Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada has suggested that he’s open to a discussion about imposing a local income tax and using it to fund transportation projects, the Washington Post reports.
A bill that would allow Arlington and other Virginia localities to impose a 1 percent income tax without a voter referendum passed the Virginia state Senate last week. It’s now under consideration in the House of Delegates, although most tax bills face an uphill battle in the Republican-majority body.
(Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and other jurisdictions are currently authorized to impose a 0.25 to 1 percent income tax, but must first have it approved by voters.)
Tejada told the Post’s Tom Jackman that the Board is following the bill “intently.”
“We’re always trying to find ways to fund transportation projects, and considering we were ranked number one in gridlock, any resources would be helpful,” Tejada said. “We’ve been trying different things, and traffic’s not going anywhere.”
At last month’s meeting, County Board members said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) transportation plan might not raise enough new revenue to meet Northern Virginia’s transportation needs. McDonnell and state lawmakers are currently working to hash out a compromise version of the governor’s proposal.
Man Sentenced for Harassing Arlington Woman — A 47-year-old I.T. worker from New England has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for stalking and harassing an Arlington mom and her 16-year-old daughter. Bruce Stimon was accused of emailing the woman’s friends and saying she had an STD; posting her name, photo and work phone number on prostitution sites, secretly recording a video of them having sex, posting it on porn sites, and sending it to her daughter’s Twitter friends; and repeatedly slashing her tires. [WJLA]
Arlington Hotel Tax Passes House — A bill that would restore Arlington’s authority to levy a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge has narrowly passed the Virginia House of Delegates. The bill earlier passed the state Senate, but the House bill contains a three year sunset provision that wasn’t in the Senate version, meaning the House and the Senate will need to hash out a combined bill in order for it to reach the governor’s desk. [Richmond Sunlight]
Navy Sets USS Arlington Commissioning Date — The new USS Arlington will be commissioned in Norfolk on April 6, the Navy has announced. [Sun Gazette]
Tejada Says No to Anti-Streetcar Groups — Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada has declined requests from groups critical of the Columbia Pike streetcar seeking to make presentations at an upcoming streetcar community forum. Tejada said the purpose of the forum, on March 27, is to “update the community” on the streetcar project, not to debate the Board’s decision to build the streetcar. [Sun Gazette]
The local Point-in-Time Count is part of a nationwide count that occurs during the last 10 days in January each year. The census helps to highlight trends, justify requests for federal funding and measure community progress towards preventing and ending homelessness.
Last year, the Point-in-Time count of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people dropped to 451. That’s down two percent from 461 in 2011.
“In this ‘great recession,’ the number of homeless people in Arlington has actually been trending downward for the last three years,” said A-SPAN Executive Director Kathleen Sibert. “Arlington non-profits and the county have done a great job of connecting people with housing; and we hope this year’s count will be even lower now that the 100 Homes Campaign has already housed 47 homeless adults.”
From 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. todady, census teams will visit areas frequented by homeless individuals such as Metro stations, parks, malls and meal serving sites. Additionally, there are six indoor meeting places used for the count, and meals are served to encourage participation. Staff members will also distribute hygiene kits and socks donated by Marymount Women’s Basketball team.
“Survey questions go beyond headcounts and ask about instances of domestic abuse, veteran status, and disabilities in order to learn more about the specific homeless population in Arlington and what resources are needed,” said Sibert.
The annual report for Arlington’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was presented to the County Board yesterday (Tuesday). It showed that 708 individuals used Arlington homeless shelters at some time in 2012, which is a six percent increase over 2011. However, the average length of time a person stayed in shelter decreased by 28 percent. The average stay for homeless families showed the most significant improvement, dropping from an average stay of 5.4 months to three months.
“The goal of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness is that no individual or family lack access to decent, affordable housing,” said County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “That is a tall order in these troubled economic times, but this report, the progress we are making in housing Arlington’s most-at-risk homeless persons who were identified last year, and the County’s many programs aimed at getting those in need into housing shows that we intend to meet that goal.”
