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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com October 5, 2011 at 8:57 am 2,263 50 Comments

County Board Candidates Debate — The three candidates for Arlington County Board — two incumbent Democrats and one Green Party challenger — answered questions at the Civic Federation candidates forum last night. The Democrats, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, spoke generally about the advantages of living in Arlington, while challenger Audrey Clement sharply criticized the County Board as being “in bed with developers.” [Sun Gazette]

Unopposed Candidate Roundup — Six Democrats who are running unopposed for local offices also spoke at last night’s candidates forum. [Sun Gazette]

7-Eleven Move Causes Disruptions — Who knew that one 7-Eleven store (out of 24 in Arlington) can have such a significant impact on a community? After a store in the Williamsburg Shopping Center moved closer to the East Falls Church Metro, daily routines were disrupted and other businesses in the shopping center withered. “7-11 may have a fine national strategy, but it sends ripples around localities, affecting livelihoods as well as routines beyond mere convenience,” writes columnist Charlie Clark. Luckily, the store is now moving back to Williamsburg. [Falls Church News-Press]

Redesign Suggestion for Dangerous Rosslyn Intersection — Greater Greater Washington proposes a possible way to enhance pedestrian safety at the dangerous intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, while also (possibly) improving traffic flow. [Greater Greater Washington]

  • Thes

    Another option would be to create a new ped/bike connection between Wilson Boulevard and the Roosevelt Bridge, and do something similar at Foggy Bottom. The bridge is quite close to both the Rosslyn and the State Department, but bikes and peds can’t get through and that increases traffic at the Lynn/Lee Highway intersection.

  • porkchop_milkshake

    This “green” party candidate has absolutely littered my neighborhood with glossy card stock promoting her campaign. It’s enough to make me question her sincerity.

    • Captain Obvious

      +1.

    • Aaron

      Environmentalism is only one plank of the Green Party platform. Especially in areas like Arlington that are the personal sandbox for the local Dems, their focus tends to be more on good governance, social justice, anti-corporatism and the ilk.

      • porkchop_milkshake

        Sure, no one runs on a single issue alone. But environmentalism is the issue the party is named for.

        This candidate’s campaign is running on the slogan “Audrey Clement for a greener arlington” with “greener” in all caps and underlined on the homepage. And her platform contains 14 “planks” (sub-planks?) of which 7 relate to improving Arlington’s stance as a leading green environmental community. So to call it “only one plank” is absurd.

        Half of her platform is incompatible with the action of spreading glossy litter on the sidewalks of my neighborhood. You’ll have to forgive my skepticism.

    • SustainableArlington

      Really, and how many pieces of mail do the other parties put out. Did you attend the Civic Federation meeting? Where you would have seen more whitewashing of the issues? 4 questions 2 a total joke. You should thank Audrey for trying to get the word out that we do have issues in Arlington. Traffic, poor air quality, schools bursting at the seams and homeless living on the street. Audrey does not get the insider track to be a keynote speaker at events she knows nothing about or showing up waving to a few people, getting a t-shirt and leaving. If you would like to write a check to her perhaps she can go our and buy some radio or TV spots.

      • porkchop_milkshake

        This is not mail. This is her campaign operatives dropping flyers on the sidewalks and doorsteps around my neighborhood and leaving them there. That’s littering and she should stop it. When she was out talking to people at the civitan yard sale and offering them the same glossy flyers, that was not littering. That was “getting the word out.”

        I’m afraid that if I wrote her a check she’d just use it for more junk that I’d have to clean up after her inconsiderate campaign workers drop it in the street.

        I don’t care which candidate litters in my neighborhood. It’s obnoxious. When a green candidate does litters, it’s also hypocritical.

        • I have a problem with any entity dropping spam into my mailbox, political or not. I just don’t want it. That said, I don’t know how you can single her out more than others because of her party. If you had some data to back it up, such as she is printing 20% more paper than the others, then that would be different. How do you know she’s not using 50% less and it is recycled? THEN you can make the comparison.

          By the way, your handle makes me want to puke. No offense, but I can’t imagine getting one gulp of a porkchop milkshake down. 🙂

          • porkchop_milkshake

            I’ll be honest. I get less joy out of pointing this out than I do from pointing out deficit spending fiscal conservatives. But I don’t feel like I need to prove that environmentalists litter more than non-environmentalists to say it’s bad.

            Sorry about the handle. It’s a reference to this:
            http://www.reddit.com/selfserviceoatmeal

  • Aaron

    From the tweet, I conflated the two stories and thought there was interest in fixing the dangerous intersection at Wilson and Quinn, where the perpetual chaos lying between the relocated 7-11 and Hellburger is a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Ted Williams

      What’s so dangerous about that intersection?

