Press Club

Morning Notes

The sky is reflected off glass office windows in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s Bike to Work Day — “Bike to Work Day is back… This free event is open to everyone. Arlington will have ten pit stops and BikeArlington will host five pit stops in Rosslyn, Ballston, Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Clarendon.” [BikeArlington]

Unleashed Dog Leads to Bluemont Brandishing — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when an unleashed dog ran towards him while barking. A verbal dispute ensued between the victim and dog owner, during which the suspect, who is known to the dog owner, became involved. The victim continued on his route, during which the suspect reapproached and allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the victim.” [ACPD]

Metro Restoring Some 7000-Series Cars — “A seven-month train shortage that has brought lengthy waits for commuters is closer to ending after Metrorail’s oversight agency approved a request to reinstate some rail cars that were pulled from service because of a rare wheel defect. Transit officials submitted a plan to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore a limited number of 7000-series cars.” [Washington Post, WMATA]

Slight Increase in Homeless Population — “Though down by more than half compared to a decade ago, Arlington’s homeless total rose from 2021 to 2022, according to new data. ‘There’s work to do,’ said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti, parsing the new data during the May 17 board meeting. The… homeless count (conducted Jan. 26 with data recently released) revealed a total of 182 people living in shelters and on the streets in Arlington, up 6 percent from 171 a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Op-Ed: Arlington Could Be National Model — “Arlington’s Missing Middle draft framework is extremely ambitious and might serve as a model for the entire country if the county board gets the policy details right to enable new construction.” [GGWash]

Group: ‘Missing Middle’ is ‘War’ — “With the release of the Missing Middle Phase Two Report on April 28, and the accompanying consultant analysis, the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington… Developers, who have essentially run out of room among our 26 square miles, have pushed for Missing Middle up-zoning that will be politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]

Big Development Kicks Off in F.C. — “West Falls, a major mixed-use development near the West Falls Church Metro station, broke ground Thursday, less than a week after the development team closed on $391 million of financing. In this first phase of its long-planned development, the project, spearheaded by D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates and joined by real estate giant Trammell Crow Co., will comprise five buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal, Patch]y

Veep Coming to Falls Church — “Kamala Harris coming to [Meridian High School in Falls Church] tomorrow to talk electric school buses? The school didn’t name Harris in an email to parents about the event tomorrow, but they said it will stream live at [whitehouse.gov].” The event is scheduled for 3:40 p.m., which means motorcades through Arlington are likely this afternoon. [Twitter]

Plan for Yellow Line Bridge Work — “The City of Alexandria is preparing for a Yellow Line shutdown in Alexandria later this year due to bridge and tunnel rehabilitation and bringing the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system… Blue Line trains will be running frequently from the airport with a replacement ‘Yellow Line’ route running to New Carrollton during the September-October.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:53 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A woman was seriously injured over the weekend after police say she was apparently pushed out of a moving vehicle.

It happened early Sunday morning along Wilson Blvd at the intersection with N. Vermont Street, just west of Glebe Road.

“At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 15, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “Upon arrival, medics were on scene treating the female victim before transporting her to an area hospital with serious injuries.”

“The reporting party stated she was driving in the area when she observed the passenger door of the vehicle in front of her open and the female victim being pushed out onto the roadway,” the report continued. “The suspect vehicle is described as a black SUV. There is no description for the driver. This investigation is ongoing.”

Additional details were not immediately available, though a police spokeswoman did confirm to ARLnow that the victim was an adult female.

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Arlington police believe a pair of suspects criss-crossed the county early Tuesday morning, breaking into cars and stealing two.

The series of thefts happened in the Glencarlyn, Bluemont and Woodmont neighborhoods, according to the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. Arlington has recently seen a rash of vehicle crimes, including the theft of airbags from 20 Hondas in late April and the theft of nearly a dozen catalytic converters in March and April.

The latest crime spree was reported to police early Tuesday. Five cars were broken into and items were stolen from one. Additionally, two SUVs — a Honda and an Acura — were reported stolen.

