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by ARLnow.com November 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm 0

For the latest 26 Square Miles podcast, we spoke with County Board member John Vihstadt about last week’s elections in Virginia, his reelection bid next year and various issues facing Arlington County, including budget pressures and development.

We also asked Vihstadt about the possibility of Arlington landing Amazon’s second corporate headquarters.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by ARLnow.com November 17, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

The Key Bridge Marriott and the 5.5 acres of prime Rosslyn real estate around it are being purchased by a pair of Los Angeles investment firms for $190 million, the Washington Business Journal reported today (Friday).

The firms plan to invest in rehabbing the hotel, WBJ reports, and a portion of the partially-wooded site between Lee Highway and the GW Parkway is expected to be redeveloped as new residential properties and possibly some retail. The buyers were among a number of companies with redevelopment visions bidding to acquire the site, ARLnow.com hears.

The hotel first opened in 1959 as the Key Bridge Motor Inn, one of Marriott’s earliest hotels (the first was the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel, in Arlington near the 14th Street Bridge).

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com November 17, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

The following letter was written by Aurora Hills resident Ashli Douglas about the county’s Complete Streets Program and traffic congestion in her neighborhood that she said was exacerbated by changes to S. Eads Steet.

To the Editor:

Arlington has embarked on a transportation vision of providing a safe environment for all travel modes, also known as the Complete Streets Program.  Today I’m sharing a story of how this transportation vision for complete streets has played out in one Arlington County neighborhood, Aurora Hills.

As I reread the Arlington transportation presentation for our project on S. Eads St. from 2014, it occurred to me how benign and utopian the project seemed. That should have been the first clue.  Arlington was going to move more people without more traffic and they were going to protect our single-family neighborhood.  All good, what’s not to like?

And then came the medians, protected bike lanes, bike rental rack and central to all of this, the complete removal of two lanes of a four-lane street – S. Eads Street.  What could possibly go wrong?

So now we have the same (but probably more) number of cars on the same road with less lanes.  This is where the fairytale turns to a nightmare…enter aggressive driving and cut-through traffic.

I live on what Arlington refers to as a Minor Neighborhood Street, in which the distinctive feature of these streets is the nearly exclusive orientation to providing access to residences.  It also happens to be a one lane yield street!

One block away is S. Eads Street, an Arterial Street, by definition, the street primarily provides through travel rather that solely for access to adjacent properties.  According to Arlington’s street elements policies that are part of the county wide master transportation plan, streets should “…improve the efficiency of vehicular operation on arterial streets to minimize diversion of traffic onto neighborhood streets.”

So you see where this is going.  Since our arterial street has reduced capacity, the cars all cut-through our neighborhood street.  And just to be clear, we are not talking about a few cars.  We are talking over 1,300 commuters a day.

How do we know?  Since the county refused to share data or provide any form of relief to our neighborhood, we hired a certified traffic data collection firm to conduct traffic counts on November 1 and 2, a Wednesday and Thursday.  The counts were 1,347 and 1,369 respectively.

Our one lane section of S. Fern St. simply cannot handle this traffic.  According to Arlington County historical traffic counts, last performed in 2011 on our street, they measured 500 cars on a daily average. What a difference a “Complete Street” makes.  We now have approximately 600 cars who rip down the same street in a three-hour period  our school bus is dropping off children.

It is no longer safe for our children to play even near the street due to the cut-through traffic. We have experienced over 160 percent increase in vehicles, the majority with DC and MD tags that simply cut through our neighborhood to avoid the congestion morass on S. Eads Street.

As frustrated parents, neighbors and Arlington county citizens, we, individually as neighbors in an eight-block area, and collectively through our civic association have been engaged with the county for over a year to no avail.  We have requested that the county protect our neighborhood, and specifically, mitigate the cut-through traffic that originates on S. Eads Street and cuts through our neighborhood on S. Fern Street between 26th Street S. and 23rd Street S.

Our eight-block area has become a virtual highway of dangerous cut through traffic with constant stop sign running, speeding and hit and run accidents, and fearful and angry parents at Arlington county elementary school bus stops.

The S. Eads Complete Street project has been a complete disaster for the residents in our neighborhood and despite our continual pleas for help for nearly a year to protect our single family neighborhood; we have had no relief.

We will not give up our neighborhood and we demand the county remedy the problem they created.  And for anyone else that may be facing a complete street project – consider yourself forewarned.

