Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Ride Hailing ‘Strike’ Today — “Getting an Uber or a Lyft may be impossible — or take longer and cost more — Wednesday when drivers for both companies plan to strike in major U.S. cities to protest what they say are unfair wages and poor working conditions.” [Washington Post]

APS Poaching Fairfax Teachers — From a candidate for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors: “Today I met a veteran teacher who is leaving FCPS because Arlington County will pay her $12,000 more annually. Meanwhile, all I hear about is how we are fully funding our schools. We still have some catching up to do Fairfax County.” [Twitter]

County Employees Getting Reusable StrawsUpdated at 10:10 a.m. —  “This week is [Public Service Recognition Week], and Arlington County employees will be celebrating with their new, reusable steel straws, distributed… as a thank you for their hard work.” [WDVM]

Another Traffic Enforcement Push in Clarendon — Yesterday Arlington County Police conducted “high-visibility traffic enforcement” at Clarendon Boulevard and N. Danville Street,” reminding drivers to “be [street smart] and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.” [Twitter]

No State GOP Candidates in Arlington Yet — “Thus far, there have been no nibbles on the line among potential Republican candidates for state legislative seats. The party’s filing deadlines passed on May 2 and 5 for GOP prospects for the 47th and 49th House of Delegates districts and 31st state Senate district without any candidates formally expressing interest.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Arlington County has a new budget and a higher real estate tax rate.

The County Board unanimously approved a $1.4 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020, avoiding the most controversial of its proposed cuts while hiking the taxes paid by the average homeowner to $9,023, an increase of $281.

Arlington property owners will now pay an additional two cents for every $100 in assessed property value, on top of increasing property values. Most of the additional revenue will go to Arlington Public Schools, which is set to receive $532.3 million in local tax dollars, which will help it also avoid some proposed, controversial cuts.

County Board members characterized the budget as fiscal prudence, despite the tax hike. They noted that it includes $4.8 million in county budget reductions, trimming 27.5 full-time staff positions deemed to be no longer necessary due to declines in demand for certain services.

The cuts range from a 5 percent reduction in funding for community radio and public access TV operator Arlington Independent Media to cutting Arlington Transit bus service on a route that records as few as 3 riders per hour.

“I would think about this not as government getting smaller, but as government getting smarter,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey.

Board member Erik Gutshall said county leaders went over the budget with a “fine tooth comb” and the result is a budget without “an ounce of fat.”

“We certainly would prefer not to raise rates at all but this is a budget we can be proud of as thoughtful, progressive, and sound,” said Board member Matt de Ferranti.

While the Board restored a pair of arts positions — cuts that would have affected theater programs in the county — it asked the County Manager to study those positions and the county’s arts programs in general prior to the next annual budget. Vice Chair Libby Garvey said that libraries should also be studied.

“[I’m] hoping in this next year… we take kind of a holistic view of libraries, and what we want libraries to be in our community, what role we want them to play,” she said.

There was hopeful talk on the dais about the effects of Amazon’s new Arlington presence.

“Happily the commercial vacancy rate is getting a little better,” Garvey said, adding that “obviously Amazon helps that a lot.”

In Arlington, roughly half of county revenue comes from commercial real estate and businesses.

The FY 2020 budget helps to shape a community “that a company like Amazon wants to come to,” said Gutshall. “And when they come they help our commercial [real estate] assessments that did the most of the work in bridging the gap this year.”

The full Arlington County press release on the budget’s passage, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Arlington County Suing Opioid Makers — “The Arlington County Board has emulated nearly two dozen other Virginia localities in taking to court a large number of opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including some of the biggest names in the health-care industry.” [InsideNova]

HQ2 Affordable Housing Funds Going to Loudoun? — “When Virginia officials promised $75 million over five years for affordable housing in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters announcement, Arlington officials assumed that those dollars would be split between the county and neighboring Alexandria. They were not thrilled to find out other localities might get a piece.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pedestrian Struck in CVS Parking Lot — “Police and medics are on scene of an elderly pedestrian struck by a car in the CVS parking lot on the 6400 block of Williamsburg Blvd. The victim reportedly suffered a broken bone and is being transported to the hospital.” [Twitter]