From ACPD’s crime report:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO/LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05100037/05100054/05100068, 5500 block of 3rd Street S./5600 block of 8th Street N./2900 block of 24th Street N. At approximately 5:00 a.m. on May 10, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed two unknown male suspects attempt to enter into her vehicle, during which she yelled and the suspects fled the scene in a silver SUV. The investigation determined that the suspects entered into and rummaged through approximately four victim vehicles and stole personal items from one of the vehicles. Additionally, it was discovered two vehicles were stolen from the 5600 block of 8th Street N. and the 2900 block of 24th Street N. The stolen vehicles are described as a silver in color, 2017 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate UDE1466 and a gray in color, 2015 Acura RDX bearing VA license plate WTARUSH. The two suspects are described as tall, unknown race males with skinny builds, wearing dark clothing and masks. The investigation is ongoing.

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After a year of work surveying residents, two civic associations are going to the county with a request: to make a stretch of N. Carlin Springs Road safer for pedestrians.

Drivers routinely go 40 mph on the 30 mph road, which is used by kids walking to Kenmore Middle School, says Christopher George, who spearheaded the community initiative. People have to cross four lanes of traffic without marked crossings to get to two heavily used bus stations, which lack ramps to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

“It’s very dangerous for people who take the bus to cross the street,” he tells ARLnow. “Kenmore students are pretty much told not to cross the street because it’s so dangerous.”

Members of the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) and the Arlington Forest Citizens Association (AFCA) want slower speeds, safer crossings and greater enforcement of speeding and street crossing laws on N. Carlin Springs Road between N. Edison Street and N. Kensington Street.

Their asks come after more than a year spent surveying neighborhoods, conducting site walks and drafting a report.

Residents say they want to see:

  • Marked crossings accessible to people with disabilities
  • Medians with pedestrian refuges, curb extensions and streetscaping at the intersections of 2nd Street N./N. Jefferson Street and at N. Greenbrier Street
  • A speed limit on N. Carlin Springs Road of 25 mph, not 30 mph
  • Dark sky-compliant Carlyle-style street lights

Members sent a joint resolution to the County Board and County Manager Mark Schwartz requesting that they pilot these changes before fully implementing them.

They said these changes could qualify as upgrades for the county’s annual repaving efforts, its Vision Zero program to reduce pedestrian deaths and serious injuries or the county’s Neighborhood Conservation program, designed to let residents identify and plan projects in their neighborhoods.

The two intersections mentioned by the association members are “in the queue to look into for evaluation,” says Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

And a lower speed limit could be coming to the street. This year, DES is studying 30 mph roads ­­– including N. Carlin Springs Road ­­­– to determine which “could be a good fit for either a speed limit reduction or other measures such as signage,” she said.

DES expects the study will be done before the end of the year.

The two neighborhoods have worked together before to seek funding for pedestrian safety improvements on N. Carlin Springs Road, George said.

Arlington recently made intersection safety upgrades on N. Carlin Springs at N. Edison and N. Wakefield streets that included curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, accessibility improvements, widened medians and other improvements, Pors said.

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The Liberty gas station in Bluemont (photo via Google Maps)

Nearly 200 comments later, a contentious Nextdoor discussion about the propriety of tossing bagged dog poop in business trash cans ended on a hopeful note.

The discussion thread on the social network started when a Bluemont resident posted the following complaint about a “rude confrontation” at the neighborhood’s well-liked Liberty gas station at 5201 Wilson Blvd. It concluded 18 hours later with something rare to behold these days within the online fighting pits: genuine self-reflection and the promise of an apology.

“I want to warn other dog walkers that you might get an earful from the company if you try and dispose of your dog’s waste in their bins,” said the man’s original post. “There’s a public bin within a few meters.”

The comments in response were immediately negative, questioning why he had not just dropped the doggy doo doo in the public waste bin and whether the post was real, which led to the poster doubling down and threatening to boycott the gas station.

Not a hoax. If they don’t want me throwing things away in the trash while I’m not paying for gas. Ok, I got.

It was more the way the employee had interacted with me, as if I’m the only one ever throwing away trash (which is always going to be stinky) in their trash bin. As if I, on this one day in particular, was the reason he’s had to empty out trash every day of his life.

Now I won’t be paying for gas there or using their services again; as any consumer has that right.

