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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com February 8, 2011 at 6:00 am 1,621 87 Comments

Post Editorial: Investigate Williamsburg Principal’s Claims — In an editorial, the Washington Post says that Arlington Public Schools should investigate claims made by former Williamsburg Middle School principal Kathy Francis, who resigned last week. Francis sent a long email to parents accusing superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy of unprofessional and discriminatory conduct. School board members say they have “full confidence in Dr. Murphy’s leadership.” [Washington Post]

Chamber Worries About HOT Lanes Loss — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce thinks that the demise of the I-395 HOT lanes project could hurt Arlington while benefiting Fairfax County. Arlington County sued state and federal officials over the HOT lanes proposal, which helped lead to VDOT’s decision last week to kill the project. [Washington Examiner]

Parking Restricted on Some Neighborhood Streets — Arlington authorities have begun restricting parking to only one side of some narrow neighborhood streets. Fire trucks and garbage trucks have had difficulty navigating certain streets, which prompted the new restrictions. Many neighbors, however, are upset with the loss of parking spaces. [TBD]

Lawmakers Reveal Gifts Received Last Year — From trips to Turkey to Redskins tickets, Arlington’s state legislative delegation received thousands of dollars worth of (perfectly legal) gifts in 2010. The gifts were detailed in recent public filings. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99

  • I smell BS on the parking regs. Were fire trucks narrower until this year? Don’t think so. Same for garbage trucks. I think the county wants to gradually take away free on-street parking across the county. These planner types read books like High Price of Free Parking and see it as tied to sprawl and against the development they want.

    • Lou

      Arlington hates cars. This is breaking news.

    • NarrowStreetGuy

      After an NC project, my street tried to get parking on both sides and my street is wider than many that already have 2 sided parking. The “planner types” in the county were on our side and it was the “traffic engineering types” that opposed it. The engineers of traffic won as they often do in Arlington.

    • Josh S

      Actually, I suspect that fire trucks ARE wider than they were in years past. Obviously, it’s not something that just happened last year, but twenty, thirty years ago when the roads were built? I wouldn’t be surprised if the newer trucks are 6+ inches wider, which is enough to possibly make a difference.

      If not, the next thing to do to demonstrate a need to restrict parking and therefore widen the driving lane would be some sort of study to see if, over the years, emergency response HAS IN FACT been delayed in narrow street neighborhoods and if, IN FACT, there has been any consequence (loss of life, increased property damage, etc.)

      If not, then this is all hand wringing on the part of the neighbors who complain.

      Restricting street parking on established residential neighborhoods would seem to have a limited impact on sprawl or on promoting any kind of particular development pattern. So I don’t think there is any cause for speculation along those lines.

      • Westover

        The trucks are wider, but there are also curbs on many streets that were not there 15-30 years ago. And a lot of streets have been narrowed in traffic calming efforts over the last decade.

        • local

          Narrow streets = traffic calming = fewer accidents = fewer fire trucks. It’s a win-win.

          • Westover

            How about when it is a house fire, and not an accident at an intersection?

          • local

            I said fewer, not none.

            How much delay does traffic calming cause firetrucks? 10 seconds?

          • Westover

            I am not concerned with slowing down a fire engine, they are going slow enough once they reach a neighborhood. I am concerned with them having access to the incident if the narrowed street has cars on both sides that mean they can’t get down the street.

          • local

            A street like that wouldn’t need narrowing in the first place.

    • Cranky Crankypants

      I have actually witnessed fire trucks backing up because the gap between cars on opposite sides of the street was too narrow. When it’s your neighbor’s house burning, that kind of freaks you out.

    • Arlwhenever

      You are absolutely right on the BS part. ACFD for many years has systematically patrolled streets periodically with operable units to familiarize personnel with their territories and to identify potential chokepoints. This new initiative is not driven at all by the ACFD — it’s just another stuff down citizens’ throats anti-car policy led by the all-knowing seers of unilateralim.

      • local

        How do you know it’s not part of the ACFD effort to eliminate the chokepoints they identified?

        Are you just speculating wildly?

        • Arlwhenever

          I’ve dealt with Patricia Bush on other anti-car initiatives — I’ve observed her papering over decisions that have already been made. I recall specifically being told by her not to worry about an anti-car schemes that diverted cut-through traffic into an elementary school complex because the cars wouldn’t be travelling very fast past the kids. She cares not a whit about the real world implication of the decisions that she implements, it’s all about managing up. She adamantly opposed a compromise solution.

          A good enough solution for the ACFD in most tough cases is to have segments of driveway-wide spaces set for no parking to give door and pneumatic leg extension clearance, instead of complete elimination of parking along a street side.

