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Wind Advisory Issued for Arlington, Region

Arlington and much of the D.C. region will be under a Wind Advisory starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Forecasters say that a line of showers and thunderstorms in the morning will give way to gusty winds through Wednesday evening. The wind gusts may damage trees and cause power outages.

More from the National Weather Service:

…WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM TO 7 PM EDT WEDNESDAY… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WIND ADVISORY, WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM TO 7 PM EDT WEDNESDAY. * TIMING…STRONG WINDS WILL INCREASE WEDNESDAY MORNING AHEAD OF A STRONG COLD FRONT AND CONTINUE INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY EVENING. A LINE OF SHOWERS WILL BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE FRONTAL PASSAGE WHICH COULD BRING LOCALIZED WIND GUSTS TO 50 MPH OR GREATER. FOLLOWING THE PASSAGE OF THE FRONT, WIDESPREAD WEST WINDS GUSTING 40 TO 50 MPH WILL OCCUR THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE DIMINISHING IN THE EARLY EVENING. * WINDS…WEST 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH. * IMPACTS…GUSTY WINDS WILL BLOW AROUND UNSECURED OBJECTS. TREE LIMBS COULD BE BLOWN DOWN AND A FEW POWER OUTAGES MAY RESULT. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WIND ADVISORY MEANS THAT WINDS OF 45 TO 55 MPH ARE EXPECTED. WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. &&

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Bluemont Park 5K Slated This Weekend for ‘Opening Day for Trails’

A 5K fun run starting in Bluemont Park is scheduled for Saturday (April 7) to celebrate the Opening Day for Trails.

Organized by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, it’s the sixth annual 5K celebration for the trails’ opening day. Registration for the run is free.

The event is meant to encourage people to explore the region’s trails while promoting the Capital Trails Coalition’s goal of creating a trail network throughout the D.C. region.

The 5K will begin at the Bluemont Park Picnic Pavilion and continue along the W&OD and Four Mile Run trails. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the run itself begins an hour later at 10 a.m. After the race, live music and face painting, among other activities, will last through 1 p.m.

Parking will be available in the lots near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Manchester Street and the intersection of 4th Street N. and N. Manchester Street.

File photo

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Arlington’s Millennials Want To Buy Homes, But It’s Complicated

(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Arlington’s millennials have mixed reactions about buying a house in the county some day.

About 36 percent of current U.S. home buyers across the nation are millennials, or those who are under 37 years old, according to a National Association of Realtors survey.

But Eli Tucker, an Arlington-based realtor who also writes an ARLnow column, doesn’t think that home buying trend studies are accurate, because of the different life changes that people aged 20 through 37 face. Two-thirds of Tucker’s clientele is considered millennial-aged and those ages 20-34 make up about a third of Arlington’s population.

“Absolutely, those millennials that are in their thirties and have children and are starting a family have zero interest in a condo,” Tucker said. “But you talk to somebody who is 25 or 26, they have zero interest in being in anything other than a condo — but they’re both millennials.”

The cost of housing in Arlington doesn’t help.

The average cost of an Arlington single-family home is $950,000, while a townhouse costs $650,000 on average, and a condo will, on average, take a $425,000 bite out of your wallet, according to numbers cited by Tucker.

Courthouse resident, Elvin Lee, 25, already owns a condo in Arlington, something he says he couldn’t have done if he didn’t live with his parents for the first two years out of college.

Lee said he could see himself purchasing a house one day, but not until much later when he wants to start a family.

Another Arlington millennial, Adam DeSanctis, 31, and his wife want to buy a home in Arlington, but he says that the county’s pricy real estate market it too difficult to jump into.

“The area desperately needs more entry-level new home construction (single-family and condos) to keep affordability in check — especially as mortgage rates rise,” DeSanctis said via email.

Though home purchases by millennials increased by two percent over the past year, the NAR study found that millennials’ overall activity was subdued due to higher housing costs causing some to continue staying in their family’s homes.

