77°Scattered Clouds

by Peter Rousselot — August 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

peter_rousselot_2014-12-27_for_facebookPeter’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.

A recent article (“Arlington Studying A Plan That Would Pay for your Uber to Metro”) in The Washington Post triggered feverish comments on its website, ARLnow.com and social media, like:

So my South Arlington taxes will be used to chauffeur the 1% from North Arlington?

Let them snarlingtonians ride in old crowded buses. We want our mini limos!

The county government subsequently issued a media advisory clarifying the nature of the county’s ride-sharing study. The clarification included a denial that a decision had been made to subsidize ride sharing.

According to the media advisory:

The new service is being analyzed for the following neighborhoods, where bus ridership does not meet our productivity standards (at least 15 passengers per hour):

  • Rock Spring, Williamsburg Middle School, and Dominion Hills
  • Chain Bridge Forest, Rivercrest, Bellevue Forest, Gulf Branch, and Stafford-Albermarle-Glebe
  • Douglas Park, Nauck, and Arlington Village

The proposed service could connect these areas to a transit center, such as the Ballston or East Falls Church Metrorail stations, or to a transit corridor, such as Columbia Pike

Discussion

Very low ridership on Arlington’s ART Bus 53 led to suggestions to cancel that route. Some commenters supported outright cancellation (“save the money; refund it to the taxpayers”). For now, this route has been saved, and a study of ride sharing as a substitute has begun.

I agree that ride sharing is worth studying.

One knowledgeable commenter observed that, when he last checked, “ART Bus 53 carried only 11 people per revenue hour and recovered only 12% of its cost.” Regardless of the actual numbers, the principle is certainly valid: if ridership on any ART bus route anywhere in the county drops too low, some action — whether outright cancellation, consolidation with another ART bus route, or ride sharing — are all potentially valid responses.

Standards for a ride-sharing subsidy

Arlington County should study a variety of standards for a ride-sharing subsidy, including:

  • Limiting the trip only to certain origins/destinations, like home to a Metro or bus stop or return home from one.
  • Having a maximum personal individual income ceiling for any participant.
  • Having an over-all dollar cap on program utilization in any particular defined area. (Use a lottery if the program is over-subscribed.)
  • Ending the ride-sharing program, and resuming/substituting ART bus service, if demand rises to a point above a pre-determined level of ART bus service viability (like the current 15 passengers per hour or some higher number).

Types of ride-sharing options

In addition to Uber and Lyft, the county should explore the costs and benefits of partnering with a transit provider like Bridj . Bridj currently offers limited pop-up bus service in D.C. Bridj is considered by some as the best hope to bring urban transportation into the 21st century.

Paratransit policy

County residents with disabilities should be offered the widest possible range of ADA-compliant transit options at the lowest possible cost. The county should study these ride-sharing recommendations from a metropolitan Boston report.

Conclusion

Fortunately, Arlington isn’t grappling with these transit policy questions in a vacuum. Other communities across America are doing so as well. The American Public Transportation Association sees ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft as complementary to traditional transportation options.

Let’s find the best options for Arlington.

by ARLnow.com — August 25, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Clarendon Grill signWith plenty of turbulence in the Clarendon restaurant scene this summer — opening, closings, rumors — it’s worth noting that some long-time establishments are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Clarendon Grill, which has been in business since 1996, is still among the local winners. The cover band, trivia night and happy hour destination, at 1101 N. Highland Street, just extended its lease.

Owner Peter Pflug says Clarendon Grill is continuing to do well enough that he decided to extend its lease by five years, through March 2022.

Pflug, who has been dubbed the “one of the godfathers of Clarendon nightlife,” chalks the recent turmoil up to an “oversupply of restaurants” in the area.

He said normal supply-and-demand dynamics aren’t working in Clarendon because once there’s an oversupply of restaurants it’s hard to get back to an equilibrium.

“Once a retail space becomes restaurant space, it usually stays that way,” he said. “It’s expensive to put in ADA bathrooms, kitchens, etc.”

