Little Change to Office Vacancy Rate — There was little change to Arlington’s high office vacancy rate in the second quarter of 2015, compared to one year prior. On a neighborhood level, the vacancy rate was up significantly in the Clarendon and Courthouse area but down in Virginia Square. [InsideNova]
Metro Offers Credits for Friday Mess — Metro is issuing a SmarTrip credit to riders who travelled on the Blue, Orange or Silver lines between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The credit is being issued automatically, as an apology for major delays caused by a track power issue near the East Falls Church station, among other Metro snafus last week. [WMATA]
Move-In Date Delayed for New Apartments — The move-in date for the new Verde Pointe apartments on Lee Highway has been delayed. Originally planned for Aug. 1, the building opening is now reportedly expected to take place within three weeks. Would-be residents are being told that building safety inspections are still taking place. [NBC Washington]
Dems Move Chili Cookoff — The annual Labor Day chili cookoff organized by the Arlington County Democratic Committee has been moved this year. The event will be held at the Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) rather than the usual venue of the Lyon Park Community Center, which is in the midst of renovations. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
More than a year after she resigned from the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC), County Board Libby Garvey wants back in. But after applying, Garvey has been told she will need to wait at least a few months.
Garvey resigned in April 2014, preempting a committee vote to remove her, after she supported independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze. Both Vihstadt and Garvey opposed the now-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project.
This year, Garvey is planning to support the Democratic nominees for County Board — Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey — and wants to officially rejoin the ACDC and its steering committee, on which elected Democrats are given seats. She was told to reapply for membership, but after submitting the proper paperwork she was then told that she would have to wait until November to apply again, a source told ARLnow.com and Garvey confirmed.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” she said in a phone interview over the weekend. “I’m a Democrat, I’m not a member of another party, I’m planning to support all the Democratic candidates — I think they’re all great.”
ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky said the move is simply a matter of staying focused heading into a key election, in which the Democratic County Board candidates will have to fend off two experienced independent candidates: Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin.
“This year we have two exceptional county board candidates in Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey,” Malinosky said. “Because the focus should be squarely on them, as well as the rest of our great candidates, we deferred discussion about the subject of Libby’s readmission until after this year’s election.”
The Alliance for Housing Solutions asked each candidate — Katie Cristol, Christian Dorsey, Peter Fallon, James Lander, Andrew Schneider and Bruce Wiljanen — about their priorities and solutions for the county’s rising cost of living and rapidly shrinking stock of residences affordable to middle class families.
Each candidate, in their responses, declared affordable housing a strong priority, and vowed solutions to make it easier for lower-income individuals to find a home in the county. Many of the responses touched on the same themes — public-private partnerships as a solution, the county’s lack of land as an obstacle — as the candidates try to distinguish themselves for the two open seats on the Board.
Cristol, the youngest of the candidates, said she would advocate for creative solutions, like the planned WeLive space in Crystal City and making it easier to build additions in single-family homes. The Columbia Pike resident also vowed to protect the affordable housing policies already on the books, like the Affordable Housing Ordinance, which requires developers to contribute affordable units or money to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund if they want to build more density than otherwise allowed by zoning.
“Over the past decade, the Affordable Housing Ordinance … has been critical in linking affordable housing to economic redevelopment across the County,” Cristol wrote. “I believe the approach of the Affordable Housing Ordinance is a key mechanism to mitigate the loss of our market-rate affordable stock in the decades to come, and I will champion its protection.”
Dorsey said his affordable housing priorities would be to expand the stock of committed affordable units alongside market-rate affordable units and he, along with the other candidates, argued that a mix of housing prices was key for the county’s long-term economic prosperity.
“Employers consider a community’s ability to house its workforce a critical factor in determining where to locate their business,” Dorsey wrote. “Moreover, since housing is the biggest line item in the budgets for most families, reducing housing costs yields increased income that can be spent on goods and services–increasing demand and thus business sustainability.”
Peter Fallon, who is trying to capture the Democratic nomination for County Board for the second time after losing to Alan Howze in the special election primary last year, said part of the problem with implementing affordable housing problem is the messaging — many people don’t understand why it’s a key issue.
“We need to be honest about the perception of affordable housing in Arlington,” he wrote. “Some residents view affordable housing residents as ‘takers’ who don’t add to the economic vibrancy of the community. As a County Board member, I intend to be a voice for all Arlingtonians, and that means correcting misperceptions about residents of affordable housing — many of whom are long time residents and the same young, middle-class families who make Arlington a top destination for new residents.”
