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by ARLnow.com — January 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm 0

A towing standoff outside Ray's Hell BurgerA bill being considered by the Virginia General Assembly would increase towing fees and override Arlington County’s new towing regulation changes.

The House of Delegates bill, HB 1960, was proposed by Del. Tim Hugo, a Prince William and Fairfax County Republican. It would modify Virginia’s existing towing law with a number of provisions that would only apply to Northern Virginia jurisdictions in the state’s “Planning District 8,” which includes Arlington.

Among the proposed Northern Virginia-specific changes:

  • Raise the base towing fee to $150 and the maximum towing fee to $200.
  • Prohibit Arlington’s new “real time authorization” requirement, which requires businesses to authorize each individual tow.
  • Require that the chair of a local towing advisory board be a licensed towing operator. Currently, the chair of Arlington’s towing advisory committee is a local citizen.

An Arlington County fact sheet about the bill states that it “would unnecessarily restrict the ability of local governments to provide protections to vehicle owners in the taking of their property without their consent.”

“I would describe it as a very consumer unfriendly bill,” County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol told ARLnow.com. “It raises tow rates for the second year in a row with no fair market assessment to justify that.”

Cristol is encouraging residents to reach out to their local delegates and state senators to encourage them to work to defeat the bill.

“We think it’s a bad deal for our community and we hope people will let their state legislators know that they think so too,” she said.

On a statewide basis, the bill would require tow truck drivers to notify animal control when they tow a vehicle “that is occupied by an unattended companion animal.” It also establishes a $100 fine for towing operators that violate state towing regulations, to be paid to Virginia’s Literary Fund, and prohibits the appointment of anyone other than towing operators, law enforcement representatives and a single member of the general public to a towing advisory board.

by ARLnow.com — January 17, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Arlington County Board on 9/27/16As of Jan. 1, those listing their homes on Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and other such services have a new set of Arlington County regulations to follow.

That followed the fast-tracked County Board approval of the regulations on Dec. 12, beating the state legislature — which is considering a more lax set of policies that could supercede local rules — to the punch.

With the rules now in place, however, the Arlington County Board is looking to make some changes. Chief among them is allowing renters, not just homeowners, to generate extra income by opening their home to short-term guests.

Advantaging those who own a home over those who rent was criticized by some as regressive, and at its Jan. 28 meeting the Board appears poised to respond. (As part of the legislative process, such changes must first be “advertised” to the public, and the Board did so in December while approving the original regulations.)

In a Board report, county staff said limiting Airbnb privileges to homeowners was an idea gleaned from other jurisdictions — an idea that staff came to realize would face significant pushback.

“Throughout the public outreach process, staff heard from renters with an interest in hosting accessory homestay, including the majority of participants at a public open house, and from several advisory groups and commissions, including the Housing Commission, and from several participants in an online feedback form,” staff wrote. “Staff concluded that it would be appropriate to broaden the proposed amendment to allow accessory homestay in all dwellings occupied by a resident who uses the dwelling as his/her primary residence, regardless of ownership status.”

The change would not, however, automatically mean that any renter could turn their apartment into a de facto hotel: the renter or homeowner must still use the home as their primary residence for at least 185 days out of the year, and landlords could still prevent tenants from taking in short-term renters.

“Even if the proposed amendment is adopted to allow tenants to host accessory homestay, a lease could still preclude (or further limit) a resident from using his/her home for accessory homestay purposes, and any enforcement of lease terms would be between the tenant and landlord,” staff wrote.

Other changes being considered this month include allowing hosts to rent out rooms to multiple short-term “roommates” on separate contracts, and making several “updates for clarity and consistency.”

The Arlington Planning Commission is scheduled to take up the changes at its meeting tonight before the Board votes on it later this month.

by Tim Regan — January 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Arlington has paved the way to finally break ground on a new public gathering place for the Nauck community.

The Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a one-story property at 2400 Shirlington Road for $803,000 earlier this week.

The newly purchased property is the third and final plot of land needed to begin construction on the Nauck Town Square, which will “serve as a gathering place for the community, where events can be held and residents and visitors can learn about Nauck’s rich cultural heritage through planned public art by award-winning landscape architect and artist Walter Hood,” according to a county press release.

