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Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Feb 29, 2024.

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Friday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

🌧️ Friday’s forecast

Clouds will increase throughout the day, reaching a high of 52°F, accompanied by a light southeast wind that will turn southward and increase to 5-10 mph by morning. On Friday night, expect rain to start primarily after 8 PM, with a low temperature around 42°F and a southeast wind of 6-9 mph. The chance of precipitation is 100%, with new rainfall amounts likely ranging between a quarter and half an inch. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Quote of the Day

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

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After a relatively mild winter, cherry blossoms are expected to hit peak bloom in mid-to-late March.

Today the National Park Service predicted 70% of the blossoms along the Tidal Basin will reach their peak between March 23-26, about the same time as last year.

This year’s peak is a few days earlier than historical averages — and getting harder to predict given warmer winters and big temperature changes, the Washington Post reports.

For now, the blossoms are in their budding stage, leaving bloom seekers a few weeks to plan for excursions and events.

For those seeking to avoid the D.C. crowds, there are a number of blossom options here in Arlington.

One notable destination is Arlington National Cemetery, which has cherry trees in a handful of locations on its 624-acre property. Locals can also find clusters of cherry trees at Welburn Square in Ballston, Quincy Park in Virginia Square, Long Bridge Park in Crystal City, in parts of the aptly named Cherrydale, and elsewhere.

As for events, the National Landing Business Improvement District is hosting “Pink in the Park,” a three-weekend series of cherry blossom events featuring live entertainment, food and activities.

The series kicks off Saturday, March 23 with the “Art of Pink,” a pop-up market showcasing local artists and small businesses. It will be held from 1-5 p.m. at Metropolitan Park (1330 S. Fair Street), the public park next to Amazon’s second headquarters.

Next up is a kid-friendly event, “Pink in the Pool,” on April 6 at the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center (333 Long Bridge Drive). From 9 a.m. to noon, attendees can enjoy free access to the pool and free snacks, and participate in an origami class, tea tasting and a story time.

The series will finish off with “Pink Beats” on April 16 at the Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive), where guests can listen to live music from local acts and sample food from the park’s dozen vendors from 4-9 p.m.

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Dreaming of small-town charm with big-city convenience? Look no further than 7156 Main St in Clifton, Virginia! Nestled just 30 miles from the heart of Washington D.C., this picturesque property offers the best of both worlds.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to find tranquility in this quaint, historic town. With its tree-lined streets and friendly community atmosphere, Clifton is the perfect place to call home. Yet, with its close proximity to the nation’s capital, you’ll never be far from the excitement and opportunities of urban living.

Imagine weekends exploring local shops, dining at charming cafes, and enjoying outdoor adventures in nearby parks. Then, commute to D.C. for work or play, soaking in all the culture, entertainment, and career opportunities the city has to offer.

Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of this idyllic lifestyle. Schedule a tour of 7156 Main St today and experience the best of small-town living near a big city!

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Submit your own Announcement here.

Arlington’s Community Energy Plan Roadmap Progress

It can be a challenge to know and understand a community’s far-ranging, multi-disciplinary and cross-sector progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and changing a climate future for the better.

Arlington’s Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) team produces and updates several public-reference tools to demystify the process and provide residents, businesses, organizations and stakeholders with the resources to easily track and learn about the County’s all-of-government approach and action.

One of these resources tracks progress on actions, policies, programs and projects developed to advance the County’s climate and energy goals under the Community Energy Plan (CEP) and, more specifically, the CEP’s “engine” — the CEP Roadmap.

To propel CEP goals, the CEP Roadmap is structured along the following timeframes: Years 1-2, Years 3-5, Years 5-10 and 10 Years+, with tracking and status matrices covering each cycle. The CEP Roadmap Matrix (Years 1-2 (2022-2023)) is now available. This compilation of 85+ strategic actions and milestones crosses all major sectors and identifies measures instituted by AIRE, directly, and in partnerships across the government enterprise to achieve the County’s climate and energy objectives. The CEP Roadmap Matrix is a part of AIRE’s communications platform to inform the public on investments and outcomes and to support AIRE’s program for behavioral change and market transformation. From increasing energy efficiency to reducing carbon emissions, these efforts resulted in notable achievements that drove Arlington’s national and international recognitions, including achieving LEED Platinum status for Cities and ranking in the top 13% of Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) graded jurisdictions worldwide. View the report on our website.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Dashboards — Discover our GHG Sources in Detail!