Additionally, with the bricks-and-mortar retail industry on the decline thanks to competition from online retail, non-restaurant retailers are not rushing to fill empty space. Who is filling empty space? In some cases it’s savvy restaurant operators who execute well and are effective at carving out their local niche; in other cases it’s owners who are new to the Clarendon market and “may not be the best at doing their homework.”

Yes, rents are high, but that’s not the most important factor at play.

“I don’t think rental rates are nearly as important as oversupply,” Pflug said.

Clarendon Grill, which was renovated in 2010, continues to have a full slate of live entertainment on tap, including the aforementioned cover bands, “hilarious” Wednesday trivia nights, karaoke nights and salsa dancing nights.

by ARLnow.com — August 25, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Police car (file photo)A man’s hand was slashed Monday night, in what was originally reported to be an accident but may have been the result of a fight.

The incident happened around 10 p.m. Monday in a restaurant on the 500 block of 23rd Street S., in Crystal City. Police and medics responded, but were told that an accident caused the injury.

The next morning, police were called again and told that the injury was the result of an assault, not an accident.

Two restaurant employees “were involved in a verbal altercation that turned physical,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The victim was washing a knife at the time of the altercation and suffered a laceration to the hand which required medical treatment.”

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

LATE MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 160823025, 500 block of S. 23rd Street. At approximately 10:11 a.m. on August 23, officers responded to the report of a late assault with a weapon. Upon investigation, officers determined that the incident occurred the night prior when a male victim suffered a laceration to the hand following a verbal altercation. Police and medics had previously responded to the location on August 22 at approximately 10:00 p.m. but the incident was reported as an accident requiring medical attention. The victim was transported by medics to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — August 25, 2016 at 9:10 am 0

"Coming soon" signs for Ambar restaurant in Clarendon

Emergency Exercise at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department will be joining other agencies for an full-scale training exercise at the Pentagon today. The simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty response exercise will take place at the Pentagon heliport along Washington Blvd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. [WTOP]

Police Warn of IRS Scam Calls — Scammers posing as local law enforcement officers or IRS agents have been phoning Arlington residents recently. “These individuals accuse the victims of owing money to the IRS which must be paid immediately using iTunes gift cards, or other means,” according to a press release. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity as the non-emergency police line.” [Arlington County]

New Ad Displays Coming to Metro Stations — The Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be getting new digital displays that will play video advertisements targeted at transit riders. [Borderstan]

Rental House Includes Tiki Bar — A listing for a rental home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood includes a “new tiki bar” in the backyard and off-street parking for four cars. The 4 BR / 3 BA home is listed for $4,500 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington, Zillow]

Actress to Campaign for Hillary In ArlingtonBellamy Young, who plays the First Lady on ABC’s “Scandal,” will stop by Hillary Clinton’s Arlington field office in Dominion Hills next Saturday morning, as part of a series of campaign events in Northern Virginia.

by Adrian Cruz — August 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

"We Are Still Tornadoes" cover (Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)Arlington lawyer Susan Mullen’s journey to becoming a novelist began with an encounter with an old friend on Facebook.

Mullen reconnected with fellow lawyer and University of Virginia School of Law alum Michael Kun, who sought her help with what became “We Are Still Tornadoes,” a novel about best friends who follow different paths after high school. Kun, an author whose books include “The Locklear Letters” and “My Wife and My Dead Wife,” shocked Mullen with his writing proposal.

“I thought, ‘Why would you want to do that?'” Mullen said. “He’s a successful novelist, and I’ve never written anything before. We talked it through and basically agreed that we’d be honest with each other, and if it wasn’t going well, we’d just say, ‘Well this was fun,’ and move on.”

The novel centers around Scott and Cath, who grew up together in a small Maryland town. Through the use of letters between the friends, Mullen and Kun weave together a story of what happens when Cath goes to Wake Forest University and Scott stays behind to follow his musical dreams.

In order to keep the concept of writing letters back and forth a realistic one, the book is set in 1982, before online communication became widespread.

“It was a time when people wrote letters,” Mullen said. “It had to pre-date email because I don’t think that email has the same charm as writing letters, although members of the younger generations might disagree.”

To add authenticity to the missives, Mullen and Kun actually sent letters to each other throughout the writing process, with Mullen drafting Cath’s dispatches and Kun penning Scott’s notes.

