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by ARLnow.com June 8, 2017 at 5:15 pm 0

Arlington-based nonprofits have raised more than $16,000 so far as part of the United Way’s Do More 24 campaign.

The 24-hour fundraising campaign encourages D.C. area donors to give to any of more than 700 local participating nonprofits, thus funding “programs and services right here in our own community.”

“Held on June 8, 2017, Do More 24 is the DMV’s largest 24-hour online fundraiser,” said the United Way of the National Capital Area. “Last year, Do More 24 raised more than $1.55 million, which allowed nonprofit organizations to fill holes in their budget, buy desperately needed new equipment and serve more people in need across our region.”

Among the Arlington-based organizations on the Do More 24 leaderboard as of 5 p.m. Thursday were:

To help generate excitement for the campaign, many local nonprofits were active on social media, posting videos, detailing good things for which donations would be used, and setting goals for matching donations.

The donation campaign runs through 11:59 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

by Brooke Giles June 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A new report says Arlington County should use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to supplement under-performing ART bus routes and better connect residents with Metro stations.

Graduate students at George Mason University’s Schar School of Government and Policy compiled strategies to improve transit in the county, and concluded that using ride-hailing is one way to do so.

The report says the current fixed ART bus system is a disadvantage to some areas that are highly populated due to overcrowding, while there are service gaps for areas that are less densely populated. Based on their research, the ART 41 route from Columbia Pike to Courthouse is the busiest, while the 53, 62, 74 and 92 are all underused and failed to recoup much of their operating costs through fares.

The solution of using the likes of Uber and Lyft to supplement buses on routes that are underutilized is based on a similar program in Pinellas County, Florida called Direct Connect. Through the program, the county pays for half of a commuter’s Uber fare if it begins and ends at certain points and stays within a specific area.

A similar partnership can improve connections to the county’s Metro stations, GMU students concluded. While the report gives Arlington credit for the use of car- and bike-sharing with the likes of Capital Bikeshare and Car2Go, it says partnering with ride-hailing companies could be helpful for those who right now struggle to integrate Metro into their commutes.

The report also said the county could improve how it provides information about its transit services. Currently, mobile applications do not support real-time tracking for ART buses.

“Mobile networks play a vital role in day-to-day life and real-time tracking of services has become a necessity for busy commuters,” the report says. “Developing this tool as a mobile application would create greater convenience for commuters.”

The report also said that the county could benefit from talking to the community. It suggests facilitating a two-way dialogue between riders and county staff, and using strategies like surveying riders at Metro stations and other major transit hubs.

“Arlington County, if it were to embrace advances in information technology and extend its history of community engagement even further, could implement cost-effective yet innovative transportation solutions in its neighborhoods,” the report says.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Ready Arlington banner

This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

This week’s Preparedness Post comes from Ready Arlington’s community partner, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

If you suddenly learned that you had to evacuate because of an emergency, would you and your pet be ready? We all need to be prepared for emergencies, and pet owners have special responsibilities.

June is National Pet Preparedness Month so this is the perfect time to get your ducks (or cats, dogs, or bunnies) in a row. Here’s some things to think about when you plan:

  • Take your pet with you! Hurricane Katrina taught us that leaving animals behind when people are forced to evacuate is a catastrophe
  • Make sure your pet’s identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet’s collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home. Also consider microchipping your pets (The Animal Welfare League of Arlington sells engraved id tags for $6.00 and has low-cost microchipping clinics eight times a year)
  • Have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes
  • Make a pet emergency kit. Download Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners for a full list of items to include in your pet’s kit, which can include: pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, manual can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies, leash, harness and/or secure pet carrier
  • Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets well in advance of needing them. In addition to researching hotels, keep a list of friends or relatives who live outside the immediately affected area and who would be able to house you and your pet.
  • If you are instructed by authorities to shelter in place, you will probably need your pet emergency kit, including fresh water.

You are your pet’s caretaker and protector. Make a plan today!

 

by Mark Kelly June 8, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

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

On Monday, The Washington Post ran the following headline: “Metro hails SafeTrack as a success, but it has yet to translate into better services for riders.”

The article was not any better for the system than the headline. After one year and nearly $160 million spent addressing decades of deferred maintenance on its basic infrastructure, the system still has miles to go on repairs.

And despite what has been hailed as a good first step for safety, there is little evidence that Metro has been able to overcome the long held view that it is unreliable.

For years, many Metro riders were willing to look past the issues with reliability, including the inability to keep escalators and elevators in operational order, because fares remained relatively low. But as fares steadily increased and the severity of incidents increased, riders walked away from the system. Now you can jump on your smart phone, order an Uber or Lyft ride with little cost difference.

