Arlington, VA

Arlington County has promised to build a sidewalk for every street, but when it comes to some residential neighborhoods progress is slow.

The main way sidewalks are built in residential areas is via the Neighborhood Conservation (NC) Program, which was created in 1964 and allows neighbors to weigh in on proposed sidewalk designs, among other small local projects that are proposed for county funding.

Officials told ARLnow the program is meant to give weight to resident feedback, which means concerns over parking and frontage sometimes trump pedestrian considerations.

Now the Arlington County Board is reviewing the NC program, and asking questions like, “Do NC Projects contribute to an appropriate balance between neighborhood and Countywide infrastructure goals and objectives?” according to a draft presentation with a working group meeting last week.

NC Program Manager Tim McIntosh told ARLnow during an interview last month that it’s a “lofty goal” to build a sidewalk on at least one side of every street, and it’s also hard to evaluate how much progress has been made.

“I don’t know that there are any statistics on how many sidewalks have been built since that plan has been put in place,” he said.

“There are several challenges to building sidewalks on every street,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said. “In addition to the availability of eligible funding sources for improvements in neighborhoods, there are competing interests for the right of way on every street.”

“In some cases, adding a full sidewalk with curb and gutter would come at the expense of on-street parking, or it could impact private properties in the form of tree removal, yard regrading and retaining walls,” he added. “There also may be differences among residents on a street about providing needed easements. Our job is to balance these interests, as well as costs, as we implement projects.”

McIntosh said the public is generally supportive and wants to see sidewalks installed, “But once you start to get into the weeds and talk about where it’s going to be, people get a little more reserved about, ‘Well, geez, how is this going to affect my frontage? Or the parking on my street?'”

Bob Cannon, a Lee Heights resident, has long wanted a sidewalk on a particular stretch of the 2300-2400 blocks of N. Vernon Street, in the Donaldson Run neighborhood.

The street is unmarked and cars regularly speed around curves, he said. In May, one car drove over the curb near Cannon’s house, blew out a tire, and hit his neighbor’s car. He says crashes like this are common and pose a danger to pedestrians who have nowhere to walk but on the road. He’s frequently asked the county to build a sidewalk, or add speed bumps, bollards, or lane paint to improve safety, according to emails reviewed by ARLnow.

“I do not understand what the problem is,” said Cannon. “The solution is simple.”

Thus far, the county has not revealed plans to add a sidewalk to portion of the road in question.

“Can it improve? Absolutely,” said WalkArlington Program Director Henry T. Dunbar of the sidewalk building process. “That’s why we really push people to get involved.”

Dunbar said WalkArlington is training residents about pedestrian safety and how they can work with organizations like the Pedestrian Advisory Committee to push for safety improvements like sidewalks on their streets. One way he said WalkArlington helps is by conducting “walk audits” of neighborhoods with residents and identify danger spots.

The pedestrian element for the county’s Master Transportation Plan was last updated in 2008. At the time, the document noted that:

Arlington currently lacks a complete sidewalk on almost 20 percent of its local streets. While work is under way to construct missing sidewalks, at the current pace of funding and construction, the sidewalk network is not likely to be complete for another 25 to 30 years.

Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said the department is currently reviewing the pedestrian element and deciding when DES can begin updates, as it recently did with the plan’s bicycle element.

Photo courtesy Bob Cannon

0 Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Reading through the remarks of Chairman Christian Dorsey from last week’s “State of the County” address to the Arlington Chamber, I was not surprised to find that the Chairman pronounced our status as “excellent.” But what is his report card so far?

Once again, the Chairman predictably talked about our bond rating and the customer satisfaction survey. He also talked about a desire for county officials to collaborate with the community. He took credit for ongoing improvements in public safety, economic incentive deals, and the county’s yet to be launched efforts to streamline the permitting processes. For keeping the trains running on time, Dorsey gets a C. This grade would have been a B if the Board had not claimed financial hardship before passing a 6.2% spending increase and a potentially massive pay raise.