Ashli Douglas has lived in Aurora Hills for 16 years and is the mom to two elementary school-aged children.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes letters about issues of local interest. To submit your thoughts for consideration, please email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com November 17, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Beyer Blasts GOP Tax Bill — Says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) regarding the tax bill that passed the House yesterday: “I am adamantly opposed to the House Republican tax bill, H.R.1. The bill will raise taxes on millions of middle class Americans in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, and yet still manages to explode the deficit.” [Rep. Don Beyer]

Crystal City Scores 320 Jobs — A Georgetown-based nonprofit is moving much of its staff to a new office in Crystal City, leasing 90,000 square feet and adding 320 jobs in Arlington County. The move was announced by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who approved a $500,000 state grant to assist Arlington with the project. [Virginia Business, Bisnow]

Dems Seek Ways to Defeat Vihstadt — “John Vihstadt, who in 2014 broke the Democratic stranglehold on the Arlington County Board, is ready to go back to the voters in 2018. And Arlington Democrats already are strategizing on how to oust him from office.” [InsideNova]

Charges Dropped Against ‘Laughing Librarian’ — Arlington librarian and Code Pink activist Desirée Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has had the case against her dropped by the Justice Department. [American Libraries, NPR]

Incident at Kenmore Middle School — A tipster tells ARLnow.com that a Kenmore Middle School student was arrested yesterday afternoon for assaulting a PE teacher. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman, however, did not confirm that an arrest was made, saying: “There was an incident earlier today between a student and a teacher. Staff is following normal disciplinary procedures. But beyond that, we can’t disclose anymore because it is a student matter.”

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

by ARLnow.com November 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

An East Falls Church resident returned home early this past Tuesday morning, only to be surprised to find a burglar hiding in the closet.

Upon being discovered, the man — who was wearing sunglasses and a mask — jumped out of the closet and fled on foot.

The resident did not report the incident to police until the afternoon. More from this week’s ACPD crime report:

BURGLARY (late), 2017-11140143, 6300 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 1:13 p.m. on November 14, police were dispatched to the late report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that upon returning to the residence at approximately 4:00 a.m., the victim located an unknown suspect hiding inside a closet. Upon being located, the suspect fled the scene on foot. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male with light brown skin, approximately 5’5, wearing black sunglasses, a black mask, a black jacket, blue jeans, gloves, and socks. The investigation is ongoing.

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

(more…)

by ARLnow.com November 16, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Joel McHale is coming to Arlington.

The actor and comedian, best known for hosting The Soup on E! and for his starring role on Community, is performing four stand-up comedy shows at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) this coming Friday and Saturday.

McHale, who also recently starred on CBS’s The Great Indoors and Fox’s The X-Files reboot, spoke with ARLnow.com for our 26 Square Miles podcast on Wednesday. He talked about hosting the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, told us what we can expect at his upcoming stand-up shows, and gave a candid answer about why The Soup was cancelled and whether it is in line for a revival.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by ARLnow.com November 16, 2017 at 8:25 am 0

ACPD Helping Out in Puerto Rico — Arlington County Police officers are on the ground in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, directing traffic at critical intersections in areas without power. The officers were sent there as part of a national disaster mutual aid agreement. Local residents, meanwhile, have been expressing their appreciation for ACPD’s presence. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

Blind Triplets Utilizing New Tech — The blind triplets who recently made history by all becoming Eagle Scouts are also among the early users of new Aira glasses. The technology, launched in April, uses camera-equipped glasses to allow a remote agent to narrate what they see in real time, thus providing additional autonomy for the wearer. [Washington Post]

School Board Members Ditch Ties — At Tuesday’s Arlington School Board meeting, the two male members of the Board “committed sartorial faux pas,” in the words of the Sun Gazette, by not wearing ties. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton

by ARLnow.com November 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

Arlington County and seemingly every other place in North America is competing to host Amazon’s second corporate headquarters. But while the odds seem long, Crystal City actually has a good shot at being one of the finalists in Amazon’s search.

The D.C. area is widely regarded as a likely contender for “HQ2,” but sources tell ARLnow.com that the District itself is unlikely to get the headquarters, in part due to high taxes, high real estate costs, a lack of available contiguous space that meets Amazon’s expectations and a lack of congressional representation.

