and waited for police to arrive.
In a poll conducted yesterday, 55 percent of ARLnow.com readers said that the right of property owners to tow illegally-parked cars outweighs any need for more stringent predatory towing laws.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 cars are towed in Arlington each year, according to a three-part series on towing in the county by TBD’s Rebecca Cooper.
Of those thousands of tows every year, only about 50 result in formal complaints being filed with the police. And of those complaints, the cases where the towing company actually violated a county ordinance is in the single digits, according to an extrapolation of Cooper’s numbers.
When we last wrote about Arlington’s biggest tow company, Advanced Towing, a torrent of hate was unleashed in the comment section. But if such a large percentage of tows are legitimate, then are more stringent regulations necessary?
For the time being, county board chairman Jay Fisette tells TBD that he’s just focusing on reducing “predatory tows” in a number of towing “hot spots.” Is that enough?