Tree Falls in Aurora Highlands — A large tree fell across 23rd Street S. in Aurora Highland, near Crystal City, yesterday evening around 5:15 p.m. It happened near the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church, between S. Ives and Hayes streets, amid gusty winds that felled other trees and branches around Arlington. The tree reportedly fell on a passing car, but those inside the vehicle were not injured. [Twitter]
Challenger Presses Favola — “Affordable housing and ethical issues took center stage as Democratic contenders for the 31st state Senate seat last week squared off for the first time leading up to the June 11 primary. Facing an uphill battle to knock off a two-term incumbent, challenger Nicole Merlene pressed the case that state Sen. Barbara Favola is too beholden to special interests to effectively represent the district.” [InsideNova]
Overturned SUV Along I-395 — Around 6 p.m. Sunday, an SUV overturned on a ramp to I-395 near Washington Blvd. A photo sent by a tipster shows the SUV on its side near the guardrail. No serious injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Barcroft Principal Lauded — “Judy Apostolico-Buck, who has spent 32 years in the Arlington school system, has been named the county’s 2019 Principal of the Year.” She was also a finalist for Washington Post Principal of the Year. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Small Explosion in Falls Church Condo — “At 11:10 a.m. today, a contractor working on a stove received minor injuries from a gas flash explosion in a unit at the Falls Chase Condominium, located at 1136 S Washington St. Arlington Fire and Fairfax Fire Departments responded to the scene.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]
Nearby: Peeping Tom in Falls Church — “City of Falls Church police are looking for more information regarding a peeping tom seen outside of Saint James Catholic School.” [Tysons Reporter]
Photo courtesy Ray Villarreal
People living in neighborhoods around Reagan National Airport say a staging lot for Uber and Lyft drivers is snarling traffic in the area, and Arlington officials are taking new steps to work out some sort of fix.
The county is convening a public meeting on the issue Thursday (Sept. 27) after hearing persistent complaints about the lot (located at 2780 Jefferson Davis Highway and adjacent to S. Eads Street and a Holiday Inn hotel) over the last few months.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) started routing rideshare drivers to the lot in April, in order to account for construction as part of the airport’s massive improvement project known as “Project Journey,” and required drivers to wait there until would-be passengers request rides at the airport. Since then, neighbors have grown particularly concerned with the congestion the change has caused on S. Eads Street, with the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations all mentioning it in recent community newsletters.
“Although there is no objection to the parking lot itself, the single entry/exit on S. Eads Street is causing considerable traffic problems and dangerous driving conditions,” the Crystal City Civic Association wrote in its September newsletter. “Plus, drivers in a hurry are [cutting] through the CVS and McDonald’s parking lots to get to the airport ramp on Route 1.”
The Arlington Ridge Civic Association added that the number of drivers cutting through those lots has “reached epic proportions,” and that “the police are now monitoring both.”
The civic associations noted in their missives that they’re pressing the county to reopen the lot’s access to Route 1, in a bid to ease traffic on S. Eads Street. But VDOT has jurisdiction over Route 1, meaning state officials would have to approve any change to the traffic pattern in the area.
“The county estimates the design work and construction to provide ingress and egress from the staging area onto Route 1 may take up to 14 months to complete and cost upwards of $250,000, which is not currently included in the county’s budget,” the Crystal City Civic Association wrote. “While undertaking this engineering work, the county says it is also exploring interim measures and/or options for phased implementation, which will also require coordination with and actions taken by both VDOT and MWAA.”
To that end, the county says it’s invited officials from both MWAA and VDOT to Thursday’s meeting. That gathering is set to be held at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.) from 7-8:30 p.m.
Photo 1 via Google Maps
Work could soon get started on the once-controversial overhaul of Nelly Custis Park in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.
The County Board is set to approve a $643,000 contract for construction at the park, located at 701 24th Street S., at its meeting this weekend. Changes will include some fixes to the park’s drainage problems, new plantings and fresh playground equipment.
The latter feature attracted the most community scrutiny two years ago, with a group dubbed the “Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks” doing battle with neighbors over the utility of adding more playground space to the park. Opponents argued the playground was unnecessary, as it was the third playground in just over one block, and took up green space at the small park, which is just under one acre in size.
The spat ultimately led to county officials issuing a public apology for their handling of the situation, and the county ultimately convened a neighborhood working group to refine the project’s scope.
The current construction plans call for “a play space designed for ages 5-12 in addition to non-structured casual space” and replacements for “outdated” playground equipment, per a staff report prepared for the Board. The project will be funded as part of the county’s “Neighborhood Conservation” program, a fund set aside for minor neighborhood infrastructure improvements that could see big cuts and other changes in the coming years.
So long as the Board approves the contract Saturday (Sept. 22), the county hopes to begin work on Nelly Custis Park before the year is out and wrap it up by summer 2019.