The first neighborhood town hall will be held at the Drew Community Center cafeteria, at 3500 23rd Street S. in Nauck. Residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions or ask questions about any topic, while County Board members listen.
“As part of my ‘Moving Forward Together’ agenda, I am looking forward to hearing from the community in this informal setting, where people can speak their minds directly to County Board members, and get answers,” Tejada said in a statement. “Arlington is always at its best when we are listening to each other and sharing ideas.”
The town hall meetings will be held once a month, except August and December, in various locations around Arlington. The meetings will start at 6:46 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. The unique start time was chosen so “people would remember it better,” according to a county spokeswoman.
The February town hall will be held at the Lee Community Center (5722 Lee Highway) on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The March meeting will be held at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road) on Wednesday, March 27, and will be focused on one topic: the proposed Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar systems.
“It is expected that all five Board members will participate,” the county said in a press release. “They will provide a detailed update on the planned streetcar system, respond to questions from the community and discuss next steps.”
“The Board decided several years ago, after a lengthy public process, to build a streetcar system that will help us handle expected growth, encourage high-quality development, and better connect us to the regional transit network,” Tejada said in a statement. “With streetcar planning now underway in earnest, this is a good time to update residents, business owners and anyone else who is interested, answer questions, and talk about next steps. This is a conversation meant to help us ‘Move Forward Together.’”
The schedule of town hall meetings for the rest of 2013 is available on the Arlington County web site.
Citizen Receives Reward for Crime Tip — A tipster will get a $650 reward from Arlington County Crime Solvers (ACCS) for helping police solve a case from Christmas Day. The tipster’s information helped police arrest a suspect from an armed robbery of a 7-Eleven. “We are delighted to pay a reward to a local resident whose tip led to an arrest in an armed robbery,” said ACCS President Andres Tobar. “We encourage local residents who have information on a crime to call the ACCS tip line at 866-411-8477 to remain anonymous. If the tip leads to an arrest, a reward will be paid.” [Arlington County Crime Solvers]
Tejada Launches Campaign Targeting Childhood Obesity — County Board Chairman Walter Tejada kicked off his Moving Forward Together Campaign at a community meeting yesterday. The initiative involves the county working with a volunteer coalition and community members on several points, such as getting kids moving more at recess and in after school programs, establishing healthier vending options and training childcare providers in nutrition and physical activity. Residents are encouraged to get involved with the newly formed Healthy Community Action Team (HCAT). [Arlington County]
Construction Work at Central Library — Work has started on the Central Library’s first major interior renovations since the early 1990s, and includes painting, carpeting, new signs and new desks. Because staff needs to use the Quiet Study Room during construction, it will be closed to the public for the duration of renovations. Construction is expected to finish in the spring. [Arlington Public Library]
Free Inauguration Viewing on the Big Screen — Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is allowing customers to stop by on Monday, January 21, to watch the public Presidential Inauguration on the big screen. Admission is free and doors open at 11:00 a.m. [Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse]
Mind Your Body Oasis Grand Opening — Saturday (January 19) is the grand opening celebration for the new Mind Your Body Oasis (1750 Crystal Drive) in Crystal City. There will be raffles and samples of the juices sold at the yoga studio and holistic center. Customers will also be able to try a free yoga class.
The demonstration, organized in part by the Laborers International Union of North America, will protest the “use of immigration status against workers” by Corinthian Contractors, Inc. Arlington residents and local immigration groups are expected to protest outside the company’s Shirlington-area headquarters.
Tejada will “stop by the event,” according to a spokeswoman.
In a press advisory, protest organizers accused Corinthian Contractors of threatening laborers with deportation after they complained about not receiving a fair wage.
On December 2, a group of workers sent a letter to their employer, Corinthian Contractors, Inc., asking to be paid the legally required minimum wages for their work on a DC Water project. On December 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested the workers at their usual meeting spot as they waited for their ride to work. Two bystanders were also arrested.