More than 150 comments followed in the proceeding 18 hours, mostly upbraiding the poster and defending the employee.

“You’re throwing literal feces, not generic gas station waste, into a private trash can and wrote a page trying to besmirch their business for making a reasonable request on how their property is used, as is their right, and expect to not seem entitled?” wrote a Maywood resident in response. “You hit all the marks for it in your diatribe and then instead of just saying okay no problem with respect you deflected to ‘well it’s not just me’ and pushed your point.”

“If you really respected this gentleman just doing his job, you would have immediately apologized and promised to not do it again. Instead, you chose to initiate a confrontation. And he responded, as would anyone!” wrote a Westover resident. “That doesn’t make him rude. Instead, it only proved your inability to accept responsibility. What would you have done if someone walked up to use the trash can on your porch for any trash, poop or not?”

Amid the pile-on — which eventually came to include Alexandria, D.C. and Fairfax County residents, as Nextdoor seems to expand the geographic radius of users who see local posts when one is receiving high engagement — some remarked on the relative frequency of and passionate response to posts involving dog poop in the platform.

A common Nextdoor discussion, they pointed out, involves disputes over neighbors tossing feces-filled bags in each other’s trash cans.

“One thing I have learned on Nextdoor is that some people have no issue at all with throwing dog poop in a bag in any trash can available, and that some people feel extremely strongly that it should never be done,” observed a Rock Spring resident. “And that the two sides don’t remotely understand how the other could feel that way.”

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A new bridge in Glencarlyn Park (courtesy Dennis Dimick)

Update at 4 p.m. on 3/15/22 — President Joe Biden has signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill with funding for three projects in Arlington. 

In the 10 months it took for the funding to pass, Arlington County substantially completed two of the projects: repaving parts of the Bluemont Junction Trail and replacing a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park.

The county moved forward with them in the interim due to safety concerns and the uncertain nature of federal funding, Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow on Tuesday.

The funding will pay for any remaining work and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is considering how to repurpose any unspent funds on similar projects, she said. 

Earlier: A $1.5 trillion spending bill that cleared Congress on Friday has funding for three projects in Arlington.

The bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine’s fight against Russia and will fund the federal government through September, avoiding an impending government shutdown. Now the 2,741-page bill is headed to the desk of President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it this week.

The bill also sends Arlington County more than $1.4 million to pay for a health initiative and two parks projects, for which Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) requested federal assistance last May. In total, the spending package has $5.4 million earmarked for 10 projects in Northern Virginia, at Beyer’s request.

“This funding will translate to significant, beneficial projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County,” he said in a statement on Friday. “I am thankful to my colleagues who enacted the legislation to fund these initiatives, and to the local leaders who worked with me to identify and develop the initial requests. These projects will make a real, positive difference in our region.”

Arlington County’s Department of Human Services is getting $390,000 to purchase two medically equipped vehicles for a forthcoming mobile crisis response team. While not yet in existence, the team will be responsible for responding to behavioral health crises and providing on-site treatment.

The team was a recommendation of the Police Practices Group, which identified about 100 ways policing could be reformed in Arlington, including some ways the county could remove police officers from its mental health crisis response.

The county earmarked $574,000 in the current budget to staff the team with a physician’s assistant, nurse and clinician, and to buy a transport van and operating supplies.

DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick says the vehicles will be purchased once the County Board officially accepts and allocates the federal funding, which will take a couple of months. The mobile crisis response team, meanwhile, is “not up and running yet,” he said.

“County residents do have access to Community Regional Crisis Response services, however, which is a mobile crisis response,” he said. “And our Emergency Services staff can and do go into the community when need arises and staffing allows.”

The county will receive $325,000 to fund repaving and repairs for a segment of the Bluemont Junction Trail and adjacent connector paths. A 2018 trails assessment determined the Bluemont Junction Trail needed significant investments, as the condition of the asphalt is deteriorating in many sections.

The section paid for by the federal government spans the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and Wilson Blvd to the intersection of the trail with the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

This project is divided into two phases, according to the county. The first phase, completed late last year, updated the main trail and most of its connecting paths. The second phase will update three remaining trail connectors, which need to be realigned to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phase two construction is expected to begin and end this spring and early summer.