      • Aaron

        Hellburger-bound traffic usually tries to dash headfirst directly from westbound Wilson into the plaza parking lot, usually from a right on red, ignoring traffic coming up southbound Quinn, often with a right on red, ignoring traffic sneaking out of the parking lot against the normal flow of traffic, and ignoring pedestrians on all sides of the intersection. The alternative is to first make a right and then come to a screeching halt before making a 90-degree turn into the parking lot, which opens the yielding car to assault from the rear. The southbound Quinn traffic meanwhile, with or without a green light, usually isn’t clear on the concept of yielding the right of way to pedestrians in either crosswalk either.

        Cars trying to get in and out of the micro-sized 7-11 parking lot only add to the confusion.

        • Clarendon Cruiser

          +1
          and I second this observation. It’s only going to get worse with the high rise apartment being installed across the street.

        • Larchmont

          The parking lot and the area around its entrance on Quinn are dangerous, not the intersection of Quinn/Wilson. Need to make it one way, narrow the entrance, remove the 1st couple of spots right at the entrance, and keep pedestrians from entering through the vehicle entrance. I can’t help you with people NOT using a crosswalk, cars assaulting one another from the rear and not yielding to one another. That’s too close to world peace.

  • TMP

    Further proof of Arlington’s Democratic oligarchy, which IS in bed with the developers. Without fear of the constituency due to the fact there is no viable opposition or diversity (i.e. elected officials that are NOT Democrats), they’ll just keep doing what they’re doing…like taking campaign contributions from tow companies days before voting to increase towing fees.

    • SustainableArlington

      Attend your civic asso meeting and ask the hard hitting questions. Make this election your forum to get real issues on the radar.

  • charlie

    we need more routes into the City.
    1. Open Arlington Cemetery back up to bike commuters.
    2. Make the connection from Mt. Vernon Trail to the NORTHSIDE of Memorial Bridge a LEGAL and permanent transition (It is almost a mile to go to the death-crossover) and it would remove riders from going under the too-narrow arch of the bridge.
    3. Put a bike lane on Route 50. It isn’t like that road is moving during rush hour anyways. Then biker could actually use TR Bridge.
    4. Connect NORTH and SOUTHside of TR Bridge with Arlington Ridge Road. Right now it is dangerous to cross over the barriers on the bridge and adds 15-20 minutes to go to Rosslyn via trail and Key Bridge.
    5. Allow bikes on Whitehurst Freeway (it is NOT a real “freeway” thus giving bike commutes a safer way into upper Northwest as riding down M Street is suicidal most anytime of the day.
    6. Did I mention OPEN Arlington Cemetery back up to bike commuters.

    • CW

      I like.

      • G Clifford Prout

        Arlington Cemetery won’t reopen. Have to be mindful of those terrorists.

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      3/4: What is the deal with the sidewalk on the south side of the TR bridge? It goes no where, yet I’ve seen people on it.

      5: “Lots” (all relative) of bikers use the Whitehurst in the morning, heading to K street.

      • CW

        re:5 – Those are the same ones that you see riding with traffic on the Key Bridge too. Mostly bitter, grizzled old men with reflective vests and sideview mirrors who have been bike commuting for 20+ years and hate the world.

      • Thes

        There are long-range plans “on the books” to connect the sidewalk on the south side of the TR bridge with the Iwo Jima memorial area. At the moment, it only connects the Lincoln Memorial with a Route 50 overpass, under which a various homeless people sleep. When you see people walking on that sidewalk, they are usually either lost or homeless (or, sometimes, very hard core pedestrians).

        • Aaron

          I used the Marine Corps Marathon street closures last year to cross the Roosevelt Bridge on foot just to see where that sidewalk would lead. As Thes noted, it goes nowhere; you just end up in a vortex of asphalt and unmaintained greenway/brush. At the moment, you can’t avoid having to cross multiple lanes of busy highway to get back to something legitimately walkable.

  • ArlForester

    I am surprised that the 7-11 moved to the Exxon station but the writer is probably way off in the “marginal increase in profits” comment. The amount of traffic at that Exxon has to triple the former 7-11.

    • Burger

      I don’t think they are actually “moving” back. Exxon about 6-7 years ago opened their OTR stores as a way to make more money. Exxon realized about 2 years ago that they are a pretty crappy convenience store owner and either license or sold all their OTR locations to 7/11. The Exxon station on Old Dominion and Kirby, I think, changed over about a year ago.

      When this OTR changed to a 7/11, national probably figured they didn’t need the 7/11 in Williamsburg shopping center and moved the franchisee’s location to the Exxon station. Obviously, there is enough demand for two 7/11’s and national agree to let the franchisee “reopen” in Williamsburg but I would bet the Exxon 7/11 remains.