Following their arrest, Corinthian Contractors continued to threaten the workforce with immigration enforcement. Finally, on December 31, 2012, Corinthian Contractors announced that it suddenly discovered that the I-9s of the entire workforce needed to be immediately “re-verified.” Corinthian took the opportunity during the “re-verification” process to fire almost half of the workers working on DC Water projects. The vast majority of those fired had signed a letter complaining of Corinthian’s failure to pay the legally required wages.
These workers have had their lives torn apart. Some have been deported. Others who remain have seen family members deported. All are still awaiting a determination of their status. And all of this turmoil to is due to the ruthlessness of a contractor who was offended that workers would try to hold him accountable to pay legally required wages.
On Tuesday, these workers will tell Corinthian Contractors that they cannot be intimidated out of their rights and will request the public and public officials to join them in demanding justice for Corinthian’s workers!
The protest is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday at 3126 S. Abingdon Street.
In 2010, Corinthian Contractors completed work on a $1.5 million contract for the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, according to its website. The company has not responded to a call seeking comment.
Mario’s and Carvel to Remain Open Despite Sale — Mario’s Pizza House and Carvel Ice Cream shop (3322 Wilson Blvd) were sold at auction last month for $2.86 million, achieving one of the highest per square foot sales in Arlington. The tenants will continue to operate at the location because the sale was for the real estate only, not the businesses. [Globe Newswire]
Tejada and Violand-Sanchez Make History in Virginia — As of January 1, Arlington made history by becoming the first Virginia jurisdiction to have its two local elected bodies headed by Latinos. Walter Tejada was selected to chair the County Board for 2013, joining Emma Violand-Sanchez who is halfway through her term as School Board chair. Tejada is a native of El Salvador and Violand-Sanchez is a native of Bolivia. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Walter Tejada, the new Arlington County Board Chair for 2013, says he will use his chairmanship to push for progress in four local policy areas: affordable housing, fitness and health, urban agriculture, and pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Tejada and other County Board members outlined their vision for the county at the Board’s traditional New Year’s Day meeting on Tuesday. As Chair, Tejada’s priorities will receive the sharpest focus.
In a seven-page speech, Tejada repeatedly called on the county to “move forward together… for all of Arlington.”
Tejada’s first major policy initiative is affordable housing. Tejada repeated a call he and Board member Chris Zimmerman previously made: for new affordable housing investment funded via adoption of Tax Increment Financing for Columbia Pike. The TIF would steer a percentage of taxes gained through increases in property values along Columbia Pike to the creation of new affordable housing, to bolster the county’s existing 6,585 committed affordable units.
“Already on Columbia Pike, market forces are threatening one of the County’s largest supplies of market-rate affordable housing,” Tejada said. ”I have asked [County Manager Barbara Donnellan] to analyze and submit a recommendation by June 2013 for creating a transit oriented affordable housing fund on Columbia Pike through adoption of a TIF.”
“We need to house our healthcare workers and teacher aides, our cashiers and restaurant workers, our cleaning staff and small business employees, and other hard-working people so vital to our County’s economic health,” he continued. “We need to maintain the cultural and economic diversity that is so vital to Arlington’s soul, for all of Arlington.”
Tejada acknowledged that more affordable housing will not come cheap, but quoted former president John F. Kennedy in saying, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”
An affordable housing TIF on the Pike wouldn’t be the county’s first use of the funding vehicle. A TIF is in place to fund infrastructure improvements in Crystal City, including a planned Crystal City streetcar.
After affordable housing, Tejada called for the county to “promote healthy living” through an initiative called FitArlington.
The new focus on fitness and health will include the creation of a “Arlington Healthy Community Action Team” (HCAT) comprised of local health and fitness providers, youth services providers, nutrition educators and urban agriculture enthusiasts. In addition to promoting physical fitness in general, the county will work in partnership with the HCAT and Arlington Public Schools to help reduce the rate of childhood obesity in Arlington.
The childhood obesity initiative will kick off with a community meeting from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Tejada also highlighted the work of the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, which was announced as an initiative at the 2012 New Year’s Day meeting. Among the issues being considered by the task force is the controversial proposal to allow Arlington residents to raise egg-laying hens in their backyards. Tejada said he expects the task force’s forthcoming recommendations to help promote healthy eating in Arlington.