Arlington County’s greenhouse gas (GHG) Dashboards were recently launched in a new format that allows for both sector and deep sub-sector breakdowns through an interactive platform. For the first time, the County has not simply quantified our community-wide and government emissions, but opened to the public a set of interactive GHG Dashboards that allow users to trace emissions by sub-sector sources through visualizations and data (e.g., identifying building sub-inventories and the full spectrum of transportation modes.) These user-friendly platforms will serve as key public awareness resources and tools for matching actions with GHG production and encouraging behavioral change among residents and businesses.

The GHG Dashboards present the Community-wide and Government GHG emissions, broken out by sector, which then cascade down into sub-sector detail, from: 1) all community-based, private-sector activities that produce GHG emissions as well as 2) government buildings, fleet and operations. This includes emissions from core and supplemental actions by residents, businesses and County operations. The reports provide additional details about the data sources and the methodology used to develop the GHG inventory estimates.

A GHG emissions inventory provides an estimate of GHG emissions for a given year and is used to identify, plan and implement reduction opportunities and to track progress toward climate goals. Typically, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) updates the GHG inventories of its regional member jurisdiction cyclically, with the most recent Inventories produced for the calendar year 2022. That year, however, was subject to profound distortions and misleading data as well as other source disruptions due to the global COVID pandemic. COVID close-downs dramatically skewed building and transportation data, which represents roughly 75%-80% of Arlington’s total GHG inventory.

As a result, the current Dashboards are based on the MWCOG’s last-normalized GHG Inventory data from 2016 and will be updated to reflect a 2023 GHG Inventory to be delivered by the MWCOG to each of its member jurisdictions in early 2025.

Upcoming

AIRE is excited to announce that the 2nd annual ACCELERATE Report (covering the calendar year 2023) will be released by the end of March 2024. This report features Arlington’s core work pertaining to energy, climate and the environment, and reflects a multi-sector, cross-disciplinary approach that generates an all-of-government commitment to a sustainable, dynamic future.

Due to the variety of on-going and completed projects, programs and policies, each report contains fresh new stories to maintain transparency, highlight Arlington’s key successes, and provide education on climate and energy related activities. The 2022 issue (for calendar year 2022) of ACCELERATE is available on AIRE’s website.

Additionally, to further support the improvement of the County’s operations on a variety of energy and sustainability performance metrics and to serve as a public information resource, a Comparative Performance Dashboard will be soon launched that compares Arlington’s performance to other local jurisdictions. This reference tool illustrates comparative metrics through graphs and descriptions on buildings, renewables, county government operations, transportation, and behavioral change and market transformation.

Contact us with any comments, recommendations or subjects you would like to see addressed in communications and outreach: [email protected].

Subscribe to the AIRE Newsletter for more energy tips and informational events aimed at making Arlington a more sustainable community.

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AI-related jobs in the D.C. area vs. Bay Area (courtesy of JLL)

The D.C. area has surpassed the Bay Area in AI-related job postings, according to a recent report.

These new jobs are a clear sign of how the emerging technology is already impacting Arlington and its neighbors, per a Tuesday report by the real estate company JLL.

The report predicts the region’s numerous data centers will have to undergo AI-focused upgrades to meet industry requirements and notes there is already a surge in AI lobbying in response to potential regulations.

“While the Bay Area has long been known as a hotbed for AI product development, tech companies are navigating economic uncertainties by scaling back on their workforce,” the report says. It says the D.C. metro area had 1,110 AI-related postings as of December, a notch above 1,076 in the Bay.

“Meanwhile, Metro DC’s tech ecosystem is less susceptible to market fluctuations, stabilized by federal spending and government contracts,” JLL wrote.

Of these jobs, only 155 list Arlington as their location, however, JLL Researcher Kate Paine chalks this up to its proximity to D.C. She tells ARLnow that many Arlington employers recruit from out of state and often list the location as “Washington, D.C.”

“There is nuance in the data and the way jobs are posted that might not accurately reflect the reality,” Paine said.

Farther out, there are more AI-related job postings, or 437, in Fairfax County and the city of Fairfax.

The report says the D.C. area has several industries driving demand for AI specialists, including defense, health care and finance — sectors that are well-represented in Arlington’s startup scene.

While the D.C. area and the Bay are in close competition, New York City, the region with the next-highest AI labor demand, comes in a distant third with 574 job postings.

Beyond creating jobs, AI is expected to impact the region’s data centers. Northern Virginia has more data centers than anywhere else in the world and — while last year saw a surge in data center leasing — JLL says these centers still need to adapt to meet AI-specific requirements, including higher power consumption.