          As for vehicle width, cars were typically much wider 30 to 50 years ago than they are today, meaning there will generally be more center street clearance now than there was when the streets were initially built.

          As for that stretch of 21st Rd at North Glebe that Ms. Bush wants to target next, there are alleys with plenty of width behind the buildings on both sides of the street. If I were ACFD I would want to use the alleys regardless.

          • Westover

            Actually cars today are at one of their widest points in history. Design and grandpa’s story just make it seem otherwise. For example a 1959 Chevy Impala, a car anyone would refer to as a “boat” was 76.4 inches wide, while today’s seemingly svelt BMW 7 series is 84 inches wide. I blame the need for more cup holders, but really it is the desire for a more stable ride.

          • Ballston

            And the fat american syndrome

          • Westover

            Yes, the BMW is designed in America…. Please.

          • Arlwhenever

            Get real. A $100k luxury beast is no typical car. If someone were foolish enough to park one of those on N 21st Rd it would be gone is 60 seconds.

          • local

            Bad example, but we all know that SUVs are fatter and more common these days.

          • Westover

            Both are the upper middle class luxury barges of their generation. So, throw out another full size vehicle in the middle class price range. You will see that they have ALL grown. Even better, compare small econoboxes. 1979 Honda Civic to a 2009 Civic.

          • El Fat Kid

            don’t get a beemer if you want good cup holders. for some reason german engineers hate cup holders.

          • Burger

            How many people have BMW 7 series. The better analysis what is the average width of cars in parked on Arlington’s St that could block a fire truck. I have no idea if it wider or narrower but you’re just guessing by citing to the largest car out there.

          • Westover

            Take what used to be the smallest cars, a Civic or a VW Golf, and you will see that cars have grown a lot over the last 20 years.

          • local

            Okay, so do you have studies showing your solutions are better?

  • OX4

    Wow, the Examiner as a shill for the Chamber of Commerce. There’s some unbiased reporting for you.

  • Deb

    One-sided street parking works in many areas. Helps with snow plowing and picking up leaves as well. Maybe if people didn’t have 4 or 5 cars/house it would not be a concern.

    • Burger

      So we shouldn’t be able to park on both sides of the street for the entire year because of events that take place during certain times of the year?

      • Josh S

        No, Burg – it’s just one additional reason why it might be a good idea. The main reason would have to be fire truck access. Assuming it’s justified.

        • Burger

          I guess I view the street as public access, including parking, and until said study is done to confirm loss of live is directly impacted by chokepoints it is more than likely an attempt for Arlington to be anti-car and limit my ability to park on the street.

          If the issue is too many cars on the street, then create more zoned parking to get non-residences off of the street not to attack taxpayers that have cars and possibly have no garage or driveway.

          • local

            How do you know no such study as been done?

            How do you know there aren’t already standards set for firetruck access that just haven’t been enforced until now?

            You’re just assuming that this is all about hating cars, based on your assumption that information isn’t there because you’re not aware of it and apparently haven’t tried to look.

          • Burger

            when you are restricting freedom, it is on the onus of someone doing the restricting. Go do your own research. This an internet forum and you can google just as easily as I can.

          • Westover

            Freedom to park? I mean I am a life long republican and all, but that is kind of stretching things. If there was just one incident on the street, and a fire engine could not reach the residence, the next day parking restrictions should be in effect. If people are opposed to that, then you have a hearing and go through the full process. BUT, this is one of those cases where you should default to erroring on the side public safety, then look at what can be best done to make all happy.

          • local

            I’m not the one doing it though, the county is. You are welcome to go demand it from them.

            Until then, you can’t just assume it hasn’t been done though.

  • El Fat Kid

    Sounds like the CoC is extremely worried…

    Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Rich Doud said. “And maybe there’s enough [business] to go around, but maybe that’s somewhat at Arlington’s expense.”

    dun dun dun.

    • Burger

      If one of my concerns is dealing with clients coming to my office and traffic – wouldn’t it make sense to open the office in Fairfax then Arlington.

      • El Fat Kid

        hah. you’re kidding right?

      • local

        Maybe you should open an office closer to all the clients, not closest to the biggest roads. Depending on the type of clients you’re talking about, that probably means DC.

        • Burger

          You do know more private industry workers have offices in Fairfax right? And the major airport is Dulles, right.

          And clients tend to stupid things like locate their offices at major intersections.

          • local

            Yes, I know. And they are going to be there whether or not there are HOT lanes on 395.

          • Burger

            Here…take a moment and get off your high horse and think like a businessman.

            If the choke points start in Arlington and I can avoid that because Fairfax is forward thinking to expand their roads where are you going to build your office?

            See, it isn’t that hard.