Arlington budgeted $550,000 in its 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan for the project.

The county will also receive $800,000 for the replacement of a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. The bridge, lost during the July 2019 flash flooding, was recently installed. The project was part of the adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan.

Outside of Arlington, local earmarks in the bill will support storm sewer and climate resilience improvements in the City of Alexandria and Falls Church City and improve information technology services in Fairfax County. It will also support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras in the Alexandria Police Department and safety improvements to the GW Parkway.

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McDonald’s in Bluemont (file photo)

A video purporting to show two people attacking an employee inside the Bluemont McDonald’s has been obtained by ARLnow.

The attack happened around 11 p.m. Monday, at the restaurant on the 5000 block of Wilson Blvd. Police say two suspects, a man and a woman, were “involved in a verbal dispute with an employee after receiving an incorrect order through the drive-thru.” The incident then allegedly turned violent.

“Suspect One allegedly threw a water bottle through the window, before parking the vehicle and entering the business,” said the Arlington County Police Department. “Suspect One continued the dispute with the employee before the two suspects began physically assaulting and striking the employee.”

The grainy video, below, shows two people holding down the victim, who’s lying on the floor next to the drive-thru window.

“Call the police,” employees could be heard saying.

“Get off her head,” another says.

“What the [expletive] is wrong with you,” an unidentified person says, before the pair leave the restaurant.

The person who sent the video said the incident started when “the woman wanted free food” and the employee refused. The victim closed the drive-thru window after being splashed with water, but the suspects then went inside, according to the person.

The person alleged that the suspects made negative remarks about the victim being Latina.

The allegations could not be immediately confirmed by police. ACPD also declined to say whether they had the video below in their possession.

“As a result of the investigation, two individuals have been arrested and charged and the case will be processed through the court system where evidence and facts will be presented,” said police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “To ensure the integrity of the ongoing prosecution, there are no additional details to provide at this time.”

Two suspects were taken into custody after police say they initially ran several red lights in the Ballston area before pulling over. A search of their vehicle turned up a gun, according to ACPD.

“Justice Bridges, 26, of Washington D.C., was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding and Eluding Police,” said an ACPD crime report. “Michael Ritch, 24 of Capitol Heights, Md., was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.”

The person who sent the video said the victim suffered injuries to her torso and her face but is feeling better.

Note: the following video contains strong language and is not safe for work.

An employee at a local McDonald’s was beat up over an incorrect order last night.

The alleged incident happened around 11 p.m. Monday on the 5000 block of Wilson Blvd, in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood, west of Ballston.

Police say they were dispatched to “the report of a dispute at a business” when they spotted a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle involved in the dispute. They were trying to pull the car over, at the busy intersection of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd in Ballston, when “the driver accelerated and proceeded through two red lights before coming to a stop.”

“The passenger, Suspect Two, then attempted to flee on foot but was located by officers and taken into custody,” said the Arlington County Police Department, in a crime report this afternoon “The driver, Suspect One, remained in the vehicle and was taken into custody.”

According to ACPD, the incident stemmed from an incorrect order the suspects received at a restaurant drive-thru.

“The investigation determined that the two suspects had become involved in a verbal dispute with an employee after receiving an incorrect order through the drive-thru,” said the police department. “Suspect One allegedly threw a water bottle through the window, before parking the vehicle and entering the business. Suspect One continued the dispute with the employee before the two suspects began physically assaulting and striking the employee.”

The employee was taken to a local hospital with what are described by police as non-life threatening injuries. Though ACPD generally does not name businesses that are victims of crimes, the only late-night drive-thru on that block of Wilson Blvd is the McDonald’s.

The suspects who were arrested, a man and a woman, are both in their mid-20s.

The woman, a D.C. resident whose first name is Justice, is charged with Malicious Wounding and Eluding Police. She was previously convicted of petty larceny in Arlington in 2018 and had her entire sentence suspended, but never paid the fine, according to court records.

The man, a resident of Capitol Heights, Maryland, is charged with Assault and Battery and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. His previous felony conviction was not in Arlington.

Both suspects are set to be in court for a bail hearing tomorrow.