Board to Hold New Year’s Meeting — The Arlington County Board will hold its traditional New Year’s Day meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. At the meeting, Walter Tejada is expected to be elected County Board chair. Tejada and the other four Board members will then outline their policy goals for 2013. In a press release, Arlington County billed itself as “the only local government that “gets to work” on the New Year’s holiday.” [Arlington County]
Cemetery Expansion Concerns Tree Lovers — A plan to expand Arlington National Cemetery has some tree lovers crying foul. The cemetery is projected to run out of additional burial space in 2025, prompting the need for the expansion. Some Arlington residents, however, have been critical of one particular part of the expansion plan, which calls for the clearing of 890 “old-growth” trees. The cemetery plans to replant 600 trees and to preserve a stand of 220-year-old trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Bike Arlington’s Top 10 List — Staff from Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published a list of their “top 10 favorite topics from 2012.” Among the entries in the top 10 list: Capital Bikeshare’s expansion, Bike Friendly Business awards to local shops, and the county’s Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) safety campaign. [Bike Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Tejada Named County Board Chair — The Arlington County Board has announced its intent to elect Walter Tejada as its chair for 2013. Tejada, who was first elected to the Board in 2003, served as the chair in 2008 and vice-chair in 2007 and 2012. Jay Fisette has been chosen as vice-chair for 2013. [Arlington County]
Lost Item Found in Library Donation — The library is trying to track down a mystery person who donated items to the Friends of the Library book sale. The donation contained something of “significant value” that the donor must have mistakenly included and likely wants back. In order to make sure the correct person comes forward to identify the item, the library will not release any more details. If you are the mystery donor, call Central Library Manager Margaret Brown at 703-228-5952. The library asks that people do not call with wild guesses in an attempt to claim the item. [Library Blog]
November Boost in Real Estate Market — A combination of higher sales and increasing average sales prices boosted the Arlington real estate market by more than 50 percent in November, compared to the previous year. The average price of single family homes rose by 6.3 percent to $753,408. The average price of condominiums increased by 13.4 percent to $404,063. [Sun Gazette]
Courthouse Office Building Approved — At its meeting on Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a redevelopment plan for a new 8-story office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. [Arlington County]
Goody’s Expansion Plan Foiled by the Fiscal Cliff? — Clarendon pizza restaurant Goody’s was featured on the Friday broadcast of NBC Nightly News. The owners of the restaurant say they’re only making a small profit and they’re worried about having to close due to the impact of the so-called fiscal cliff (primarily the increased taxes that could go into effect if no deal is reached). Goody’s owners were planning to expand next year, but have put those plans on hold, according to the broadcast. [NBC News]
First Streetcars, Then Spaceships — Trying to make the point that the County Board doesn’t have a hidden agenda when considering adoption of the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act, Board member Walter Tejada said that public-private partnerships could be used for future projects, and not just for streetcars. “It could be used for spaceships down the line in the future,” he said. [Sun Gazette]
Winter Coats and Clothes Collected — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District collected 119 bags of winter clothing from area businesses and residents over the past month. The clothes will be donated to the homeless clients of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. The Nauck Community Service Center, meanwhile, collected more than 500 coats for distribution to Arlington residents in need.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Congressman Jim Moran (D) and County Board member Walter Tejada were on hand to accept Arlington’s portion of the $9.2 million in grants awarded by the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Arlington County was directly awarded $80,000 for its project to expand the “StormwaterWise Landscapes Program,” which provides incentives for private landowners to install innovative stormwater management projects on their properties. It’s projected to reduce the amount of pollution entering Four Mile Run, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay by cutting down on the polluted runoff from at least 80 residential yards, driveways and roofs.
“I applaud the EPA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for their diligent management of the Chesapeake Bay small watershed and nutrient and sediment removal grants,” Moran said. “One of our most cherished resources, the Chesapeake Bay has fallen victim to contamination from decades of development and agriculture runoff. These grants help build local community efforts to clean the Bay, leveraging resources, and providing new and innovative approaches to fully restore the Bay’s health.”