“As the largest data center market in the world by a magnitude of 3x, Northern Virginia will be at the international epicenter of the AI-fueled demand curve in the near-term and long-term,” the JLL report says.

Northern Virginia data centers (photo courtesy of JLL)

AI lobbying is also on the rise as lawmakers — including Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer — try to pass a slew of laws regulating the industry. The number of entities seeking to influence AI policy ballooned in 2023 — from 129 in the first quarter of that year to 335 in the second quarter, according to JLL.

“The future of AI will undoubtedly hinge on the regulatory environment, which is unknown territory currently,” the report says. “Further complicating the legal landscape [are] the numerous copyright disputes making their way through the judicial system. As a result, lobbying firms are racing to represent the industry.”

Companies, nonprofits, universities, trade groups and other organizations reported spending $569 million in federal AI lobbying during the first three quarters of last year, the report estimates.

The region’s place as a lead location for people with AI backgrounds has been several years in the making. In the last five years, AI-related job postings in the D.C. area have more than tripled, JLL found in a fall 2023 report.

While recent years have seen companies such as Amazon establish major presences in Arlington, the fall report noted that the Pentagon is also investing huge amounts of money into AI.

The Department of Defense requested $1.8 billion in its 2024 budget for capabilities, workforce development and data management efforts related to the rapidly developing technology. And that’s not to mention demand from the intelligence community.

JLL found that nearly half of all AI-related positions in the D.C. area required clearance for top secret or sensitive compartmented information, as of last fall.

Only 15% of AI job postings in the region were remote — potentially good news for places like Arlington, which is adapting to an economic landscape in which many remote workers have been leaving for places with lower costs of living.

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This sponsored column is by Law Office of James Montana PLLC. All questions about it should be directed to James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq., Janice Chen, Esq., and Austen Soare, Esq., practicing attorneys at The Law Office of James Montana PLLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Falls Church, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact us for an appointment.

[This is the fourth installment in our new series here at Statutes of Liberty, in which we interview professionals in our field to provide our readers with varying perspectives on what it is like to work in the immigration system.]

Anna Gallagher, Executive Director of CLINIC, tells it like it is.

Q: As always, we start with the same question: Who are you, and what do you do?

A: My name is Anna Gallagher. I’m the Executive Director of CLINIC — the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. I like to say that we’re the biggest immigration firm for poor people in America.

Q: What does that mean, in practice? Do you have franchises all over?

A: We don’t have franchises. We have affiliates. About one-third of our affiliates are part of Catholic Charities USA — like your former employer, Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Q: What about the other affiliates? Are they non-Catholic?

A: Of course. Two-thirds of our affiliates are part of another religious tradition or are secular in orientation. A good example of a non-Catholic affiliate is HIAS, in Silver Spring — the oldest refugee agency in the world, which is Jewish in origin and, like CLINIC, ecumenical in action.

Q: What do the affiliates do?

A: The affiliates offer low-bono — “cheap,” in plain English — legal services to poor immigrants. Affiliates range in size from two lawyers to two hundred and fifty legal practitioners and support staff.

Q: When you say “legal practitioners,” what do you mean?

A: You don’t have to have a law degree to help immigrants. BIA-accredited representatives are — let me be frank here — a wonderful thing. In the 1940s, the Department of Justice established a pathway to accredit appropriately trained people at recognized nonprofits…

Q: Paralegals?

A: You don’t have to be a paralegal to be a BIA-accredited representative, though many BIA reps are paralegals. It’s a skills-based assessment. You have to learn the hard facts of immigration law and have an accredited nonprofit organization to support you.

Q: Can BIA-accredited reps go to immigration court?

A: Yes, they can. Fully-accredited representatives can represent immigrants in immigration court, before USCIS, and before the Board of Immigration Appeals itself, just like lawyers can.

Q: So, if the affiliates employ the legal practitioners, and the practitioners represent the poor people, what does CLINIC itself do?

A: We help affiliates get accredited, so they can get representatives into the trenches. The paperwork can be a real obstacle for small nonprofits; we walk them through it so they can focus on their mission.

Q: Do you do this for free?

A: Yes.

Q: Why?

A: There aren’t enough lawyers in this country to meet the demand. Most immigrants facing deportation can’t find a lawyer at a price they can afford. We try to fill the gap.

Q: Other than fill out forms — nothing against that, that what all immigration lawyers do! — what else does CLINIC do?