Arlington police are searching for two men who they believe attacked their rideshare driver in an Aurora Highlands neighborhood.
Police say the confrontation began yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) around the 700 block of 15th Street S., near the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, when the driver got into an argument with three passengers about where to drop them off.
The driver then ended the ride, and as the three men left the car, police believe one man “threw a glass bottle at the vehicle, shattering the window” while another spit on the driver. The three men fled before police arrived.
More details from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED VEHICLE, 2018-07170218, 700 block of 15th Street S. at approximately 4:40 p.m. on July 17, police were dispatched to the report of a dispute. Upon arrival, it was determined that following a dispute over drop-off location between a rideshare driver and passengers, the driver ended the trip. While the three passengers were exiting the vehicle, one suspect threw a glass bottle at the vehicle, shattering the window, and a second suspect spit on the driver. The suspects fled on foot prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a black male, 16-17 years old, approximately 5’5″ and 100 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes, wearing a white tank top, blue jeans, a green and yellow bracelet. Suspect Two is described as a black male, 16-17 years old, approximately 5’5″ and 100 lbs., with long hair sticking out of the top of a black bandanna, brown eyes, wearing blue jeans and a white tank top, with a tattoo on his arm. Suspect Three is described as a black male, 16-17 years old, approximately 5’7″ and 120 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes, wearing a skull cap, white tank top, black jeans and diamond earrings. The investigation is ongoing.
Here are more highlights from the crime report, including some that we’ve already reported:
ATTEMPTED BURGLARY, 2018-07170184, 600 block of N. Vermont Street. At approximately 3:15 p.m. on July 17, police were dispatched to the late report of breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:00 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., a known suspect attempted to force entry to the victim’s residence, causing damage. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY (late), 2018-07160111, 1800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 12:34 p.m. on July 16, police were dispatched to the report of a late burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:00 a.m. on July 15 and 11:30 a.m. on July 16, an unknown suspect forced entry into an unoccupied residence. Personal belongings of the suspect were left behind but no items were reported stolen from the residence. The investigation is ongoing.
UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-07160266, Columbia Pike at S. George Mason Drive. At approximately 12:15 a.m. on July 17, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect was observed attempting to enter multiple vehicles and a business. A lookout was broadcast and arriving officers located a suspect matching the description provided by witnesses. Jonathan Diaz Cruz, 19, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with unlawful entry. He was held on a secured bond.
BURGLARY, 2018-07140131, 1800 block of Rhode Street. At approximately 2:22 p.m. on July 14, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a witness observed two unknown males force entry into a residence. The suspects fled the scene with the victim’s personal belongings prior to police arrival. Arriving officers established a perimeter and the area was searched with negative results. Suspect One is described as a light skinned black male, in his 20’s, 5’10” tall, approximately 150 pounds with a slim build, with black dreadlocks. He was wearing a dark t-shirt and dark cargo pants. Suspect Two is described as a dark skinned black male, in his 20’s, 5’11” tall, approximately 160 pounds with a slim build, with black dreadlocks. He was wearing no shirt, green pants and carry a dark colored bag. The investigation is ongoing.
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Significant), 2018-07140101, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. At approximately 11:58 a.m. on July 14, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim returned to their residence and found their window shattered by a bullet fired by an unknown suspect. No one was home at the time of the incident and no injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-07110262, 2200 block of Fairfax Drive. At approximately 9:32 p.m. on July 11, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she observed a male suspect masturbating. Police responded to the scene, established a perimeter and conducted a search of the area. The search was assisted by the Fairfax Police Department helicopter unit and returned with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male with dark curly hair, approximately 5’9″ with an average build. The investigation is ongoing.
LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-07070087/07070100/07070106, 1600 block of S. Joyce Street/1600 block of S. Eads Street/2000 block of S. Eads Street. Between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on July 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 8:00 p.m. on July 6 and 7:54 a.m. on July 7, the windows of approximately 35 vehicles were smashed and airbags stolen. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY (late), 2018-07110047, 4800 block of 1st Street N. At approximately 7:28 a.m. on July 11, police were dispatched to the report of a late commercial burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 5:00 p.m. on July 10 and 6:30 a.m. on July 11, an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a business, causing damage, and stole cash and items of value. There is no suspect(s) description(s). The investigation is ongoing.
ROBBERY, 2018-07110214, 2200 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 11, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that two male suspects entered a business, approached the cash register, and passed the employee a note demanding money. The employee initially questioned the suspects’ request, but was threatened by one of the suspects. The suspects then fled the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. Suspect One is described as a black male, with dreadlocks, wearing sunglasses, a black hat, grey jacket, light blue jeans, and white and black shoes, carrying a grocery bag. Suspect Two is described as a black male, wearing white sunglasses with a dark hood covering his face, a white shirt, sweatpants and black shoes. The investigation is ongoing.
