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Legal Review: Expiration of National Flood Insurance Program Raises Concerns

By criminal defense attorney Charles E. Boyk, who is barred and practices in the state of Ohio, with Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the federal program that insures home and property owners who live in certain flood-prone areas. A federal program was necessary because private insurers were unwilling to insure the flood-prone areas for affordable premiums.

Unfortunately, the NFIP expired in 2017, and although the US House has passed legislation that would modernize the program, the Senate has not taken up the legislation, resulting in the passage of stop-gap continuation bills instead of a full-scale reassessment of the program.

“The NFIP’s coverage mandate is to provide insurance coverage to businesses and homeowners that live in a community that participates in the NFIP,” said Charles E. Boyk, an Ohio Insurance Attorney with Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. “The purpose in requiring communities to participate is to ensure that those communities are properly analyzing floodplains and taking the steps necessary to reduce exposure of homes and businesses to flooding.”

Flood insurance through NFIP is not available unless a community participates. Homeowners may or may not know that most standard home insurance policies do not cover flooding.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the NFIP. Flood insurance purchased through this program provides coverage and payment regardless of whether there is a Presidential declaration of emergency.

“This is important,” said Boyk, “because there are thousands of individuals affected by flooding each year that never get national news coverage, let alone rise to the level of needing a disaster declaration.”

If your homeowner’s insurance claims to cover flooding, read the policy carefully and consult with your insurance agent. There may be limitations or requirements on or for payment of claims.

Additionally, flood insurance – even if purchased though the NFIP – will only cover the structure and land. The contents of your home need to be covered by a separate policy. Also, make note of your deductible and how much it is.

Other things to know:

  1. Flood insurance through NFIP pays only to the policy limit. Many home insurance policies are “guaranteed replacement cost” policies, meaning they will pay more than the policy limit if it costs more than that to rebuild the home. Flood insurance does not have that option.
  2. Flood insurance through NFIP is only available through an insurance agent.

If you are trying to file a claim on a policy, the insurance company may try to avoid paying the full amounts of coverage. Having competent legal representation can help smooth out the process, or at the very least provide a buffer between you and the insurance company.

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Arlington Ranked Best Place for Successful Women in the U.S.

The most successful women in the U.S. live in Arlington, according to a new study by the website SmartAsset.

The study looked at 100 cities in the U.S. and ranked them based on six factors: the percentage of women with a bachelor’s degree, full-time working women’s median earnings, the percent of female business owners, the female unemployment rate, full-time, working women’s housing-income ratio, and the percentage of working women with an income of at least $75,000.

Here’s what SmartAsset wrote about Arlington:

Arlington, Virginia takes the top spot. This city has the highest paid women in the study, according to Census Bureau data. The median full-time working woman in Arlington earns over $80,200 per year. In total nearly 57% of women here earn at least $75,000 per year. And Arlington women do more than earn large paychecks.

For one, they also make up 38.6% of people working in their own private businesses and just under 35% of women here have a bachelor’s degree. In fact, the only metric this city does not score in the top 10 for is housing cost as a percent of income. According to our data, if the average full-time working woman paid for the average home they would spend just around 30% of their income

Arlington’s neighbors, D.C. and Alexandria, also broke into the top ten, with Alexandria in a tie with San Francisco for fourth place and D.C. ranked No. 8.

SmartAsset also recently ranked Arlington as the number one “city” for runners.

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The Right Note: Economic Growth Questions

The 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.

The Arlington Chamber came out against the parking rate and hours of enforcement increases this week.

Almost certainly, it is a way for the county to keep ratcheting up spending without hitting property owners with a tax rate increase. The parking changes are estimated to bring in $2.2 million per year.

According to the Chamber, the revenue grab was done without any outreach to local businesses. Just last month the County Manager just made a big deal out of new public engagement process for capital projects.

If the Chamber’s concerns about the lack of outreach are true, it would only reinforce the concerns about the seriousness of the County Board and staff when it comes to how they consider negative public feedback.

As the County Board continues to finalize the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, there are many short-term considerations like these. There is also a need to continue the conversation about long-term economic development.

It was suggested by the Chair of the Economic Development Commission in the Progressive Voice last week that our tax rate was “highly competitive.” Our persistently high commercial vacancy rate tells a very different story. And coming full circle, it is a good bet that increasing the cost of parking to visit one of Arlington’s restaurants in the evening will not help.

