Arlington County is working on plans to make safety and accessibility upgrades a trio of local streets.
Some of the changes could include adding sidewalks where there are none, removing obstructions from existing sidewalks, and extending curbs — — known as a “bump-out” — to make shorter pedestrian crossings.
Residents can learn more about this batch of “Neighborhood Complete Streets” projects in the Arlington Mill, Westover and Arlington Heights neighborhoods during a virtual meeting this coming Monday, May 8. t 7 p.m.
The projects were selected from more than 200 nominees by the Neighborhood Complete Streets Commission in February. The commission identifies and recommends for funding projects to improve the experience of cyclists and pedestrians — particularly those who need ramps or wider sidewalks to get around, such as people using wheelchairs or pushing strollers.
“Sidewalks free and clear of obstructions, streetlights, Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible curb ramps, safe space for bikes and appropriate street widths — these are all elements of a complete street,” per a county webpage.
Next week’s meeting will cover three projects selected after a competitive ranking process that considered gaps in sidewalks, heavy pedestrian use, speeding problems and surrounding socio-economic diversity.
On 8th Road S. between S. Dickerson and S. Emerson streets, in the Arlington Mill neighborhood, the county proposes building curb ramps accessible to people with disabilities and installing pedestrian bump-outs and other relevant signage and pavement markings.
“Existing conditions include complete sidewalks on both sides of the street and large intersections, which increase crossing distances for people walking,” per a project webpage. “Curb ramps are blocked by parked vehicles.”
The commission recommended 8th Road S. because of its crash history, traffic, high residential population, proximity to transit and location within a census tract that is lower income and more diverse.
Arlington proposes installing sidewalk, curb and gutter, accessible curb ramps and new signage and pavement markings on the north side of the street.
The street won out over others because it is close to schools, transit and bike facilities but lacks consistent sidewalks, according to a project webpage.
Lastly, S. Irving Street near Thomas Jefferson Middle School is set to get an accessible, unobstructed widewalk between 2nd and 6th Street S. The upgrades will connect to a planned new sidewalk between 6th and 7th Street S.
Currently, the sidewalk on both sides are obstructed by utility poles and streetlights, according to the county.
The street projects are in a preliminary design phase and, as such, could change. None have “undergone any detailed survey or design work” or have been approved for funding, according to the county.
More opportunities for community engagement will arise as the designs are further developed, the county says.
A number of in-person events are back in Arlington this weekend after extended pandemic-related hiatuses. With those, though, comes road closures.
Clarendon Day is returning this Saturday (Sept. 24) for the first time since 2019. One of Arlington’s largest street festivals, the event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include music, food, vendors, and art.
There will be road closures throughout the neighborhood, including large swaths of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. The closures will begin in the middle of the night, around 3 a.m., and go as late as 10 p.m.
The closures include:
- Wilson Boulevard, from N. Highland Street to Washington Boulevard
- Clarendon Boulevard, from Washington Boulevard to N. Garfield Street
- N. Highland Street, from 11th Street N. to Wilson Boulevard
- N. Herndon Street, from Wilson Boulevard to alleyway behind CVS
- N. Hudson Street, from Wilson Boulevard to alleyway behind CVS
- Southbound N. Highland Street, from N. Hartford Street to Wilson Boulevard
The Prio Bangla Multicultural Street Fair is also making its comeback after a pandemic hiatus, taking place on Saturday (Sept. 24) in the Arlington Heights neighborhood between Columbia Pike and the Arlington Career Center. The annual festival has been going on for about a decade.
There’s only one road closure related to this event and that’s 9th Street S. from S. Highland Street to S. Walter Reed Drive. The closure will be from 6 a.m. Saturday until midnight on Sunday (Sept. 25).
There are also two events in the Shirlington and Green Valley neighborhoods this weekend.
Beckett’s Celtic Festival is also set for Saturday in the Village of Shirlington. Campbell Avenue from S. Randolph Street to 28th Street S. (the alleyway near the Harris Teeter) will be closed from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Finally, Valley Fest is taking place near Four Mile Run Drive on Sunday. The beer-centric event, organized by New District Brewery, did take place last year. The festival is set to begin around noon and go until 5 p.m.
