Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Last Week of School — The 2018-2019 school year is concluding this week for Arlington Public Schools. Today is the last day of school for high schools, while Friday is the last day of school for middle and elementary schools. [Arlington Public Schools]

Park Service Advances Boathouse Plan — “Plans to establish a community boathouse on the Potomac River in Arlington just passed a major milestone. The National Park Service completed its Environmental Assessment (EA) with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which sets up the project to move forward.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

State of the County Address — “Christian Dorsey began his State of the County address by thanking the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Arlington business community for their partnership ‘on specific issues from the transient occupancy tax, to dedicated funding for the Metro, to helping us put our best foot forward in the competition for  Amazon’s HQ2.'” [Press Release]

Arlington Public Safety Awards — “Following the State of the County address, awards were presented to honor Arlington County’s public safety personnel…  Stories of their heroic actions include two firefighters rescuing a person trapped inside a vehicle that was fully submerged in water, a detective dismantling a large, local cocaine trafficking organization with limited investigative leads, and a police officer saving two unresponsive passengers in an overturned, burning vehicle on the roadway.” [Press Release]

Fraud Alert from Arlington Police — “The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office are warning the public about a telephone scam that uses the threat of arrest to extort money from potential victims.” [Arlington County]

Metro Studying Second Rosslyn Metro Station — “After decades of discussion, Metro kicked off a study this week of a new, second station at Rosslyn and other changes that could overhaul the way trains on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines run throughout the system.” [WTOP]

ACPD: No Plans for ‘Mass Deportation’ — “The Arlington County Police Department called the plan ‘political’ and said they have no intention on working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fulfill [President] Trump’s mass deportation plan. The Fairfax County Police Department said it doesn’t participate with ICE on civil enforcement either.” [Fox 5]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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Two shopping centers along Columbia Pike are slated for redevelopment, according to new county planning documents.

Developers want to replace the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center at the intersection of the Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive with a six-story building with apartments and ground-floor retail, according to a presentation last week to the county’s Form Based Code Advisory Working Group.

Plans indicate the developer would connect S. Cleveland Street to the Pike by building a new road segment for the county as part of the project. The shopping center currently includes a CVS and Metro PCS store, as well as Turkish restaurant Atilla’sthe Salsa Room dance studio, and the beloved Burritos Bros food stand.

A portion of the current CVS parking lot would be ceded to the county to be added to Penrose Square park as part of the redevelopment.

The project is expected to be reviewed in the spring of 2020, according to a preliminary schedule for the working group.

The Fillmore project is similar to plans to tear down the Westmont Shopping Center at the intersection of the Pike and S. Glebe Road and also replace it with a six-story mixed-use building, in a project that include 250 market-rate housing units.

“People are excited and they’re excited to see the Form Based Code in action,” said Kim Klingler, the new leader of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, referring to the corridor’s development guidelines. Two apartment redevelopment projects are also in the works along the Pike.

“Of course with development and change you are going to have hesitancy, and folks really wanted to focus on maintaining diversity as much as possible, safe transportation, and also making sure the neighborhood is well informed,” she said, noting that 15 neighborhood residents who attended last week’s meeting.

Both redevelopment projects are requesting the maximum height (six stories) allowed along most of Columbia Pike per the area’s development guidelines. Both shopping center redevelopments also plan to build only market-rate housing, which was a topic of conversation among residents last week as the county’s stock of affordable housing continues to shrink.

“Staff clarified that based on the neighborhood plan and Form Based Codes those properties do not require affordable housing,” Klinger said.

Documents from last week’s meeting indicate that in addition to the 343 parking spaces for cars, the Westmont development would include 104 parking spaces for bicycles. Ninety bicycle spaces will be reserved for residents. The project will also add two bus stops, one along S. Glebe Road and another along the Pike.

County planners noted in an August report that they believed the Westmont project would only cause “minor increases in delay,” in terms of traffic at the nearby intersections — along a busy route that has seen its share of transportation challenges.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Images via Arlington County.

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The video (below) was jarring: cars driving through muddy flood waters that nearly reached the tops of tires.

Even more jarring: this was happening along busy Columbia Pike, a route not noted for being flood-prone, during the evening rush hour.

The scene yesterday evening was captured on video by a passerby, showing floodwaters inundating a low-lying section of the Pike near S. Greenbrier Street. As commenters pointed out this morning, driving through flooded roads is a bad idea, but despite repeated reminders to “turn around, don’t drown,” drivers continue willfully operating their vehicles as if they were hovercraft.

(A spokesman with Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow the department is still investigating the flooding and “looking into whether there were any construction-related obstructions in the storm sewer inlets.”)