Early Video of Nauck House Fire — Video posted to Facebook shows the scene as firefighters start to arrive at yesterday’s house fire in the Nauck neighborhood, near the W&OD Trail. [Statter 911]

Discussing Nightlife Safety — “‘A Conversation about Nightlife Safety’ will take place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m… The event will feature panelists from various Arlington County departments speaking about how they collaborated to build trusting relationships with restaurant staff and improve safety.” [Arlington County]

What’s in a Name? — At the Pentagon City mall, Panda Tea House is now bustling where Kokee Tea struggled last year. Was it the name change, or the addition of Thai rolled ice cream to the menu? [Twitter]

Photo courtesy @eugeneksoh

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Morning Notes

Caps Player Abandons Car on Glebe Road — “Monday was media day for the Capitals, their first practice of the postseason. [Lars] Eller was on his way to MedStar Capitals Iceplex when suddenly, his car broke down… in the middle of Glebe Road.” [NBC Sports Washington]

Task Force Ices Snow Proposal — “Thirteen of the 14 voting members of the task force ‘do not believe the county has made the case that snow operations on [the large government parcel at Old Dominion Drive and 26th Street North] must be expanded, especially given the small number of annual major storms.'” [InsideNova]

ACPD Marks Alcohol Awareness Month — “Alcohol Awareness Month, recognized each April, is a public health program designed to increase outreach and education on the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol. More than 300 establishments in Arlington County hold Virginia ABC licenses permitting the serving and sale of alcohol.” [Arlington County]

Amazon May Pay for Public Transit — “Amazon has actively promoted the use of public transit, such as by paying the full cost of its employees’ fare cards for light rail, buses and ferries — a perk that it is considering extending to new employees in Arlington. The company boasts that only a quarter of its Seattle employees commute to work by driving solo. Nearly 1 in 3 use transit, and more than 1 in 5 walk.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Touts Bike Benefits — “The County continues to build on the bicycle’s unique ability to provide clean short- and medium-range transportation that requires far less infrastructure and resources compared to automobile traffic.” [Arlington County]

Water Main Repairs CompleteUpdated at 8:35 a.m. — Repairs to a burst 12-inch water main in Crystal City have been completed, but several roads in the area remain closed. The water main break cut water service to several buildings in the area, including a hotel. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

First Debate in Prosecutor Race — “In a contentious series of exchanges that marked their first debate, candidates for Arlington commonwealth’s attorney left no doubt they have decidedly different views on the role of prosecutor – and aren’t particularly fond of one another, either.” [InsideNova]

Road Closures Tonight in Crystal City — “The Crystal City 5K Fridays races will take place each Friday evening in April (5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th). The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways each race day from approximately 6:15 p.m. until 8:15 p.m. to accommodate these events…” [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Ritz Hosting Easter Event — “Based on the huge success we had in 2018 holiday season with Breakfast with Santa, we have decided to celebrate Easter with the Easter Bunny for our little ones.” [Ritz-Carlton]

School Board Challenger Announces Candidacy — “He aims to knock off incumbent School Board Chairman Reid Goldstein, but in a kickoff April 3, David Priddy avoided mentioning the incumbent by name and only tangentially touched on reasons he thinks Goldstein should be ousted.” [InsideNova]

County Starts Census Push — “In a packed room at Arlington Mill Community Center, County Manager Mark Schwartz launched Arlington’s Complete Count Committee — a group of 39 community members who will serve as Census ambassadors to ensure that every person in Arlington County is counted in the 2020 Census on April 1, 2020.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Tech Firm Acquired — “Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEK) announced today that it has acquired eGlobalTech, a high-end information technology (IT) solutions, cloud migration, cybersecurity, and management consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia.” [BusinessWire]

Police Warn of Numerous Scams — Arlington County Police are warning members of the community about a number of scams that have recently been reported, among them the “Imminent Account” fraud, the “I am in Trouble” scam and the “Jury Duty” or “IRS” scam. [Arlington County]

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Arlington is among the country’s least politically open-minded counties, according to new polling published in The Atlantic.