S. Oakland Street, from S. Four Mile Run Drive to S. Nelson Street, will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Sunday to accommodate the event.
Arlington County police are cautioning that roads may be congested with vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the areas around these events, asking drivers to “remain alert.”
Parking will be restricted and there will be a larger police presence in the area, according to ACPD.
“Street parking near the events may be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed,” said a press release. “If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”
Drunk driving — the alleged reason why a woman was killed in a hit-and-run last month — is on the rise in Arlington.
The fatal crash in the Arlington Heights neighborhood has county leaders considering greater emphasis on curbing drunk driving. Neighbors, meanwhile, are asking the county to add more traffic calming measures to combat risky driving, particularly near Alice West Fleet Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
On Aug. 1, a driver hit Viviana Oxlaj Pérez while she was walking near the Thomas Jefferson Community Center at 3501 2nd Street S. She was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital, where she died.
The Arlington County Police Department arrested Julio David Villazon at his home on Aug. 2 and charged him with involuntary manslaughter, hit and run, driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license.
There has been an uptick in alcohol-involved crashes in Arlington. Last year, ACPD recorded 143 alcohol-involved crashes, up nearly 49% increase from 96 in 2020, according to its 2021 annual report. In 2022, ACPD has recorded 116 alcohol-involved crashes, says police spokesman Ashley Savage.
Driving under the influence is one of the top contributing factors to a “disproportionate” number of critical and fatal crashes in the county, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. The others are speeding, turning left at an intersection, turning right across bicycle lanes and failing to yield to pedestrians.
Each of these behaviors is being addressed during an ongoing “Critical Crash Mitigation Campaign” through December.
The recent rise in alcohol-related crashes chips away at what had been a broader downward trend in drunk driving. Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol attributed this initial decrease to efforts, such as the ACPD Arlington Restaurant Initiative and the Washington Region Alcohol Program, as well as the growing popularity of ride-sharing services — which have been getting more expensive.
“Now, however, national trends are indicating major increases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the pandemic (regional data is lagging but reasonable inference suggests our local trends may be similar),” Cristol said in an email to ARLnow. “This indicates to me that there is a greater role for the County Board in public education about the threat that drunk driving poses to our own community.”
Cristol said the most important message she can communicate about last month’s crash is that “there is no safe way to drive drunk.”
“In this situation, the driver was impaired, and there is no ‘safe’ BAC above zero to get behind the wheel. Any intersection or roadway — irrespective of the physical safety improvements, visibility interventions, or other designs to the built environment — is unsafe when a drunk driver is present,” she said.
The DUI is Villazon’s second driving offense within the last 10 years, according to court records. He was previously found guilty of “improper driving” in the Arlington General District Court. Under state code, the misdemeanor charge of reckless driving can be knocked down to improper driving if either the judge or the prosecutor find that the offense was not serious.
His next court date is in February 2023.
The crash that killed Oxlaj Pérez is being examined by a broad swath of local agencies, including Arlington’s transportation staff, the police and fire departments, Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services, Virginia State Police and the County Manager’s office.
But neighbors say the problem is not hard to understand. They say drivers, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up times, speed down S. Glebe Road and Arlington Blvd (Route 50), run red lights, roll stop signs, make illegal U-turns, block crosswalks and go the wrong way on 1st Road S., a one-way street — and they’re not drunk.
“I understand the tragedy that occurred a few weeks ago involved alcohol and likely wouldn’t have been prevented with traffic changes,” said one neighbor, Kelly Cherry-Leigh Davison. “But we have brought up these safety issues numerous times to everyone we can think of and are getting nowhere. I’m worried every day another tragedy is going to occur and we could be preventing it.”
The legendary Inner Ear Studio has reopened in the founder’s Arlington Heights basement.
