Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Robbery at Lyon Park 7-Eleven — “At approximately 2:30 a.m. on January 3, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that two suspects entered a business and forced two employees behind the counter. Suspect One displayed an object that appeared to be a knife, pushed an employee towards the cash register and forced him to open it, then stole an undisclosed amount of cash and other merchandise.” [Arlington County]

Basketball Refs Still Haven’t Been Paid — “Having been rapped for a lethargic response, Arlington government leaders appear to be ramping up efforts to resolve a lingering dispute over missing payments to referees in the county’s youth-basketball leagues. ‘We will get this done ASAP – by Feb. 1 at the latest,’ said County Board member Matt de Ferranti, who in recent months has been involved in the effort to sort out the situation and get the referees paid.” [InsideNova]

Firefighters Watch ‘Bachelor’ Premiere — “What do firefighters do when it’s late and there’s a break between calls? They have a @BachelorABC viewing party, of course! And in case of any ‘turbulence,’ we are always ready to respond!” [Twitter]

Tracking Bachelor Reaction in Clarendon — Former Bachelorette contestant Chris Bukowski, writing from his Clarendon bar: “At @BracketRoomVA for a viewing party and Hannah B easily got the biggest ovation when she came out of the limo. #TheBachelor” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Developer Pitches New Clarendon Apartment Building — “Orr Partners is pitching a new mixed-use building in Clarendon, seeking to redevelop a small property behind the neighborhood’s popular Silver Diner… the project will not include the redevelopment of the nearby The Lot beer garden or the Silver Diner, though rumors have long persisted that those have been targeted for changes.” [Washington Business Journal]

Most County Offices, Facilities Closed Today — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed Tues. Dec. 24 – Weds., Dec. 25, 2019, for Christmas, as well as New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, 2020… Metered [parking] areas not enforced.” [Arlington County]

Story of a Neighborhood Christmas Tree — This year, the Williamsburg Traffic Circle Christmas tree is back, thanks to contributions from local merchants. [Washington Post]

What Local Papers Were Reporting on in 1957 — “The Arlington Council of Churches was deploring grocery stores open on Sundays. A teen advice column titled ‘Help Unpopular Girls When They Cling’ was published alongside a puzzling comic strip called ‘Scorchy Smith.’ Ads touted ‘Exciting new rambler and split-level’ homes for $14,250 and 1957 Ford sedans for $239.50.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Media Spotlight on Arlington Buttigieg Supporter — “In a recent email exchange with a wealthy prospective donor, a top fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made an offer that was unusually blunt — even by modern pay-to-play standards. ‘If you want to get on the campaign’s radar now before he is flooded with donations after winning Iowa and New Hampshire, you can use the link below for donations,’ the fundraiser” wrote. [Axios]

UPS Driver Saves Christmas — “Darryl found my son’s phone and saved Xmas! He reminded my son to have faith in the many good people in the world.” [Twitter]

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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Could legalizing duplexes and triplexes in certain areas be a way to provide more affordable, middle-income housing in Arlington?

That’s what Arlington County will trying to determine with a new “Missing Middle Housing Study.”

In announcing the study, the county pushed back on the assertion — made by some activists —  that it was looking to eliminate single-family zoning entirely, as was done in Minneapolis. Instead, county staff said that “neither an across-the-board rezoning, nor an elimination of single-family zoning, would be the right fit for Arlington.”

The study will explore whether allowing more types of housing could “address the shortage of housing supply in Arlington” and will determine where the new housing types could be allowed so as to be “compatible with existing neighborhoods.”

The study — part of the overall Housing Arlington initiative — is expected to begin in 2020.

Meanwhile, a statewide missing middle housing bill has been proposed. HB 152, introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates by a Northern Virginia legislator, proposes requiring “all localities to allow development or redevelopment of ‘middle housing’ residential units upon each lot zoned for single-family residential use.”

The press release on the Arlington County housing study is below, after the jump.

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(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) Arlington County has hired Telly Tucker, head of economic development for the City of Danville, in southern Virginia, as the new Director of Arlington Economic Development.

The announcement follows the departure of a trio of top economic development officials from AED this year, including former director Victor Hoskins and interim director Alex Iams, both poached by Fairfax County, as well as Christina Winn, who left for Prince William County.

In an announcement early Thursday evening, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said Tucker “has a track record of bringing job-creating businesses to Virginia communities.”

“My colleagues on the Board, and I look forward to working with him to continue building on our success in attracting and growing high-quality businesses, both large and small, to Arlington,” Dorsey said.

Tucker’s hire was the result  an extensive search, the county said, lauding his creativity and knack for building regional partnerships.

A biography of Tucker on the City of Danville’s website says he is a Lynchburg native, a James Madison University graduate and an accomplished pianist.

Telly Tucker currently serves the Director of Economic Development for the City of Danville, Virginia. He is responsible for leading the Economic Development efforts for the City with a staff of 4 full-time employees and one Economic Development Consultant. Tucker also serves as staff to the Danville Industrial Development Authority and staff to the Danville-Pittsylvania County Regional Facility Authority. He serves on the Board of the Virginia Economic Developers Association, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and the Danville-Pittsylvania County Business Development Center. In 2014, Tucker received the Certified Economic Development (CEcD) designation granted by the International Economic Development Council in Washington D.C.