“Home prices have rapidly increased in many communities [nationwide]” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s survey research and communications director. “The D.C. area is no exception to that.”

Massive amount of student loan debt nationwide is contributing to the problem, said Lautz. Though the study found that millennials were more likely to have higher household incomes than past generations their age, 46 percent had student debt. The median student loan debt is $27,000.

The concern is mitigated somewhat in Arlington as salaries are higher than other communities, Lautz added.

For Kelly Kuang, 22, who just moved into a Shirlington rental apartment, she probably won’t be buying in Arlington. Her parents want her to buy a townhouse with her brother in the near future and it will likely be in a less expensive community.

“Just to be honest, Arlington is a great area from what I’ve heard, but it’s crazy expensive,” Kuang said.

Patrick Muggil, 21, who currently plans to live with his family in Pentagon City after working for a year, said he plans to save up for a house over the course of five to 10 years.

“I love the county so much that I definitely to make it work somewhere,” said Muggil. “I want to stay a long time.”

File photo

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L.A. Bar & Grill Temporarily Closed During License Renewal

Columbia Pike’s L.A. Bar & Grill has temporarily closed due to a state licensing issue.

The bar submitted its Virginia ABC license renewal application in the beginning of March, and the previous alcoholic beverage license expired at the end of March.

“We should have applied earlier, [but] hindsight is 20/20,” said Stephen Hubbard, the bar’s general manager.

The process is ongoing, and Hubbard anticipates that it will take “at least a couple of weeks,” though he isn’t sure.

In the meantime, the bar is taking advantage of the license renewal period and “doing some facelifting” in the form of painting and other tidying up efforts.

Back in 2016, L.A. Bar & Grill, at 2530 Columbia Pike, was ranked among UpOut’s top ten “ridiculously cool” D.C.-area dive bars.

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L.A. Bar & Grill Temporarily Closed During License Renewal

Columbia Pike’s L.A. Bar & Grill has temporarily closed due to a state licensing issue.

The bar submitted its Virginia ABC license renewal application in the beginning of March, and the previous alcoholic beverage license expired at the end of March.

“We should have applied earlier, [but] hindsight is 20/20,” said Stephen Hubbard, the bar’s general manager.

The process is ongoing, and Hubbard anticipates that it will take “at least a couple of weeks,” though he isn’t sure.

In the meantime, the bar is taking advantage of the license renewal period and “doing some facelifting” in the form of painting and other tidying up efforts.

Back in 2016, L.A. Bar & Grill, at 2530 Columbia Pike, was ranked among UpOut’s top ten “ridiculously cool” D.C.-area dive bars.

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The Italian Store’s Vespa Has Been Recovered

The 1966 celeste green Vespa scooter that was stolen from Westover’s The Italian Store in December has been recovered.

It was found by a man walking his dog this morning (April 3) far off the Lubber Run Trail, near the intersection of N. Carlin Spring Road and N. George Mason Drive. The man called Bob Tramonte, the Italian Store’s owner, and the Vespa was quickly back in the family’s possession.

Given the widespread publicity around the theft, Tramonte told ARLnow that he thought the vehicle was “too hot” to try to sell or even use — though he also believes that the thief didn’t know how to use the scooter’s shifter, as there is some damage to the clutch.

A Facebook post from The Italian Store shortly after the theft had urged residents to come forward with any information they might have had regarding the stolen Vespa, and security camera footage was released showing what employees said was a man loading the Vespa into a red Ford Focus before driving away down N. Longfellow Street.

The family and store employees received dozens of tips, with several calls a day at times since the Vespa went missing. While a few tips led Tramonte on wild goose chases, he called the recovery “truly a community effort,” and expressed gratitude for the tips, concern, and over 1,000 Facebook post shares.

“For being in the leaves for four months, I think it looks good,” Tramonte said. He noted that his sons helped to clean it up this morning, though it will need some minor mechanical work to make it rideable again.

The Vespa is important to the family, not just as an iconic Italian charm but as a part of the family’s history. Tramonte taught his sons how to drive it, and it was a centerpiece at his daughter’s graduation celebration. It’s been in the family for over 20 years.