The Economic Development Commission’s strategic plan does state that “a stable and predictable regulatory climate is fundamental to providing superior service.”

But as existing businesses in the county see the incentives being offered and given to big businesses looking to relocate, they are wondering why more is not being done to make the business environment better for everyone.

Did anyone on the EDC really ask the fundamental question, why would a business looking at our business environment choose come to Arlington if we did not offer them an incentive package? In other words, is there a big “open for business” sign here or does it look like a high tax environment and difficult bureaucracy to navigate?

The EDC suggested continued improvements in areas like how businesses can interact with the county during permitting and licensing processes. Talking to people who do business in Arlington, there is still room for improvement here.

The EDC should go out and talk to business owners of all types and sizes. And here is a revolutionary question for the EDC to ask as they do: would our economic prosperity be better off if our government did less, not more?

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Progressive Voice: Transportation Options in Arlington Work Pretty Well, Until You Have Kids

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 Kelley Coyner

When I first came to Arlington as a college student I stayed to launch a career, lured my city-centric fiancé to the suburbs and returned from graduate studies and other adventures. Back then Metro worked and walking and driving worked pretty well for me and my husband.

Over time, that changed. We added three children (now in their teens and 20s) to the mix, expanded our friendships across ages, focused our professional lives locally and adopted a lighter car diet — primarily for financial reasons.

Like others, we soon realized that even as Arlington pressed forward with travel options, things did not work so well for families with young children, for school-age kids and for older adults.

Want to use a car share to make the deadline for extended day or preschool pickup? Beware there is no car seat.

Your teens work after school or help with younger children? Teens may be able to take a school bus on a fixed schedule. But their independent travel is limited by the lack of cross-county north-south bus service.

Even walking and biking to school and to Metro is hampered by competing views of the value of sidewalks, safety concerns about biking and more.

Eager to get to sports practice, theater rehearsals, tutoring or dance lessons? If it’s not an after-school event, getting around is hard without a culture of carpooling or ways for older kids to get themselves where they need to go.

Although it has been a while since I had a preschooler, I still get flagged down in Ballston with the question, “Aren’t you the lady who used to carry a booster seat on your back?”

In the year we lived carless, our family started the transportation day waiting at the bus stop in a busy construction zone. Why the booster seat? On the way back to pick the kids up from school, I would snag a Zip Car to make the six o’clock pickups at Key School and at preschool in Clarendon.

More than 10 years later, car sharing still is not helpful for a family with carseat kids. Seems like if car shares can find a way to add bike racks, they could figure out something for car seats.

In the meantime, we could, with some intentionality and innovation, give Arlington’s families more options to easily stay mobile by:

  1. Rethinking ART bus routes and pilot cross-county service so that high schoolers do not have to change buses mid-county.
  2. Taking into account middle schoolers and high schoolers as the county considers flexible routes and new services north of Lee Highway. These new approaches might also provide carless options for older adults looking to travel in and around Arlington.
  3. Expanding the trails across Arlington with a focus on separated bike lanes.
  4. Prioritizing sidewalks and other pedestrian-safety investments in walk zones for all Arlington’s schools.
  5. Recognizing how the needs of older adults align with those of younger walkers, bikers and transit riders. And keep in mind that accessibility concerns cut across generations for physically, visually and cognitively limited individuals.

You can contribute your solutions and support now to any of the ideas above as a combined County and Schools task force analyzes walking, biking and other family-friendly options in Arlington.

Of course a strong, reliable and safe Metro system is the backbone for commuting and for family-friendly transportation in Arlington. But last week as I saw news of the Metro shutdown at Virginia Square, I shuddered.

“Thank goodness I did not have to sweat getting my kids from extended day and preschool after commuting. And thank goodness I wasn’t counting on dropping my 80-year-old mother at a smoky Metro Station to visit the museums.”

Arlington needs to do more to expand practical, workable and safe options beyond the rail system. Arlington needs to do more to make it easier for kids, families and older adults to get around within our 26 square miles.

Kelley Coyner is CEO and Founder of Mobility e3. She lives, walks and rides the bus in central Arlington.

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Peter’s Take: Budgeting for Arlington’s Future

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.

In two columns last fall, I asked: Does County government commit too much surplus revenue for spending?