Program Locations Proposed for Nauck Town SquareArlington County Board member Libby Garvey said in a statement that the Board worked to purchase the property for several years.

“It was the last piece of the puzzle that needed to be pulled together by County staff and the community to make the dream of a Nauck Town Square a reality,” Garvey said. “We can now move forward with this project, and hope to begin construction this summer.”

The recently purchased property is the site of a plumbing business owned by father and son Leslie J. Engelking Sr. and Leslie J. Engelking Jr. The sale was held up for years after it went to court and was further delayed due to the fact that Engelking Jr., who jointly owned the plumbing business, went missing, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Even stranger, Engelking Sr. was in 2015 charged with perjury related to the disappearance of the Lyons sisters, two girls who vanished from Wheaton Mall in Maryland more than 40 years ago. Engelking Sr. told the Business Journal he had “had nothing to do with it,” however.

by ARLnow.com — January 5, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Icy fence (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

CEB Being Acquired — Arlington-based CEB Inc., one of the county’s biggest private employers, is being acquired by Connecticut-based Gartner in a $2.6 billion cash-and-stock deal. CEB is set to anchor one of the under-construction Central Place towers in Rosslyn once it is completed. [Reuters, Gartner]

Fisette Still Mulling Reelection Run — Jay Fisette, who is serving as Arlington County Board Chair for 2017, has not yet decided whether he’ll run for another four-year term. Fisette says he’ll make a decision in February, the Washington Post’s Patricia Sullivan reports. [Twitter]

What County Board Members Did for New Year’s — With the County Board’s traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting moved to Jan. 3, what did County Board members do on Jan. 1 instead? Nothing too interesting, it turns out. [Falls Church News-Press]

Obama’s Military Farewell Ceremony — It tied up some traffic in Arlington, but yesterday afternoon the country’s armed forces bid farewell to President Obama and Vice President Biden on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The event went well, minus one Army honor guard member fainting during the ceremony. [NBC News, Daily Mail]

Couple Married After 20 Years Together — An Arlington couple that first met 20 years ago in a D.C. nightclub finally tied the knot over the summer. Bob Kenney, a real estate agent, and Mark Treadaway, an airport executive, were wed in the backyard of their Woodmont home in front of 75 guests. [Arlington Magazine]

Nearby: Alexandria Flips Out Over Taco Bell — Residents in the West End of Alexandria are really worried about a proposed Taco Bell. In letters to the city’s planning commission, residents decried the potential for “late night riff raff,” “the devastating effects of an accident,” and “lowered home values.” One resident also relayed her personal experience of going to a Taco Bell that had run out of forks. There are four Taco Bells in Arlington County, including one on the Alexandria border and another in the Pentagon. [Washington Business Journal, City of Alexandria]

Va. Legislator Proposes N.C. Style Bathroom Bill — Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) has proposed a “bathroom bill” similar to the controversial bill that because law in North Carolina. The bill would restrict transgender individuals from using certain bathrooms and would require school principals to “notify all parents if a student at their children’s school asks to be treated as a member of the opposite sex.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

by Tim Regan — January 4, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

Newly Elected County Board Chair Jay Fisette at the 2017 Organizational Meeting(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) Two members of the local Democratic party will lead the Arlington County Board this year, breaking a longtime tradition.

Jay Fisette was unanimously elected County Board Chair during the Board’s annual organizational meeting last night. This is Fisette’s fifth time serving as chair since he was first elected to the Board nearly 20 years ago.

It is a long-standing tradition that Board chairmanship rotate among members by seniority, with the vice chair assuming the chairmanship the next year. Often it corresponds with election cycles, with the member who is up for reelection the following year being elected vice chair. But the Board broke with tradition by electing one of its newest members, Democrat Katie Cristol, over independent John Vihstadt.

The snub was, however, in keeping with another long-standing practice: as the Sun Gazette’s Scott McCaffrey pointed out, the party in power on the Board has “always installed its own people in the leadership… going as far back as I can tell.”

In his remarks, Vihstadt suggested that “partisan politics alone” led to the contested race for vice chair.

“People with the word Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian or Socialist stamped on their foreheads, are sorted and stereotyped forever as a result,” Vihstadt said. “I’ve been there myself. It’s why I ran as an independent and have governed that way every day.”