Though the Vespa was taken outside for photos late this morning, it won’t be staying there long.

“I think we’ll keep it inside for now, but maybe eventually it’ll make it back outside,” said Tramonte.

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Marymount Offers Free Session on Becoming a Teacher

Virginia had more than 1,000 unfilled teaching positions in October 2017, according to former Virginia State Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.

In response to that shortage, Marymount University is expanding its education programs for those interested in seeking a pathway to the teaching profession. Its mission is central to meeting the needs of the community while fulfilling the dreams of newcomers and career-switchers who want to make a positive difference in the lives of children.

Learn what Marymount can offer future teachers at a free information session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 in Rowley Hall, G206, Marymount University, 2807 N. Glebe Road.

Options include

  • Bachelor’s degree with VA state licensure in just four years
  • Fast-track, full-time, one-year Master’s program leading to licensure
  • Part-time, self-paced Master’s program, leading to licensure
  • Weekend cohort Master’s program leading to licensure in 18 months
  • Certificate program (12-15 credits) in Special Education, English as a Second Language and STEM that provides the foundation to teach on a provisional license

For more information or to register for the information session, visit www.marymount.edu/Education-Info-Session.

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Ask Eli: Should You Buy Homeowner’s Title Insurance?

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We are buying a home in a few weeks and one of the closing costs is an optional $1,500 for Title Insurance. Do you recommend buying title insurance?

Answer: Yes, I do recommend buying Title Insurance. It’s a one-time fee that protects your ownership in what is likely the most valuable asset you own and you cannot decide to add Title Insurance in the future. However, like any form of insurance, it depends on your appetite for risk.

I’ve asked David Cartner, an attorney with Highland Title & Escrow, to provide a full explanation of the benefits of Title Insurance and some examples of when it would be used. Take it away David…

Do You Really Need Title Insurance?

As a real estate settlement attorney, buyers often ask me if they should purchase title insurance when buying a home. My response is that it depends on what level of risk the buyer is comfortable taking. A purchase of a house or a condominium is usually the biggest investment a person makes in their lifetime. If a buyer does not purchase title insurance, he/she risks losing the entirety of the investment.

Why, then, do buyers question purchasing title insurance when the risk of loss is so high? After all, no one seems to question the need for homeowners or rental insurance. I believe the reason is twofold: (1) buyers do not understand the benefits of purchasing it, and (2) title insurance is unlike other types of insurance in that it covers issues that have already happened.

Indeed, there is a long list of risks covered by title insurance, but basically what the buyer is hedging for are the unknown or hidden hazards that might jeopardize his or her ownership in the home. Hidden hazards may include:

  • Liens that were not revealed in title exam or made known to settlement agent prior to closing. Normally, a title exam reveals any liens on the property which need to be paid off and released prior to closing. If, however, the title examiner overlooked a judgment, tax, or mortgage lien on the property or failed to note it in the title exam, the buyer would be liable to pay the lien incurred by the previous owner.
  • Boundary line issues that an accurate survey would not reveal. For example, if a survey failed to note that a neighbor’s shed encroached on the purchaser’s property, title insurance would cover the cost of removing the shed and resolving any accompanying boundary line dispute.
  • Forgery or lack of authority. If there was a forged signature on the deed in the chain of title, or a person or corporation signed a deed without authority to do so, the transfer of ownership to the buyer would be in question.

  • An unknown heir of a previous owner came forth to claim ownership in the property. For example, suppose a seller passed away and his three children sold the house to a purchaser. If an unknown fourth child later came forth to claim his quarter ownership in the house, the purchaser’s title to the property is in jeopardy.
  • Instruments executed under an expired power of attorney.
  • Building permit violations. An enhanced version of title insurance is available that covers existing building permit violations. If a previous owner never obtained the appropriate building permits when remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or building a deck, enhanced title insurance would cover the cost of obtaining the appropriate permits. Note: the enhanced version is about 20% more expensive than the standard version and affords additional protection to the homeowner.
  • Mistakes in the public record at the county in which the property lies. Recently, Arlington decided to do a look back process on taxes for individuals that were exempt up to 20 years ago.  Arlington has audited the accounts to see if the exemption was applied correctly years ago. If not, the County is attempting to collect the back taxes from the current owner of the property.  At the time of the closing, there was no evidence of any taxes owed and a phone call to the County would not reveal any taxes owed. At Highland Title & Escrow, we have had two of these cases arise and luckily the owner purchased title insurance and the title insurance company will pay the back taxes.  