Progress on unallocated closeout surplus

In his proposed FY 2019 budget, County Manager Mark Schwartz notes that he has whittled down the level of surplus funds available at closeout.

“[T]he amount of funds that are ‘discretionary’ for allocation at closeout have been reduced annually ($11.1 million in FY 2017, compared to $17.8 million in FY 2016 and $21.8 million in FY 2015). Of those closeout funds that have been made available, immediate spending has been limited to commitments already made by the Board or for emergency needs,” the budget wrote.

This is a positive step.

More budget reforms

However, of these closeout funds, the majority remaining after allocating the APS revenue-sharing portion is automatically allocated to “commitments already made by the Board.” Missing is a clear, written policy explaining how, when and why these other “commitments” were made.

The County Board essentially has allowed the manager to allocate/spend the remaining closeout funds without adequate opportunities for residents to weigh in on millions of dollars of spending.

The Civic Federation has asked that a fair and reasonable portion of surplus funds be plowed back into the coming-fiscal-year budget to reduce the need for a tax-rate increase. County officials, however, claim that best practices dictate that surplus funds be used only for “one-time” purposes since the county cannot rely on future surpluses to meet ongoing needs.

But there is no written, publicly available policy clearly defining what a “one-time” expenditure is, and this “one-time” money is often spent on recurring needs.

What experts say

At a County Board work session last spring, Public Financial Management, Inc. (PFM) described how other jurisdictions manage their fund balance accounts.

PFM noted that Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties have a 10 percent operating/contingency reserve, twice Arlington’s level.

PFM also observed that:

  • Arlington’s General Fund reserve policy levels are below the median level and among the lowest in the triple-A group (Arlington’s bond-rating peer group).
  • FY 2016 is the second consecutive year of decline in the General Fund balance ratio, and this could begin to concern Moody’s, if it becomes a trend.

More County Board oversight

Too often, committed and allocated funds are established in the fund balance with substantial cash accumulating over time, apparently with little or no monitoring of the reasonableness of the balances. New York State’s Local Government Management Guide on Reserve Funds warns against this.

“Reserve funds should not be merely a ‘parking lot’ for excess cash or fund balances,” the guide wrote. 

The County Board should answer questions like these:

  • Has the financial purpose served by each reserve fund been identified and published?
  • Has a written reserve fund policy been developed and published?
  • Has the Board reviewed all reserve funds currently established, and determined if the balances in each are reasonable?

Conclusion

The County Board should draft and present to the community for resident comment written policies governing how, when and why the Board commits and allocates:

  • Funds to the General Fund’s fund balance
  • Surplus funds, including closeout funds

A portion of closeout funds could be committed to increase the operating reserve or contingency funding, until the total of such funds reaches 10 percent of the General Fund. Another portion could be committed to the coming year’s budget to build in more flexibility.

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Medium Rare to Open Virginia Square Location This Weekend

The new Medium Rare in Virginia Square will be opening Saturday (April 14) at 5 p.m. for dinner, according to owner Mark Bucher.

The restaurant, known for its fixed-price steak, frites, and “secret sauce,” will then open for brunch Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

The location, on the ground floor of the Latitude Apartments, is opening a little later than what had been previously reported. ABC license application notifications were first posted in November 2017.

Medium Rare has three open locations outside of Virginia — two in D.C. and one in Bethesda.

The steakhouse has help wanted signs posted in the window seeking servers and a hostess. Open interviews will be every day from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., according to the signs An end date for the open interviews was not listed.

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Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo Returns This Weekend

The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo is coming to Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road) on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The home show is a community event – not a commercial event. The goal: to educate Arlingtonians about the best ways to add value to their homes and improve their overall quality of life.

Now in its 12th year, the home show is a one-stop shop for all things related to improving and building homes including permitting, financing and choosing the right contractors. This year the show will focus on informing visitors about resilient remodeling — making sure a whole home is resilient to major weather disruptions.

The free, family-friendly event will include 16 workshops covering a wide spectrum of topics, including Accessory Dwellings (ADUs), Energy EfficiencyUniversal Design and Aging in Place, and will feature more than 65 exhibitors, including local builders, designers, master gardeners and more.  In celebration of the 50 years of the Fair Housing Act the Show will offer a special Fair Housing Seminar for Condominiums.

Attendees can also discuss their home improvement or building plans with representatives from a number of Arlington County agencies, who will be available for one-to-one consultation.