Mullen and Kun discussed little beyond the novel’s framework and basic plot before starting the process, leaving the rest to the individual writer.

“We exchanged letters back and forth, and we just let it evolve,” Mullen said. “We surprised each other with the letters to a certain extent, and we would give each other a little bit of feedback along the way.”

The exchange of letters took over three years, something that Mullen attributes to both her and Kun’s busy lives as lawyers with families.

“I would only write when I had a significant block of time to really sit down and pay attention to do my best work,” Mullen said. “I really wanted to respect the process.”

When she was writing, Mullen’s oldest daughter was beginning her freshman year at Harvard University, giving her somebody to base the collegiate experience on. Both of her daughters also provided feedback in terms of how authentic the letters sounded. One major change was the inclusion of profanity, something her daughters felt came off as more authentic.

“Mike previously had a rule that he did not want his characters to curse because he wanted his daughter to eventually read his books,” Mullen said. “When my girls read it, they were like, ‘Mom, they have to curse, its just not realistic. It’s the way teenagers talk.'”

One challenge they faced while writing the book was finding a way to describe events that occurred while both characters were in the same location.

“You’re not going to write to each other about things that you have experienced together,” Mullen said. “It’s challenging sometimes to describe events with enough detail to be interesting to the reader and at the same time not include so much detail that its unrealistic from a letter-writing standpoint.”

At the same time, she said that the epistolary format helped make the writing process easier for her as a rookie novelist.

“I only had to write one letter at a time,” Mullen said. “For a lot of first-time authors, what stops them is trying to figure out what they’re going to say from start to finish.”

“We Are Still Tornadoes” is set to come out Nov. 1.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

Rental Trends banner

This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm that specializes in residential real estate, commercial real estate and home owner associations. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Real estate investments should be made on their potential to produce a good return (ROI) and consistent cash flow. Experienced real estate investors use financial metrics such as net present value, internal rate of return, and capitalization rate to evaluate real estate investment opportunities.

Let’s explain:

Net Present Value (NPV)

The net present value (NPV) is a good place to start. The formula provides a broad overview of the value of future earnings in contrast to money invested in the present.

The metric isn’t perfect, but it does give you an idea of whether you’ll gain or lose on a property. Because of that, it’s a good calculation to use when deliberating between a couple of investments. It should always be paired with other financial data before coming to a final decision about a property.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

The internal rate of return (IRR) is the discount rate, or interest rate, used to produce an NPV of zero. Generally, the higher the IRR, the better. It means that an investment has less risk associated with it.

However, the IRR calculation, like the NPV, is influenced by cash inflows and outflows, inflation, and other factors throughout the years you hold the property. It should be combined with other financial metrics to develop a clearer picture of your real estate investment portfolio.

Capitalization Rate

The capitalization rate is more often termed “cap rate.” It measures the rate of ROI and is based on the annual net operating income (NOI) of the property. It’s a simple way to calculate potential returns and compare them against current market trends.

Like other calculations, the cap rate has limitations. It only analyzes one year of prospective NOI, a number that doesn’t and often cannot account for expenses like taxes or financing costs. While it’s a good number to have in hand, you should always view it as an exploratory, rather than final, number when evaluating real estate investment opportunities.

Real estate can be highly lucrative. However, it requires careful consideration and an understanding of some basic financial metrics. Always evaluate your real estate investment opportunities’ NPV, IRR, and cap rate before committing to one of them.

In fact, if you’re contemplating a property and would like some advice, we’re happy to help. Not only do we provide residential property management services, but we also counsel clients on their investments.

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm 0

Police standoff in Virginia Square (courtesy photo)

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A reported standoff with an armed man near the Virginia Square Metro station ended peacefully this afternoon.

The standoff was said to be taking place in an apartment tower on the 900 block of N. Pollard Street. Police said the man was making threats and was in possession of multiple loaded firearms.

A police spokeswoman described it as a “fluid situation,” with officers “taking an abundance of caution for everyone’s safety.”