Last week, the recording studio’s founder Don Zientara spoke at length to the Embracing Arlington Arts podcast about what’s been happening since the studio moved from its home of three decades on S. Oakland Street last year.
The biggest change is that the studio is now back in Zientara’s basement in Arlington Heights where Inner Ear started in 1979.
“It isn’t gone, it’s still thriving,” he told host Janet Kopenhaver. “I’m back in my basement and realizing I can’t fit everything in here.”
He was able to bring over some of his favorite microphones, but much of his old equipment had to be sold or given away. Zientara said that he gave it to people that he “thought could use it the best.”
Much of the art, band posters, prints, drawings, and ephemera that lined the walls at Inner Ear Studio are now at D.C.’s Lost Origins Gallery. It’s set to be on a display soon as part of an exhibit about the famed recording studio.
“They took a lot… they were cutting walls out,” Zientara said. “Some posters there that I thought ‘Come on, this is going to go down with the ship,’ but they were cutting and sometimes took pieces of drywall.”
Zientara told Kopenhaver that he harbors no ill will towards Arlington County for making the studio vacate the building on S. Oakland Street it had called home since 1990.
As Arlington Cultural Affairs director Michelle Isabelle-Stark told the Washington Post at the time, the county saw this as saving the property from being bought by a private developer. The plan for the new district has some Green Valley community members concerned, though.
“There was no sense in trying to argue with anyone,” Zientara said about the move. “It was fine. A lot of businesses don’t last 32 years. I’m good with [it].”
Inner Ear Studio is famed for being the recording studio where many of the region’s well-known punk bands recorded. That includes Fugazi, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and, one of the biggest acts in rock, the Foo Fighters. Some called it “the Abbey Road of Arlington.”
Zientara said that the reason a lot of the indie punk bands came to his small Arlington studio was that they were often rejected from the more polished, bigger recording studios.
“I had equipment that was, let’s say, less than ideal. I had a space that was less than ideal,” he explained last week. “[The] bands were not welcomed at a lot of the studios, but I could record them.”
While the studio is now smaller than in its heyday, Zientara described the situation as going back to his roots.
While he could have fully retired or taught at one of the region’s universities — he said he had offers on the table — Zientara is currently in what he calls “semi-retirement.” That means he’s working when he wants and with who he wants.
In fact, when ARLnow reached him this morning for a brief conversation, he said that D.C. punk music icon Ian MacKaye was coming by the studio today to “mix some things.”
The annual summer Restaurant Week is a week away.
The regional event will be held between Monday, Aug. 15, and Sunday, Aug. 21 and is currently set to feature nearly a dozen Arlington restaurants.
During the event, the participating restaurants are expected to offer lunches for $25 and dinners for either $40 or $55.
The participating Arlington restaurants include:
- Big Buns Damn Good Burgers (Ballston and Shirlington) — serving burgers, burger bowls, cocktails, shakes and fries. Menu not yet released.
- Epic Smokehouse (Pentagon City) — will offer a three-course meal, charging $25 for lunch and $55 for dinner.
- La Cote d’Or Café (East Falls Church) — three-course menus of traditional French cuisine, priced at $25 for lunch and $40 or $55 for dinner.
- McCormick & Schmick’s (Crystal City) — a seafood restaurant that offers a $55 dinner option. Menu not yet released.
- Mussel Bar and Grill (Ballston) — a Belgian restaurant offering three-course menus at $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner.
- Osteria da Nino (Shirlington) — three-course meals of Italian cuisine, priced at $40 for dinner.
- Ruthie’s All-Day (Arlington Heights) — the award-winning restaurant that specializes in Southern cuisine will offer $40 and $55 dinner options. Menu not yet released.
- SER Restaurant (Ballston) — three-course meals of Spanish cuisine, priced at $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner.
The Freshman (Crystal City) – a café that serves bar food, sandwiches and pastas. Menu not yet released.
- The Melting Pot (Ballston) — three-course menus of fondues, priced at $40 for dinner and $5 extra per person for a chocolate fondue.
- Yume Sushi (East Falls Church) — five-course menu of Japanese cuisine for $55 per dinner.