Admission and parking are both free. There will be a raffle for a 50-inch television, free energy efficiency kits for the first 150 visitors, many contractor specials and great food will be provided by Cafe Sazon.

The event is organized by Arlington County’s Housing Division and the nonprofit group Resilient Virginia. Gold Sponsor of this year’s show is Alair Homes Arlington.

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Boring Title: How Halloween Costumes Led to National Partnerships and More


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

This week we discuss how Dressing up for Halloween as Ace and Gary led to a partnership with Saturday Night Live, Disney and ABC… oh and the title tip of the week!

Yes we will give you some title tips this week, and I know last week’s horror story version of the title and obstacle-racing industry wasn’t the most motivating, but today we are going to provide you with a slightly ridiculous story of how you never know how choices you make might lead to something much bigger than you ever dreamed.

Approximately 10 years ago, my friend and business partner (Steve Stoloff) and I (Latane) were looking to win a costume contest on Halloween and we always wondered why no one sold Ace and Gary costumes from Saturday Night Live.

If you don’t remember Ace and Gary, click here to see a video from many years ago. Outrageous, ridiculous… everything you want out of a Halloween costume!

We decided to go to Walmart and buy long johns, underwear and food coloring. 3 hours later we had what we thought was a costume, that somewhat resembled the characters on the show.

We went out that night, got offered $250 on the spot by SNL fans and won two Halloween costume contests for $3,000 total. A nice little evening! We decided that maybe we were on to something and we would try to sell them online the following year.

11 months later we remembered our previous year’s success and decided to pop up an Ebay store with pics of us wearing our homemade costumes from the year before. I think we both hoped we could generate some grocery and beer money for the month of October… maybe November.

We launched a small pay per click campaign with keywords similar to “ridiculous costumes” and “Ace and Gary SNL” and what happened next was a bit shocking. Within an hour of the pay per click campaign, we received an order.

We were charging $150 for the set so we thought it would be too expensive for people. Apparently it wasn’t because within a week we had sold over 300 costumes.

Now we were faced with our biggest issue, how the heck are we going to make this many. After buying out all the long johns and underwear in town at Walmart and Target, we made costumes around the clock for a week and we actually fulfilled all the orders.

We had no idea we would sell this many and we knew we couldn’t keep making these costumes unless we actually had a partnership with SNL. I sent in a cold email to SNL about the possibility of working together on Ace and Gary costumes. Shockingly Broadway Video (Lorne Michaels’ company who handles licensing for SNL) responded. I then had a friend of a friend in the licensing business join the call since I had no idea what licensing even meant to help me negotiate a deal.

The experienced licensing rep helped us secure a deal and the next year we manufactured high quality Ace and Gary costumes, which were one of the best sellers nationwide.

It went so well that we sold the company we created, Ridiculous Costumes, to a much larger Halloween company. Still today the costumes are sold online and here is a picture of our friends who we made wear the costumes for our first photo shoot.

After getting my feet wet with licensing and learning how deals should be structured, my business partner and I ended up rebranding our ROC Race AKA Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge to WIPEOUTRUN after partnering with Disney and ABC’s hit TV show Wipeout.

Point of the story: You never know how one idea or one relationship can lead to much more than you ever expected.

We had no idea what we were doing but we continued to try to learn and luckily we took those learnings onto the next project. At Allied Title & Escrow, we’ve had relationships we didn’t expect much from lead to our biggest relationships today. You just never know…

Title Tip of the Week: If you are buying a condo, you don’t need the enhanced title policy… just go with the standard title policy. It will save you money and you will be protected on your investment.

With that said, we recommend people always do the enhanced title policy for single family homes. You want the 50% appreciation it provides over 5 years and the protection you get on boundary issues with neighbors. Click here to learn more about the differences between standard and enhanced policies.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]alliedtitleandescrow.com. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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I-66 Bridge Rehab Work Starting Up, Lane Closures Scheduled

Rehabilitation work on the I-66 bridge between the Rosslyn tunnel and D.C. has begun, according to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.

Crews began setting out concrete barriers and pavement markings overnight on Wednesday, and will continue to do so through tonight (Thursday).

Lane closures on eastbound I-66 will be scheduled Monday-Friday from 9:30 p.m.-5 a.m., while westbound I-66 closures will be scheduled from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. on the same days.