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage this morning offered the following tips for driving during heavy rain and potential flooding situations.

Residents are reminded to:

  • Sign up for Arlington Alert to receive emergency notifications including severe weather alerts.
  • Whenever possible, limit travel during times of severe weather.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast.
  • It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters. If you see a flooded roadway, seek an alternative route.
  • According to the National Weather Service, 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. Play it safe, Turn Around Don’t Drown.
  • If you see a hazard, report to the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Those tips may come in handy tonight. A Flash Flood Watch is set to take effect at 2 p.m. From the National Weather Service:

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 PM EDT THIS EVENING… * THUNDERSTORMS WITH HEAVY RAINFALL ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ACROSS THE WATCH AREA THIS AFTERNOON AND LINGER INTO THE EVENING. LOCALIZED RAINFALL TOTALS OF SEVERAL INCHES ARE POSSIBLE. THIS COULD LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING, ESPECIALLY IN THE URBAN AREAS. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED. &&

The video from last night’s flooding is below.

Photo via Becky Haberacker/Twitter

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The Arlington County Board granted new Ballston bar Bronson a permit for an outdoor patio and live music, following initial wariness from staff and neighbors over bad experiences with its predecessor, A-Town Bar and Grill.

The County Board reviewed a use permit application from Bronson — which is currently under construction atat 4100 N. Fairfax Drive and billed as a German craft beer bar — on Saturday. It unanimously approved the bar’s request to seat patrons along the sidewalk and to host live music.

“There’s not a lot of trust, frankly,” said Board Member Erik Gutshall of the relationship between the neighbors and the bar after years of complaints with A-Town. Bronson is operated by some of the same owners as A-Town.

But Gutshall added that he wanted to give the new establishment an opportunity to prove “you will be good neighbors and you will fit in the community.”

“We don’t even need security here because we’re not bringing that crowd,” said Mike Cordero, one of Bronson’s owners. He acknowledged there was a “stigma” against the bar left over from A-Town.

Bronson originally requested to set up public seating buffered from the sidewalk with a 3-foot-high, removable fence, according to a staff presentation for the Board. Plans indicate that the set up would leave between 7 and 10 feet of sidewalk available for pedestrians.

The Bronson also asked to keep outdoor seating open on Mondays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. The nearby Berkeley and Alta Vista condominium associations requested the patio close by 9 p.m. on Sunday, 10 p.m. on Mondays-Thursdays, and 11 p.m. on Fridays-Saturdays.

“If the Bronson is appearing to be a family-friendly restaurant, if they are seating [and] they are looking to bring in a different kind of clientele, the necessity to stay open until 2 a.m. is slightly befuddling,” said a neighbor, adding of nearby residents: “We all really like to sleep.”

Staff recommended Board members approve the permit, but curb the hours, keep sidewalk space clear, and require regular community meetings and permit reviews.

The County Board approved the Bronson’s request to stay open opening from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The Board also approved staff recommendation to require the bar to close its outdoor patio by 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and by 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Lee Austin, who lives in the Alta Vista Condominium near the Bronson, said he appreciated the restrictions but added that he wanted the German bar’s new roll-up doors to also close when the patio does to “help ensure quietude” for the neighborhood.

The recommendations come after the bar formerly occupying the space, A-Town, faced permit scrutiny after neighbors said its outdoor patrons were too loud. Police at one point considered it “to be the most troublesome establishment” in the county, generating fights and drunken drivers. The bar was also cited in 2014 for serving patrons outside from an unlicensed “champagne truck.”

County staff also recommended the Board make the permit subject to:

  • An administrative review in August.
  • Another Board vote in October.
  • Quarterly meetings with the Berkeley and Alta Vista condominium associations.

Courthaus Social (formerly Velocity 5) also faced possible outdoor permit restrictions in 2014 due to noise complaints until county staff recommended leniency.

Images 1-2 via Arlington County

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Someone rifled through at least five cars parked in the Dominion Hills neighborhood over the weekend.

The vehicles were all parked along the 900 and 1000 blocks of N. Madison Street, a couple of blocks away from McKinley Elementary School.

Only loose change was reported to have been stolen, though one of the vehicles — a truck — was also spray painted. Police described the spray paint as “alleged gang graffiti;” multiple tipsters tell ARLnow it was “MS-13” gang graffiti, though that could not be officially confirmed.

More from Arlington County Police Department crime reports:

Destruction of Property, 2019-06160101, 1000 block of N. Madison Street. At approximately 9:21 a.m. on June 16, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim’s truck had been vandalized by spray paint and change had been taken from within the vehicle. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

Larceny from Auto, 2019-06174001, 1000 block of N. Madison Street. Between 2:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. on June 15, an unknown suspect entered a vehicle and stole loose change.