That would leave the areas surrounding D.C. as contenders, and none has the available space and is more accessible to downtown, transit and an airport than Crystal City.

Specifically, commercial real estate sources tell us, Crystal City and Potomac Yard are, in combination, regarded by many as the region’s best chance at landing HQ2. Among the advantages:

  • Available contiguous office space and developable land, thanks to BRAC and the development of Potomac Yard.
  • Only having to deal with one primary property owner, JBG Smith, which owns much of Crystal City and Potomac Yard. (The company did submit a bid, the Washington Business Journal confirmed this week.)
  • Proximity to Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines.
  • Close proximity to a major airport, Reagan National.
  • An urban “downtown”-like setting with restaurants, hotels, shopping and other amenities within walking distance.
  • Congressional representation.
  • Low state taxes.

As outlined by Washingtonian, Crystal City also comes with all of the benefits of the D.C. region: ample tech talent and universities nearby, proximity to the federal government, and an easy drive for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from his new Kalorama mansion. It also comes with some of the negatives: higher real estate costs than smaller cities, high cost of living for workers and thus higher salary costs.

Fresh off of its big win in attracting Nestle’s U.S. headquarters, Rosslyn has also tossed its hat into the HQ2 ring, sources tell us. Rosslyn has many of Crystal City’s pluses but, we’re told, lacks developable space and would be tight quarters for the online giant.

Sites in Fairfax and Loudoun counties — near existing Amazon data centers and offices — have been pitched, but sources expect a site closer to the District to be more attractive to Amazon for HQ2.

Arlington Economic Development, meanwhile, is keeping its pitch to Amazon close to the vest, publicly revealing few details. Likewise Angela Fox, CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, declined to comment for this article.

by ARLnow.com November 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Sandy, a mixed breed from Alabama.

Here is what her owner Emily had to say:

Sandy is an energetic 1-year-old mixed breed who was rescued from the Humane Society after making the trip up here from Alabama. Sandy arrived just in time for Christmas this year, making her the best gift we have ever received!

She is incredibly friendly and loves getting attention from anyone who will look in her direction.

Sandy is always trying to entice us to play with her, often smacking us in the rear with a toy to try to get our attention. She has taken over a chair in our house and likes to sit in “her” chair keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

Her favorite activities are chasing squirrels, following her mom and dad around the house, spending time at the dog park playing with any and every dog, and cleaning food off of little kids faces. She has a loud snore after a day of play and always likes to have a toy within reach.

Luckily she is pretty cute and has a great personality which distracts us from her more naught habits of eating anything in site (including vitamins, hair brush, dust buster, you name it…) and her love of chewing on shoes and houseplants.

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 ARLnow.com November 15, 2017 at 9:40 am 0

Police are searching for a strong-arm robbery suspect who fled from officers in Rosslyn this morning.

The incident started just after 9 a.m. near the intersection of N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway.

According to scanner traffic, the suspect is a panhandler who robbed another homeless man in October. He was spotted in Rosslyn this morning and led police on a brief foot chase. The suspect reportedly dodged a Taser and then outran police as he he fled into the woods along I-66.

The suspect is described as a white male with a shaved head, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Police are setting up a perimeter and bringing in a K-9 unit and the U.S. Park Police helicopter to search for the suspect.

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

Ballston May Be Next ‘Hot’ Neighborhood — Thanks to new development, the renovation of Ballston Common Mall, and the efforts of the Ballston Business Improvement District and others, Ballston is being mentioned as the region’s “next hottest neighborhood.” [Washington Post]

Wegmans Coming to Alexandria — A Wegmans grocery store is finally set to open within a reasonably short drive of at least some parts of Arlington. Per WBJ, the Rochester, NY-based chain will open an 84,000-square-foot store at Hoffman Town Center in Alexandria, not far from where the National Science Foundation recently moved. [Washington Business Journal]

Decal Deadline is Today — Today is the deadline to display the new 2017-2018 Arlington County vehicle decal. “Beginning November 16, you will be at risk of receiving a parking ticket if your decal is not displayed on your windshield,” says the county. [Arlington County]