School Board Chair James Lander said he wants to “implement key components” of the Columbia Pike Neighborhood Plan — which calls for the preservation of 6,200 affordable units along the corridor — as a way to spur the development of mixed-income neighborhoods throughout the county.
“Neighborhoods with residents of mixed income levels directly impact the goals of diversity, inclusion, and economic sustainability,” he wrote. “Neighborhoods with residents of mixed income levels directly impact the goals of diversity, inclusion, and economic sustainability. Prioritizing these shared values ensures that our teachers, construction workers, seniors, hospitality and service employees all have increased opportunities to make Arlington their home.”
(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Change and a fresh perspective is needed on the County Board — that was the overall message from the five Democrats seeking the nomination for two open board seats.
While all of the candidates touted their “progressive values” at Wednesday’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, most suggested that the Democratic status quo is in need of a refresh.
“The County Board needs new insights and perspectives… we need leaders with renewed energy and optimism,” said Katie Cristol, a relative unknown in political circles who delivered an energetic speech to the standing room only crowd. “I am running to bring a fresh start to Arlington County.”
Cristol, an education policy consultant who serves on the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women, said she would remain true to Arlington’s “vision of inclusion, diversity and smart growth.” She spoke of the county government’s need to communicate more effectively with its citizens and to seek out the perspective of younger residents and renters, while also spurring the local economy.
“We can build an agile county government that is responsive to residents,” Cristol said. “As a County Board member I will seek to drive economic redevelopment that preserves our core values of transit-oriented smart growth and the distinctive character of our neighborhoods.”
Cristol also spoke of her advocacy for women’s reproductive rights and on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.
“I will be an unrelenting voice for women and for families,” she said. So far, Cristol is the only woman seeking the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Board members Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.
Christian Dorsey, who sought and lost the Democratic nomination to Chris Zimmerman and Walter Tejada in 2002 and 2003, said he has decided 2015 is the right time to try again and “propel the next progressive wave in Arlington.”
“We are an extremely well-planned community… but even in a well-planned community like Arlington we still face challenges, and those challenges are immense,” Dorsey said, adding that he has “the right set of skills and perspectives for this point in time in Arlington.”
That perspective includes having served on the board of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, as chair of the Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission and as executive director of the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation in the Nauck neighborhood.
“We have to be honest, Arlington is a privileged place but we still have people who are suffering from stagnating wages, many people in our community are on fixed incomes… people don’t have the means that they used to,” Dorsey said. “That means that we have to deliver good government at maximum value, but also come up with innovative ways of making it a little easier for people to go through life.”
“You can save money by doing good,” Dorsey said. “Progressive values often make very sound fiscal sense.”
Andrew Schneider, president of the Yorktown Civic Association and a life-long Arlingtonian, has made “listening” and “solving old problems in new ways” central tenets of his campaign.
“If we’ve learned anything over the past twelve months, it’s been that the public confidence in Arlington has been shaken,” said Schneider. “My candidacy is founded on helping to restore that confidence. You do not restore the public confidence through the sandbox politics and knee-jerk opposition that has characterized our community dialogue over the past two years.”
Tejada is the last member of the County Board who still defends the now-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar “unapologetically and unequivocally.” He has been one of the more vocal supporters of adding affordable housing and providing immigrants safe haven in the county.
“I will never apologize for these efforts,” he told the Arlington County Democratic Committee Wednesday night.
Tejada touted Democratic accomplishments during a 14-minute-long speech, including the county’s triple-AAA bond rating, its low crime and unemployment rates and a host of recognitions as a great place to live. He challenged the criticism that the County Board has ruled with a “groupthink” mentality; he said it’s been a good thing for the county.
“The group-thinking mentality that was created got us to be one of the best communities in the United States,” he said. “And yes, we have some genuine challenges to confront ahead. Yet, some of our problems are first-world problems to tackle. Are we victims of our own success?”
Among Arlington’s problems are a school capacity crisis that seems to grow every year, one that some critics say the County Board and School Board have not acted swiftly enough to fix. The county’s urban corridors are redeveloping with increasing density, in some cases threatening open space and forcing even more tough decisions from county leaders. Then there are rising housing costs, which have prompted Tejada and his Board colleagues to place affordable housing among their chief priorities.