County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol from the 2017 Organizational MeetingCristol responded: “In Arlington, being a Democrat is not just partisan, it’s shorthand for values and what we prioritize: meaningful investments and affordable housing, for deep commitments to schools.”

Fisette, who acknowledged the contested vote was an “unusual situation,” backed Cristol, while Libby Garvey, the outgoing Chair, backed Vihstadt.

Ultimately, the board followed the new Chair’s lead, with Garvey and Vihstadt on one side of the vote, and Fisette, Cristol and Christian Dorsey on the other.

After the polite political quarrel, Fisette outlined his priorities for the year. As chair, Fisette said he will focus on:

  • The need for facilities, including schools, within the constraints of limited land; strengthening the County’s economic competitiveness;
  • Housing affordability;
  • Environmental sustainability; and
  • Helping the region find a “sustainable path forward” for Metro and “staying true to our vision and values.”

Additionally, Vice Chair Cristol said she hopes to “work to ensure that Arlington will still be a home for all economic classes,” adding that she looks forward “launching a series of coffees focused on ‘big picture’ issues targeting young Arlingtonians in particular, as well as exploring other models to tap the brainpower of Arlingtonians across different walks of life.”

Arlington County can “no longer can we rely on the federal government to guide and support us with allegiance to shared purposes and our common humanity,” added Fisette, alluding to the recent affirmation of the Republican majority in Congress and the election of Donald Trump.

“This year is likely to bring dramatic, unsettling changes in our national government and on the international scene,” Fisette said. “Arlington will feel some effects. But we’ll respond as we have before in times of turbulence and periods of more gradual change: with sensible actions inspired by a shared community vision and shaped through thoughtful dialogue and open debate.”

by ARLnow.com — December 20, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington County has released its year-in-review video for 2016.

The annual video includes highlights of county-related goings on for the past year.

Actual important events and issues aside, here are some of the little things we learned from the video:

  • There’s no hazing ritual for new County Board members.
  • John Vihstadt is not offended by fellow Board members saying he is “lawyerly.”
  • Rosslyn-based ABC 7 appears to have been the county’s TV station of choice during the 2016 blizzard.
  • The blizzard happened on County Manager Mark Schwartz’s second week on the job and it was “a baptism by snow.”
  • Libby Garvey admits that the new live streams of commission meetings can double as a sleep aid.
  • The county has some sweet aerial footage of Arlington.
  • Being a county ombudsman involves lots of hand shaking.
  • “Planning is our bread and butter” — Jay Fisette.
  • The new Ballston Quarter mall is going to be pretty cool and is going to “transform” Ballston.
  • You can rent thermal cameras at the library.

Also from the video, we were told that the Fire Station 8 decision was “the essence of public engagement;” that 600 units committed affordable housing were approved, preserved or extended in 2016; that Arlington “functionally ended veteran homelessness” in the county and that a major theme of 2017 will be the county’s commitment to being “welcoming and inclusive.”

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

Rosslyn is getting a new $1 million, developer-funded public art installation.

The County Board on Saturday awarded a contract $968,000 contract to California artist Cliff Garten to fabricate and install “four stainless steel, LED-lighted Luminous Body sculptures” that will be placed on the four corners of the Lynn Street bridge over I-66, near the entrance to the Key Bridge.

It’s the second phase in a larger public art project to create a “Corridor of Light” down N. Lynn Street.

“This is an exciting project that will help us achieve our vision for Rosslyn,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a press release. “The ‘Corridor of Light’ is a beautiful design that will create a memorable public space for all our residents, commuters and visitors who move through this heavily-travelled corridor.”

“Garten was selected by a panel of specialists and stakeholders and his design was unanimously approved by the Public Art Committee and the Arlington Arts Commission,” noted the press release. “The artwork will create an easily recognized and iconic entrance to the County from Key Bridge, Lee Highway and westbound I-66.”

The project is being paid for developers, via “public art contributions pooled from various site plan projects in Rosslyn,” said Arlington Public Art Marketing Director Jim Byers.

Though the installation approved Saturday is considered the project’s second phase, the first phase — to be built as part of JBG’s Central Place project along Lynn Street — is still under development. Early plans for some 60 light sculptures have since, apparently, been scaled back.