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Morning Notes

Geese clean themselves in Boundary Channel (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Hotel Redevelopment Plan Paused — “The redevelopment of one of Arlington’s oldest hotels looks to be on hold indefinitely, as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic disrupt the hospitality-focused project. Grant Investment Properties is asking county planners for more time to complete its overhaul of Rosslyn’s old Best Western Iwo Jima, now known as the Red Lion Hotel Rosslyn Iwo Jima, at 1501 Arlington Boulevard. A site plan for the project projected that it would be finished by March 2022, but the Chicago-based firm filed papers last week to ask for an extension through March 2025.” [Washington Business Journal]

Proposed APS Changes Questioned — “Based on feedback from the Arlington School Board, the Arlington Public Schools system is focusing on what they call more equitable grading practices. The preliminary proposal calls for: No late penalties for homework… No extra credit… Unlimited redoes and retakes on assignment… No grading for homework.” [WJLA, Washington Post]

Hit and Run Crash in Bluemont — From yesterday afternoon: “Several lanes of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Dr are closed after a reported hit-and-run crash in the intersection. Police and Fire Dept. on scene.” [Twitter]

Video: Crash on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “Watch: Another left turn in the middle of an interstate ends badly. 1p, I-395S at Rt 1. Third one recorded at this spot in the last month.” [Twitter]

Toby’s May Be Expanding to Vienna — “Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream, which saw a boost in sales over the summer thanks to the debut of its cicada sundaes, appears to be branching out. The Arlington-based shop, located along a Washington Boulevard in the Westover neighborhood, plans to open a new location at the Cedar Park Shopping Center in Vienna, according to Fairfax County permit data.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Fire and EMS Staffing Stretched — ” Fairfax County saw its largest-ever increase in coronavirus cases among fire and emergency medical responders this month, mirroring a surge in case rates compared to 2020. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department data shows that there are 53 positive cases and 14 in quarantine, all staying at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.” [FFXnow, DCist, Twitter]

Crash and Arrest Block the Pike — Columbia Pike was blocked at S. Greenbrier Street yesterday evening after a crash in which one of the drivers reportedly refused police commands to exit the vehicle and was later tased. [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — There will be drizzle and possible fog before 2 p.m. on an otherwise cloudy day, with a high near 55. Sunrise at 7:26 a.m. and sunset at 4:54 p.m. Tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve, expect mild weather, with cloudy skies, a high near 60 and a low around 51. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington officials are asking residents to keep an eye on the Bon Air Rose Garden in Bluemont after a brazen bush burglary.

“Last Thursday, about a dozen rose bushes were removed from Bon Air Rose Garden,” Susan Kalish, the Public Relations Director for the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, told neighborhood leaders in an email yesterday. “It’s sad enough when someone cuts a bloom or two, but this act of vandalism is very disheartening.”

“As you know, Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden is a cherished Arlington institution with more than 120 rose varieties,” Kalish added. “Can you help us by asking everyone to report suspicious activity to the Arlington County Police Department non-emergency number 703-558-2222 or call us at 703-228-6525. This sort of vandalism should not be tolerated in Arlington.”

One civically-involved Arlingtonian who forwarded the email, which was then forwarded to ARLnow, called the caper “more criminal craziness.”

“Probably a good idea to keep an eye out for plants in other Arlington parks,” she wrote. “These looters may not yet be done.”

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Airbags were stolen from a number of vehicles in several Arlington neighborhoods overnight Friday.

The thefts were reported in the Buckingham, Bluemont and Westover neighborhoods. In all, seven vehicles were “forcibly entered into and had their air bags stolen,” according to the Arlington County Police Department.

Airbags are a lucrative target for thieves, who can reportedly sell them on the black market for a couple hundred dollars. Arlington has been no stranger to even larger airbag theft sprees over the years.

More on last week’s series of thefts, from and ACPD crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2021-08130066/08130067/08130078/08130083, 4400 block of N. Pershing Drive/5700 block of 11th Street N./700 block of N. Kensington Street/5600 block of 5th Street N. At approximately 6:54 a.m. on August 13, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny from auto. The investigation revealed that in total, seven victim vehicles were found to have been forcibly entered into and had their air bags stolen. Additionally, tools were stolen from one of the vehicles. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

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