A: We provide practice guides, trainings, updates on the law, and backgrounders for immigration lawyers both in and out of our affiliate network.

Q: Are those resources open to non-affiliates? Like, our readers?

A: Yes, some of them. We offer trainings conducted by top-notch immigration lawyers on important topics, and lots of them are open to the public. For example, we did a recent webinar on how Afghan allies of the United States can try to apply for adjustment of status. It’s on our website for free. Have at it! I want everyone to know this information.

Q: Do you do legislative advocacy work?

A: No, not at all. We focus on technical assistance and partnership with our affiliates. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does the advocacy work in Washington — our role is not to lobby Congress, but to serve as independent experts about the facts on the ground. That’s why we’re trusted both by the USCCB and by the government. We have great relationships with DOJ and DHS…

Q: DHS?

A: Yes! They like us, because our organization makes the work of government easier. Our affiliates, through careful and zealous representation of their clients, make it much easier to reach a just result under the law. And that’s a good thing.

Q: Does CLINIC accept donations from the general public?

A: We accept donations, and they’re fully tax-deductible. [James notes: Here is a link.]

Q: What if one of our readers is a lawyer who wants a pro bono case? Where should they go?

A: They can email me directly. We love pro bono attorneys, and I promise you that we have plenty of deserving cases to go around. My email is [email protected].

Q: Wow.

As always, we welcome your comments and will do our best to respond.

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This week, Arlington County recognized a handful of public facilities projects and privately developed apartment and office buildings for their sleek designs.

Top projects in honored in the biannual DESIGNArlington competition received “The Excellence Award.” Others were recognized with “Merit Awards” and “Honorable Mentions” for promoting county goals “in affordable housing, biophilic design, public art, historic preservation, or education.”

“Thank you to the jurors who took the time to review submissions and select our winners,” Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis said in a county announcement. “These projects truly showcase the best of Arlington.”

Architectural, planning and design professionals judged the contest.

The Excellence Award winners are:

  • Lubber Run Community Center (Arlington Forest) — “With architecture rooted in its sense of place, this net-zero energy building features recreation areas, covered gathering spaces, connections to nature trails, and open space.”
  • 1770 Crystal Drive (Crystal City) — “This 1970s-era, concrete building transformed into an engaging, vibrant National Landing anchor — including floor-to-ceiling glass, a new curtain wall system, and metal grid expression.”
  • Clarendon West (Clarendon) — “Three residential buildings introduce new life into the neighborhood and transition between the Wilson Boulevard commercial district to Lyon Village’s single-family homes.”

Merit Awards, meanwhile, went to:

  • Pierce Condominiums (Rosslyn) — “This residential tower’s glass and stone exterior showcases a bright and airy structure dubbed the Lantern, with contrasting dark brick.”
  • Cardinal Elementary School (Westover) — “The design optimizes use of the existing building while seamlessly combining new construction to achieve a dynamic educational facility.”
  • U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial Comfort Station (Rosslyn) — “This new facility for visitors to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial intentionally occupies a small piece of the landscape — maintaining direct views as well as providing a comfortable and respectful experience.”
  • Centro (Columbia Pike) — “Developed using the Columbia Pike Form Based Code, this luxury apartment building includes ground-floor retail, below-grade parking, and is designed around a public plaza with native plantings — enhancing the area for the entire neighborhood.”
  • Fire Lines (Rosslyn) — “A façade enhancement for Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn, this stainless steel and bronze sculpture represents a powerful spray of water and improves the pedestrian experience without impeding the functionality of the station.”
  • Crystal City Water Park (Crystal City) — “A Crystal City public space renovation that’s already proven to be popular – this project activates the streetscape and public space with vibrant retail kiosks, restaurants, and other site improvements.”

Some Honorable Mention recipients include Jennie Dean Park in Shirlington and Ruthie’s All Day restaurant in Arlington Heights.

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Police officer gives out citation in Courthouse (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Arlington’s police and fire unions are vying for more funding in the county’s proposed $1.62 billion budget to fix compensation issues they say fuel attrition and vacancy issues.

County Manager Mark Schwartz, meanwhile, makes the case in the 2024-2025 budget that the county has been and is committed to meeting these problems with funding while balancing other budget priorities.

Since Arlington County authorized collective bargaining in 2022, the unions representing police, firefighters and paramedics have focused on tackling how members are paid, blaming it for driving employees to work for other jurisdictions in the region with higher compensation.