While lenders mandate that owners purchase lender’s title insurance (which only protects the lender’s interest in the property), homeowner’s title insurance is completely optional. It is a one-time fee that covers the owner for life.

Though there are certain factors that decrease the risk of an existing title defect, like having fewer previous owners of the house, a typical subdivided lot, or a recently constructed house, a buyer takes title to a house never knowing what title defect may already exist. In this respect, title insurance is unlike other types of insurance in which the purchaser can mitigate risk.

Contact David Cartner (703-760-3300 or [email protected]), an Arlington settlement attorney at Highland Title & Escrow, with further questions regarding title insurance or the real estate settlement process.

About David

David is an Attorney originally from Asheville, NC where he learned about the business from his parents who are both Real Estate Attorneys.

Prior to joining Highland Title & Escrow in 2013, he worked as the Managing Attorney of the District of Columbia division for Morris Hardwick and Schneider.  While there he tried many cases involving Foreclosure, Evictions, and Bankruptcy in front of the different courts in the District of Columbia.

David graduated, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a B.A. in Public Policy specializing in Business and Government. He earned his J.D., from Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, graduating with a distinction in Business and Tax law.

David is admitted to practice law in the States of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York and the District of Columbia.

David currently resides in Arlington, VA with his wife, Melany, and their dog, Wheatley.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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Lyon Park Gun Store Sales Steady Amid Gun Control Debate

(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) A gun store in Lyon Park is quietly doing steady business despite a roiling national debate over gun control policies.

Sales at NOVA Armory have not been affected by local and national protests for gun control in the past month, according to owner owner Shaun Poulin.

“It’s a small growth every couple months, but I don’t think we can correlate it to an event,” Poulin said.

Poulin said that the store hasn’t followed typical gun sale trends because, he believes, his focus is on community, not profit. The store has become a place for people of all backgrounds, including law enforcement officers and military personnel, to hang out.

“We’re not here to get rich off this. We’re here because we like it doing a service for people,” he said.

According to CNN there was a national uptick in background checks, which correlated to increased gun sales, during the Obama administration, but gun sales and corresponding background checks fell nationwide in 2017.

NOVA Armory’s sales, according to its owner, have held steady and haven’t followed national trends since it opened in 2016. That includes upticks in sales seen nationwide after mass shootings during Obama’s presidency.

The store sells the AR-15, the same gun used in the Parkland, Fla. school shooting that recently reignited the gun control debate.

Poulin noted that NOVA Armory has reserved the right to refuse service on any reason the store sees fit. There have been no threats made against the store since the February shooting in Parkland, Fla., he added.

The store, however, faced major community backlash prior to and shortly after opening two years ago. NOVA Armory, at that time under different management, threatened to sue 64 individuals who spoke out against the store’s opening. Also in 2016, the store suffered a burglary and an incident in which “a man with mental health issues walked [in] and started yelling obscenities.”

Photo via NOVA Armory/Facebook

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‘Friends of Upton Hill’ Protest Park Paving Plans With New Website

A group calling itself ‘Friends of Upton Hill’ has created a website to oppose a plan for a new ropes course and a new parking lot at Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington.

Upton Hill park hosts a water park, a mini golf course, batting cages, and walking trails. NOVA Parks — the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority — plans on adding 33,000 square feet of asphalt to the park in the form of a entrance road and parking spaces, as well as a “high adventure course” and other amenities.

The project cost is estimated at $3 million, according to a November presentation.

