Arlington, VA

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Community is the first and most important word in the Community Energy Plan.

We welcome your input on the draft Community Energy Plan Implementation Framework. This Framework will be used to implement the updated Community Energy Plan.

Join either of the two upcoming virtual public forums to have a conversation with staff and others in our community about the Community Energy Plan Goal Areas.

We want to hear your concerns, interests, reflections and perspective during these discussions. Your input will help shape Arlington’s energy future.

Goal areas include:

  • Buildings
  • Resilience
  • Renewables energy
  • Transportation
  • County government activities
  • Education and human behavior

Please RSVP below, and thank you in advance for joining us and for providing your input.

Monday, Jan. 25, 12-1 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 7-8 p.m.

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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

Even though the bulk of the action was across the river, it was still an eventful week in Arlington.

There’s a new presidential administration and a new balance of power Congress. In one sense, local life in Arlington continues with few visible changes when the political balance of power shifts on the other side of the Potomac. On the other hand, federal policies do have a tangible local impact, and a change in administration often means changes in the job titles of local residents.

Here are the most-read Arlington articles of the past week:

  1. Four Bridges Connecting Va. to D.C. Will Be Closed Starting Tuesday (Jan. 15)
  2. Police Release Surveillance Video of ‘Person of Interest’ in Ballston Murder (Jan. 15)
  3. Arlington’s Yene Damtew Styled Michelle Obama’s Hair, Stole Spotlight at Inauguration
  4. Highlander Motel is Now Closed, Will Be Torn Down For a CVS in March
  5. New VRE Station Could Bring Amtrak to Crystal City in 2024
  6. Rents Have Dropped By Nearly 15% in Arlington Since March
  7. Cosi Closes in Rosslyn, Starbucks Closing Soon
  8. County Defends Vaccine Rollout, Amid More APS Employee Complaints (Jan. 15)
  9. Arlington Residential Property Values Soar (Jan. 15)

Feel free to discuss those, or other topics of local interest, in the comments. Have a nice weekend!

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Arlington Public Schools has asked nearly 6% of all staff who have reported in-person for work to stay home temporarily because they tested positive for COVID-19.

Among in-person students, the percentage who have been kept out of school after testing positive is 5%.

APS Superintendent Francisco Durán presented data on those excluded from school based on reported positive tests or contact with positive cases during the School Board meeting last night (Thursday). These new data, for the period from Nov. 1, 2020 to Jan. 21, 2021, come after weeks of teachers and staff asking for more transparency regarding coronavirus tests and exclusion rates.

“This year’s exclusion to date for in-person instruction is the most detailed information we can provide,” Durán said.

Durán assured School Board members that APS monitors for high concentrations of cases in a single building, though he declined to reveal building-level data.

APS meets with Arlington County Public Health Division twice weekly to go over case rates and cross-check numbers, APS Emergency Manager Zachary Pope said. Since COVID-19 is spreading through community transmission, he said it is hard to tell if it spreads inside or outside a school.

“The data provided by APS doesn’t answer the burning questions we all have: are our mitigation strategies actually working? Are our rates the same as or higher than community rates?” a Yorktown High School teacher said. “They have obscured the data by lumping together all staff.”

She said she wants APS to find the infection rate among in-person, student-facing staff.

Durán anticipates releasing more granular data after APS rolls out a new app for reporting health metrics. He anticipates it will be ready for teachers next week and for families later on.

Meanwhile, 192 students enrolled in select Career and Technical Education courses will be returning next week. Their teachers are already reporting to the Arlington Career Center building, Durán said.

Students will be split up into multiple groups to keep down the number of students on the bus and in the building, said Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Bridget Loft. All will have access to lunch.

More teachers are expected to return to their buildings for two days next week, but School Board member Reid Goldstein suggested holding off until community health statistics improve and more staff are vaccinated.

“Both those things are likely to be accomplished in likely not much longer,” he said. Nearly 1,800 APS employees received vaccine doses this past holiday weekend.

Goldstein and other School Board members recalled President Joe Biden’s call for unity as APS works to get everyone back in-person, while addressing online and emailed vitriol.

“I’m calling on everyone to stop this uncivil behavior,” he said, of anger on the part of both teachers and parents.