While the county faces these challenges, the voting landscape appears to have shifted to favor “change” candidates. Independent John Vihstadt was elected twice in 2014; Tejada reminded the partisan crowd that Vihstadt “has been named Republican volunteer of the year, who ran on an anti-government agenda and who does not share our Democratic values.”
Tejada expressed concern that Democrats’ reaction to last year’s elections will make them stray from the “progressive and Democratic values” he holds dear; he repeated that phrase a half-dozen times during his remarks.
“What are we, as Democrats, going to do about it,” he asked, “when we allow ourselves to become a new Arlington of rich, entitled people, lacking in compassion, empathy and a sense of community, viscerally opposed to government of any kind, opposed to everything in alleged overspending on every front?”
Tejada and County Board Chair Mary Hynes are both retiring at the end of their terms in December.
Snow Chance Today — Arlington may get some snow, sleet and freezing rain this afternoon. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory, although forecasters think areas north and west of Arlington are at more of a risk of wintry weather and slippery roads. [Weather.com]
Two Dems Running for School Board — The deadline for candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for school board was last night and two candidates filed before the deadline: Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold its school board caucus on May 14 and 16.
Opower Losing Money, Hiring — Courthouse-based Opower, a publicly-traded energy software company, reported its latest financial results yesterday. For 2014, the company reported $128.4 million in revenue, a 45 percent increase over 2013. Its operating loss was $40.8 million. The company is continuing its hiring spree, adding employees locally and at its offices in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Singapore. [DC Inno, Yahoo Finance]
Armed Bank Robbery in Falls Church — A Wells Fargo bank in Falls Church was robbed yesterday by two armed men known as the “Black Hat Bandits.” The men are suspected of robbing seven other banks around the D.C. area. Arlington County police assisted Falls Church police in looking for the suspects immediately after the robbery. [Falls Church News-Press]
Old Map of Arlington — An 18th century map of what is now Arlington County shows mills along Four Mile Run and the “Road To The Falls,” known now as Glebe Road. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
“I’m excited to talk to Arlingtonians from all corners of the county to hear their ideas, frustrations and potential solutions. I believe in one Arlington, one community,” Schneider said in statement announcing his candidacy. “Our county is at its best when we’re having real dialogue with friends and neighbors about how to move our community forward together.”
This is not Schneider’s first foray into an Arlington election; last year, he came in third place in the Democratic primary in the special election to replace retiring Del. Bob Brink.
Schneider joins Columbia Pike resident Katie Cristol as the first two running for the open seat. Candidates are allowed to officially file to run for the primary on March 9.
Schneider has two children in Nottingham Elementary School and, if elected, would be the youngest member of the County Board. He’s a native Arlingtonian, a graduate of Yorktown High School and was named last year to Leadership Arlington’s 40 Under 40.
Schneider’s campaign announcement said his platform will be “managing the county’s financial situation with an understanding that we face a new fiscal reality, having honest conversations that include all Arlingtonians and treats our county as one community, and improving customer service for Arlington’s residents.”
That’s the message from County Board Chair Mary Hynes, who announced her retirement on Wednesday.
Acknowledging that the current County Board majority has been going through “a rough patch,” Hynes urged fellow like-minded Democrats at Wednesday night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting to stand up and speak out at County Board meetings and elsewhere.
“It is very important — I can’t give this message strongly enough to the people in the room — you need to stand with us,” Hynes said. “You cannot believe that just because we’re up there and it feels okay to you that it is okay. We need your voices and we need your faces and we need you to pat us on the back every once in a while and come to the public hearing.”
Unsaid in Hynes’ message: those who oppose things — the Board majority, streetcars, aquatics centers, schools, fire stations, affordable housing developments — are doing a better job of getting their message out and being visible at community functions than the rank-and-file Democrats who support such things.
“Put a little time in,” Hynes urged. “Because it makes the work possible. We do this on behalf of you.”
As for her planned retirement — like Walter Tejada, she will not run for reelection and will serve out her term through the end of the year — Hynes said it was a personal decision.
“It is time for a new chapter for me,” Hynes said. “I’ll be able to make music more and read for pleasure, instead of reading to help me weigh the tough choices before us as a community.”
“I’ve been at this long enough to know that no one person is irreplaceable,” she continued. “My goal was always to leave Arlington better place than I found it, and I hope that I have done this.”
“When Arlingtonians roll up their sleeves and say ‘we can make a difference,’ we do make a difference… We can build a vibrant future, we can move past this rough patch, if we collaborate, use your common sense and build a consensus. That is the task that is before us. I know we can do it.”