New Renderings of Crystal City Development — Property owner JBG Smith “has unveiled never-before-seen concept images of its planned 50,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse Cinema fronting Crystal Drive, a yet-unnamed specialty grocer and the future look of an office building it plans to convert to multifamily. The images were presented to Arlington County’s Site Plan Review Committee earlier this month.” [Washington Business Journal]
Pentagon City Mall Holiday Hours — Arlington’s biggest shopping mall, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, will be open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Christmas Eve (Sunday) for last-minute shoppers. The mall will be closed on Christmas and open from 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Boxing Day (Tuesday).
Aurora Highlands Chimney Fire — Thankfully happening prior to Santa’s arrival, a smoky fire broke out in the chimney of a home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood last night. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames before they could potentially spread. [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
The Arlington County Board voted yesterday (Tuesday) to buy vacant property in Aurora Highlands to create space for new parkland in the neighborhood.
The Board voted 4-1 to buy a bungalow at 905 20th Street S. and the adjacent vacant lot for $1.23 million. Chair Jay Fisette voted against the proposal.
Under a plan put forward by county staff, the house would be demolished and the driveway removed to make room for a quarter-acre public park at the intersection of 20th Street S. and S. Ives Street.
Fisette raised concerns at some aspects of the process, and the precedent it might create. Members of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association told the county about the opportunity buy the lot, and Fisette said that might create an “out of hand” system where residents request the county buy land and create more parks.
“To me, the one universal reality that I’ve experienced, given the choice or an opportunity of a park, 95 percent of people will ask for, sign a petition and want a park. Everybody likes a park,” Fisette said. “In this case, it makes it harder for me, since I can’t really justify how to distinguish this very well from the next five or 10 or 20 or 30 requests that will come, that to me is where the focus should go: how you distinguish one opportunistic lot from another.”
Board vice chair Katie Cristol also had some misgivings given the popularity of parks and how other neighborhoods could start requesting the county buy land to accommodate them. She pushed staff to show that there is a need for this new park in Aurora Highlands.
“I think if we leave it to what we’re hearing from community members about the need in their neighborhood or about the relative use of the other parks, everyone will identify a need for more parks in their neighborhood,” she said. “It’s one of the more popular uses for land in the county.”
Someone currently rents the house, but earlier this month agreed with its owner to terminate the lease on February 1, 2018, with no rent due for January. The property’s assessed 2017 value is $1.068 million.
At this stage, county staff said they intend to turn the land into casual park space with no programming, and Board members were convinced that the acquisition is worth it.
“I do look at the strategic nature of the opportunity and the relative value with which it can be had, and that ultimately tips the balance in favor of thinking this is worthwhile,” Board member Christian Dorsey said.
Photo via Google Maps
The Arlington County Board will consider a plan to buy vacant property in Aurora Highlands to create space for new parkland in the neighborhood.
The Board is set to spend $1.23 million to buy a bungalow at 905 20th Street S. and the adjacent lot, which is vacant. Someone rents the house, but earlier this month agreed with its owner to terminate the lease on February 1, 2018, with no rent due for January. The property’s assessed 2017 value is $1.068 million.
Under a plan put forward by county staff, the house would be demolished and the driveway removed to make room for a quarter-acre public park at the intersection of 20th Street S. and S. Ives Street.
“The acquisition of the property would create an opportunity to increase park land in the densely-populated Pentagon City area,” staff wrote in a report. “The approximately [quarter-acre] new park could be used to provide the kind of casual use space residents in the area have been asking for — a park that is open and available for a range of casual uses such as having a picnic, throwing a Frisbee, laying out on a blanket, reading or having small social gatherings.”
Members of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association told the county about the opportunity buy the lot.
Photo via Google Maps
The following letter was written by Aurora Hills resident Ashli Douglas about the county’s Complete Streets Program and traffic congestion in her neighborhood that she said was exacerbated by changes to S. Eads Steet.
To the Editor:
Arlington has embarked on a transportation vision of providing a safe environment for all travel modes, also known as the Complete Streets Program. Today I’m sharing a story of how this transportation vision for complete streets has played out in one Arlington County neighborhood, Aurora Hills.
As I reread the Arlington transportation presentation for our project on S. Eads St. from 2014, it occurred to me how benign and utopian the project seemed. That should have been the first clue. Arlington was going to move more people without more traffic and they were going to protect our single-family neighborhood. All good, what’s not to like?
And then came the medians, protected bike lanes, bike rental rack and central to all of this, the complete removal of two lanes of a four-lane street – S. Eads Street. What could possibly go wrong?
So now we have the same (but probably more) number of cars on the same road with less lanes. This is where the fairytale turns to a nightmare…enter aggressive driving and cut-through traffic.