Nothing new has really been accomplished when it comes to affordable housing, despite promises to the contrary. This is not unique to Chairman Dorsey. Every Board member talks about the rising costs of living in the county. In a 2018 speech, Dorsey himself previewed support for increasing housing density and reducing the size of single family houses that could be built on lots in order to combat market forces. However, little ever seems to change except for raising our property taxes, making it more expensive to live here. Grade: F.

Keeping an eye on Amazon. The county approved the package to finalize the deal and can claim a small victory as the online retailer agreed to send $3 million back to the county’s “efforts” on affordable housing. A lot is still to be determined here. Grade: C+.

Equity remains a high priority buzzword for Chairman Dorsey. No one really knows for sure what new policies he is seeking to implement or goals he is seeking to achieve, though he did discuss child care and public health.

Last year, Dorsey suggested Arlington should create a consumer protection bureau to make sure everyone is treated fairly. He also suggested it might mean an examination of county housing policies to ensure diversity is being achieved. Maybe we will need to wait till Dorsey’s wrap-up speech at the end of the year to find out what equity outcomes he accomplished? Grade: Incomplete.

Last but not least, Dorsey also gets an Incomplete for glossing over the subject of our schools in his speech. Despite the fact that the County Board cited the schools budget as a primary reason for increasing our property tax rate this year, Dorsey did not address it in his speech, except for brief mentions while discussing equity and diversity.

You can assign your own grades to Dorsey’s chairmanship so far. And remember, he still has six months to pull them up.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

0 Comments

Oz restaurant, owned by “Real Housewives of Potomac” stars Ashley and Michael Darby, is closing after this weekend.

The Clarendon restaurant, which specializes in Australian cuisine and boozy brunches, first opened at 2950 Clarendon Blvd in 2015. Despite some televised internal turmoil, Michael Darby told ARLnow in 2017 that the couple turned things around with the hiring of a new chef, Northern Virginia native Brad Feickert.

In a statement today, Ashley and Michael said the imminent arrival of their first child (Michael has two adult children from a previous marriage) prompted the restaurant’s closure.

Michael and Ashley Darby announce, with regret, that they have decided to close Oz Restaurant and Bar. As you all know, both Michael and Ashley are involved in multiple businesses and are expecting a baby boy in the very near future.  They have decided that there was just not enough time to dedicate the right amount of time to raising their son and continuing to run the restaurant.

‘It has been four years since the restaurant opened and we have had the best employees anyone could ask for and we have made so many new friends who have patronized Oz.’ said Ashley.

‘I’m sad to see my little slice of Australia disappear but I have so many good memories of people enjoying the Australian experience at Oz. We are replacing one Aussie baby with a new one-half Aussie baby.’ said Michael.

Oz will serve its last meal this Sunday with an extended brunch. Please come in this weekend to say goodbye.

0 Comments

(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Two-and-a-half years after the initial permits were filed, Stone Hot Pizza finally opened in Clarendon earlier this year.

Staff at the restaurant said they started cooking up the first pizzas in March, though a “now open” sign still adorns the front entrance.

The pizzeria advertises a lunch special of $7.99 for a one-topping pizza with an option to add a soda for 99 cents. It also offers paninis and other sandwiches for around $8.

Located at 3217 Washington Blvd, just off Clarendon’s main drag and next to Spirits of ’76, Stone Hot Pizza is open from 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

0 Comments

One Journey Festival

Daylong, family-friendly celebration features music, dance, storytelling, art, technology, and more. Seeking to change the conversation about refugees, the Festival showcases refugee performers, speakers, and entrepreneurs. Includes: World Marketplace * technology tent * youth activities * Unity Parade with giant avatar figures * international food trucks * live-chat with refugees in other countries * shadow puppet theater * dance lessons * soccer clinic * Take Action tent.

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What is customary to leave behind when we sell our house? Is there anything we have to leave or take?