          • local

            I am thinking like a businessman. I’m thinking about all the factors, in both traffic and otherwise, instead of the incredibly simplistic analysis you’re offering.

          • BoredHouseWife

            You’re going into DC via Fairfax?

  • shirley

    the “new” person at the County, “Wayne Wentz” is out to make Arlington be the way he thinks it should be. And, then, when he retires, we can change it all again. Once again the County lacks good policy and lets a staff person run amuck. This is also the person who removed parking at Quincy Field for a bike lane, totally screwed-up the 7-points intersection in Cherrydale, and also firmly believes that Trader Joe’s sholdn’t have their own parking.
    Wake up people.

  • charlie

    the trash trucks back down my street more quickly than i would in my car.
    of course they need more room.

  • 4Arl

    If the board makes it a point to publicly express full confidence in the super before the investigation, what does that say to others who want to report other abuse of power or corruption? The principal could retire but not everyone is in that situation. Who is supposed to look after Arlington’s long term interest?

    • Ryan

      Yeah, I’m pretty certain that the school board will always say that. They don’t really seem to stray to far from anything the superintendent says.

  • LyonSteve

    If this is about public safety then the speed bumps/humps need to be removed as they can slow down emergency vehicles as well.

    • Lou

      Ironically, this will probably cause more speed humps, since cars will tend to drive faster when there is parking on just one side.

    • Westover

      Emergency Vehicles do not have a problem with going slow once in a neigborhood close to the scene, but most of the newer speed bumps also have cuts in them for the vehicles to stradle. Getting vehicles close access to the residence, even if at a slow rolling speed, is faster than having to walk a block or more lugging hoses, ladders, stretchers, trash cans, etc.

  • local

    How exactly does the loss of HOT lanes hurt Arlington business? Someone be specific.

    • Westover

      Bad traffic in the county means few customers from outside the county.

      • local

        I asked for specific reasons.

        HOT lanes doesn’t necessarily help traffic in the County. Zimmerman’s point was that it could make things worse for the County. Read his letter.

        And of course this assumes, as usual, that HOT lanes are the only possible solution and that everyone who opposes HOT lanes opposes every possible solution.

        • Westover

          Well I am in favor of HOT lanes and EVERY other financially viable solution.

          • local

            But that’s a contradiction, because building every solution isn’t overall financially viable. We have to pick the best ones because money is tight.

          • Westover

            Sort of. HOT lanes are part of a solution that is viable in time, money and sustainability. As we are seeing, Metro Rail takes decades to expand, costs a TON, and is VERY expensive.

            I would still like someone to explain how the HOT Lane system differentiates between cars that are solo occupied and owe a toll and those that are HOV and do not owe a thing.

          • local

            Metro isn’t the only choice. And building a line doesn’t take decades, only a whole system takes that long.

          • Westover

            You obviously do not know the history of the Silver line that was first proposed in the late seventies. Planning has been going on for decades.

          • local

            Planning goes on for decades for highway projects too.

          • Westover

            Generally not as long as rail though.

          • local

            Maybe, maybe not. In any event, that just means we need to plan earlier. Picking projects because they’re faster to plan and build, rather than because they’re the best alternative, is a bad idea.

          • Westover

            Yes, their should be some consideration of these projects, but can’t over think these too much, or we end up like the Soviet Union with their centralized big picture planning.

      • jan

        Dense traffic in Arlington pales in comparison to Fairfax.

    • El Fat Kid

      Oh man it’s going to be awful, like to the West where they built the toll road out to reston and leesburg – we’ve been suffering from slow growth and high unemployment ever since.

      Seriously if you think a business located in Arlington will move out to Woodbridge or Dale City because of an improved commute or proximity to clients, you’re smoking the rock.

      • Westover

        A few HAVE moved out to Fairfax. Or they have been forced to pick up more overhead by putting branch offices out that way. You really don’t think traffic hurts business?

        • local

          Is traffic so much better out there? Getting to Arlington from out there would be slow and inconvenient even without any traffic. Many businesses competing for clients in that area would be going out there regardless.

          • Westover

            10-15 years ago I could get from Fairfax City to Ballston in 10-12 minutes. Today that is a half hour even at 11am.

          • local

            But 10-15 years ago, lots of people to the west and south and north of Fairfax City who could also get there in 10-12 minutes now must drive a half hour to get there. Traffic is bad everywhere.

          • Westover

            And we need more roads built to keep up, along with transit solutions. But if you do not add roads, the buses taking folks to the trains will just be stuck with everyone else.

          • local

            Agreed. I was just explaining why some people who are saying “Arlington’s going to lose business because we won’t build huge roads” are being kinda silly.