‘News Dude’ Finds Human Seat — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss was able to catch up with the man who wore a seat costume in Virginia Tech and Ford’s unusual “driverless” car experiment in Arlington. The researcher said he was “pretty stressed out” after Tuss ran up to him at an intersection and asked what he was doing dressed as a car seat in a van. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

by ARLnow.com November 14, 2017 at 8:00 am 0

Local Entrepreneur Scores on Shark Tank — “Sharmi Albrechtsen, founder and CEO of Arlington-based tech toy company SmartGurlz, landed an investment from FUBU founder Daymond John on Sunday’s “Shark Tank” episode: $200,000 for 25 percent of the business.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Year’s Meeting Nixed Again — For the second year in a row, what was once the traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting of the Arlington County Board will not be held on Jan. 1. The meeting is instead expected to be held on Jan. 2, according to a draft 2018 County Board calendar. [InsideNova]

ACPD Holding Toy Drive — The Arlington County Police Department is holding its third annual Fill the Cruiser Holiday Toy Drive for children in need in Arlington. Officers will be collecting toys on the evenings of Tuesday, Nov. 28 and Tuesday, Dec. 5 in various locations around the county. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by ARLnow.com November 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The following letter was written by local resident Miranda Turner about the process of changing middle school boundaries in Arlington Public Schools.

To the Editor:

The current middle school boundary changes underway in Arlington represent a concerning turn away from demographic diversity as a consideration in boundary decisions.

During last year’s high school redistricting, Arlington Public Schools’ message was that a minor redrawing of lines wasn’t the time to address demographics, but that time was coming. Only a year later, APS seems to have thrown in the towel on the subject, in the face of “housing patterns in the county” that make it “not as easy” to address economically segregated schools (as stated by APS Staff at the October 25 meeting at Yorktown).

Each of the staff’s successive proposals has retreated from the opportunity to address concentrated low-income populations within the South Arlington middle schools. Under the current Staff recommendation, the low-income population in each South Arlington school, on average, exceeds the sum of the low-income percentages across all North Arlington schools together, and Williamsburg’s population of low-income students is 1 percent.

The staff’s explanation for its recommendation is that proximity – the option to walk up to 1.5 miles to school — is a priority for families. But only 55 percent of Arlington middle schoolers are in the walk zone, suggesting proximity is a priority for, at most, about half the county. Half the county attends South Arlington schools, yet that is apparently not enough for the staff to address the persistent economic segregation in those schools.

It is a given that each of the six APS considerations involve trade-offs. However, prioritizing proximity for the subset of families who live close to schools elevates the preferences of that small group over what is arguably best for the future of the entire school system and, in turn, the county.

Undoubtedly, the County Board has its own role to play in addressing housing patterns. This does not excuse the School Board from doing its part. Demographic diversity is not about “somebody else’s kids,” the staff’s chosen deflection at the October 25 meeting.  It is about all our kids and the values our county chooses to promote.

Sincerely,

Miranda Turner

Arlington

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes letters about issues of local interest. To submit your thoughts for consideration, please email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com November 13, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating an armed robbery that happened Saturday morning at the Shell station in Cherrydale.

Police say a man with a gun demanded cash from the store clerk and fled on foot.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ROBBERY, 2017-11110100, 3300 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 7:13 a.m. on November 11, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male suspect entered a business, brandished a firearm and demanded that an employee give him money. The suspect stole cash, forced the employee outside of the business and fled on foot before departing the area in a vehicle. The suspect is described as a thin, black male, approximately 6’0, wearing dark colored clothing. The vehicle is described as a light tan or cream colored late-model sedan. The investigation is ongoing.

Also from today’s crime reports, ACPD says officers had to use a police dog to peacefully resolve a home break-in.

According to the crime report, a man broke into a home on the 300 block of N. Glebe Road and went to sleep in a bedroom. He refused police commands to leave the home, prompting “the deployment of a police K-9.”

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2017-11090246, 300 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 5:47 p.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim arrived at his residence and observed that an unknown male suspect had gained entry to the residence and was sleeping in a bedroom. Arriving officers established a perimeter and made verbal commands but the suspect refused to comply and would not exit the residence. Following the deployment of a police K9, the suspect was taken into custody. Earl Chaptman, 64, was arrested and charged with Unlawful Entry.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com November 13, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Police have located a woman who went missing in Arlington this past Thursday and was considered “critically endangered.”

Arlington County Police say Katherine Hawald, 28, was found safely this morning by officers in the Virginia Square-Ballston neighborhood.

Police have not released any other details about the circumstances surrounding Hawald’s disappearance or how she was found.

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