While police took defensive positions down the hall from the man’s apartment, he was spotted outside the Starbucks near the Metro station. As it turns out, the man had left his apartment prior to police arriving. Officers talked with the man, who was said to be calm and mostly cooperative.

At 4 p.m., police said the situation was “safely resolved” and the man was “being referred to County services.”

During the standoff Pollard Street was closed to traffic and police advised people to avoid the area. One nearby resident told us that heavily-armed officers had the apartment building “locked down.”

Courtesy photo

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 24, 2016 at 2:35 pm 0

Crystal City Sip & Salsa (courtesy photo)

Get ready to Sip, Salsa and Save with today’s Deal of the Day.

Snag a general admission ticket to the 10th annual Crystal City Sip & Salsa for only $10 (or get a food only tasting ticket for $5) and enjoy great Spanish and South American wines, delicious bites from area restaurants, live music, and, of course, salsa dancing!

That’s half off the usual price. You’ll have to hurry — only 100 discounted tickets are available and the deal ends at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Purchase Today’s Deal Now

Daily Discount Code: ARLnowSip

WHEN: Sunday, September 11 from 2-6 p.m.

WHERE: Parking lot at 220 20th Street S., Arlington, VA 22202

WHAT: The region’s largest inside the beltway, outdoor wine festival is celebrating its 10th year! Crystal City’s 10th Annual Sip and Salsa features delicious wines from Spain, Portugal, and Argentina, food tastes from restaurants in Crystal City and the region, great live music, and live dancing demonstrations and lessons from Columbia Pike’s Salsa Room. Part of Crystal City’s SIPtember series, enjoy a variety of sipping events with Sip & Salsa, Pups & Pilsners, Wine in the Water Park, and Crystal Screen: Sips and Sweets movie festival.

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

Lanier Avant (Photo via cbcfinc.org)Lanier Avant, the chief of staff for Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and a House Homeland Security Committee staff director, has been charged with failing to file his tax returns for five years.

Avant, who lives in Arlington, falsely claimed he was exempt from federal tax withholding, prosecutors say. He made more than $170,000 per year during tax years 2009-2013, but did not file a tax return during that time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Avant faces up to five years in prison. From a press release:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Isaac Lanier Avant, of Arlington, who is currently employed as a staffer by the U.S. House of Representatives, has been charged with five counts of willfully failing to file a tax return.

According to the criminal information and affidavit, Avant has been employed as a staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives since approximately 2002.  For tax years 2009 through 2013, Avant earned annual wages of over $170,000, but did not timely file a personal income tax return for any of those years. In May 2005, Avant filed a form with his employer that falsely claimed he was exempt from federal income taxes.  Avant did not have any federal tax withheld from his paycheck until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandated that his employer begin withholding in January 2013.

Avant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Caroline D. Ciraolo, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, made the announcement.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Hanly and Assistant Chief Todd Ellinwood of the Tax Division.

Photo via cbcfinc.org

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Tucker, who enjoys nibbling on envelopes, grocery bags and clothes.

Here’s what Tucker’s owner, Amanda, had to say about him:

Tucker is a very handsome gentleman born near Charlottesville. He was adopted from a shelter when he was nine months old and has been an Arlingtonian ever since!

Tucker lives with his mom, dad, human-sister, Alice, and fur-brother, Brody. He spends his days napping, chasing his brother, begging for water from the bathroom faucet, and swatting at himself in the mirror. He’s a very healthy boy in spite of his minor case of cat pica. Tucker enjoys, in particular, eating the envelopes from the mail, plastic grocery bags, mom and dad’s clothing, and string. His house is kept very tidy due to his occasional appetite for non-food material!

Tucker loves living in Arlington and hopes that more families will adopt furry friends like him from local shelters. He brings great joy to his family and they are thankful for him every day.

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 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 — August 24, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Ft. Barnard Park on 8/24/16

A “serial pooper” has left a No. 2 on the Ft. Barnard Park playground for the second time in as many weeks.

The ill-placed excrement was spotted this morning, conveniently while county crews were at the park for routine landscaping work.

