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by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

The new “Premium Transit Network” on Columbia Pike is being greeted with cautious optimism by some community members after years of discussion and delays.

But some raised questions about what will mark the new bus system as “premium,” considering it will not run in dedicated lanes due to the layout of Columbia Pike and will have a fleet of standard buses, at least for now.

The mood appears to be more positive than previously, when a group of civic association leaders derided the service for a lack of ambition in a letter last year.

“A bus is a bus,” said Ric Birch, president of the Arlington Mill Civic Association, one of several along the Pike. “You can dress it up, you can paint it a different color, use different fabric on the seats, it’s a bus. I’m not sure what the real drive is for a premium bus.”

Staff explained at a work session about the network last month that the standard buses are being used for cost reasons, as electric vehicles or ones powered by alternative fuels would be too expensive at this stage.

County Board vice chair Katie Cristol, a Pike resident, said that most important for the new service beyond the buses themselves will be the frequency, which she said she hopes to see at six-minute intervals for at least a large portion of the day.

“I think it’ll be more incremental, but I do think once the system is operational and its component pieces are in place, Pike residents will feel something different, we’ll experience something different,” she said.

Residents did give staff credit for looking at ways to keep costs down when constructing the 23 “premium transit stations” along the Pike. The successor to the nixed $1 million “Super Stop,” the new stations will be factory assembled to save money, and include features like electronic arrival boards and the option to pay a fare before getting on the bus.

However, some questioned the need for the technology in the bus stops, given the proliferation of smartphones and bus tracking apps.

“Adopting all the technology, I’m a little ambivalent about it,” said Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association. “I know they put a lot of effort in coming up with a design and they want it to be distinctive but that’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t have to be quite so elaborate.”

“I don’t know that they’re making that same mistake there [with the $1 million bus stop],” said Birch. “The county learned to watch the price on it. But I do think it’s tying a bow on it and calling it something that it already is. It’s a bus stop. They don’t really shield you from the elements that well, and I don’t understand all the need for all the electronic connectivity in the bus stops.”

With the new network set to begin operations next summer, Cristol said she hoped it would help spark more economic development and revitalization along the Pike, as businesses look to capitalize on more regular service. Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, did not respond to requests for comment.

But Birch said he would like to go further, and see long-term planning for Columbia Pike include a long-range goal of an elevated light rail system, as well as maintaining good bus service. Durgan said plenty of people were “totally bummed” when the streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, as it would have been something different for the Pike.

“You’ve got to get the transit out of the lanes of Columbia Pike,” Birch said. “[In] today’s political climate, I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a long-range plan that even if the county were to start today, we’re talking 15 years. I think someone needs to be courageous and start doing that.”

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

Arlington and much of the rest of the D.C. region is under a Heat Advisory for Thursday.

The National Weather Service issued the advisory Wednesday afternoon, warning of heat index values of more than 100 degrees and an elevated risk of heat-related illness for those spending time outdoors between noon and 8 p.m.

Those who are sensitive to the heat or performing outdoor activities should take proper precautions, authorities say.

More from NWS:

… HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 8 PM EDT THURSDAY… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A HEAT ADVISORY, WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 8 PM EDT THURSDAY. * TEMPERATURES… HIGHS IN THE MID TO UPPER 90S. * HEAT INDEX VALUES… AROUND 105 DEGREES. * IMPACTS… RISK OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS FOR THOSE WITHOUT AIR- CONDITIONING OR THOSE OUTDOORS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HIGH TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN POSSIBLE, RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK, THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN EMERGENCY – CALL 911. &&

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm 0

Arlington County firefighters helped to rescue a woman who fell down an embankment near Chain Bridge this afternoon.

The incident happened around 3 p.m. Initial reports suggest a 72-year-old woman fell 100-150 feet down an embankment along the Potomac Heritage Trail.

A fire department technical rescue team was dispatched to the scene, but rescuers were able to eventually walk the patient up the hill and to an ambulance, where she was evaluated for injuries, according to scanner traffic.

Police blocked the inbound lane of N. Glebe Road near the bridge during the rescue, due to a large number of fire department vehicles in the roadway.

Image via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

A man accused of beating up and robbing a male victim near the Arlington Mill Community Center on Sunday night, with two juveniles as his accomplices, is facing numerous charges.

Police say 20-year-old Arlington resident Dimas Reyes and two others were apprehended after a K9 search and a brief foot chase. Reyes is also accused of wearing a mask during the crime.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.