      • Rick

        The owner of the one in williamsburg bought both on the run properties. However, they maintain separate registers (and register systems) for the gas and the in-store purchases. There are still On the Run stores in Fairfax, Dulles, Downtown etc..

  • yequalsy

    The idea behind the Lee Highway/Lynn change is creative but politically infeasible (NPS) and incredibly expensive. A bike/ped ramp over Lynn surely would be cheaper. As a frequent bike commuter through that intersection I really sympathize with the drivers trying to turn there. Bike traffic has gone way up and no doubt it’s common for only a few cars to manage the right turn before the light changes. Giving us bikers a head start helps but doesn’t really solve the problem (either in terms of biker safety or giving cars enough time to turn there). I guess my inclination is to separate the crossing lights from the turning lights so that cars can’t turn when bikes go through and bikes can’t go through when the cars are turning. The downside there, of course, is you increase the time it takes to cycle through the lights.

    • Lou

      His solution is also atrocious for the many pedestrians and, yes, bicyclists who commute over Key Bridge to or from Rosslyn. It turns the relatively negotiable ramp from the Parkway into yet another major intersection to cross.

      And for cars trying to get to the Parkway northbound, that route he is suggesting is just plain ridiculous.

      • CW

        As someone who generally falls on the cycling side of things, I agree that his solution is ree-dik-you-luss!!! The folks over at GGW always have their heads in the clouds; that’s part of why I just stopped reading that site.

        Why don’t we start with a simple no right turn on red? Put up the sign, do a little enforcement, and give it a month or so. See what happens. Or how about a Barnes Dance? People act like changing already existing signalling devices is the end of the world. All they have to do is reprogram them. They shouldn’t be so hesitant to experiment with different signal configurations. Switch it back if it doesn’t work, no hurt feelings.

        • Lou

          I just think it’s kind of funny that their solution involves adding automobile lanes through greenspace. That must be a first.

        • OX4

          Agreed about a no turn on red sign. A simple solution that can save a lot of lives.

  • JimPB

    What would Greens, Republicans and others do different re: development than what the one-party controlled County Board has done?

    • CW

      Really curious myself as well. People act like the repubs wouldn’t take campaign donations in return for votes, and that they wouldn’t be in bed with developers. I audibly chuckle when I read those statements. Ever lived in Florida??!

      • Aaron

        I think the theory is that Republican board members would support creating a pro-development system with definite guidelines/principles to which the County will usually adhere, rather than the present situation where the County adopts strict rulesets that are freely waived for whoever makes the right obeisances regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, orientation, and environmentalism (in lieu of lining the pockets of Babs and the rest of the Board).

        Scrap the cronyism of the current pay-to-play system. Create a level playing field for all property owners and conduct the County’s business with a greater degree of transparency. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

        • no that’s not it either

          Nothing is ‘freely waived.’ There are voluntary guidelines and those can be negotiated and exchanged for other amenities the county deems appropriate and valuable.

          If there were truly a pro-development system, there would be no guidelines/principles/requirements because the state law prohibits localities from setting their own property requirements, except in cases requiring site plans. Aha! Therefore Arlington has intentionally kept prime space underzoned so that the county can negotiate concessions with developers through the site plan process.

          To wit, the board members some think are ‘in bed’ with developers are actually extracting valuable public benefits from said developers. Life would be much less fun in Arlington (and look more like Houston?) if this were a plain vanilla pro-development system. The problem with the Greens is they are not involved in day-to-day public gov’t processes, so they don’t understand the system they aim to change.

  • Correction

    Columnist’s name in the 7-11 piece is Charlie Clark, not Cook, says it on the byline

    Also, ArlForester – he’s spectulating a marginal increase in profits just like you’re spectualting the tripled amount of traffic. While I’m sure there is more traffic at that intersection, it can be a huge pain to get in and out of that station.

    He makes that point because many people did frequent that old 7-11, maybe because it was more residential friendly and closer to Williamsburg MS. When I lived on the corner of Lee and Washington, we’d drive over to the old 7-11 occasionally and there would always be people in there, never saw it empty. That and people take Williamsburg Blvd right by it quite a bit in the morning, many people prefer the back roads to 66.

    Not saying you’re wrong, just defending his choice of words.

    • Burger

      I doubt it being more residential but as you imply, people take different roads in their commute and would stop at the Williamsburg 7/11 driving the back roads.

    • Fixed, thank you for pointing this out.

  • Lou

    That’s nice that the 7-11 is moving back to Williamsburg Shopping Center. Now can someone please find a way to bring Charlie’s Pizza back there as well?

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    They didn’t close it because of terrorists, or at least did not keep it closed for that reason entirely. It is because they don’t want people disrupting services when they are being held.

    My grandparents are buried there… and I wouldn’t mind cyclists. But that is just me. On this one I ultimately have to side with those who are burying their loved ones.