Hynes received a standing ovation from the party faithful before and after her remarks.
“Our party, and our values and our people are responsible for creating the Arlington we all love today,” she concluded. “And don’t you ever let anyone tell you something different.”
Scammers Threatening to Kill Wives, Kids of Doctors — Scammers are calling Arlington doctors and pretending to hold one of the doctor’s family members hostage. The scam usually includes a woman screaming on the other end, pretending to be the doctor’s wife or daughter, and the supposed hostage taker making threats to kill her. So far this week at least two Arlington doctors have received the call. [MyFoxDC]
Hit-and-Run Driver May Have Been Intoxicated — Police are investigating whether the woman who ran over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot may have been drunk and/or on prescription medication at the time of the incident. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Arlington’s Bike Path Snow Removal — With its new policy of clearing bike trails and bike lanes of snow, Arlington County is now “becoming a national leader in snow clearing,” said one county official. [Washington Post]
Dems to Hold Primary — The Arlington County Democratic Committee last night voted to hold a primary for the upcoming County Board race. The primary will be held June 9, and the first day for candidate filing is March 9. A School Board caucus, meanwhile, will be held May 14 and 16.
D.C. Streetcar System in Jeopardy — The D.C. Council is considering scaling back or ending the city’s streetcar program. The long-delayed, problem-plagued H Street NE line still does not have an opening date scheduled. [NBC Washington -WARNING: Auto-play video]
Flickr pool photo by Chris
APS Bans E-Cigarettes — The Arlington School Board on Dec. 4 voted to ban students from bringing e-cigarettes onto school grounds. Arlington Public Schools is also stepping up its effort to warn students and residents of the prospective dangers of e-cigarettes. [InsideNova]
‘Polish Night’ at Clarendon Cafe — Oby Lee, the cafe and wine bar at 3000 Washington Blvd in Clarendon, will be josting a “Polish night” on Friday. The cafe will include traditional Polish dishes like pierogi, golabki cabbage, krokiety crepes and jablecznik apple pie. [Clarendon Nights]
Stamos to Return to ACDC Good Graces — Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos is expected to be welcomed back to the Arlington County Democratic Committee within a month. Stamos and the committee parted ways earlier this year after she endorsed independent John Vihstadt for County Board. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone
New Security Measures at Schools — This school year, Arlington Public Schools has three additional police officers assigned as school resource officers at elementary schools. The school system has also added 30 new video cameras in secondary schools, which can be viewed by the county’s 911 call center and by school resource officers. [Washington Post]
Stamos Back in the ACDC Fold — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos has apparently been welcomed back into the good graces of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Stamos voluntarily stepped down from the committee after she endorsed independent candidate John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze. [InsideNova]
Bracket Room to Celebrate Anniversary — Contrary to the pessimistic predictions of its critics, Clarendon sports bar The Bracket Room is about to celebrate its one year anniversary and seems to be thriving. Former Bachelorette cast member Chris Bukowski opened the bar, at 1210 N. Garfield Street, on Sept. 5, 2013. Bracket Room is planning a birthday party on Saturday, Sept. 6. [Clarendon Nights]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Dems Breathe Sigh of Relief After Win — Local Democrats have a bit more of a bounce in their step following Rip Sullivan’s convincing 48th District House of Delegates victory. Some believed that Arlington was becoming more competitive for Republicans, following John Vihstadt’s County Board win in April. Sullivan, however, significantly outperformed Alan Howze, Vihstadt’s Democratic opponent, winning every 48th District precinct. [InsideNova]
Woman Gives Birth on I-66 — A woman gave birth in her car on I-66 in Arlington early this morning. The woman was pulled over onto the shoulder of the eastbound lanes near Washington Blvd when the baby was delivered. Emergency personnel arrived after the delivery and transported mother and baby to the hospital. [Washington Post]
Shirlington Oktoberfest Date Set — Capitol City Brewing has set the date of its annual Oktoberfest celebration in Shirlington, which is billed as the largest Oktoberfest beer festival in Northern Virginia. The street festival, featuring 65+ breweries and German food and music, is set for Saturday, Oct. 4. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Falls Church Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking — A Falls Church man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for “engaging in the sex trafficking of a child and transporting a minor across state lines for prostitution.” Alan Cooley, 34, allegedly used force and threats to force a 17-year-old runaway to perform sex acts for money. [U.S. Justice Department]
Dems Back Special Election Candidates — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Democratic Committee formally nominated Carla de la Pava for treasurer and endorsed Nancy Van Doren for School Board. Both candidates are running in special elections to take place at the same time as the November 4 general election. [InsideNova]