The magazine partnered with polling company PredictWise to rank all 3,000 U.S. counties on an interactive map published today (Monday) by how much “partisan prejudice” citizens from the areas expressed. PredictWise is run by economist David Rothschild and is dedicated to “help progressive change-makers,” per its website.

Counties were ranked based off of surveys of 2,000 respondents who were asked questions such as, how they felt about family members marrying across the political aisle, and whether Democrats or Republicans were “selfish, compassionate, or patriotic.” PredictWise then combined the data was combined with county “voter files” that record voter turnout and registration. The result is a heat map ranking every county from “less prejudiced” to “more prejudiced.”

The polling places Arlington County in the most “prejudiced” category of the map. Not only that, but the polling data ranked Arlington in the 100th percentile of most prejudiced counties — that’s higher than Alexandria (99th percentile), D.C. (98th percentile of most prejudiced), Prince William (81 percentile), and Fairfax (95 percentile.) The least prejudiced county in the Greater Washington Area area is St. Mary’s County which was ranked at the 52nd percentile, meaning 48 out of 100 counties have more politically divided citizens.

PredictWise found that demographic variables like age, race, education, and proximity to cities correlated with the amount of prejudice in a county. They reported predicted more prejudice in communities that are whiter, older, urban, and more highly educated.

A subsequent poll showed that Arlington also ranked in the highest category for Democrats being dismissive of Republicans. But a third poll indicated Arlington’s Republicans are not very dismissive of Democrats — bucking a national trend showing Republicans are more dismissive of Democrats on average.

PredictWise co-founder and Chief Science Officer Tobias Konitzer tweeted that polling project is “data-driven ethnography” that “opens healthy debate.”

The area of the country PredictWise’s data deemed the most politically close-minded was Suffolk County, Massachusetts. The most open-minded was Watertown, New York.

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon

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Morning Notes

Board Member Wants Lower School Costs — “In remarks to a local service organization, Matt de Ferranti telegraphed the likelihood that Arlington property owners would see a higher real-estate-tax rate this year, in part to pay for higher school costs. But at the same time, he said the days of gold-plated school facilities must come to an end.” [InsideNova]

Arlington No. 5 on ‘Women in Tech’ List — Arlington County ranks fifth on a new list of “the Best Cities for Women in Tech in 2019.” D.C. ranked No. 1. [SmartAsset]

Isabella Restaurant Gear Up for Auction — “Rasmus Auctions is advertising online auctions for kitchen equipment, dining room contents, decor and more at Yona, Pepita and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington until about noon March 13.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Expanding Drug Take-Back Boxes — “In the first calendar year of the Permanent Drug Take-Back Box program, residents safely disposed of 1008 pounds of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications. Due to the success of the program, an additional permanent drug take-back box has been installed at Arlington County Fire Station #5.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Calls for More Pet Foster Families — “We need your help! Our kennels are full and we are in URGENT need of foster homes for medium-large adult dogs and kittens undergoing treatment for ringworm.” [Facebook]

Falls Church Becoming ‘Un-boring’ — The sleepy City of Falls Church is attracting younger residents amid a development boom, cheered on in an editorial by the little city’s newspaper. [Falls Church News-Press]

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E-scooters have been proliferating around Arlington over the past few months, but their growing ubiquity has brought with it some challenges.

A new public service announcement from Arlington County seeks to answer some key questions that can improve safety for scooter riders and those around them: Who can ride e-scooters? How can you ride safely? Where do you park after riding?

The video is above. The county has also set up its own website for dockless scooter safety and regulation information.