Answer: The answer to this question varies by state/region so it’s important to understand what’s customary or required in your area. Throughout the entire DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) it’s customary to leave/convey all appliances, anything fixed to the home (e.g. light and plumbing fixtures) and take electronics or anything not attached to the home (e.g. free-standing shelves).

Fortunately, the Northern Virginia sales contract has a section dedicated to what conveys, including a yes/no option for the 30+ items below:

Around here, it’s customary for the items listed above to convey if they’re present, so if you intend to take any of them with you, such a washer/dryer, you should be sure to let your Agent and potential buyers know ahead of time.

In addition to some of the obvious conveyances like landscaping, carpet and heating/cooling systems there are some not-so-obvious items that convey unless stated otherwise.

Those include light fixtures (chandeliers), attached shelving and wall mounts for electronics. The electronics (and wiring) themselves do not convey, so in practical terms — the TV comes with you but the wall-mount stays.

Other Tips/Grey Areas

You do not have to remove nails and other hardware used for hanging photos and other personal items. In fact, if you do remove them, you’ve technically changed the condition of the home and can be held responsible for patching and painting.

You are responsible for leaving the property “broom clean.” Broom clean is a bit of a grey area, but it surely means you do not have to hire a professional cleaning service or scrub the grout. Regardless of what the contract says, I always recommend sellers use an altered version of a common axiom and convey their home in the condition and cleanliness that they’d like a home to be conveyed to them.

You are also responsible for leaving the home “free and clear of trash and debris” which certainly means not leaving junk in the attic, clothes in the closet, or food in the refrigerator but it’s common (and generally appreciated) to leave behind extra matching paint, extra tiles or floor boards and other items used to for replacement or repair.

It’s generally a good idea to run these items by your buyer first, before leaving them behind, so you don’t get a call 30 minutes before   closing to haul away a bunch of stuff they don’t want.

Price and contingencies generally command all of the attention in contract negotiations, but ensuring you’ve accurately documented what conveys also deserves your attention to avoid a major disagreement in the last hour.

If you have any other questions about what’s customary when selling a home in Northern Virginia or the great D.C. Metro area, feel free to email me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

0 Comments

So you have a Tesla or some other electric car, but where in Arlington can you charge it?

Most of the electric car stations are grouped around Arlington’s Metro corridors, according to ChargeHub, a website that tracks charging stations. Charging stations follow a line between Rosslyn and Ballston, for instance, and there are 22 throughout the Crystal City and Pentagon City area alone.

But finding stations outside of those areas can be a hassle.

One bank of electric chargers is located along Columbia Pike at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). In Shirlington, an electric car charging station is located at the Campbell Avenue parking garage.

Additionally, there are three charging stations in residential North Arlington:

  • Discovery Elementary School (5301 36th Street N.)
  • Harris Teeter (2425 N. Harrison Street)
  • Potomac Overlook Regional Park (2845 N. Marcey Road)

There are seven Tesla-specific charger locations in Arlington.

  • Two Liberty Center (4075 Wilson Blvd) — Four Tesla connectors available to the public
  • Clarendon Square (3033 Wilson Blvd) — Two Tesla connectors, parking fees may apply
  • Market Common Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) — 18 Tesla Superchargers
  • 2311 Wilson Blvd (2311 Wilson Blvd) — Three Tesla connectors, parking fees may apply
  • 1320 N. Courthouse Garage (1320 N. Courthouse Road) — Two Tesla connectors, parking fees may apply
  • The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City (1250 S. Hayes Street) — Two Tesla connectors, available for patrons only
  • Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel (2800 S. Potomac Avenue) — Two Tesla connectors, available for patrons only

Meanwhile, if your car is charged and you’re looking for fellowship with other electric car enthusiasts, a local group of residents has formed the Arlington Solar and EV Charger Co-op, with the goal of making it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels and electric vehicle chargers.