Possible Attempt to Resurrect Arlington’s Tourism Tax — Two candidates looking to fill the seat of Del. Bob Brink both said at a recent debate that they would introduce legislation to bring back Arlington’s tourism surtax on hotel bills. Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster both favor the tax, which had been in place for 21 years until it lapsed in 2011, due to anger over the County Board suing the state and federal governments over high occupancy toll lanes. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Wins Axe Throwing Competition — Arlington resident Christopher R. Miller won the 2014 Lizzie Borden Axe Throwing competition in Falls Church. He is the brother-in-law of last year’s winner. [Falls Church News-Press]
Petition to Protect Thomas Jefferson Park — Some Arlington residents have started a petition to protect Thomas Jefferson Park from redevelopment. Last month, the county announced it had commissioned a working group to study the land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School, including TJ Park, for the site of a new elementary school. [WTOP]
Arlington Mill Residences Nominated for Award — Affordable Housing Finance Magazine has selected The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s (APAH) Arlington Mill Residences as one of 34 finalists in the annual Reader’s Choice Awards competition. It’s the only nominated property in the D.C. metro area. Readers can see the other finalists online and vote for the Arlington Mill Residences in the Best Overall Development category. [Affordable Housing Finance Magazine]
Rosebud Film Festival Accepting Entries — The Rosebud Film and Video Festival is accepting entries for the 2014 competition. The festival is open exclusively to Virginia, D.C. and Maryland film artists. A panel will select 20 nominees to have their work screened at Artisphere in January. Five winners will be chosen from that pool and will be announced at a gala at Clarendon Ballroom. [Arlington Independent Media]
Chili Cookoff Competitors Wanted — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is looking for people to compete in its annual chili cookoff. The event will take place on Labor Day (Sept. 1). [InsideNova]
Rep. Jim Moran was honored by local Democrats Saturday night, just three days before the primary that will choose his would-be successor.
Hundreds of Democrats were on hand Saturday at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner in Ballston. Moran, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 after serving as the mayor of Alexandria, was the keynote speaker.
Six of the seven Democratic candidates to replace him — Don Beyer, Lavern Chatman, Patrick Hope, Mark Levine, Bill Euille and Derek Hyra — were in attendance, while state Sen. Adam Ebbin did not attend because he was at the Capital Pride Parade, according to his campaign.
Three of Moran’s colleagues in the House — Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents Fairfax County, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) — spoke to honor him, and Edwards, the recruitment chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, touched on Tuesday’s primary.
“I wish every one of you in this room a lot of luck on Tuesday,” she said before turning her attention to Moran. “It’s tough to get a Marylander to come across the river, but for Jim Moran, I would swim across that river.”
ACDC Chairman Kip Malinosky presented Moran with a gift of boxing gloves because, he said, the Massachusetts native has always “been a fighter.”
Moran’s fighting reputation stems from his impassioned floor speeches, his penchant for taking unpopular stances, and from two noted incidents in 1995: when he shoved Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham out of the House chambers, before fellow congressmen and police officers broke up the scuffle, and when Moran threatened to break another Congressman’s nose.
“A champion is leaving the ring,” Malinosky said.
Moran spoke for about 15 minutes in a more subdued tone than many are used to hearing him. He expressed frustration over how difficult it has become to deal with Republicans — “If you’re on the terrorist watch list, maybe you shouldn’t be able to buy an assault rifle. Just a thought,” — and gratitude for being able to serve in the House for more than two decades
“I realize that I’ve been blessed and am very, very lucky to represent this area,” he said. “There are still things that I find terribly frustrating, but we have to keep fighting for them.”
Moran made no mention of the people vying to replace him or the election on Tuesday, but he kept his eye to the future, telling the room the current Republican Party would soon become “anachronistic.”
“We are going to set that example for the rest of the country in areas like Arlington and in areas with people that are representatives like Donna and Xavier and many of our other Democratic leaders,” he said. “I mean, it sounds trite, but the future of this country lies with the Democratic Party.”
Becerra, who was elected two years after Moran in his district in Los Angeles, reminded those in attendance that Moran was in the minority over his years in congress in voting against 1997’s Defense of Marriage Act and voting against the Iraq War after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I am proud that I serve along with Jim Moran,” Becerra said. “We will miss you, but you have made us a better country.”