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Morning Notes

Dorsey: Safety Over Late Night Hours — “Metro Boardmember and Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey… says Metro’s first responsibility is not to run as much service as possible, but to keep the service that is being run as safe as possible. He supports more maintenance.” Meanwhile, Metro is considering a plan to subsidize late night Uber and Lyft service. [Twitter, Washington Post]

Arlington Redistricting on Kojo Show — The always-controversial redrawing of school boundaries in Arlington was the topic of a recent discussion on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, featuring APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy and community leaders. [Kojo Nnamdi Show, Twitter]

Zoning, Permitting Offices Closing Tomorrow — “Arlington’s planning and DES permitting offices are running away for a long romantic Valentine’s weekend. When they return [on Tuesday], they will live as one exclusively on the tenth floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Snow Threats Coming This Weekend, Next Week — “In the past day, computer models have begun advertising the potential for a snow event on Saturday. And it may mark the start of a series of winter storms that streak across the Washington region.” [Washington Post]

Check Out ARLnow’s Instagram — ARLnow’s Insta currently features photography from around our fair county. Coming soon: more photos, plus contests and other exclusives. [Instagram]

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Arlington leaders are doling out raises for County Manager Mark Schwartz and several other senior county employees.

The County Board signed off on modest pay hikes for Schwartz, County Attorney Steve MacIsaac, County Auditor Chris Horton and County Board Clerk Kendra Jacobs at its meeting Tuesday (Jan. 29).

Each one scored 3.25 percent pay bumps on their previous contracts, matching raises the Board handed out last year to the group. All four report directly to county lawmakers.

Schwartz, the top executive in the county government, now stands to pull in just under $262,000 next year. This raise marks the third one he’s earned from the Board since he was hired as permanent county manager in 2016, when he started out with an annual salary of $245,000. His predecessor as manager, Barbara Donnellan, reached a top salary of about $270,000 a year by the end of her five-year tenure.

MacIsaac now pulls in about $253,000 per year, his tenth salary bump since taking over as the county’s top lawyer in 2000. Horton now makes nearly $143,000, earning his second raise since joining the county in 2016.

Jacobs now makes just over $108,000 annually, with the pay bump coming just a few months after the Board hired her to manage meeting materials this past July.

The good news for these county employees, most of whom rank among the highest-paid in the county workforce, comes as Schwartz is warning of some potential bad news for other county workers.

He’s already ordered a hiring “slowdown” to cope with the county’s dire fiscal picture, and has warned layoffs could be in the forecast (alongside tax increases and service cuts) to close a large budget gap in the new fiscal year.

File photo

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Due to an expected snowy evening commute, federal employees are being allowed to leave work early.

“Employees should depart 2 hours earlier than their normal departure times and may request unscheduled leave to depart prior to their staggered departure times,” employees were told.

Other organizations and facilities are also closing early due to fears of a messy commute like that of January 20, 2016 or January 26, 2011. Arlington Public Schools announced Monday night that all schools will close two hours early “because of the current forecast for freezing rain and snow at dismissal time tomorrow.”

Arlington County government offices and facilities are closing at 4 p.m., while courts are closing at 3 p.m. Tonight’s County Board meeting, however, is still continuing as scheduled.

More closures, announced Tuesday morning by Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

Arlington Public Schools have announced they are closing two hours early and have cancelled all afternoon/evening activities in school buildings. DPR will proceed as follows:

  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes and nature center programs with start times of 3:30 p.m. or later today are cancelled in all County and School buildings.
  • Sports activities, leagues and instructional programs in APS buildings are cancelled.
  • Sports activities, leagues and instructional programs in County buildings with a start of 3:30 p.m. or later today are cancelled, including the Clubhouse and covered batting cages.
  • Carver, Drew and Gunston Community Centers are closed today.
  • All other community centers and the Gunston Bubble will close at 4 p.m.

Advice to drivers from VDOT:

Crews have brined bridges and ramps throughout northern Virginia and are staging along roadways today in preparation of winter weather expected during the p.m. rush hour.

VDOT Asks Drivers To:

  • Monitor weather closely, as forecasts can improve or worsen quickly.
  • Plan ahead to avoid driving during snow and freezing conditions today. Plan to leave and be home early if possible.
  • Check road conditions along your route before leaving, and plan to delay travel if road conditions become hazardous.
  • Download the free 511 app for Apple and Android, visit www.511virginia.org, or call 511 from any phone in Virginia.
  • Give plows and treatment trucks plenty of room. Ensure that you have enough gas, wiper fluid, proper tires, medication, and an emergency car kit.

File photo

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