VDOT expects traffic impacts to be minimal throughout the construction, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2019.

For the next day or two, VDOT will periodically close the ramp from the southbound GW Parkway to the Roosevelt Bridge and westbound Route 50. The closures will take place between midnight and 5 a.m. to “allow for the installation of concrete barriers under the I-66 bridge,” according to the National Park Service.

The $5.7 million construction project will resurface the bridge’s deck, repair piers and abutments, and repave I-66 approaching the bridge.

According to VDOT, the bridge averages 54,000 vehicles a day eastbound and 44,000 westbound.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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The Simple Greek Sets Anticipated Opening in Rosslyn

The Simple Greek is hoping to open its new restaurant location at the Colonial Village Shopping Center in early May, according to a company representative.

Signs for the restaurant are currently up at the shopping plaza, between the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations. Workers were installing equipment as of Wednesday morning.

The Simple Greek representatives had previously told ARLnow that they were hoping for a late April opening.

Located at 1731 Wilson Boulevard, the restaurant will serve personalized Greek pitas and bowls. Greek wine and beer are available at select locations, but it doesn’t appear that this location has a pending or active Virginia ABC license.

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Morning Notes

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Holding Arlington Event — “Republican congressional candidate Thomas Oh will host a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, April 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Spider Kelly’s, 3181 Wilson Blvd. Oh is the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), who is seeking a third term. He was the only Republican to file for the nomination.” [InsideNova]

Local Scenes on Sale at Arts Fest — Among the artists at the upcoming Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon will be Joseph Craig English, whose “silkscreens and lithographs capture local landmarks and street corners in vivid colors,” including “an architectural juxtaposition of old buildings and new construction in Courthouse; Potomac River vistas; local murals and street signs known to commuters who’ve passed by them for years.” [Arlington Magazine]

Arlington Tourism Surtax Gets Gov’s Signature — “The Arlington County government will be able to continue collecting a surtax on hotel stays to pay for tourism promotion, now that Gov. Northam has signed legislation extending the measure for three more years.” [InsideNova]

Don’t Try This at Home — Per scanner traffic, police officers responding to a call yesterday afternoon were advised that “the suspect is known for using hand sanitizer as an alcoholic drink.”

Nearby: Alexandria OKs More Funding for Metro Station — “Plans to build a new Metro station at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, took a crucial step forward Tuesday. Alexandria City Council unanimously approved raising the budget from $268 million to $320 million. The change was made in part to reflect the rising cost of materials and labor.” [WTOP]

Photo by Dwayne Stewart

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Water Main Repairs Close Part of S. Glebe Road

The southbound lanes of S. Glebe Road are detoured between Walter Reed Drive and 20th Street S. due to a water main break.

Repair crews are currently on site, digging up the roadway to access the leaking section of pipe. Repairs on the 8-inch main are expected to stretch into the afternoon.

Northbound traffic on Glebe, meanwhile, is down to one lane.

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Listing of the Day: 1803 Dominion Crest Lane in McLean

Address: 1803 Dominion Crest Lane McLean, VA
Neighborhood: Vinson Estates
Listed: $1,499,000.00
Open: Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15 from 2-4 p.m.

Elegant custom built contemporary home is beautiful and ready for new Owners.

This 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home is sited on a private cul-de-sac, walking distance to shops/restaurants. Stunning sun filled interior, deck and balcony, great floor plan for all.

New chef’s kitchen with top of the line appliances, center island, breakfast bar, coffee bar with Lucca expresso machine and breakfast room. Two-story foyer, dramatic stair case, front sitting room, dining room, bar area, fireplace room, tv room with built in speakers, kitchen, eat in space, 2 story office with back stairs to upper level bedroom, lots of light.

Owner’s retreat with sitting area, fireplace, dual walk-in closets and a spa-like bath, private deck, back stairs to lower level office and main level. Upper level has 2 Additional Bedrooms, Full Bath, Laundry Room, Open to below.

Lower level has so much potential for new owners to have customized to their own needs, for instance, Gym, play room, apartment, movie theater, extra bedrooms, studio, etc. Car lovers can even fit sports car through doors and work on cars inside!

Appraised 2017. NO HOA. A MUST SEE!

Listed by:
Gloria Adams
TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
Cell: 703-356-6645 Office: 703-319-3344
[email protected]
TTRSIR.com
1803dominioncrestlane.com

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