Meanwhile, both sides — parents who want in-person classes to resume, and teachers who want the opposite — have been holding demonstrations and protests.

This Saturday, a number of Arlington parents and students plan to participate in a public, outdoor event organized by Arlington Parents for Education. The group says it will “highlight calls from parents, teachers, concerned community members and most importantly students, in support of a safe-reopening of Arlington Public Schools.”

Last Saturday, about 85 cars, with more than 100 parents, school staff and students, rallied in favor of continued virtual learning. They honked horns and drove around the Washington-Liberty High School parking lot, advocating for improvements to ventilation, vaccinations for staff before they return, transparent infection data from APS, better accommodations for at-risk staff, outdoor-only lunches, and 100% masking indoors.

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(Update at 8:05 pm) The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday to expand the partnership with Virginia Hospital Center for administering COVID-19 vaccines to the public.

The memorandum of understanding lays out how VHC would manage the online appointment system, operate vaccination clinics, bill insurance, and provide individuals with their proof of vaccination, on behalf of the county.

In turn, Arlington County agrees to order the vaccine from the state at VHC’s request, provide adequate location and space for the clinics, and manage a call center for those unable to make an appointment online.

The agreement would be retroactive to January 13.

County Manager Mark Schwartz recommends the approval and ratification of this agreement, which would also allow him to decide the location of such clinics and make similar agreements “with other entities for provision of space for pop-up vaccination events, consistent with the terms of the template MOU.”

While this agreement does not specify the locations of the clinics, community centers, school auditoriums, and pharmacies have all been discussed as possibilities. The Pentagon parking lot, however, likely will not be the site of a county vaccination clinic, according to Arlington’s health director.

VHC and the county announced a partnership agreement earlier this month for a vaccination clinic for residents over the age of 75.

However, as of Thursday (Jan. 21), VHC has closed scheduling for vaccinations. Today, the hospital posted the following update.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that going forward, disbursements of vaccines will go only to local health districts. Hospitals in Virginia will no longer receive vaccines directly from VDH.

As a result of this change, Virginia Hospital Center must cancel all future first dose appointments at our community vaccine clinics, including the Walter Reed Community Clinic and the VHC Physician Group clinic beginning with appointments that are scheduled for Jan. 26, 2021 and thereafter.

This change does not affect those receiving a second dose. If you already received your first dose at the VHC Physician Group or a VHC-run community vaccine clinic, you will still receive your second dose at the same location on your originally scheduled date and time.

The agreement that will be voted on will cover the over 75 vaccine clinic and other existing efforts, as well as additional clinics and administration tasks going forward, according to Ryan Hudson, the acting public information officer for the Arlington County Public Health Division.

“Arlington County is prepared to ramp up and expedite appointments as soon as the County receives additional doses from Virginia,” he wrote in an email to ARLnow.

Arlington County has faced criticism in recent days for the slow rollout of vaccines and an appointment system not working as promised. County officials have also previously said that all the necessary tasks needed to vaccinate Arlington residents would put a huge administrative burden on staff.

A constant refrain from County officials is that the Virginia Health Department is not providing enough vaccine doses to the county, which is slowing efforts. Other Northern Virginia localities have expressed similar complaints about a lack of vaccine supply from the Commonwealth.

The pace of vaccinations in Arlington has been quickening, nonetheless.

The current seven-day moving average of vaccine doses administered in Arlington is currently 545 per day, according to an ARLnow analysis of state health department data. As of Friday morning, a total of 8,385 doses have been administered and 735 people have been fully vaccinated, with two doses about one month apart.

Coronavirus cases in Arlington, meanwhile, have slowed after peaking ten days ago. The current seven-day moving average of new COVID cases in the county is 83 cases per day, down from 123 cases per day on Jan. 12.

A total of 26 COVID-related hospitalizations and nine deaths have been reported over the past week.

Screenshot from VHC video

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Art House 7 has just opened a supply store. We’re carrying Winsor-Newton oil painting and watercolor supplies, drawing supplies and a limited variety of other art supplies. We will limit entry to one family unit at a time due to COVID. Masks are required. We’re located near the Lee Harrison Shopping Center, in the office buildings immediately past the new Starbucks as you head west on Lee Highway.

