Arlington, VA

Arlington County Police are investigating another series of vehicle break-ins.

In the latest incident, about 10 cars had windows smashed and airbags stolen in parts of south Arlington. The thefts were reported in the Columbia Forest and Shirlington areas early Saturday morning.

Police say they don’t have a suspect description and are continuing to investigate.

Vehicle break-ins have seemingly become a regular occurance in Arlington. Last week, the police department’s crime reports detailed more than 17 vehicles being broken into and at least one stolen, mostly in overnight crime sprees. On local listservs and in an email sent by a victim to ARLnow, some reported their vehicles being broken into via electronic means.

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police are taking a number of steps in response, but still need the public’s help.

“ACPD officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity,” Savage told ARLnow. “The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of residents. Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity to police for investigation by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

“We also encourage residents to reduce the opportunity for crime by participating in the 9 P.M. Routine,” Savage added, referring to the department’s campaign to remind residents to lock their doors and remove valuables from their cars.

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A widespread power outage has left hundreds in the dark around Wakefield High School and the Columbia Forest neighborhood south of Columbia Pike.

As of 10 p.m., Dominion was reporting 865 customers without power in Arlington County. Many more were without power along Columbia Pike before their electricity was restored.

The first reports of an outage came in around 7:30 p.m., as storms rolled through the area.

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Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax battled a townhouse fire in the Columbia Forest neighborhood Saturday evening.

The fire broke out in the attic of a townhome on the 4800 block of 10th Street S., near Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run, around 5:30 p.m.

Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control before it could spread.

Flickr pool photos by TheBeltWalk

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Someone slashed the tires on seven vehicles parked in the Columbia Forest neighborhood near Columbia Pike, according to police.

The vandalism spree was reported Saturday morning around the intersection of S. Columbus Street at 10th Street S.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Series), 2018-01280098, S. Columbus Street at 10th Street S. Between 2:30 a.m. on January 27 and 11:00 a.m. on January 28, seven parked vehicles had their tires slashed. Nothing was reported missing and no further damage was reported on any of the vehicles. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

Map via Google Maps

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Some residents in Columbia Forest will be without water tonight (July 20) and traffic will be diverted for emergency repairs along Columbia Pike.

Crews from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will be making emergency water main repairs at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street, beginning at 8 p.m. The repairs are scheduled to last until 8 a.m. July 21.

During that time, the Pike’s eastbound lanes between S. Greenbrier Street and S. Dinwiddie Street will be closed, while the westbound lanes will be converted into a lane each for eastbound and westbound traffic.

DES said approximately 100-150 people will have water service affected. The Columbia Forest Civic Association said that water will be turned off for the buildings at 5200, 5300 and 5353 Columbia Pike.

Photo via Google Maps.

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Someone is breaking windows at homes along Columbia Pike.

At least three instances of objects being thrown at and shattering residential windows were reported Friday and Saturday night. The incidents took place in the Barcroft and Columbia Forest neighborhoods, on either side of the Pike near Four Mile Run.

There is no suspect description for any of the incidents. More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 2017-07070281, 5300 block of S. 8th Road. At approximately 10:40 p.m. on July 7, officers responded to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown subject(s) threw an object at a residential window causing it to shatter. There is no subject(s) description and no injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING (Series), 2017-07080285, 1200 block of S. Buchanan Street. At approximately 11:04 p.m. on July 8, officers responded to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown subject(s) threw an object at a residential window causing it to shatter. A short time later, another resident in the area reported their window had been struck by an object and broken. There is no subject(s) description and no injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.

Image via Google Maps

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Arlington firefighters are battling a house fire in the Columbia Forest neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and Wakefield High School.

The blaze was reported at a residential property the 1000 block of S. Dinwiddie Street just after 4:15 p.m.

The Arlington County Fire Department tweeted that it is dealing with “heavy smoke and fire” on the property. The fire broke out in the rear of a two story home and, as of 4:35 p.m., has been extinguished, according to scanner traffic.

Police have closed S. Columbus Street at Columbia Pike due to the large number of fire department vehicles in the area.

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Police car (file photo)A resident of Arlington’s Long Branch Creek neighborhood, near Pentagon City, found a bullet hole and a bullet inside his home last night, but it’s unclear from where it was fired.

The incident was reported around 10 p.m. on the 2400 block of 27th Court S. No injuries were reported.