Prior to his current post in Danville, Tucker served as the Assistant Director of Economic Development in James City County, Virginia, Community Development Administrator the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development in Richmond, Virginia, and Economic Development Specialist for the City of Lynchburg, Virginia. During his time in Lynchburg,

Prior to 2007, Tucker spent three years as an educator in Lynchburg City Schools teaching Spanish, and SOL remediation while also coaching football and basketball at Sanduksy Middle School.

Tucker is an accomplished pianist, Padewreski Medal Award recipient, and has served in music director roles in the cities of Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and Hampton, Virginia.

He is a Lynchburg native and a 1997 graduate of E.C. Glass High School and obtained his Bachelors of Business Administration in International Business and Spanish from James Madison University in 2004.

The full announcement from Arlington County, after the jump.

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An editorial in the Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper last week, on the topic of single-family zoning, seems to suggest that renters are ill-informed and should have less of a say than homeowners.

Those who live in Arlington’s single-family neighborhoods traditionally have dominated the direction of local governance. They are the ones who have controlled the selection of local officials and then, through activism, ensured public policy proceeds the way they desire.

But if Arlington’s 2019 election season taught us anything, it was that – given enough cash to barrage apartment-dwellers with campaign mailers of questionable veracity – it’s possible to sway those folks (who often have short-term interests in a community they do not plan to live in forever) to get out and vote in races that previously had been of purely local import.

“Be prepared: The ‘woke’ culture that was swayed to enact purported criminal-justice reform will be gunning for others – perhaps even single-family neighborhoods – next,” the editorial concludes.

The debate over whether the “Arlington Way” — the catch-all term for the county’s system of community engagement — advantages certain types of residents over others occasionally flares up in the halls of local government.

Generally, the most engaged tend to be homeowners, older residents and people outraged about a particular proposal. Renters, younger residents, those who are generally satisfied with local government but not passionate about it, and those busy with work and/or family are less likely to serve on commissions or wait to speak at Saturday morning County Board meetings.

In a democratic election, one vote counts as much as the other, but once elected, officials are able to set their own priorities. As seen in the Sun Gazette editorial, some feel that those who have invested in a community — homeowners — should generally be given more of a voice than those who haven’t put down roots.

What do you think?

Photo courtesy @dcaman

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Applications to receive a grant from Arlington’s Tree Canopy Fund are now being accepted.

The community program funds grants for a county-administered contractor to plant a tree on private property.

New for spring 2020, the Tree Canopy Fund will also sponsor grants for property owners who may have issues with utility lines and/or have tighter yard space.

Per the application website, those eligible to apply for and receive trees include:

  • Civic and homeowner associations
  • Community nonprofit organizations
  • Civic service clubs
  • School-related groups planting on private property
  • Ad hoc neighborhood groups
  • Individuals
  • Places of worship

Those who received tree grants from previous years and now have trees that are “not thriving” can also submit requests for their tree to be considered for a warranty replacement.

The applications are due next month on Friday, December 20.

The Tree Canopy Fund was launched in 2009, after approval from the Arlington County Board two years prior. Per its website, the fund was founded with the “goals of arresting the decline and restoring and increasing the County’s tree cover over time.” Since 2009, over 1,213 trees have been planted.

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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In time for the holiday season, but before there’s any measurable snow in the forecast, Arlington officials have unveiled a new snow plowing map intended to track snow clearing activity in the county.

The map is the successor to a previous online snow cleaning map — which didn’t work correctly, caused confusion following a blizzard in 2016 and was ultimately removed from the county website.

The new map is not perfect, County Manager Mark Schwartz acknowledged during a presentation at Tuesday’s County Board meeting, but should prove useful and reflects an “innovation culture” in county government.

The map does not represent whether a street is clear of snow, but instead shows snow plow activity down to the street level. It also links to Arlington’s traffic cameras.

The map is not currently active and will have other limitations during snow events. It displays data on a 15 minute delay, for instance, and will not reflect activity by plows contracted by the county to respond to major snowfalls.

County officials touted other snow response changes during the meeting, including the use of new electric salt spreaders, which are said to be easier to use and maintain while also being more environmentally friendly than the old gasoline-powered spreaders.

The full Arlington County press release about its Winter 2019-2020 initial snow preparations is below, after the jump.

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Across Northern Virginia, oak trees have started dying in significant numbers — including in Arlington.

The decline, formally called “oak dieback,” has been the subject of research and speculation for months by naturalists.

In a fact sheet produced in collaboration with groups including the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, experts cite the stress of recent droughts and extreme storms, along with construction damage, as potential causes for the dieback.

However, “oak decline is a complex disease with no single causal agent,” writes Lori Chamberlin of the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Currently, county officials are directing concerned residents to use prevention methods on their trees, and to be careful of how they treat trees without an accurate disease diagnosis.