The store entry is at 5535 Lee Highway — the door to the right of the entrance to the Art House 7 studio. Parking is right outside the door. Walk-in hours: Monday-Thursday 12-6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-1 p.m. We will be online soon, with prices and photos of individual items. Our prices are better than Michaels! Please feel free to text or call if you have questions: 703-402-5017. See our website:https://arthouseseven.com/supply-store/

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

After years of delays, plans for half of an undeveloped parcel of land in Potomac Yard, called Land Bay C East, are taking shape.

Two residential buildings with ground-floor retail, bisected by a pedestrian pathway, are planned along Potomac Avenue and Crystal Drive between 29th Street S. and 33rd Street S. In addition to 488 residential units, the plans call for underground parking and open space.

The developer, ZOM Living, has dubbed the project Hazel National Landing. A luxury apartment developer with an office in Tysons, ZOM Living has built The Beacon Clarendon on N. Irving Street and 19Nineteen in Courthouse.

The plans are a long time in coming for the parcel, which is currently used for parking and as a construction staging area, said Adam Watson, a County planner, in a staff presentation from December.

“Despite persistent leasing efforts, the property remains vacant,” said Martin “Art” Walsh, the attorney for the project, said in ZOM Living’s presentation from December. “We’ve worked with economic development to verify our efforts in terms of trying to lease the property.”

The original site plan was approved in 2007 and situated four office buildings over an underground parking garage. It allotted more than 1 million square feet to office space, 41,000 square feet for retail space, as well as a half-acre for a park.

The land is owned by German grocery chain Lidl, which has its U.S. headquarters nearby. In 2017, the County Board gave Lidl a three-year extension to develop the property.

In February 2020, six months before the three-year extension ended, Meridian Development Group seemed poised to swap offices with residential buildings. Two months later, ZOM Living submitted its plans.

ZOM Living’s development covers Land Bay C East, while the western half is still slated for offices.

The first residential building will be 150 feet tall, with 14 floors and 297 residential units. The second building will be 120 feet tall, with 11 floors and 191 units. The towers share 9,181 square feet in retail space and two floors of below-grade parking, with 399 residential spots and 15 retail spots.

Some of the lower-level units will have their own townhouse-style exterior entrances.

Renderings illustrate primarily brick buildings with large patios and greenery on the ground floor and rooftop, overlooking a tree-lined passageway and plaza.

“We’re very excited about the vibrancy and potential of this project, not only for the buildings but the public open space,” said Tom Kerwin, the founding principal of bKL Architecture, during the December presentation.

A public engagement period for the project ended in December 2020. The Site Plan Review Committee will look over the project in February and March, prior to consideration by county commissions and the County Board.

Photos via Arlington County

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Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

2512 N. Custis Road
6 BD/5 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $2,550,000
Open: Sunday, 1-4 p.m.

 

2819 N. Jefferson Street
5 BD/4 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Compass
Listed: $1,475,000
Open: Sunday, 1-3 p.m.

 

5914 Washington Boulevard
3 BD/2 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: KW United
Listed: $1,050,000
Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m.

 

5713 11th Street N.
3 BD/3 BA, 1 half bath townhome
Agent: KW Metro Center
Listed: $945,990
Open: Sunday, 2-4 p.m.

 

3006 S. Glebe Road
3 BD/3 BA, 1 half bath townhome
Agent: Compass
Listed: $710,000
Open: Sunday, 1-3 p.m.

 

1530 Key Boulevard, #126
2 BD/2 BA condo
Agent: Glass House Real Estate
Listed: $699,900
Open: Friday, 6-7 p.m.

 

4819 27th Road S., #2503
2 BD/2 BA townhome
Agent: Century 21 Redwood Realty
Listed: $525,000
Open: Sunday, 1-4 p.m.

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Arlington County police are investigating a carjacking that happened at one of the Riverhouse apartment buildings in Pentagon City this morning.