Currently, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2800 has 25 vacant uniformed positions, for a 7.5% vacancy rate, while ACPD has 72 vacancies, for a 19% vacancy rate, according to presidents for both IAFF and Arlington Coalition of Police (ACOP). IAFF says this is more than twice the number of vacancies in 2018, while police vacancies appear on par with ARLnow’s last report in the fall.

Last budget cycle, the county committed to a three-year effort to fix these problems for first responders. Union leaders say the county has contributed enough to change its pay system to one where salary increases track with years of service. Still, they say, it has not set aside enough to ensure all members are paid according to their years of service.

“Last April, the County Board identified addressing pay compression for firefighters as a priority for FY25 but our members are still waiting for relief,” IAFF Brian Lynch said in a statement. “Meanwhile other communities are responding to the nationwide shortage of firefighters and police officers by increasing wages across the board, and our people have been voting with their feet.”

The 2025 budget proposes a 2% increase over last year’s budget for ACPD, for a total of $85,839,546. The fire department’s budget is unchanged from last year for a total of $76,023,512. The budget includes step increases for ACOP and IAFF employees in line with their collective bargaining agreements.

“Our employees are the foundation of all the great work that we do in the County,” Schwartz says in his budget message. “This budget continues our commitment to the collective bargaining agreements (CBA) in place and provides pay increases for non-bargaining employees… We will continue to evaluate various job classifications and contribute to the increases in healthcare costs.”

Still, the 2025 budget acknowledges that understaffing is impacting public safety metrics, at least for ACPD. Between 2020-23, received cases increased from around 6,800 to north of 8,400, but assigned cases hovered around one-quarter to one-third of these totals. During the same time, the percentage of successfully closed cases dropped from a high of 60% to a low of 48%, attributed to an understaffed Criminal Investigative Section.

The fire department’s budget section does not discuss understaffing impacts. It does note that the total number of incidents has and will continue to increase, partially driven by more hospital transports and public service non-emergency responses.

These trends may fuel intradepartmental shortages. Lynch says this spring ACFD will lose 13 personnel to an accelerated paramedic training program and six to teach a new class of recruits. Vacancies in emergency services will also increase by 19 as ACFD pulls firefighters from the field to train them to also be EMTs and medics.

“That’s with no one leaving the department,” he said. “That is over 13% of the bargaining unit — an unprecedented lack of personnel.”

Funding for public safety, including the police and fire departments, makes up 11% of Arlington’s budget (via Arlington County)

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A drone flying overhead (Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash)

Arlington’s public safety drones are ready to fly, the county announced this morning.

The drones “are an additional tool for first responders and provide enhanced operational capability, safety, and situational awareness in support of public safety,” the county said.

Members of the police department, fire department, Sheriff’s Office and emergency management department have been trained on use of the miniature aircraft.

More on the program, below, from the county press release.

Arlington County’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is now operational following a period of policy development and training.

UAS, commonly referred to as drones, are an additional tool for first responders and provide enhanced operational capability, safety, and situational awareness in support of public safety. The deployment of UAS will be conducted by trained members of the Arlington County Fire Department, Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management. This technology complements the existing in-car and body-worn camera systems used to document digital recordings of public safety activity.

Community Engagement

Prior to implementation, the program sought community feedback on draft Unmanned Aircraft System policies to ensure they were reflective of the Arlington Community’s values, interests, and concerns. The program strives to provide the level of service that is not only expected but reflective of this community and appreciates all who took the time to read, review, and provide feedback. All comments were reviewed and evaluated for incorporation into the policies.

For additional information on policy changes based on community feedback, visit the program webpage.

Final Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policies

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

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The Potomac Roasting Company is a local micro-roaster specializing in artisan coffee. We precision roast high-quality specialty beans sourced from small farms in Latin America that are owned and operated by women. Your coffee will be roasted the way you want it and delivered fresh.

As two former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Guatemala, we founded Potomac Roasting to pursue our passion for great coffee and purpose-driven work. In addition to ethically sourcing our beans, we also donate a portion of our profits to Laila’s Legacy Animal Rescue, a DC-based nonprofit that finds homes for homeless dogs and cats.

Our current roasts come from prime coffee-producing regions of Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. We will be adding new roasts soon. If you are local, there’s a good chance we can deliver to your door. Look for us at local farmers’ markets beginning this spring. In the meantime, check us out now for better coffee and good karma in a cup. You can use the code Community and save 10%.

Submit your own Announcement here.

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