From an Arlington County police crime report:

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 161019045, 2400 block of S. 27th Court. At approximately 10:00 p.m. on October 19, officers responded to the report of a late shots fired. Upon investigation, it was determined that a male victim found a bullet hole in the roof of a room inside his residence. A bullet was found on the floor nearby. A search of the residence and a check on the welfare were conducted in nearby residences. An origin of the bullet was unable to be located. The investigation is ongoing.

Separately, but around the same time, police responded to a report of someone shooting at people and homes with an airsoft gun in the Columbia Forest neighborhood, just north of Wakefield High School.

ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 161019048, 5200 block of S. 11th Street. At approximately 10:05 p.m. on October 19, an unknown subject(s) shot an air-soft firearm at a male victim and the surrounding houses in the neighborhood. The victim was uninjured and there was no damaged property found. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

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A garden in front of a Columbia Forest home is center of a debate between the county’s Department of Environmental Services and a local resident.

Maraea Harris created a Change.org petition to save her garden, which is planted on a hellstrip, the piece of land between a sidewalk and the road. It all started when a county official told Harris to remove the garden because it violated the county’s weed ordinance due to the plants’ heights, she said.

“Rather than work with me to create a workable solution while maintaining the environmental value and beauty of the space, the only option I was given was to make it grass or mulch,” Harris said on the petition.

Harris appealed the county’s decision. Yesterday, someone in the county manager’s office informed her that the county will postpone the removal of the garden until it can discuss the case internally, she said.

The county reached out to Harris after receiving a complaint that the garden made the sidewalk — located along a dead end portion of S. Buchanan Street — inaccessible for handicapped people, said Luis Araya, a county official with the Department of Environmental Services.

“A DES inspector contacted the owner of the residence and asked them to remove these items from the public street right-of-way as they created a hazard to public safety and were unauthorized use of the public right-of-way,” Araya said. “The county does not allow such uses to the public.”

According to the Arlington County Garbage, Refuse and Weed Ordinance, weeds and grass have to be one foot tall or less. The ordinance does not specifically mention whether flowers can be planted in the public right of way.

“The purpose of grass strips that exist between the curb and sidewalk on public streets are to accommodate street lights, water meters, street signs and other infrastructure-associated items maintained by the County and private utility companies,” Araya said.

Residents must also keep all vegetation off of sidewalk and the road in order to prevent safety hazards. Harris’ garden was becoming dangerous, Araya said.

“There are many potential safety hazards that the public can encounter in unauthorized landscaped areas in the public right-of-way such as tripping hazards, visibility issues for vehicles, narrower sidewalks limiting the width of ADA clearances for wheelchairs and, in this particular location, bee stings,” he said.

Harris said that she had no problem adjusting her garden to make the sidewalk more handicap accessible. However, she did not want to completely remove the garden, which brings butterflies and other insects to the neighborhood.

“It is a small space but there is more life in the 4 x 20 ft. space than all the neighborhood grass lawns combined,” she said on the petition.

Despite the one complaint from a neighbor, Harris said most people on S. Buchanan Street enjoy the garden. As of today, 53 people had signed the petition for the garden, including some of Harris’ neighbors.

“They like to have it because their kids walk by it to what’s in it and what’s growing,” she said.

As a gardener, Harris said it is frustrating that the county has many pollination and environmental efforts, but they want to mow over her garden hellstrip garden and others like it. Helping residents understand the guidelines and working toward a compromise over the hellstrips would be more beneficial, she said.

“Instead of coming after them, why not support them?” Harris said.

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The County Board room during discussion of the Columbia Hills development (photo via @ArlingtonVA)The first two residential developments designed with the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code were approved last night, bringing hundreds of new residences into the Pike’s development pipeline.

The Arlington County Board approved a 229-unit, eight-story affordable housing complex on the western end of Columbia Pike and 50 new townhouses to replace the historic George Washington Carver homes in Arlington View.

The Carver Homes were built in the 1940s for residents displaced by the construction of the Pentagon, and many of the families who lived there when it was built now own residences in the co-operative. While preservationists lament the loss of a piece of the county’s history, the residents urged the County Board to approve the development.

“I know first hand that our co-op has been deteriorating for many years,” Velma Henderson, a Carver Homes owner who has lived in the co-op for 68 of its 70 years in existence, told the Board. “Busted and frozen pipes, leaky roofs and crumbling foundations, to name a few… We have a long and proud history in Arlington, so it was important for Carver Homes to select a developer who had the vision and resources to create a high-quality development. This plan considers Carver Homes’ needs.”