        • El Fat Kid

          There’s no question that traffic hurts businesses and has gotten significantly worse. But you’re loco if you think moving to Reston or Woodbridge will improve your commute and/or access to your company.

          Okay, if your clients are based in Reston, it makes sense, but it would regardless of the traffic situation.

          The main reason some businesses have moved out further is not to avoid traffic, but to pay cheaper rent. This is the case everywhere and will be regardless of whether or not arlington has hot lanes.

  • Bender

    But, but, but . . . narrow roads are safer! Having less room slows vehicles down! Eliminate a parking lane will only effectively make the road wider, which will endanger people’s lives!

    • local

      Nice straw man.

      Nobody said the more narrow a road the safer. That’s goofy. A road that is too wide may need to be more narrow, but a road that is already too narrow isn’t more safe.

      • Bender

        Nobody said the narrower, the safer?

        I guess you weren’t around for those very assertions that were made a few weeks ago when that kid on (narrowed) Four Mile Run got hit by a car. That is EXACTLY what people were claiming.

        • Westover

          Yeah, had nothing to do with bullies chasing the kid into the busy street.

        • uD8tSr xjatasdwtmgv

      • local

        I didn’t see anyone saying that exactly. It goes without saying that there’s a limit to how narrow a street can be.

  • Bluemont John

    This is awful. I think it’s likely driven by the County’s desire for more revenue–in this case, from ticketing cars for violating the no-parking areas.

    I hope the Glebewood people sue. It’s going to make their homes less valuable; it’ll be interesting to see if their assessments for next year drop (as they should), given the loss of those parking spots near their homes. But I doubt it.

    Although it’s true that fire trucks were narrower decades ago, I doubt they’ve gotten wider in the last 30 years. Cars have–but still, I’d be surprised if there are many streets a fire truck can’t actually get through because of parked cars. Same with the garbage trucks.

    • local

      Someone already noted that it’s quite possible that firetrucks have gotten wider. But nobody knows for sure, including you.

      People love to just assume the government is the worst it can possibly be. Such cynicism. Yeah, it’s a conspiracy to write a few tickets or force people off the roads and on Metro. Couldn’t possibly be what they say it is.

      • Bluemont John

        I didn’t say it’s *impossible* that the stated reason is the real one–just unlikely. Why all of a sudden did they the County do this? What have the trucks been doing for the last 30 or 40 years? It just doesn’t make sense. At the same time, the County budget is in the dumps, and they’ve been thinking “creatively” to generate revenue, by raising taxes and fees.

        I took a look on Google; those streets are in fact very narrow. But the residents had developed their own solution (staggered parking) and someone reported that the one area has a wide alley behind the street.

        • Westover

          Cars have grown again over the last two decades, and so have the fire trucks, Garbage trucks too. At the same time a bunch of streets in Arlington that did not have curbs and allowed folks to pull a little bit into the grass and had curbs added for storm sewer/erosion projects, which narrowed the space people could park.

        • local

          Good questions. Don’t assume the answers.

      • Lacy Forest

        As a former FF, I can say with certainty that fire apparatus has gotten bigger in the past 30-40 years. It has to do with two things: safety and technology. Fire apparatus now have fully enclosed crew cabs which is a lot more safe and comfortable than standing on sideboards and tailboards, but in order to seat 4-6 fully turned-out FFs, they have to be pretty roomy. And fire apparatus carry a lot more gear than they did 30-40 years ago and it’s all carried in enclosed, securable compartments now. I suggest you Google some pics of fire apparatus from the 70s to now and you will see the growth in apparatus size.

        • local

          Someone who actually knows. Thanks for your contribution LF.

      • Lacy Forest

        Just for comparison, here is a 2008 Seagrave standard pumper, about 30 years newer than the previous picture.

        • Bluemont John

          Yes, thanks for the useful pics. That first one has a 1960s look to it, but I assume from your post they used those till just recently? (Obviously, if they switched to the larger trucks 10 or 20 years ago, the “Why now?” question is still out there.)

          Also, could the fire trucks use the alley behind those houses on Dittmar?

  • cj

    Sorry to clutter up this conversation with facts, but if anyone really wants to pursue the issue of parking on narrow streets, you should look at the Streets Element of the Master Transportation Plan on the Board agenda this Saturday morning. The report is at
    http://arlington.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=401&meta_id=88641

    This decrees that a street must be at least 28 ft. wide to have parking on both sides. It would formalize the standard already being applied, giving staff more authority to reduce parking on narrower streets whenever someone complained.

  • BB Queen

    Can’t we just please pave over the whole county? Everyone knows access for out-of-county residents is more important than the quality of life of the people who live here. More roads, more parking, more pavement and lifwill be bliss.

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