In addition to the project grant, the county is expected to benefit secondarily from grants awarded to organizations doing projects throughout Northern Virginia and the state. An example is the $500,000 grant awarded to Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Inc., which includes Falls Church in the communities it will target for stormwater incentive programs.
I-66 HOV Restrictions Lifted — To ease congestion on arterial routes, which might be affected by traffic signal outages from Friday’s storm, VDOT lifted the HOV requirement for I-66 inside the Beltway during the morning rush hour.
Federal Gov’t Under Unscheduled Leave Policy — With nearly a quarter of all electricity customers in the D.C. area without power, the federal government is operating under a Unscheduled Leave/Unscheduled Telework Policy for today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Tejada Still Thinking About Streetcar — Walter Tejada says he still hasn’t decided whether he supports the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Tejada says he’s concerned about the streetcar’s impact on affordable housing. ”Transit-oriented development has been cruel” to low income people in Arlington, Tejada is quoted as saying. [Arlington Mercury]
Bolivian Parade Held — Despite the sweltering heat and continuing storm cleanup, Saturday’s AGROBOL Bolivian heritage parade was held as scheduled on Four Mile Run Drive. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Group to Discuss Backyard Chickens — Arlington’s Committee of 100 will take up the issue of backyard chicken raising at its meeting tonight. Among the speakers are an official from Albemarle County, where urban chicken keeping is allowed; the founder of the Arlington Egg Project, which is pushing the county to change its restrictive poultry ordinance; and an Arlington resident who lives next door to a neighbor who raises chickens. [Committee of 100]
‘Office of Latino Affairs’ On the Back Burner — Corrected at 4:30 p.m. — A proposal to create an Office of Latino Affairs in Arlington is still on the back burner, the Sun Gazette reports. An earlier version of this item erroneously stated that County Board member Walter Tejada supports the creation of the office, and neglected to link to the Sun Gazette article. Tejada tells ARLnow.com that he supports improving services for Latino residents, but doesn’t think the creation of a separate county department is necessarily the best way to go about it. “I don’t think it’s the thing to do,” he said. [Sun Gazette]
Candidates Weigh in On Issues on GGW — Three (out of five) candidates for County Board weighed in on issues from the Columbia Pike streetcar to the Crystal City sector plan via the website Greater Greater Washington. Melissa Bondi, Libby Garvey and Kim Klingler responded to a candidate questionnaire issued by the site. [Greater Greater Washington]
Last year, then-County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman used the annual chairman’s New Year’s Day address to promise a pro-business agenda for 2011. Indeed, the agenda eventually became a reality. Throughout the year the county held a series of public forums for business owners, worked to streamline some regulatory process and finally, in December, the Board adopted a measure that allowed A-frame signs — a big item on local business owners’ wish lists.
This morning the new County Board Chairman, Mary Hynes, promised to enhance civic engagement in Arlington. Already famous for its process of including community stakeholders in decision making — a process broadly referred to as “The Arlington Way” — Hynes is seeking to more formally institutionalize Arlington County’s commitment to civic engagement.
To do so, Hynes is proposing to first create a “map” of the numerous nonprofit groups and community associations that make up Arlington’s civic landscape.
“Our hope is that this expands our understanding of what each Arlington group does… and becomes a valuable resource for each Arlingtonian, newcomer and old-timer, teen to senior, seeking to make connections in our community,” Hynes said.
Hynes also wants to officially define what “The Arlington Way” means. Appropriately, she proposes to come up with a definition by engaging in a wide-ranging community discussion.
“We will convene a formal county-wide conversation to develop a clear description of The Arlington Way as it applies to and should energize our decision-making going forward,” she said. “Working with County Board Members, Commissioners, County staff, and Arlington residents, non-profits, and businesses, we will delineate the roles and responsibilities of participants in our civic decision-making processes.”
In another new initiative, Hynes announced that every Monday night (except for federal holidays) a County Board member will hold a two-hour “open door” session, “where residents can discuss any County-related issue with a Board Member.” The sessions will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.; session locations will be posted on the county web site.