“The middle section of Corridor of Light was reconsidered in response to right-of-way engineering challenges along Lynn Street,” Byers said. “The plans for the Central Place portion of the project are still in development.”

The third phase of the project is to consist of four “Luminous Body sculptures,” like those just approved by the Board, on either corner of the Meade Street Bridge over Route 50. Those will be built as part of a bridge improvement project that’s currently in the design phase.

On Saturday the County Board also approved transferring construction work on its Lynn Street Esplanade Project to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2016 at 11:35 am 0

Airbnb logo at MakeOffices ClarendonThis past weekend, the Arlington County Board approved new regulations on Airbnb and other short-term home rentals.

The move was cheered by Airbnb, which said Arlington is now the “first D.C. area municipality to pass an ordinance creating fair rules for middle class residents and families to continue sharing their homes.”

The regulation officially makes Airbnb legal in Arlington, whereas it might have been technically illegal before, under the local zoning ordinance. But there was one issue not addressed by the county press release that Airbnb hosts will want to consider going forward: taxes.

ARLnow.com did some more digging and it turns out that Airbnb hosts (along with those using services like Homeaway, Craigslist, etc.) will have to pay the same 7.25 percent Transient Occupency Tax as hotels. And they’ll have to pay it in the same way — by creating an account with the county and filing monthly tax returns.

That’s a burden that may discourage casual hosts from, say, just renting their place for the inauguration, assuming they want to stay on the right side of the law.

“The Commissioner of Revenue will require each person renting property to transients, including those who obtain an accessory use permit for short term homestays under the new County ordinance, to collect and remit the TOT to the County,” Ray Warren, Arlington’s Deputy Commissioner of Revenue, tells ARLnow.com.

“This is done and will be done the same way as it is with every other entity providing transient accommodations,” Warren said. “We will set up an account for the accommodation provider. They must file each month by the 20th for the previous month’s activity.”

What if a homeowner did not rent his or her property in a given month?

“They should file monthly, but it is easy (especially online) to file a zero return,” Warren said. “Otherwise we don’t know if they had no business or merely neglected to file.”

So monthly tax returns will be the norm for anyone renting their place on Airbnb. If the homeowner decides to stop renting for the foreseeable future, they can notify the Commissioner of Revenue’s office and stop filing.

“It would not be proper, however, for the homeowner to again advertise the property for rent without opening a TOT account,” noted Warren.

Because Airbnb does not publicly list the addresses of rental properties, Warren said that compliance will primarily be accomplished through tips. Another compliance mechanism: checking the tax records of those who have applied for the new “accessory homestay” permit.

“We have made efforts this year, but we depend on tips and voluntary compliance,” he said. “To the extent there are those who do not comply with the County’s new ordinance (and get an accessory use permit) we will continue to rely on tips from the public.”

“Homestay rentals, unlike other public businesses, do not generally have signage or other markers, so that can be difficult otherwise,” Warren added. “We will also be reviewing individual (state) income tax returns to look for persons reporting such rental income. I suspect that bringing the vast majority into compliance through the County ordinance will also increase the number of leads as to non-compliant locations.”

County Board member John Vihstadt, the lone “no” vote on the short-term rental ordinance, said had “some serious reservations” about it and thought the process was “too rushed” and left “issues inadequately addressed.”

Contacted by ARLnow.com two days after the vote, he said he was not sure how taxes would be collected on Airbnb properties.

“That is something, frankly, that is not clear,” he said. “We need to make this easy for the hosts and guests.”

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Arlington County Police ACPD motorcycle

‘Pop-Up Hotel’ Opening in January — “WhyHotel” is the new name of a “pop-up hotel” in the Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Starting in January, the hotel will offer 50 unleased, furnished apartments as hotel rooms. Although most of the building is leased, owner Vornado is experimenting with “WhyHotel” as a way to monetize new apartment buildings during the lease-up period. [Washington Business Journal]

School Board Responds to Student’s Letter — Arlington School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren has responded to an open letter published in the Washington-Lee Crossed Sabres student newspaper. The letter, which was widely shared across social media, took the school board to task for approving high school boundary refinements that were seemingly antithetical to APS’ diversity goals. Without addressing the diversity issue, Van Doren defended the process and encouraged students to participate in future high school boundary decisions. [PDF]