The group is planning to hold an information session on Thursday (June 27) from 6:30-8 p.m., at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) to discuss solar energy, electric vehicles, and simplifying the “going solar” process.

0 Comments

The Arlington County Board is considering lowering daycare parking space minimums for the second time this year.

During a Board meeting earlier this month, members scheduled public hearings in July on lowering the number of parking spaces child care centers must have. This comes after members modified parking minimums three months ago — from one space per employee down to one space per eight children.

The new request would lower the number of parking spaces down to one space per 10 children. If approved, the change would only apply to daycares within a third of a mile of a bus or Metro stop.

Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, July 9, at a Planning Commission meeting, and Saturday, July 13 during the regular County Board meeting in Courthouse.

Zoning changes are the latest steps in a years long discussion over how to help parents afford the rising cost of childcare as demand far exceeds available space and costs have risen to the highest in the region.

The Planning Commission has recommended county code be changed to allow only one space per childcare facility. But county staff brushed off the suggestion in a recent report to the Board, saying it would “pose significant impacts to the County’s review process and potentially increase pick-up/drop-off impacts from child care centers on their surrounding neighborhoods.”

The Board’s vote in March also allowed daycares and summer camps to care for up to nine by right after staff called the county’s lengthy use permit process a “significant barrier” to encouraging more daycare business.

0 Comments

If you tune in to Jeopardy! on Wednesday, July 17, you’ll have a local to root for.

Roey Hadar, a 23-year-old journalist at WETA-TV, represented Arlington during the game show taping in March, though the episode won’t premiere until next month.

Hadar couldn’t say anything about his clues or the results of the game — you’ll just have to see for yourself.

“I had tried out a few times before I got the call, and even then it took roughly two years to get to the point where they called me back,” Hadar said. “I was outside Navy Yard Metro station. It wasn’t a call I was expecting. My girlfriend was there with me, and right before she called the Uber I got the call from L.A. I know my spam calls well, so I picked up and on the other line was a contestant coordinator.”

It had been over 18 months since — the tail end of when you can usually expect to hear back if you got onto Jeopardy! after an audition — and Hadar hadn’t heard anything. And when Hadar said he’d heard about Alex Trebek’s cancer diagnosis, he was worried if he did get to play it wouldn’t be without the legendary host at the helm. Hadar was preparing to take the online test again when the call came in.

The coordinator ran Hadar through some biographical changes. There had been quite a few changes since he first took the test online in April 2017. He moved from New Jersey to Ballston, for one, and he’d gone from a student to working at the WETA show Washington Week.

Because Hadar worked for a TV station, he had to check with his office to see if it would be all right to go, but Hadar said his boss was insistent that he go be on the show. He had two weeks notice, so Hadar binge-watched the show, standing in front of the TV with a spotlight on his face and pressing down on a spring-loaded toilet paper holder to try and get the answers before the contestants.

Hadar said the TV production aspect of the show wasn’t a shock because of his work experience, and years of quiz bowl in high school and at Georgetown University prepared him for handling the buzzer, but seeing the game show from another angle was the biggest surprise.

“It felt like the game had come to life around me,” Hadar said. “It was surreal being up there and actually having to call out clues and facing the wrong way — seeing the board and set in a certain way — there was a bit of a shock seeing everything in a reverse angle.”

Despite being a competition, Hadar said everyone from the staff to the other contestants were incredibly friendly.

After getting home from the show, Hadar said he thought he’d have Jeopardy! fatigue, but instead he’s found himself locked in — watching the rise of fall of James Holzhauer in the time between his show taping and the air date.

“I always had a great respect for contestants, but now I feel like I can better put myself in their shoes,” Hadar said. “I can see how when players are stressing or when they’re trying to frantically hit the buzzer but they rang in too early; things that are a little more subtle that you’d know from playing it.”

But that doesn’t stop Hadar from shouting answers at the television like everyone else, he said.

Photo courtesy Roey Hadar

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list