The Post also ran an editorial on Monday with its own solution for the problem: a 1 percent regional sales tax to pump $650 million into the system each year.

Such a measure would almost certainly pass if put before the voters in Arlington, though it would be up to the General Assembly in Richmond as well as officials in Maryland and D.C. And some additional funding is not necessarily an unreasonable ask if we want to put the system back on its feet.

But it is also not unreasonable to exercise caution and ask for real accountability in return. While General Manager Paul Wiedefeld is largely credited with taking Metro’s safety problems seriously, and has fired staff where appropriate and allowable, little has really changed to the underlying governance of the system.

However, Monday’s Post editorial continued by carping that, “Locally, some myopic GOP elected officials grumble” about Metro asking for more money when it’s not spending money wisely now. Setting aside the near unanimity of elected officials inside the beltway who are Democrats, what is wrong with expecting Metro to be set up for success before handing them $6 billion to spend over the next decade?

And in February the Post seemingly agreed with this political “myopathy,” editorializing in favor of reforms by saying, “governance reforms are critical, including enhanced flexibility for management to control costs and rein in unions, as well as a streamlined board of directors consisting of transit, finance and management experts rather than local politicians.”

And they continued, “It’s fair to demand management improvements, governance reforms and a workable long-term recovery plan at Metro.”

The Post was correct in February. The region should demand a transformational reform plan from Metro before providing any new revenue source. Metro’s failure to do so voluntarily by now means any new money must come with strings attached.

by Peter Rousselot June 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Peter Rousselot

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy has recommended a short-term plan to add 1,300 new high school seats by 2022. Under Murphy’s “hybrid proposal,” 600 seats would be added at the Ed Center and 700 seats would be added at the Career Center.

Good news: need for long-term planning acknowledged

Murphy has publicly acknowledged that:

  • Arlington County forecasts continued total population and school enrollment growth for many years beyond the cut-off date (2026) in the current Capital Improvement Plan
  • Arlington’s total population aged 0-14 will exceed 40,000 by 2030
  • APS needs to develop its own long-term new school construction plans well beyond 2026:

In his report to School Board members, Murphy said the school system will need an additional 2,200-seat high school, plus up to two middle schools and up to four elementary schools, if enrollment continues to push toward and beyond 30,000 students.

So long as these population and enrollment forecasts continue to represent the County’s and APS’ best estimates, they should be employed systematically to make long-term planning decisions for all land use and public infrastructure investment (e.g., schools, parks, roads).

It is neither prudent, realistic nor fair to fail to plan for this growth because some people think or hope that it might not occur.

Murphy also made welcome remarks at the May 18 School Board meeting (between 1:37:30 and 1:40:25) that he is “hearing from the community some concern about the CIP”, and that for future new school construction projects “there will be three flavors of budgets: Low, Medium and High.”

This good news needs to be verified by careful scrutiny of the future “three flavors of budgets” to be sure that all three estimates are genuine and reflect new initiatives to bring per seat costs down substantially from current levels.

Bad news: long-term planning needs a jump start

Parent reactions on social media reflect justifiable disappointment at the lack of long-term planning. A substantial number of parents share this sentiment:

It is the lack of a meaningful long-term strategic plan that is troubling. If we go the smaller choice school route, what does that look like? What programs are we building out? What is the timing? We can’t keep doing this whack a mole approach to planning with the influx of students that we know is coming into the system over the next few years — the equivalent of a new elementary school every year.

Several parents are particularly critical of the disappointing Alphonse and Gaston routine between the County and APS relating to transportation challenges at Kenmore. In response to the excuse that such planning naturally ceased once the option of an elementary school at the Kenmore site was dropped, one parent convincingly counters:

  • The problem will get significantly worse as large, underutilized parcels become more fully maximized for whichever uses (speaking of 32 acres at Kenmore and approximately 17 acres at the Urgent Care site)
  • The County can’t wait for APS decisions in part because APS can’t move to use Kenmore without some promise of County assistance both with VDOT around Route 50 and with Fairfax County

Conclusion

The County and School Boards must demonstrate that they are:

  • collaborating seamlessly and transparently
  • listening to public concerns and adjusting accordingly
  • developing fiscally-sustainable, long term plans to build the new schools we need when we need them

by Progressive Voice June 8, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Christopher Gray

Today, many Virginia workers face stark choices without easy answers. Even as cuts in public funding cause college tuition to rise at an unreasonable rate and with a student debt crisis that threatens to spiral out of control, the percentage of Americans over 25 with a college degree continues to grow at historic rates.

Approximately 32 percent of American adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, and a high level of educational attainment has largely become a pre-requisite for finding a path to financial stability in today’s knowledge economy.

This means that as much as 68 percent of the population lacks the easy access to upward social mobility that is so foundational to the American Dream. Looking for a reason why our political climate has become less than sane? That’s a good place to start.