County Board Approves Polling Place Changes — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a number of precinct and polling place changes, to take effect in time for next year’s elections. [Arlington County]

Memorial Bridge Worries — The deteriorating Memorial Bridge can’t handle heavy support traffic for the presidential inauguration next month, officials said in a briefing yesterday, according to reported Tom Sherwood. Such traffic will use the 14th Street Bridge instead. [Twitter]

Wreaths for Every Grave at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “Wreaths Across America announced Wednesday it has reached its goal to place about 245,000 wreaths in the cemetery ‘thanks to an outpouring of support.’ Earlier this week, the organization had said it was about 10,000 wreaths short of its goal.” [WTOP]

by ARLnow.com — December 14, 2016 at 5:40 pm 0

Towing dispute outside the Arlington DMV (file photo)Above the objection of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and numerous local business owners, the Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a series of changes to its towing ordinance, including a controversial provision requiring businesses to authorize individual tows.

The so-called “real time authorization” provision was approved with a delayed implementation date: July 1, 2017. That will give the County Manager time to “identify alternative strategies to mitigate aggressive towing practices and provide an interim report,” according to a county press release.

The provision, which was not recommended by the County Manager nor the county’s Trespass Towing Advisory Board, requires “real time authorization for all tows from commercial property conducted during business hours.” Currently, businesses can grant blanket pre-authorization to towing companies to tow any vehicle trespassing on their lots.

Other provisions approved unanimously by the County Board include:

  • “Require tow truck drivers to photograph the vehicle at all four corners, providing vehicle owners with important safeguards should their vehicle be damaged, and providing towers with protection against false damage claims.”
  • “Requiring that the receipt given to the vehicle owner include a disclosure that photos and/or video evidence taken before the tow are available upon request and the contact information for the County office that handles trespass towing complaints.”
  • “Requiring towing and recovery operators to properly secure all loads to meet all safety standards.”
  • “A new requirement for signage/markings on the interior of parking lots or facilities to provide additional, clear information to vehicle owners about the parking restrictions on the property. This requirement builds upon the existing requirement for signs at all vehicle entrances.”
  • “Extend the eligible area for the location of storage facilities from three miles to three and one-quarter miles. This could allow more eligible locations for storage facilities, giving property owners more contractors to choose from without burdening vehicle owners in retrieving their vehicles.”

“These amendments provide important protections to vehicle owners whose vehicles are taken without their consent,” County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “We believe these reasonable requirements support the rights of Arlington County property owners and their tenants to enforce restrictions on their property while providing common sense standards for how vehicles are removed.”

The Board also authorized two additional towing fees: $25 for towing a vehicle in the evening (7 p.m.-8 a.m.) and $25 for towing a vehicle on a weekend or holiday. The changes were required by state code. Together, the fees could increase the initial charge for a tow (not including storage fees) to as high as $185.

Another provision prohibits towing companies from towing public safety vehicles, except at the direction of police.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — December 14, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Buildings in Rosslyn

County to Buy Houses for Fire Station — The Arlington County Board last night approved the purchase of two houses on N. Culpeper Street for a total of $1.68 million. The houses are needed for the construction of a new Fire Station No. 8. One house will be torn down to make way for a temporary fire station, while the other will serve as quarters for firefighters at the station. [Arlington County]

Boeing to Move Defense HQ to Arlington — Boeing is moving the headquarters of its Defense, Space and Security unit from St. Louis to its existing regional HQ in Crystal City. The move will bring about a dozen top executives and fifty support staff to Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]

County Buying Bus Maintenance Site in Springfield — County Board members unanimously approved the $4.65 million purchase of 2.15 acre industrial site in Springfield, Va., to be used as a future heavy maintenance facility for Arlington Transit buses. After it is built, the facility will replace the current leased ART maintenance facility, located in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

ACPD Distributing Toys for the Holidays — Arlington County Police Department officers have been delivering toys to Arlington Public Schools families in need, after collecting the toys during the department’s Fill the Cruiser drive. [Twitter]

Recycling Center Move Approved — The Four Mile Run Drive self-serve recycling center will soon be moving to the Arlington Trades Center, as expected. The County Board unanimously approved the move at its Tuesday night meeting. “County workers will be better able to monitor recycling at this location, to make sure the site is maintained properly and remains litter-free,” said Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — December 12, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Airbnb logo at MakeOffices Clarendon(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved regulations on Airbnb and other short-term home rentals — a move cheered by Airbnb as “fair” and “progressive.”