Larceny from Auto, 2019-06174010, 900 block of N. Madison Street. Between 11:00 p.m. on June 15 and 9:30 a.m. on June 16, the owner left their car open and an unknown suspect rummaged through it. Nothing was reported stolen.

Vehicle Tampering, 2019-06174013, 900 block of N. Madison Street. Between 11:35 p.m. on June 15 and 9:35 a.m. on June 16, two vehicles were rummaged through. Nothing was reported stolen.

“It appears most vehicles were left unlocked,” noted ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage, who offered some theft prevention tips. “Residents are reminded to keep their vehicles locked, remove valuables and report suspicious activity such as individuals attempting door handles by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”

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Morning Notes

Columbia Pike Flooding — Columbia Pike flooded near S. Greenbrier Street during last night’s storms. Drivers could be seen driving through standing water as high as the tops of car tires. [Twitter]

Another Flash Flood Watch — Arlington is again under a Flash Flood Watch from 2-11 p.m. today, as slow-moving storms may produce torrential, flooding rainfalls. [Weather.gov, Twitter]

County to Tackle Premature Tree Deaths — “‘The county is not taking adequate care of its newly planted trees,’ said [Elizabeth] Grossman, a member of the Arlington Tree Action Group, who said that while there were many reasons trees may not survive after being planted, the death rate on Arlington government property seems excessive.” [InsideNova]

Fire at Ballston Building — “Firefighters are on scene of a fire at a high-rise residential building on the 800 block of N. Quincy Street in Ballston. Reportedly a small fire in one of the units.” [Twitter, Twitter]

One Reason Arlington Landed HQ2 — “A West Coast economist’s ideas challenge the ‘world is flat’ conventional wisdom about tech jobs. They’re a major part of the reason Arlington landed Amazon.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Retiring Superintendent Has a New Gig — Last week, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick K. Murphy told the School Board he would be retiring in September. On Sept. 1, he will begin his new job as superintendent of Berkeley County Schools in West Virginia. [Berkeley County Schools]

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Arlington County Police are investigating two fatal pedestrian-involved crashes that happened last week.

The first occurred Wednesday morning at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive. The victim, a 77-year-old Arlington resident, died Thursday, police announced over the weekend.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team (CAT) is investigating a now fatal pedestrian crash that occurred on Wednesday, June 12 at the intersection of Columbia Pike and South Four Mile Run Drive.

At approximately 9:27 a.m., police responded to the area for the report of an accident with injury involving a pedestrian. Officers and medics arrived on scene and located the female victim suffering from serious injuries and rendered aid. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. The preliminary investigation indicates that the victim was crossing the westbound lanes of Columbia Pike against the walk signal when she was struck by an oncoming vehicle. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and detectives interviewed multiple witnesses.

The pedestrian, identified as Martha Saltos, 77, of Arlington, Va. was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. She later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased on June 13.

Anyone who may have witnessed this crash or has additional information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. Lafley at [email protected] or 703-228-4052. Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.

The second fatal crash happened Friday night, on N. George Mason Drive near Virginia Hospital Center. A 66-year-old Arlington man died from his injuries after being struck by a vehicle.

Also from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team is investigating a fatal pedestrian crash that occurred in the 1700 block of N. George Mason Drive.

At approximately 10:51 p.m. on Friday, June 14, police responded to the report of a crash involving a pedestrian. The pedestrian, identified as Robert Bramwell, 66, of Washington D.C., was transported to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Based on the preliminary investigation, it is believed that the pedestrian entered the roadway outside the crosswalk and did not have the right-of-way at the time of the crash. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation.

This remains on ongoing investigation and anyone with additional information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective T. Parsons at [email protected] or 703-228-4172. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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This week, Arlington County Board members will consider a proposal that would allow them to raise their salaries for the first time since 2012.

Members are scheduled to vote tomorrow (Tuesday) to raise the maximum level at which they can set their salaries, choosing from one of three possible options:

  • Option 1: $61,034 for members, and $67,464 for the chair
  • Option 2: $89,851 for members, and $95,734 for the chair
  • Option 3: $129,429 for members, and $135,312 for the chair

Currently, the salary cap for Board members is $57,337 a year, but members are currently paid $55,147. The member serving as Board Chair (currently Christian Dorsey) is paid $60,662, but the salary cap for his position is $63,071.

A staff report to the Board noted that 223 people responded to an online survey and 210 of those respondents picked a salary level they thought appropriate. The majority (143) chose a salary level between $57,000 and $84,999. The rest (67) chose somewhere between $85,000 and $120,999.