There are many other problems with our current social model, including professional jobs for college grads becoming increasingly clustered in a small number of metropolitan areas where the cost of living is exorbitant.

According to George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen, this dynamic has created a society with historically low rates of geographic and social mobility, high rates of racial and socio-economic segregation, low levels of innovation, and stagnant growth.

Indeed, the high cost of living in job-rich areas such as Northern Virginia costs the American economy as much as $1.7 trillion in GDP annually. Simply put, many highly qualified people lack the means or are otherwise unable to relocate to areas where they can find meaningful employment.

Having lived in a friend’s dining room for six months while working two jobs and an internship when I first arrived in the D.C. area, I am well acquainted with how the toxic mix of high student loans, insane housing market and uber-completive economy keeps workers on the razor’s edge of financial insecurity and personal uncertainty. I do not want future generations to struggle with this same reality. We need to do better for our Commonwealth.

With many high paying manufacturing jobs outsourced to low wage countries with poor labor and environmental standards, many Virginians are working two or three jobs just to maintain an increasingly unstable day to day life.

We need to guarantee a living wage for workers if we want a more stable economy and political environment. Automation is going to follow in the footsteps of free trade agreements in reducing working class jobs, while Virginia’s longstanding anti-labor politics continue to allow highly profitable companies to maximize their share of our state’s wealth at the expense of workers.

Some will argue that increasing the minimum wage will have a job killing effect on Virginia’s economy, even though there is no statistical evidence to support that conclusion.

I would counter that even if some low wage jobs are lost because we decide to adopt a living wage, others will open up as people no longer have to work multiple low paying jobs to make rent in the absence of a livable minimum wage. As of today, a fulltime worker making the state’s $7.25 minimum wage brings home about $1160 per month before taxes. That’s barely enough to pay for a room in Northern Virginia, let alone support a family.

The truth is, a full-time worker making Virginia’s minimum wage will bring home less than $14,000 a year. That’s not enough to make ends meet anywhere, even in less expensive rural areas.

We may have become conditioned to believe that workers are not supposed to see their living standards improve even as the economy and worker productivity continue to grow, but that’s only because when it comes to improving the lives of workers our politicians succumb to the disproportionate influence that a very small class of wealthy individuals have over our political process.

Virginia’s elected officials – Republicans and Democrats — need to confront their donors with support for basic redistributive economic policies that will more equitably share the wealth generated by Virginia workers.

Parents who are able to survive while working only one job can spend more time helping their children with school and improving their communities. Non-college educated workers will be able to live financially stable and secure lives — a basic dignity that anyone working a full-time job should be guaranteed.

There is no moral justification for living in a society that creates a permanent class of the working poor – and that is what happens when upward social mobility becomes a rare exception. Enough is enough: it’s time to raise the minimum wage.

Christopher Gray is a native Virginian, graduate of James Madison University, and Arlington Young Democrat. He has been active in the Democratic Party of Virginia for more than 15 years and has served as the Chair of Virginia Young Democrats Environmental Policy Caucus and Party Representative for the Arlington Young Democrats.

by Chris Teale June 8, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Work at a new Potomac Yard apartment building set to include a new church is well underway.

The County Board approved the addition of a church to the first and second floors of the 12-story residential building in 2015. The building was originally approved in 2007 but went unbuilt for some time.

Now, however, the site between Jefferson Davis Highway, 33rd Street S., 35th Street S. and S. Ball Street has been cleared by construction crews, with foundations set to be lain soon.

The new church — known previously as the “Meetinghouse of Worship” — is planned for a portion of the first and second floors of the building. It will be occupy 23,906 square feet of space, with a 300-seat sanctuary, classrooms, administrative offices and a multipurpose room on the first and second floors.

The church will be on the left side of the building, next to 33rd Street S., while on the right side of the building, the apartment complex will have a lobby and retail space.

The apartment complex is set to have 342 units, having added 11 with the church’s approval. A brochure on the building by architects DCS Design touts its “ground floor retail, rooftop pool and a private exercise facility,” and its proximity to public transit options.

The building will be close to a Crystal City-Potomac Yard transitway stop on Crystal Drive, parallel to Route 1.

Representatives with developer The Praedium Group did not respond to requests for comment on a timeline for construction, or further details on the church that will move in.

by ARLnow.com June 8, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Police Investigating Shooting in DoD Office Building — Arlington County police are investigating a fatal shooting in the Defense Department’s Taylor building, at 2530 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. The shooting happened this morning and initial reports suggest it was self-inflicted.