Nora Palmatier of the Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria offered the following advice for trying to fend off tree decline:

  • Avoiding damage to trees, caused by anything from landscaping to rebuilding a home
  • Water trees during dry spells
  • Revitalize the soil with wood chips

Some of the troubled oak trees are on Arlington’s list of “Champion Trees.” Elizabeth Grossman, a representative from the Arlington Tree Action Group, said the county should be held more accountable for its oak tree loss.

“I’ve lived in Arlington Forest almost 30 years, and the rate of tree decline is alarming — I’ve lost two mature oaks this summer and are the first two trees I have lost in all the years I’ve lived here,” Grossman said, pointing to the Arlington Forest neighborhood and the area around Lubber Run as two particularly damaged spots.

“Arlington County has done nothing more than put out the document you have identified, and it is not particularly useful,” Grossman said.

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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The Arlington County Board will soon vote on whether to spend over $700,000 upgrading the County Manager’s Office.

Member are scheduled to vote on the proposed renovation to the third floor office suite in the Bozman building (2100 Clarendon Blvd) during their meeting this Saturday, November 16.

If members vote to approve the project, the county will award $631,535 to Manassas-based Juniper Construction Company, Inc, plus an additional $126,307 for unanticipated costs.

A staff report to the Board indicates that the contract would fund upgrades to:

  • Create a “joint reception area” for the County Manager and County Board offices as well as a new “huddle room”
  • Several “open office concept work spaces” for staffers
  • Renovated conference rooms on the 3rd floor
  • “New finishes” in the offices and hallway

As of today (Thursday), the item is listed on the Board’s consent agenda, a place usually reserved for issues members expect to pass without debate.

The work is funded by a tenant improvement allowance negotiated as part of the county’s lease renewal and is part of a larger project to renovate the local government headquarters.

“The total project budget for the Bozman Government Center Renovation Project is $23.5M with the 3rd Floor CMO Suite renovation at $757,842.17,” the report notes.

Recently, the Board approved a multimillion dollar contract to replace the heating system at the county’s jail and courthouse building.

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Morning Notes

It’s Veterans Day — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed Mon., Nov. 11, 2019, on Veterans Day.” Also, ARLnow will be on a limited publishing schedule. [Arlington County]

Fracture in Ranks of Arlington Dems — “Longtime Democratic volunteer John Richardson removed his name from the roster of ‘poll greeters,’ bemoaning party ‘orthodoxy.’ After last May’s divisive primary for commonwealth’s attorney, Richardson went public with criticisms of the successful outside-funded Parisa Deghani-Tafti campaign against incumbent Theo Stamos. That led party officials, he said, to ‘disinvite’ him from being a greeter.” [Falls Church News-Press]

County Releases Flood History Map — “Working toward a more Flood Resilient Arlington, the County continues to add to its array of stormwater management resources for the public. Challenges and the Path Forward, a just-published, visually rich Story Map, illustrates how Arlington’s peak 20th century development took place amid few standards for stormwater — and the ramifications for today’s more frequent, intense rain storms lasting very short periods of time.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Skyline Complex Acquired — “A New York-based commercial real estate firm has acquired the aging Skyline office complex in Baileys Crossroads for about $215 million with plans to revitalize the 1970s-era property Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) relinquished ownership of nearly three years ago.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Just a few months into the county’s “Housing Arlington” initiative, Arlington’s Housing Director is retiring.

David Cristeal is stepping down after 15 years with the county, including six as Housing Director. Cristeal was elevated to the position in 2013 after a nationwide search.

At the time, he won plaudits from then-County Manager Barbara Donnellan for “working successfully with Arlington community members and non-profit partners to plan and preserve affordable housing.”

On Thursday, a county spokeswoman said Cristeal was retiring, after an inquiry from ARLnow about a job ad on the Washington Post website. His last day will be next Friday, the spokeswoman said.

From the job listing:

Arlington County’s Community Planning, Housing and Development is seeking a dynamic, energetic, and innovative Housing Director. This is a unique opportunity to work on a variety of housing solutions for one of the country’s most densely populated and well-educated communities. Recently, Arlington County has attracted new and expanding companies that have or will be bringing tens of thousands of new, high paying jobs to the County over the coming decade. This significant influx of workers will further stress the region’s already competitive housing market.

Duties include:

  • Implementing a new Housing Arlington initiative through a multi-department effort, while remaining responsible for other housing programs and initiatives that serve a diverse community;
  • Providing regional solutions to solve the complex challenge of serving the growing needs of the low and moderate-income residents in the County;
  • Developing strategies to increase supply for low income residents and moderate-income residents who are also impacted by increasing housing prices; and
  • Providing comprehensive approach to meeting housing needs, which is vital for economic sustainability, diversity, and quality of life.

The ad was posted on Thursday and lists an annual salary range of $101,150.40-$197,163.20.

The Housing Arlington initiative aims to create more housing — particularly for low- and middle-income residents — to help accommodate anticipated population growth. Earlier this year Arlington County reported that it had lost 17,000 market-rate affordable housing units since 2005 and was expecting 58,000 more residents by 2045.

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