The park’s “friends” wrote on the site that they believe NOVA Parks has been deficient in maintaining the mostly wooded park and that “trash and invasive species are taking over the forest.”

Preferring that the park authority shift its focus from bigger parking lots to forest restoration and facilities maintenance, the group quoted Joni Mitchell’s 1970 song Big Yellow Taxi, writing that “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

“NOVA Parks should focus on restoring the forest, removing trash and invasives, and improving maintenance of the existing facilities — the water-park, miniature golf, batting cage, playground and picnic pavilion — to make for a more pleasant and attractive park experience,” the website says.

This past fall, however, a renewed effort to combat the invasive species was undertaken at the park, according to the Arlington Sun Gazette.

NOVA Parks representatives presented the Upton Hill plan to the Arlington County Board on Nov. 28. Paul Gilbert, the NOVA Parks executive director, asserted that the parking lot expansion would not “impact the natural resources.” He said that the ropes course, with sweeping views of Arlington, would be a marquee feature for park and for the county at large.

Gilbert noted that the existing parking lot is packed in the summer months. However, the Friends of Upton Hill website argued that the lot is nearly deserted during chillier months of the year.

“We started our group because NOVA Parks is more bent on paving over Upton Hill Park than preserving it as parkland,” wrote says the Friends of Upton Hill website. “In the Seven Corners area we need to keep and improve every existing square foot of green space rather than add yet another parking lot — particularly one that sits empty for three quarters of the year.”

NOVA Parks operates 32 parks across Northern Virginia, including three parks in the county — Upton Hill, Potomac Overlook, and the W&OD Trail.

An email sent to a listed Friends of Upton Hill email address was not immediately returned.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Population Up in Latest Estimate — The new annual U.S. Census population estimates are out and Arlington County has added nearly 5,000 people. The estimate of Arlington’s population on July 1, 2017 is is 234,965, according to the Census Bureau website. That’s considerably higher than a recent UVA estimate. The previous Census Bureau estimate was 230,050 on July 1, 2016. [U.S. Census Bureau]

Festival of the Arts to Return — The annual Arlington Festival of the Arts is returning to Clarendon from April 21-22. The outdoor event features more than 100 artists showcasing — and selling — their work. [Facebook]

Standout Athletes of YHS — A recently-completed webpage highlights more than 50 years worth of standout athletes from Yorktown High School. [Yorktown Alums]

Photo courtesy of our local tech guru, Alex Chamandy

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Legal Review: President signs Secret Service Overtime Pay Bill

By employment law attorney Tom Spiggle, who is barred and practices in the state of Virginia, with The Spiggle Law Firm.

The U.S. Secret Service Retention Act of 2018 was signed earlier this month by the President, allowing Secret Service agents to receive overtime pay.

The new law will immediately affect over 1,000 Secret Service agents who have already reached the federal limit and therefore, have not received their pay for extra time worked. The federal overtime limit will now be raised to $189,000 for overtime worked in 2018, allowing the agents to be compensated for their work. It was also raised to $187,000, an increase from $164,200, for unpaid overtime worked in 2017.

The bill was sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security and has oversight over the Secret Service, as well as U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government.

Being paid fairly and fully for all overtime will also reduce worker turnover, according to Katko. Workers will be happier, and less apt to leave their jobs if they are more secure.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which establishes standards in overtime pay, employers must pay their workers for any hours worked over forty hours in one week. The FLSA applies to the federal government and therefore, the Secret Service.

Secret Service agents have been working much more overtime than ever before since the 2016 election, since they must protect the President and the First Lady, as well as all of the President’s children and their spouses and children.

“Protecting more people on a daily basis translates to more hours worked, much more than in past Presidents’ tenures,” said Tom Spiggle, Principal at The Spiggle Law Firm, an employment law firm in Washington, D.C. “Although these agents protect the President and his extended family with their lives, many have not been fully paid because they have reached the federal cap that was put on overtime pay. This bill is a great step forward in equalizing the pay discrepancy over the past two years, so they will now be paid fairly for their work.”

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