Some of the restaurants listed above are pairing their meals with wine or cocktails. All the eateries, except The Melting Pot, offer delivery, takeout or outdoor spaces in addition to indoor dining.
Organized by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, which also hosted the RAMMY awards, the event is sponsored by public and private groups, such as the D.C. Mayor’s Office, the National Landing Business Improvement District and Airbnb, according to its website.
Over 200 restaurants from the D.C. metropolitan area are participating this year, according to a RAMW tweet.
(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) A woman has died after being struck by a driver who then fled the scene, according to police.
Viviana Oxlaj Pérez was walking near the Thomas Jefferson Community Center around 7:30 p.m. Monday when the driver of a truck struck her and then drove off, a family member told ARLnow.
Police and medics quickly responded and treated the critically injured woman, but she later died at the hospital.
Police closed the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Glebe Road, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, for about two hours to investigate the hit-and-run crash.
Police remain on scene investigating. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to call police at 703-558-2222.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 2, 2022
An online fundraiser was established for Oxlaj Pérez early Tuesday morning by her daughter, Hilary Lopez Oxlaj.
Reached by phone, Lopez Oxlaj said her mother was walking across the street with her bike, on her way to the nearby 7-Eleven store, when the driver blew through a stop sign at the intersection and struck her.
Lopez Oxlaj said her mother, who was 53, had lived near the Arlington Career Center for 17 years and was known as the “lady with the bike” who sells cold drinks and ice cream to soccer players at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center fields.
“She was a mother who worked very hard,” she said. “Everyone knew her as a very kind woman.”
Oxlaj Pérez was a married mother of six and frequent churchgoer, who would often donate food to people who were struggling, her daughter said.
Lopez Oxlaj hopes that her mother’s generosity is returned so the family can afford funeral expenses.
“We are collecting funds to… send my mother’s body to Guatemala,” Lopez Oxlaj wrote on the GoFundMe page. “She was a very hardworking lady fighting every day… Please ask for your help, it will be a great blessing.”
As of 11 a.m. the page had raised nearly $3,000 of its $25,000 goal from a few dozen donors.
Police said Tuesday morning that officers arrested the alleged driver, a 62-year-old Arlington man, after finding the striking vehicle about a mile away from the crash scene. Alcohol is “believed to be a factor in the crash,” according to police. The man is now facing numerous charges.
More from an ACPD press release, below.
Two restaurants with Arlington ties came home with RAMMY awards last night.
Ruthie’s All-Day in the Arlington Heights neighborhood won “Casual Restaurant of the Year” from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) at their annual awards gala. Since 1982, the organization has handed out awards to the area’s best restaurants in various categories.
Ruthie’s All-Day opened in October 2020 and has since earned a number of accolades. This includes being named in 2020 one of the best local barbeque joints, one of the highest-rated restaurants in Arlington, and an Arlies award winner.
Owner and chef Matt Hill was also named a James Beard semi-finalist earlier this year.
This might be the biggest award yet for Hill and Ruthie’s All-Day, honored as one of this year’s best restaurants in all of the D.C. area.
“This means so very much to us — everyone including our chefs, prep cooks, runners, dishwashers, managers, waitstaff, baristas, bartenders, hostesses, and so many more — it truly takes a hard-working team to make our little place sing,” Hill wrote ARLnow in an email. “Our goal is to serve everyone and anyone, and we feel so very humbled to be recognized by the RAMW for ‘Casual Restaurant of the Year.'”
When ask what the future might hold for Ruthie’s in Arlington, Hill hinted at possible expansion plans.
“We hope to keep growing and creating more special places for our neighbors to gather and build community over good food,” he said.
Also emerging as winners were Scott Drewno and Danny Lee, known as “The Fried Rice Collective,” as “Restaurateurs of the Year” due in part to their Chinese-Korean concept ChiKO. A location opened in Shirlington late last year, the duo’s only Virginia outpost so far.