ROBBERY, 2017-07090239, 900 block of S. Dinwiddie Street. At approximately 10:04 p.m. on July 9, officers responded to the report of an assault that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined three male suspects assaulted a male victim and stole his belongings. The suspects then fled the scene on foot. A perimeter was established and a K9 track was conducted. Officers located the three suspects in the area and following a brief foot pursuit, they were taken into custody. Dimas Ulices Reyes, 20, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with Robbery, Malicious Wounding, Wearing a Mask in Public, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and Preventing 911 call. Warrants were obtained for the two juvenile suspects.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

(more…)

by Brooke Giles July 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School are set to be replaced in the next year.

The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday (July 15) on a plan to replace the fields with synthetic turf. Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a report that the current fields are “worn beyond reasonable repair.”

For the past eight years, the turf fields at TJ have been used in the neighborhood and for scheduled use by affiliated sports leagues and school programs.

The upgrades at the field are part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program, aimed at replacing heavily-used natural grass fields. Currently, there are 15 synthetic turf fields in Arlington, although the move to add more has come in for some criticism from some.

In addition to the new turf, the fields would get new corner flags and goals for soccer games, as well as new bleachers.

The upgrades would coincide with the construction of the county’s new elementary school on the west end of the site, and staff said Arlington Public Schools will plan out activities with the two projects in mind.

APS will share the cost of the upgrades with the county. Just under $475,000 would be spent on the new field, with an extra $47,000 held as a contingency.

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Reuben, a recently adopted Beagle mix.

Here is what Reuben had to say about his life as an Arlington puppy so far:

My name is Reuben and I was adopted on June 10 from NOVA Pets Alive. I am two and a half months old and love to play tug of war, play with my toys in mom and dad’s lap, and waking up with my dad every morning at 4 a.m.

I’m from Southwest Virginia just like my new mom and was rescued with my sister. She went home to a family with young children and I am looking forward to our puppy play dates.

I think I am a Beagle mix, but I am certain I am the absolute cutest. At only 10 weeks, I already love my crate and am trying to walk on my leash like a good boy, but that leash is a perfect tug of war toy.

My new mom and dad thought they were going to get an adult rescue dog, but when they saw me, they couldn’t resist. I love being an Arlington dog because the streets are super fun to cross (when we get the signal) and there are so many dogs to meet and play with and new smells.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care is the winner of six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.

Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Arlington County Board members wrestled last night with a plan to substitute car parking spaces for spots for bike and car-sharing at new apartment and condo buildings near Metro stations.

The proposal, put together by county staff as part of a number of changes to parking policy under discussion at a Tuesday work session, is meant to encourage developers to contribute to other transit options.

Staff recommended that a developer providing a Capital Bikeshare station could substitute that for for up to four car parking spaces, depending on its size, or bike parking could be exchanged for two parking spaces. One car-sharing space, provided for a private company like Zipcar, could be in place of five spots.

But Board members questioned why the provision for different transit means is tied to reducing car parking spaces, especially near Metro stations, as adding such amenities is becoming a more standard practice in developments across the region.

“It bothers me that going to suggest that we’re not going to get these things until we go down to the minimum [parking ratio],” said Board chair Jay Fisette. “These are things that should be part of every site plan.”

Among the other recommendations put forward by staff, developers could request fewer parking spaces the closer a property is to a Metro station, with some committed affordable housing units not being required to have any parking spaces if they are within an eighth of a mile of a station.

Board member John Vihstadt argued that orienting the changes in parking policy around Metro, which would allow developers to provide fewer spaces at new buildings if they are close to a station, might be misguided given the drop in ridership due to the system’s ongoing safety concerns and year-long SafeTrack rebuilding program.

Vihstadt said that drop in ridership was “casting a pall” over the discussion, but county transportation director Dennis Leach said it was important to attract residents to such buildings who “build a lifestyle” around Metro. Vihstadt requested further data on the county’s declining ridership, which Leach said has also been hampered by more teleworking and other factors.

A major addition by staff to a report in March, by a residential parking working group on the new parking policy, is a requirement that developers provide for dedicated visitor parking.

Stephen Crim, a parking planner in the county’s Department of Environmental Services, said that change came after concerns from nearby residents that cars would park on their residential streets, especially those of visitors who have few options.

Leach noted that the parking garages in neighborhoods like Crystal City and Pentagon City are under-utilized, especially by visitors, and that DES could do even more to promote use of those spaces alongside the various Business Improvement Districts in the county.