The report also noted that current salary levels are below the regional median income level for a single person ($85,000) and the level for a family of four ($121,300) and are generally below salaries paid to regional legislators in other jurisdictions.

Board members are required to wait to raise their pay caps until at least two members are running for re-election, which happens every four years. Currently, Board Chair Dorsey and member Katie Cristol are up for re-election.

The Board has until July 1 to vote on the raise, otherwise they’d have to wait another four years for a chance to vote again.

Option 1 ($61,034) added annual 2.27 percent increases to the existing salary base ($57,337). Options 2 and 3 ($89,851 and $129,429, respectively) factored in a starting point based on area median income for individuals (Option 2) and a family of four (Option 3) and increased that by 2.27 percent each year for the next four years.

Serving on the County Board is intended to be a part-time position, though in practicality the schedules of Board members leave little time for other jobs.

Board member Libby Garvey previously said her colleagues needed higher salaries to keep up with the work involved in attending the county’s many local and regional group meetings.

“I talk to people about how we’re a five-member basketball team with no back-ups so we have to play the entire game all the time,” she said.

New salary caps would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 if the Board approves them tomorrow, and would last until Dec. 31, 2023. Members would be able to decide after January whether to raise their salaries, up to the the maximum amount they set.

Image via Arlington County

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A suspect is in custody after a man was stabbed in the Virginia Square area Monday morning.

The incident happened near the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Pollard Street, a block from Arlington Central Library. Initial reports suggest a man was stabbed in the arm, suffering a non-life-threatening injury.

The victim was transported to a local hospital via ambulance. A suspect could be seen in police custody near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Pollard Street, as officers nearby examined what appeared to be a pocket knife.

Pollard Street was closed to traffic as police conducted an investigation.

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Morning Notes

Police Nab Sex Assault Suspect — “Following a tip from a member of the public, the suspect has been identified as Wondimagegn Azemach, 19, of Riverdale, Maryland. He has been charged with Abduction with Intent to Defile and Sexual Battery.” [Arlington County]

Fire at Ambar in Clarendon — A small fire temporarily closed Ambar restaurant in Clarendon during prime brunching time on Saturday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Board Approves Va. Square Development — “The Arlington County Board today approved a plan to replace aging commercial buildings on the northwest corner of Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road, in the Ballston-Virginia Square neighborhood, with a seven-story apartment building that will include 16 affordable units and achieve LEED Silver energy efficiency.” [Arlington County]

GW Parkway Sinkhole Work Continues — “The repairs to a crumbling section of the George Washington Parkway between Turkey Run Park and the Capital Beltway are now expected to continue through most of the summer. The long-term repairs to a failed drainage inlet will keep at least one right lane on the parkway closed for 10 weeks once the contractor is ready for work, the National Park Service said Friday. Engineers have determined that a 60 year old brick drainage structure buried deep under the parkway needs to be replaced.” [WTOP, Press Release]

Fire Victim Identified — The person killed in an apartment fire in the Ashton Heights neighborhood last week “has been identified as Brian Green, 50, of Arlington. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.” [Arlington County]

Football Team Joins Arlington Chamber — “Welcome new member @Redskins! We are thrilled to have you as part of our membership at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.” [Twitter]

County Kicks Off Census Effort — Arlington County and its Complete Count Committee (CCC) are gearing up for the 2020 Census – working toward the goal of counting every Arlingtonian… It’s not too early to get acquainted with the Census and what to expect next year.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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A new arts space, paid for in-part by Arlington County and run by George Mason University, is coming to Virginia Square.

The Latitude Arts Space is an art installation planned for the southeast corner of Latitude Apartments (3601-2625 N. Fairfax Drive). The site will be operated by the GMU College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The County Board is scheduled to vote this weekend on a $150,000 grant to partially fund interior construction at the project as part of the consent agenda. A county staff report said the goal of this and similar projects is to provide active, publicly accessible spaces that can be flexible in their programming with limited financial commitments from Arlington County.

When the site plan for Latitude Apartments was approved by the Arlington County Board in 2013, it included a provision for an arts space. The goal of the provision was to fulfill goals in the Virginia Square Sector Plan. The Latitude Apartments project was completed in 2016, after which Arlington Economic Development staff worked to help find a new tenant.

“The proposed grant is critical to realizing the opportunity to occupy the Latitude Arts Space with an active and appropriate use that Mason will be able to deliver,” the staff report said. “The grant funds from Arlington County to Mason will be used to offset costs of interior construction of the space and are essential in removing a hurdle for Mason to absorb this previously unbudgeted expense.”

The grant funding only accounts for 25-30 percent of the total interior construction costs, the rest of which will be covered by the property owner and the university.

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