“We are honored and humbled to be nominated with these great restauranteurs in the DMV,” Drewno and Lee told ARLnow. “We love the Arlington community and are so happy to have recently opened ChiKo Shirlington!”
The pair also operate ChiKo locations and the contemporary Korean restaurant and pub Anju in the District.
Besides the winners, this year’s Arlington nominees included Queen Mother’s for “hottest sandwich spot,” Northside Social for its wine program, both Bayou Bakery and Stellina Pizzeria in the “Splendid Holidays at Home” category, and Mark Bucher of Medium Rare also for “restaurateur of the year.”
(Updated on 6/13/22) A robbery at a convenience store may have led to a panic about an active shooter at a nearby Arlington middle school.
It started at the 7-Eleven at 201 S. Glebe Road. Police were dispatched there shortly before 12:30 p.m. for a report of a man with a weapon robbing the store. They were initially told that someone was injured inside.
“At approximately 12:21, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with injury inside a business in the 200 block of S. Glebe Road,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Preliminary investigation indicates the suspect entered the business, produced a hammer, smashed a display case, stole merchandise and attempted to assault an employee. The suspect resisted arrest but was successful taken into custody by officers. Charges are pending.”
In the end, no one was found to be injured. The suspect was initially held at gunpoint by arriving officers, then arrested, according to scanner traffic.
As officers were rushing to the scene, ACPD asked that nearby Thomas Jefferson Middle School be placed on “secure the school mode” — in other words, locked from the outside. Given the recent mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school, the somewhat routine security precaution may have panicked some students and parents.
Around 1 p.m. police were dispatched to the school for a report of a man armed with a gun who was trying to get inside, apparently in an effort to stop a potential active shooter. By the time officers arrived, the man had left the school campus, but a glass door at the entrance was damaged.
(On June 13, a local man was charged with Destruction of Public Property after allegedly trying to break into the school, concerned that an act of violence was underway inside.)
Savage said the initial indication is that “the report of an individual with the gun was someone picking up a student at the school.” No other details were immediately available.
“Police remain on scene investigating the circumstances of what occurred,” Savage said. She noted that there was “no threat to TJ Middle related to [the robbery].”
But parents, students and teachers were allegedly left in the dark as to why the school was secured.
“My daughter texted us and said they hadn’t been told why they were in lockdown,” a parent told ARLnow. “We did not hear from the school. Apparently teachers weren’t told why either.”
“There were a lot of scared students,” the parent added.
Updated at 10:30 p.m. — The person who was barricaded inside an Arlington Heights home has been taken into custody, police say.
INCIDENT: Police Activity
LOCATION:300 Blk S. Fillmore St.
IMPACT: Police Activity in the area has concluded. It is now safe to return to your residence.
Sent to: Map (Add on next page) at 21:25:57 on 04-08-2022
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) April 9, 2022
Earlier: Two streets north of Columbia Pike, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, are blocked due to a reported barricade situation.
A person reportedly suffering from a mental health issue is inside a house on the 300 block of S. Fillmore Street and refusing to come out. Fillmore, an arterial street between the Pike and Route 50, is blocked by police south of 2nd Street S. as a result, while parts of 2nd Street are also blocked.
Arlington County police have established a command post on 7th Street S., near the Montessori Public School of Arlington. That street is blocked as well, west of S. Walter Reed Drive.
The incident started before noon and as of 3 p.m. is still ongoing. Both police and fire personnel are on scene, as negotiators try to coax the person out peacefully.
Police, meanwhile, are assisting students in the neighborhood as schools — including Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Fleet Elementary — are let out for the day.
The ACPD will be assisting students who live in the vicinity of S. Fillmore and S. 2nd St. There is no ongoing threat to either school community.
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) April 8, 2022
Police continue to work towards resolving the incident. Be advised the following road closures are in place:
Fillmore St. between 2nd St. S and 5 St. S
7th St. S between Water Reed Dr. and Highland St.
2nd St. S between Garfield St. and Edgewood St.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 8, 2022
Eighteen Arlington restaurants are participating in this winter’s Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week from Jan. 17 to 23.