Lyon Village Profiled by WaPo — “Close to both the Clarendon and Court House Metro stops on the Orange and Silver lines, Lyon Village is the kind of neighborhood where families know their neighbors, children play and parents can walk almost everywhere.” [Washington Post]

ACPD Recruiting for Citizen’s Police Academy — Applications are currently being accepted for the Arlington County Citizen’s Police Academy. The academy “was designed to create a better understanding and communication between citizens and the police through education.” Applicants are subject to background checks before acceptance into the program, which shows the “inner workings” of the police department. [Arlington County]

Arlington Hosts Travel Trade Show Attendees — Arlington County hopes to get a big tourism and economic boost from its promotional efforts during this year’s U.S. Travel Association IPW trade show, which was held in D.C. for the first time. The county, in partnership with the Rosslyn BID, JBG Companies, and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, also hosted 150 trade show attendees in Rosslyn on Monday. [Arlington County]

Crystal City Startup Gets Big Funding Boost — Arlington-based private detective booking startup Trustify has raised more than $6.5 million as part of its latest fundraising round. The company recently opened a new office in Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]

Letter to the Editor: Kids Over Dogs — The writer of a letter to the editor of the Sun Gazette newspaper doesn’t understand why, in county government, there seems to be more urgency over proposed changes to a dog park than making sure there is enough land to build new schools to keep up with rising enrollment. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com June 8, 2017 at 9:25 am 0

D.C. isn’t the only wonky place with bars and restaurants opening early, offering specials and putting today’s James Comey testimony on the TVs. Some in Arlington are also getting in on the action.

The most hotly-anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in recent memory is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Though the lack of a spectacular new revelation in Comey’s prepared remarks may be tamping down the enthusiasm a bit, many are still eager to hear what Comey has to say about President Trump — and, on Twitter, vice versa.

Here in Arlington, Liberty Tavern will be opening early, at 10 a.m., and putting the hearing on its five large TVs.

“We will serve free covfefe! And White Russians and Stoli and grapefruits during the hearing will be $5,”a rep for the Clarendon restaurant once visited by President Obama told ARLnow.com. “Lastly, we’ll offer all of our 12-inch wood-oven specialty pizzas for $10, including our popular brunch pizza that features our homemade breakfast sausage, house cured bacon, fried eggs, tomatoes, cheddar and sage.”

Also hosting hearing watchers is Ballston watering hole A-Town Bar and Grill, which will open at 10 a.m. and put the proceedings on its many TVs.

In Courthouse, Ireland’s Four Courts will be open for lunch and have hearing coverage on its TVs with the volume on. The pub will also offer lunch specials during the hearing.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 8, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Three-time Grammy-nominee Bettye LaVette headlines the 22nd annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival on Saturday, June 17 from 1-8:30 p.m.

For this FREE annual event, LaVette is joined by a full lineup of blues, R&B and funk performers of national and regional note, including: Rufus Roundtree and Da B-more Brass Factory; Full Power Blues Band; Sol Roots with Carly Harvey; and Jonny Grave.

Presented by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) in cooperation with Arlington Arts — the presenting arm of Arlington Cultural Affairs — the Columbia Pike Blues Festival is a recipient of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Music Festival Sponsorship Program, which supports the growth of Virginia music festivals and their important economic impact for local communities while also building Virginia’s reputation as a music destination.

The winner of multiple awards, Bettye LaVette performed the memorable duet “Change is Gonna Come” with Bon Jovi for President-elect Obama at HBO’s We Are One concert, as well as the critically acclaimed “Love, Reign O’er Me” tribute to The Who at the Kennedy Center Honors. From the birth of soul in the 1960’s, Bettye continues to garner accolades and awards in her fifth decade in show business for her vital new albums and interpretive live shows. The rest of this year’s amazing Columbia Pike Blues Festival lineup includes:

“The Pike” is fast becoming the Arlington destination for food and fun — with everything from the Salsa Room, a top Latin dance club in the DMV, and Ethiopian delicacies at the renowned Dama Pastry and Restaurant (whose baker was trained by the White House pastry chef), to down-home classics such as Bob and Edith’s diner and the now-famous Celtic House Irish Pub, which made national news this Spring when it was named by Travel + Leisure Magazine as the best place in the country to spend St. Patrick’s Day!

Enjoy food and beverages, arts and crafts vendors, and kids’ activities as you spend the day on Arlington’s oldest and newest Main Street — in one of its most diverse, vibrant communities — listening to quintessential American music that will make it impossible not to get up and dance.

The Blues Festival covers three blocks at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. So put on your dancing shoes, grab friends and family and head to the Pike for a day of great music, food, art and fun! More info here.

Share your Blues Fest photos here: Facebook: @ArlingtonCPRO | Twitter: @ArlingtonCPRO | Instagram: CPRO_ColumbiaPike #CPBluesFest

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