Such rentals were previously prohibited by the county’s Zoning Ordinance, though that didn’t stop hundreds, if not thousands, of local residents from listing and renting their homes on Airbnb, Craigslist and other services.

Above the objections of Arlington Republicans, and a “no” vote by John Vihstadt, four of the five County Board members voted to approve regulations that legalize Airbnb rentals while enacting certain restrictions.

Among the restrictions, per a county press release:

  • Short-term rentals allowed only in units used by owner as his or her primary residence at least 185 days per year
  • “May host the larger of either six lodgers, or two lodgers per number of bedrooms in the unit per night (but no more than allowed by Building Code)”
  • “Will not be allowed in detached accessory buildings”
  • “Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and where applicable, carbon monoxide detectors, must be provided and accessible to all overnight lodgers”
  • “Does not authorize use of the home for any other commercial use such as parties, banquets, weddings, meetings, charitable fund raising, commercial or advertising activities or any other gatherings for direct or indirect compensation”

“Like other jurisdictions, Arlington is adapting to the rise of the sharing economy,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “The extensive input we received about short-term rentals throughout this engagement process was essential to help shape new regulations… Today’s decision will help promote positive and safe experiences for renters, rental owners and their neighbors.”

In response to feedback at Saturday’s meeting, next month the Board will go back and consider allowing renters, not just owners, to rent their residences on Airbnb and similar services. The Board will also reconsider a restriction it approved specifying no more than one rental contract at a time for any given residence.

Airbnb cheered what it described as “the first D.C. area municipality to pass an ordinance creating fair rules for middle class residents and families to continue sharing their homes.”

“Today, the Arlington County Board voted to protect the rights of citizens to share their home and earn extra income to make ends meet,” the company said in a statement emailed to ARLnow.com Saturday.

“Airbnb is proud to have worked with the County Board to improve the previously restrictive proposal and create smart, progressive regulations around home sharing in Arlington County,” the statement continued. “We look forward to using this ordnance as a model for shaping sensible home sharing guidelines across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the entire Washington, D.C metropolitan area.”

Earlier this year the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill legalizing Airbnb statewide, superseding any potential local restrictions, but the bill was sent for a year of further study before Gov. Terry McAuliffe considers signing it. In passing its ordinance, Arlington County beat the state to the punch.

It was partially because of the speedy process that Vihstadt said he voted no. He proposed, unsuccessfully, that the Board’s vote be deferred until January.

“I still have some serious reservations about what is before us today,” he said. “I’m still concerned that it is too rushed, I’m concerned that it overreached in several respects while leaving other issues inadequately addressed, and I believe that it fails to some degree to recognize the realities of the sharing economy where consumers are empowered as never before, which calls for I think a much more flexible, lighter hand of government.”

Board member Katie Cristol voted for the regulations, but spoke in support of allowing renters to rent their property.

“Long term renters are contributing to our neighborhood,” she said, “and should have the same opportunity to take advantage of this additional income.”

At least one resident who spoke at the meeting, however, said the regulations were not restrictive enough.

“I have serious misgivings on the legalization of short-term Airbnb-style rentals, especially the lax permitting proposals by the county,” said Charles Hughes.”People choose to live in these neighborhoods and remain because of the feelings of neighborliness. Allowing homes and neighborhoods to turn into businesses will change the nature and character of our neighborhood.”