As in the past, there are usually three different tiers of menu: lunch or brunch, dinner, and a higher tiered dinner menu. More information and most menus are available on the event’s website.
With Covid cases continuing to break records, many local establishments are offering their restaurant week menus for take-out and delivery, in addition to dine-in options.
The Arlington restaurants listed as participants are below, sorted by neighborhood.
- Ruthie’s All Day is participating, but hasn’t yet posted its menus online. This year-old restaurant was recently one of America’s “best neighborhood gems” by OpenTable.
- Mussel Bar and Grille, a Belgian restaurant that opened in 2013, is offering a three-course, $40 dinner menu.
- Rustico is offering a three-course, $40 dinner menu, along with cocktail and wine pairings. There’s also take-out and outdoor dining available.
- SER Restaurant is offering a three-course, $25 lunch menu and a $40, three-course dinner menu with $15 wine pairings.
- The Melting Pot is offering a three-course lunch menu for $25 and a three-course dinner menu for $40 per person. For an extra $5, get chocolate fondue.
- The Salt Line in Ballston, which opened in October, is offering a two-course lunch menu for $25 and a three-course dinner menu for $40. The heated outdoor patio space is available for dining.
- Spice Kraft Indian Bistro is offering special Pongal Festival menus, a five-course vegetarian meal for two for $45 and a non-vegetarian meal for two for $55. There’s also special wine and cocktail pairings. The menus are available for take-out and delivery.
- TTT Clarendon is offering a lunch for $25 that comes with a protein, two sides, and a dessert and a dinner for $40 that comes with all of that plus a margarita.
- Ambar, known for Balkan cuisine, has an “unlimited plates” lunch option for $25 and a dine-in option for $55. Plus, a take-out option for two for $60 or, add in a bottle of wine, and get it for $70.
- Lyon Hall on N. Washington Blvd is advertising that it’s participating, but has not posted menus or specials as of publication.
- Crystal City Sports Pub, which narrowly avoided a fire last month, is doing a three-course menu priced at $40 for one or $70 for two people. There is outdoor seating and the menu is available for take-out.
- McCormick & Schmick’s on notes it is participating, including with take-out options, but no menu has been posted as of publication.
East Falls Church
- La Côte D’Or Café, known for offering a “healther side of French cooking,” is offering both a brunch and lunch, three-course menus for $25, and two, three-course dinner menus, one at $40 and one at $55.
- Matchbox is offering a $40, three-course dinner and outdoor seating remains available.
- Epic Smokehouse on S. Fern Street is offering a $55, three-course dinner with wine and cocktail pairings.
- Big Buns in Shirlington (as well as its location in Ballston) is offering $25 lunch and $40 dinner menus, all available for dine-in, take-out, and delivery.
A man walked up to an American flag outside of a home in the Arlington Heights neighborhood early Friday morning and lit it on fire.
Arlington County police and fire investigators are now trying to find the suspect, a younger man who was wearing a hooded windbreaker and a backpack at the time. The motive for the crime is unclear.
The incident happened around 3 a.m., in the residential neighborhood several blocks away from Thomas Jefferson Middle School. It’s being investigated as arson.
“The unknown suspect approached an American flag on the victim’s porch and set it on fire,” said an ACPD crime report. “A witness observed the flag on fire and extinguished it. The suspect is described as a White male, 18 – 30 years old, 5’4″ – 5’11” tall and wearing a dark hooded windbreaker, jeans, white sneakers and carrying a backpack. A joint investigation with the Fire Marshal’s Office is ongoing.”
The resident of the home, who did not wish to be named, recounted what happened to ARLnow.
“We awoke to a neighbor banging on our front door and a burning flag, which had spread to the bush in our front yard,” he wrote. “Our neighbor put out the fire with a hose. We then saw the video of the person lighting the flag on fire.”
The video was shared with neighbors on an email listserv.
“No idea,” the resident said, when asked why someone would do this, adding that nothing like this has ever happened before in the area.
Hat tip to Smiley456