The 44 units will be bulldozed and replaced with 50 townhouses, 23 of which will be duplexes. Six of the duplex units will be committed affordable units, and the developer, Craftmark Homes, also has agreed to build a public park on the property and extend S. Quinn Street through the parcel at the corner of S. Rolfe and 13th Streets.

The George Washington Carver Homes in Arlington HeightsAs part of the redevelopment, the developer will place two historic markers on the property signifying its history. Arlington is also beginning to compile an oral history of the property, which will be available at Arlington Central Library when completed.

“My mother’s dream was that we would benefit from the sale of the property,” said James Dill, a co-op owner whose mother was displaced by the Pentagon construction. “We’ve been banking on it for 50 or 60 years that, at some point in time, Arlington County would grant us our piece of the American dream, and we’ve been holding firm on that.”

The County Board unanimously approved the redevelopment. County Board Chair Mary Hynes thanked the owners — who have been working to sell the property for most of the past decade — and the community for their patience. Board member Libby Garvey remarked that many of the residents were forced out of their homes in the 1940s for the Pentagon to be built, and the Board could, in a very small way, “right that wrong.”

“I think we’re really touching history,” Garvey said. “This was temporary housing 70 years ago. How much temporary housing lasts 70 years? So it’s time.”

The conversation surrounding the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing‘s proposal for its new affordable housing buildings next to its expansive Columbia Grove community on S. Frederick Street was quite different.

Columbia Hills apartments rendering (image via APAH)Dozens of speakers came out to speak on both sides of the issue, and public comment and Board deliberations lasted after midnight. Opponents, many of whom live close to the site, said there is too much concentration of affordable housing on the western end of Columbia Pike.

“Presently our community is home to about 18 affordable housing communities in the immediate area,” Erin Long, a homeowner in the Frederick Courts Condominiums across the street. “What’s become known as the western gateway node of Columbia Pike cannot sustain the affordable housing development as it’s planned.

“It’s clear that plan is for those units lost at the east end of the pike to be relocated to the west end,” she continued. “It’s absolutely inappropriate for every lost unit to be relocated to us. We deserve to benefit from the redevelopment of Columbia Pike, not serve as the repository for those displaced from other nodes.” Read More

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(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is planning on building two, eight-story apartment buildings near the western end of Columbia Pike.

APAH is planning on replacing a surface parking lot at 1010 S. Frederick Street with the two buildings, which will contain 229 units of committed affordable housing. All of the units will be affordable up to 60 percent of area median income, with some units as low as 40 percent AMI.

To replace the surface parking, a three-level underground garage will be built.

The development is on this month’s agendas for the county’s planning and housing commissions, and is expected to go before the Arlington County Board at its meetings later this month. The project would be one of the first of its kind to go before the County Board under the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code, approved in 2013.

Some in the community have expressed concern about a concentration of affordable housing on the western end of Columbia Pike, where this project is situated. County Board member John Vihstadt addressed some of those concerns at the Arlington Civic Federation meeting on Tuesday night.

“Certain people have concerns about an over-concentration [of affordable housing] on the west end of the Pike and not enough on the east end,” Vihstadt said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to come to grips with. I think we all want a mix of income in all neighborhoods as much as possible.”

APAH CEO Nina Janopaul told ARLnow.com that those concerns pale in comparison when compared to the concerns over the lack of affordable housing overall in the county. She said the civic association in which the new project is located, Columbia Forest, has lost 750 units of affordable housing in the last 15 years.

“The Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan calls for preserving or replacing the 6,200 affordable units, most of which are market-rate affordable and vulnerable to redevelopment,” she said. “We need to take advantage of the moment now, when the interest rates are low, to build affordable housing that will still be there in 60 years.”

The development, if approved, would add the 229 affordable units right next to APAH’s expansive, 208-unit Columbia Grove apartments. Of those units — on the 8-acre, 14-building campus — 131 are committed affordable housing. Janopaul said the buildings are Columbia Forest’s only affordable housing “at all.”

The project, dubbed “Columbia Hills,” will cost an estimated $85 million, according to APAH’s application to the county. APAH is requesting the county contribute $18.5 million from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund, which, along with the form-based code application, the County Board is expected to debate granting this month.

APAH is also planning to submit a Low Income Housing Tax Credit application next month. If all goes as Janopaul hopes, the federal government would approve the loan in the first quarter of 2016, after which construction can begin.

Image (top) via Arlington County. Photo (bottom) via Google Maps

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