Staff and County Board members agreed that while the policy still needs work before approval, it is aspirational and designed to attract residents who would prefer to have minimal, if any, car use.

“We are all seeking to hasten a future that we are interested in, which is a more multimodal corridor especially with fewer cars and more people taking alternatives to the extent that it suits them and choices that allow them to do so,” said Board vice chair Katie Cristol.

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Homeowners could find it considerably easier to add an “accessory dwelling unit” to their property under changes set to be made to the ordinance in the fall.

Only 20 ADUs — defined as a second living space with a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate entrance — have been approved in Arlington since the ordinance first came into effect in 2009. Advocates have said they can help ease the county’s lack of affordable housing.

Staff is recommending that the Board allow detached ADUs, set back from the main house, and bump up the maximum occupancy from two to three. Currently in Arlington ADUs are only allowed within a single-family home.

At a work session Tuesday with county staff, Arlington County Board members debated various other recommendations, focusing in on a few.

Board members discussed staff’s recommendation of maintaining the current cap of ADU approvals at 28 a year countywide. Chair Jay Fisette and member Christian Dorsey suggested removing the cap altogether.

“Even at the likely installation rates, we’re not talking about a big impact on our community,” said Dorsey. “And who’s to say that if the 29th application is really the ideal, textbook accessory dwelling location and circumstance, we have to say no because we’re going to cap it? … It just really seems insane.”

But others were not so sure about removing the cap. Board member John Vihstadt suggested looking into capping new ADUs by civic association or neighborhood to prevent a concentration in one place, something others were happy to go along with in lieu of abolishing the cap altogether.

Joel Franklin, a housing planner at the county department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, added that staff will undertake an annual survey to try and find any issues that may arise.

The Board also explored raising the maximum number of people allowed to live in an ADU. The current maximum is two, with staff recommending that be increased to three, but several wanted more work to be done to explore whether that limit could be raised further.

Vice chair Katie Cristol said consistency is key, and that it becomes difficult when “governing the number of people in a bedroom.” But Vihstadt and Fisette were not so sure, and inclined to stick with the staff recommendation.

“It’s one thing to stay one or two nights in a crowded hotel room when you’re on vacation with the kids or friends or whatever,” Vihstadt said. “It’s another thing to have that crowded condition on a monthly or long-term basis.”

Staff suggested various rules for the units, including that their front doors can be on the same side as long as they do not face, and that exterior stairways must not face the street, among others.

Those rules are designed to protect the character of neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes. County staff members will continue to study the various policies governing aesthetics, they said.

“This is really a significant body of work. This is a use that I think we should be welcoming in our community while being cognizant of impacts on neighborhoods and protecting and planning against them,” said Cristol. “I would hate to lose this opportunity in any house or lot because somebody’s front door is placed in the wrong place.”

A slight change to the parking requirements for properties with ADUs has also been proposed.

Staff will compile the results of the survey on accessory dwellings this month, then finalize its recommendations. The Zoning and Housing Commissions will examine staff’s plans, with the Planning Commission and County Board expected to take final action in November.

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2017 at 9:20 am 0

‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]

Roosevelt Island Back Open — Roosevelt Island is open again after being temporarily closed by the National Park Service for the removal of diseased trees. [DCist]

Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]

Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]

Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 12, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Just Reduced banner

Each week, “Just Reduced” spotlights properties in Arlington County whose price have been cut over the previous week. The market summary is crafted by licensed broker Aaron Seekford of Arlington Realty, Inc. GET MORE out of your real estate investment with Aaron and his team by visiting www.arlingtonrealtyinc.com or calling 703-836-6116 today!

Please note: While Aaron Seekford provides this information for the community, he is not the listing agent of these homes.

Another All Star Game is in the books and the MLB season is set to kick off its second half. Our Nats are looking pretty solid, so let’s keep cheering ’em on to a World Series.

This is our year – I believe!

Also in its second half… is the year 2017. Yes, this year has zoomed on by and we now have less than six months left in the calendar year. And just like our Nats need to close strong, my team and I are all about helping our clients close strong, too.

Our lifeblood is helping you GET MORE out of your transaction. So, you may have played a strong game and have done everything right… but you need a closer that will seal the deal. When that time comes, we’re here for you!

As of July 10 there are 235 detached homes, 52 townhouses and 268 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 61 homes experienced a price reduction in the past week.

Here is this week’s selection of Just Reduced properties:

Please note that this is solely a selection of Just Reduced properties available in Arlington County. For a complete list of properties within your target budget and specifications, contact Aaron Seekford.

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