I live on what Arlington refers to as a Minor Neighborhood Street, in which the distinctive feature of these streets is the nearly exclusive orientation to providing access to residences. It also happens to be a one lane yield street!
One block away is S. Eads Street, an Arterial Street, by definition, the street primarily provides through travel rather that solely for access to adjacent properties. According to Arlington’s street elements policies that are part of the county wide master transportation plan, streets should “…improve the efficiency of vehicular operation on arterial streets to minimize diversion of traffic onto neighborhood streets.”
So you see where this is going. Since our arterial street has reduced capacity, the cars all cut-through our neighborhood street. And just to be clear, we are not talking about a few cars. We are talking over 1,300 commuters a day.
How do we know? Since the county refused to share data or provide any form of relief to our neighborhood, we hired a certified traffic data collection firm to conduct traffic counts on November 1 and 2, a Wednesday and Thursday. The counts were 1,347 and 1,369 respectively.
Our one lane section of S. Fern St. simply cannot handle this traffic. According to Arlington County historical traffic counts, last performed in 2011 on our street, they measured 500 cars on a daily average. What a difference a “Complete Street” makes. We now have approximately 600 cars who rip down the same street in a three-hour period our school bus is dropping off children.
It is no longer safe for our children to play even near the street due to the cut-through traffic. We have experienced over 160 percent increase in vehicles, the majority with DC and MD tags that simply cut through our neighborhood to avoid the congestion morass on S. Eads Street.
As frustrated parents, neighbors and Arlington county citizens, we, individually as neighbors in an eight-block area, and collectively through our civic association have been engaged with the county for over a year to no avail. We have requested that the county protect our neighborhood, and specifically, mitigate the cut-through traffic that originates on S. Eads Street and cuts through our neighborhood on S. Fern Street between 26th Street S. and 23rd Street S.
Our eight-block area has become a virtual highway of dangerous cut through traffic with constant stop sign running, speeding and hit and run accidents, and fearful and angry parents at Arlington county elementary school bus stops.
The S. Eads Complete Street project has been a complete disaster for the residents in our neighborhood and despite our continual pleas for help for nearly a year to protect our single family neighborhood; we have had no relief.
We will not give up our neighborhood and we demand the county remedy the problem they created. And for anyone else that may be facing a complete street project – consider yourself forewarned.
Ashli Douglas has lived in Aurora Hills for 16 years and is the mom to two elementary school-aged children.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes letters about issues of local interest. To submit your thoughts for consideration, please email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
The incident happened Saturday night in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood. Police say the victim was waiting for a parking space to open up when the suspects “pulled around him and parked in the space.”
“Following a verbal dispute, the two suspects left the area and returned, each brandishing a knife,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “The suspects made threats but no one was injured.”
The full crime report item is below.
ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-10210274, 2700 block of S. Fern Street. At approximately 10:08 p.m. on October 21, police were dispatched to the report of an Attempted Malicious Wounding. Upon arrival it was determined that the male victim was waiting for a parking space to become available when the suspects pulled around him and parked in the space. Following a verbal dispute, the two suspects left the area and returned, each brandishing a knife. The suspects made threats but no one was injured. The suspects then fled the scene on foot. Suspect 1 is described as a black female in her 20’s with curly hair. Suspect 2 is described as a black male in his 20’s wearing black sweatpants and a short-sleeved [t-shirt]. The investigation is ongoing.
The incident happened around 2:15 a.m. yesterday, on the 600 block of 23rd Street S. in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, just west of Crystal City.
Police were called and the man, an Alexandria resident, was arrested by officers.
More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2017-10030017, 600 block of 23rd Street S. At approximately 2:16 a.m. on October 3, police were dispatched to the report of a breaking and entering in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a female victim had awoken to noise coming from inside her residence. The victim confronted a male suspect in the hallway and called police. Items were reported damaged inside the residence, but nothing was reported missing. The victim was uninjured. Nelson Flores, 37, of Alexandria, VA, was arrested and charged with Unlawful Entry.
The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
A former Afghan restaurant in Crystal City is set to become a pawn shop.
A “Royal Pawn” store is coming to the former restaurant at 507 23rd Street S., according to signs and a permit application.
An existing store with the same name and logo is open at 6116-A Franconia Road in Alexandria, south of the Beltway in Fairfax County. It sells jewelry, electronics and instruments, tools and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum.
As of Tuesday, much of the restaurant’s furniture and decorations were still inside and a temporary Royal Pawn sign was covering the former “Grill Kabob” sign. Grill Kabob first opened in September 2015.
Previously, a restaurant and dance club called “Sin and Saint” was expected to replace Grill Kabob. The establishment was to have a dance floor and DJ on the second floor for Friday and Saturday nights, though those plans appear to have fallen through.