    As for the GGW story:

    Not a chance of happening. 1. As noted a lot of this NPS land. 2. What isn’t is VA state. 3. What isn’t that is a piece of private property that is in heated and protracted debate/litigation with Arlington County over. The NPS will not give up any green space easily and without a fight. The cost to do this is also going to be ridiculously high for the purpose.
    Instead, make a simple solution: install bike/ped traffic lights crossing Lynn St. Put up “no turn on red” signs at the off ramp for I-66. Sync the existing lights with the new bike/ped light so bike/ped have time to cross without car movement in the intersection. Done.

    • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

      This was supposed to follow C Clifford’s post about terrorism and the cemetery, but the system choked.

    • CW

      Regarding ANC – aren’t busloads of tourists free to perpetually wander it all they want?

  • DarkHeart

    Only Joan Allen is allowed to jog in ANC>

  • Michelle

    That guy is always playing tennis.

  • charlie

    most of what is referred to as “Rosslyn Circle” — and for this discussion let us call it the land from Lee Hwy to Key Bridge — is actually OWNED by DC, even though it is in VA. Most of that land is the “landing” for Key Bridge as it once had quite an entrance and Rosslyn Circle is where the trolley and buses would turn around.
    So DC has to agree to stuff, and what do they care about Arlington issues?

    • CW

      I think it would be sweet to be able to ride a trolley across the Key Bridge and through Georgetown…oh crap, now I’ve done it…

  • Civic Activist

    Re. CivFed debate: ARLNOW’s topic title is quite inaccurate. Only one County Board candidate answered questions, the two incumbents did not deviate from prepared script — I have seen bobbleheads with more originality.

  • green

    This is a recent green Party press release:

    At the recent debate sponsored by the Fort Myer/Radnor Citizens
    Association, Arlington, incumbent board member Mary Hynes asserted that a central housing agency to address the crisis in housing in Arlington would be “more expensive than the present system of giving grants to non-profits for housing”. This statement is disingenuous, and dishonest, given the breadth of the housing problem Arlington is experiencing. It is typical of the red herrings thrown out by the board.

    It’s widely known, and admitted by county officials, that Arlington
    is not appropriating sufficient funds to address the lack of
    housing. The limited effort Arlington has made is little more than
    window dressing to appear to address the issue, and there is no real effort to preserve existing affordable units. In 10 years, Arlington has lost over 13,000 units of affordable housing. Every single year, the county board has failed to achieve its stated goal of 400 committed affordable units annually. In a number of cases, the county has actually double counted as new previously existing
    refurbished units. The new units are hardly affordable at a base rent of $1,100 per unit.

    Mary Hynes’ reasoning compares apples and oranges. An Arlington housing authority would have to work on a larger scale than currently exists to address the lack of housing. To do this, it would replace the advisory housing commission that currently exists but is ineffective, and it would use the current county housing staff. In Fairfax, the county government obtained federal grants for its program under its housing authority (over several million dollars annually). Arlington cannot access these federal funds because it has no housing authority. The few affordable units that have been made available in Arlington have cost taxpayers $300,000 – 500,000 per unit. Under a housing authority, nonprofits would compete for dollars, prompting more units at a lower cost.

    If the county really wished to establish an option that is less
    expensive than other options, a regional housing authority is the
    best option for everyone in Northern Virginia. The economies of
    scale are obvious in administration, acquisition of existing housing,
    refurbishing, construction, and maintenance. The county has never worked toward achieving this, although it is explicitly authorized by law. And remember that the goal and the opportunity of any housing authority is eventual self-funding.

    If the county goes instead with the current non-profits, they will
    have to expand to meet the real need and to address the problem in any effective way. Funding will need to be expanded. If the county wishes to continue to do almost nothing, and to fail to address the problem, then their current policy is more expensive than funding nothing, eliminating the housing commission, and the housing staff. That is the logic in Mary Hynes’ reasoning.

    The county board is fully dedicated to the urbanization of Arlington
    County, with high density, high rise development. This means the
    elimination of affordable and market rate housing. It also means the eventual disappearance of single family neighborhoods from
    Arlington. When we talk about the loss of housing and the intense
    urbanization of Arlington, we are talking about the inability of the
    middle class to continue to afford our own homes; to find a place to rent, to find a place for our children, for our older relatives, our
    senior citizens, our teachers and our public servants. The increase in homeless in Arlington represents people who were formerly renting when units were available.

    How do Mary Hynes’ incessant platitudes resolve the problem? How does not spending any money resolve it? What’s her solution? Is Prince William County her solution? Does she even understand the problem? Why is she here?

  • green

    Greens deliver fliers door-to-door because one-on-one communications are the only means available to organizations without money. Think about it while you are sitting in your bubble.

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