Police say a Hyundai with three people inside pulled up to the victim after she parked her Honda Civic. The suspects implied that they were armed, stole the woman’s car and purse, and then fled the scene, according to police department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

More from an initial ACPD crime report:

CARJACKING, 2021-01220113, 1400 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 11:08 a.m. on January 22, police were dispatched to the report of a grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was exiting her parked vehicle when the suspect vehicle, occupied three times, approached. The suspects implied they had a weapon and threatened the victim before stealing her vehicle and purse. The victim was not injured. The victim’s vehicle is described as a Honda Civic with Virginia plates. The suspect vehicle is described as a white Hyundai. Police remain on scene investigating.

The D.C. region is in the midst of a rash of carjackings, including violent, armed carjackings. There were 16 carjackings in Arlington in 2020, after just three were reported in the previous two years, Savage tells ARLnow.

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The Arlington man accused of throwing dogs over an apartment balcony to their death would potentially not serve additional jail time under a proposed plea agreement.

The agreement, dated December 7,  is signed by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, but not by the defendant or by his court-appointed attorney Adam Krischer.

ARLnow reached out to Krischer about the status of the agreement, who responded via email that he has no comment. We obtained a copy of the document upon request from the Arlington County Circuit Court, after receiving an anonymous tip about the potential plea agreement.

On January 5, according to documents provided, 27-year-old Zachary changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” — while asserting his innocence, in what is known as an Alford plea — for the charge of animal cruelty.

(ARLnow has decided to withhold the defendant’s last name from this article, despite it being publicly reported in previous articles, due to the mental health-related matters discussed in the plea agreement.)

The judge approved the plea and set the sentencing for February 12. The judge also required the defendant to undergo a substance abuse screening prior to sentencing.

Animal cruelty is a felony offense that carries a 1-5 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. The proposed plea agreement, however, calls for defer disposition for two years, meaning the plea to the felony charge could be withdrawn and dismissed if the defendant adheres to certain conditions.

According to the agreement, those conditions include completing substance abuse evaluation and treatment, undergoing mental health evaluation and counseling, remaining medication compliant, and completing 100 hours of community service.

The defendant also has to remain drug and alcohol free, refrain from owning any animals, and not to have any unsupervised contact with animals beyond those owned by family members.

Additionally, he has to pay restitution of about $1,800, including payments to the owner of one of the dogs that was killed and $567.29 to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

If Zachary does all of that, the proposed plea agreement states, the Commonwealth and the defendant will jointly ask the court to withdraw the guilty plea and provide an order of dismissal. If the defendant doesn’t adhere to the above conditions, he could be sent to prison.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Taft was elected in 2019 to be Arlington’s top prosecutor on a platform of reform and restorative justice. In an interview with Arlington Magazine last March, Dehghani-Taft said that the concept of restorative justice is about healing and taking responsibility.

“It asks the person who did the harm to search for change and transforms them into someone who doesn’t do it again,” she said. “It focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment.”

It’s a concept that also has gained popularity in other local jurisdictions.

When asked for comment about the plea agreement, Dehghani-Taft responded via email that rules “constrains me from making public statements about pending cases… Because the court has not yet accepted any plea, it could be seen as prejudicial for me to say something now.”

In a follow-up email, she stated that “I think the terms in the document the court has published are self-explanatory.”

A statement of facts about the case entered in court describes the April 27, 2020 incident in more detail.

Police responded to a call about two dogs being thrown off a fifth floor balcony of the Meridian apartment building at 1401 N. Taft Street in Courthouse. One belonged to the defendant and the other to his roommate. Both dogs were brought to veterinary facilities and later died from their injuries.

Zachary was detained without incident, but told the officers that he was diagnosed with anxiety and had not been taking his medication. He also said that he had recently smoked marijuana.

The reason for his actions, he told police, was that he wanted to repair his relationship with his roommate and felt the only way to do that was to kill the dogs.

Police spoke to the roommate and Zachary’s boyfriend, who both described the defendant as not acting like his normal self over the prior several days and possibly having a severe mental health crisis at the time.

Photo via Google Maps

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Have you found your quarantine oasis? Are you tired of paying down someone else’s mortgage? Please join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, January 27 at 6 p.m. via zoom (link to be provided upon RSVP).

Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Washingtonian Magazine top producing agents on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately! We will discuss the Home Buying Process and Rent vs. Buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking on the link by January 26. Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

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