The new regulations will take effect on Dec. 31. Homeowners will have to apply for an “accessory homestay permit,” proving that they own and reside in the property in question, though so far there is no fee associated with the permit.

by ARLnow.com — December 12, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Rainy night (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

High School Boundary Change Petition — Matthew Herrity, the Washington-Lee student who penned a widely-shared open letter to the School Board regarding its recent high school boundary change decision, has now started an online petition. The petition, which calls for increasing diversity at Arlington’s high schools, has more than 1,000 signatures. [Change.org]

Community Center, Gymnastics Contracts Approved — At its meeting on Saturday the Arlington County Board approved a $3.9 million contract to plan and design a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center, with a gymnasium, playgrounds, offices and underground parking. In response to heavy program demand, the Board also approved a $1.7 million addition of a second gymnastics area at the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center. [Arlington County]

Ebbin on Trump and Other Topics — “Trump is making me nostalgic for Reagan,” said state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) during a wide-ranging interview on the Kojo Nnamdi Show Friday. Ebbin also discussed casino gambling, with the opening of the new MGM casino in National Harbor, and Confederate monuments in Alexandria, among other topics. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

D.C. Police Misconduct Story Has Arlington Connection — There’s an Arlington connection to one of the misconduct allegations against Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, the head of the D.C. police Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Liaison unit. Hawkins reportedly took two underage summer interns to Freddie’s, the LGBT bar in Crystal City, and laughed about one using a fake ID. She’s now facing possible disciplinary action for that and for allegedly showing the interns a homemade sex tape on her phone. [Fox 5, Fox 5]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — December 8, 2016 at 4:15 pm 0

Airbnb logo at MakeOffices ClarendonThe Arlington County Board is expected to vote on proposed regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rental services at its meeting this Saturday.

The regulations proposed by county staff include limits on the number of short-term renters who can stay in a given residence, depending on the number of bedrooms; it requires that the owner of a rental property use it as his or her primary residence, residing there at least 185 days of the year; and includes other provisions designed to strike a balance between those who want to generate supplemental revenue from their homes and those who don’t want to live next to a de facto hotel.

Arlington Republicans, in a press release today, said they are opposed to the regulations, which the county hustled to enact before the state legislature considers prohibiting such regulations during its January session.

The full local GOP press release is below.

Arlington GOP and Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans (AFCYRs) oppose the proposed “short-term residential rentals” regulations to be considered by the Arlington County Board this Saturday, December 10. While Arlington GOP and AFCYRs support establishing a formal legal structure for Airbnb and other short-term rentals that properly balances promoting the “sharing economy” with maintaining the character of our neighborhoods, the proposed regulations are unduly burdensome.

“Arlington County is rushing at break-neck speed to adopt regulations for Airbnb without fully understanding the impacts or gaining community consensus,” said Arlington GOP Chairman Jim Presswood.

Community Planning, Housing & Develop (CHPD) staff admitted at an Arlington County Planning Commission hearing last week that their process for developing the regulations was “atypical” and much shorter than usual. As a result, they have not done the research and community outreach that would normally be completed prior to adoption of final regulations.  CPHD is using an accelerated process because they want the regulations finalized before the next Virginia General Assembly, which is expected to consider legislation on short-term rentals.

The proposed regulations prohibit renters from doing short-term rentals even if their lease allows it, restrict food service, limit the number of contracts and days that residences may be rented, and include potentially onerous parking, inspection, permitting and fee requirements. Taken as a whole, the proposed regulations threaten to push many people out of this activity.

Arlington County should be encouraging the sharing economy in a way that maintains the quality of our community.  Benefits include providing residents income to help pay their mortgage or rent, creating additional short-term rental options for travelers, including visiting family members and friends, and enhancing our local economy when guests spend money at local restaurants and businesses.

“It would be a shame if Arlington undermines the future of the sharing economy while other jurisdictions move forward in this area,” said AFCYRs Chairman Andrew Loposser.

by ARLnow.com — December 8, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Former Jerry's Subs and Pizza location on Ball Street near Potomac YardDomino’s Pizza is planning to open its first dine-in location in Arlington.

As detailed in an item on the County Board’s Saturday agenda, Domino’s is planning to move its current pizzeria at 2923 S. Glebe Road, in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center, to the ground floor of the Camden Potomac Yard Apartments.

That’s the same location, at 3535 S. Ball Street, as a former Jerry’s Subs and Pizza restaurant. The new location will include 18 dine-in seats, a first for a Domino’s in Arlington County.

The County Board item is a site plan amendment to allow delivery service from the new storefront. Domino’s is proposing delivery hours of 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with up to five drivers making deliveries at any given time.

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