“Unfortunately, the serial pooper struck again this morning,” a nearby resident told ARLnow.com. “This time it was not covered by a shirt, but a pile of human feces was found on the playground by some benches. County landscapers were already on the scene when it was found and called their office to arrange for cleanup and to discuss other methods to deter or catch the pooper. I guess this makes him the very brazen serial pooper.”

Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish confirmed that feces was found and that employees promptly took action to remove it.

“Yes, we found some more this morning,” Kalish said. “It is being cleaned up. We’ve notified police, rangers and are also working with homeless advocates.”

Kalish relayed some bullet points from the parks department regarding the defecation situation, including the somewhat surprising revelation that poop is pretty common in parks.

This is unacceptable behavior.

  • To reiterate – please do not poop in public places. This is something your mom should have taught you long ago.

When we know about it, we remove it immediately.

  • General practice is to remove waste on natural surfaces such as grass or mulch. However if the waste is on a surface such as concrete, paving or playgrounds, staff removes the waste and the cleans the area with disinfectant.
  • Staff has turned the issue over to police and park rangers to continue investigating in an effort to stop the issue.

We regret this sometimes happens.

  • As surprising as it may sound, it is not uncommon to find human waste in a park.
  • A couple months ago we noticed sporadically the waste in Ft. Barnard Park. It stood out because someone puts a t-shirt on top of it.
  • It became more common over the last month so park maintenance staff started pro-active check-ins at the park.
  • It seems that the waste is deposited overnight.

As of 11 a.m. this morning, it appeared that the latest droppings had been cleaned up and about a dozen children and caretakers were in the park, playing on the playground.

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Now is your chance to own a piece of the former Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon.

The restaurant closed last month after many years in business directly across from the Clarendon Metro station.

Hundreds of items from the restaurant are now being auctioned off online — just about everything you can imagine, including signs, tables, chairs, beer taps and kitchen equipment.

Most items currently have bids under $10.

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

N. Randolph Street is shut down between Glebe and Wilson due to a gas leakUpdate at 10:20 a.m. — The leak has reportedly been stopped and the road is being reopened.

A busy street in Ballston has been closed due to a strong odor of natural gas coming from a manhole.

N. Randolph Street is closed between N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd, near the Ballston Common Mall demolition site. Several businesses on the Glebe Road side of Randolph have been evacuated.

Washington Gas crews are en route to try to stop the leak.

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Window washers in Ballston

W-L Student Aces ACT Exam — Washington-Lee High School rising senior Benjamin Brooks has earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT college entrance exam. Of the two million people who take the exam each year, only 1,600 achieve a top score. [InsideNova]

Speakeasy Moves to Alexandria — The Room 19 speakeasy that was formerly in the now-closed Boulevard Woodgrill in Clarendon (which is now becoming Ambar) is relocating to Alexandria. Room 19 will have its soft opening in the Carlyle Club at 2050 Ballenger Ave tomorrow, a spokesman said. It will be open Thursdays from 6 p.m. to midnight. [Facebook]

Juror Questionnaires Are Being Mailed — Residents of Arlington and Falls Church will be receiving questionnaires as part of Arlington’s annual juror qualification process. About 35,000 questionnaires are being mailed out. [Arlington County]

Live Podcast Taping Coming to Arlington — Local media personalities Sarah Fraser and Samy K will be hosting a live taping of their popular Hey Frase podcast at Clarendon Ballroom next month. Tickets to the show start at $25. [Eventbrite]

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 24, 2016 at 8:10 am 0

Just Reduced banner

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

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

We’re in the heart of back to school season. With Arlington Public Schools set to kick off the 2016-2017 year on September 6, families across our area are wrapping up their school shopping and getting ready for the big day.

At the top of some families’ back to school list is their very own home. Arlington County has so many beautiful, diverse options for families — from classic townhomes to modern apartments to fully customized single-family homes.

The perfect option is out there, I promise, and I’m ready to help you GET MORE out of your real estate transaction. Where you may be meticulous in finding the best deals for supplies and clothes for the kiddos, I’m here to help you get the best bang for your buck in what may be your biggest purchase of all.

As of August 21, there are 234 detached homes, 62 townhouses and 301 apartments for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 51 homes experienced a price reduction in the past week.

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

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

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