Arlington County courts, schools, government offices, libraries and community centers will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.
The county’s trash, recycling and yard waste collection will continue as normal despite the holiday.
Arlington County is holding its first in-person MLK Tribute event since the start of the pandemic on Sunday, as well as several volunteer events.
The U.S. real estate market is facing significant headwinds, but Arlington property assessments are continuing their march upward.
Arlington County announced today that overall assessments of residential and commercial properties rose 3.6% for 2023, compared to 3.5% for 2022. Residential values are up 4.5% while commercial values are up 2.6%.
“The increase in property values continues to show that Arlington remains a place people want to live and work,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “And it’s the revenue generated from these real estate taxes that help to fund the County’s high-quality services and public services for residents, visitors, businesses and workers.”
The average single-family home in Arlington is now assessed at $798,500, compared to $762,700 last year. The rise comes despite the local real estate market experiencing many of the challenges also seen in the national market, precipitated by rising interest rates.
The rate of property value increase, however, has slowed compared to the previous two years. Residential values were up 5.8% in 2022 and 5.6% in 2021. In 2020, residential values rose 4.3% and were outpaced by a 4.9% rise in commercial values, prior to the pandemic causing the office vacancy rate to spike and values to in turn go down.
Arlington has for years relied on a balanced residential and commercial tax base, which allows it to grow its budget and embark on large projects while keeping real estate tax rates at levels slightly below many of its Northern Virginia neighbors.
The weakness in office assessments, while offset by rises in other commercial property like hotels and apartment buildings — and bolstered by new construction — is a contributing factor what is currently projected to be a nearly $35 million budget gap.
Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is scheduled to present his proposed FY 2023-2024 budget to the County Board next month.
Local homeowners, meanwhile, will be able to view their new assessments online after 11 p.m. tonight (Friday), the county said. There is an appeal process for those who disagree with their assessments.
More on the newly-released assessments, below, from the county press release.
Arlington County officially has a new auditor.
Jim Shelton, who was previously auditor for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, was appointed by the Arlington County Board on Tuesday and slated to start work today.
Shelton’s work in Fairfax County included finding opportunities for “increasing county revenues, reducing expenditures, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of resources.” In a statement, County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said that he will help ensure “that the performance of government provides maximum value for taxpayers.”
Chris Horton, Arlington County’s independent auditor since 2016, left the post last year. It was not revealed why Horton left.
More on Shelton’s appointment from an Arlington County press release, below.
At its Organizational Meeting on January 3, 2023, the County Board appointed Jim L. Shelton as the County Auditor. Mr. Shelton will be responsible for conducting independent and comprehensive audits and reviews of County programs and operations. He will also serve as the primary staff liaison to the Audit Committee.
Under the direction of the County Board and the Audit Committee, and in parallel with the County’s internal audit function within the Department of Management and Finance, Mr. Shelton will develop annual work plans for and conduct programmatic and operational audits and reviews of County departments and operations.
Mr. Shelton brings 24 years of audit review and financial management experience to Arlington County. For the last nine years, he served as the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Auditor, managing audit work plans, conducting audit reviews, and developing recommendations focused on increasing county revenues, reducing expenditures, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of resources. “The Board is excited that Jim Shelton brings a wealth of experience that will grow and mature the Office of the County Auditor in supporting the Board’s goal of ensuring that the performance of government provides maximum value for taxpayers,” said Christian Dorsey, Chair of the Arlington County Board and Co-Chair of its Audit Committee.
Mr. Shelton holds a BS/BA in Accounting from Xavier University and an MBA from Fontbonne University. He is a Certified Risk Professional by the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) and a Virginia Government Finance Officers’ Association member.
The Board voted unanimously to approve Mr. Shelton’s contract. He will start work with the County on January 5, 2023.
Residential Permit Parking enforcement is in full swing — but some residents say they’re still waiting for their renewed permits to arrive and are concerned they will be unfairly ticketed until then.
Enforcement began yesterday (Tuesday) in Residential Permit Parking zones: residential areas near commercial corridors where residents pay for permits to ensure they have a spot on their street.
Customers have to renew their permits annually, a process that typically begins in April. Otherwise, they risk getting ticketed when the county begins looking for the new fiscal year’s permit.
Black Tuesday, 8am tomorrow. 👇👇👇👇 https://t.co/yLPBqglSQr
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) September 5, 2022
But some residents took to Nextdoor to say they were still waiting on their permits when enforcement began yesterday.
“[A]ll I got was a receipt. I don’t even have temporary parking passes and they ticket in my zone,” said one commenter.
Others reported trouble reaching county staff to track down their permit.
“I finally received my stickers after much difficulty, multiple emails, and several phone calls,” another Nextdoor user said. “What used to take minutes each year has taken me hours this year, the price has almost doubled over the past few years, and I’m penalized for having a driveway, which now makes me eligible for one less permit.”
For a handful of registrants, that was due to a delayed printing order, but for others, it’s par for the course, according to Peter Golkin, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.
“We tell residents to expect the process to take a month from application to shipping to receipt of permit materials,” he said. “Every year a number of orders are lost or damaged in the mail or are returned as undeliverable even though the address is correct on the envelope. Those orders have to be investigated and put back into a queue.”
The concerns arose despite the county delaying and extending the permit renewal period.
“The new software system for parking permits was not ready for the usual renewal season start of April 1,” Golkin said. “The software had to be fine-tuned and tested and was finally ready in May.”
The county delayed enforcement until September to account for late-summer travel.
For those without their permanent 2022-23 tags, the county is emailing 45-day, temporary passes to customers who report that their permit materials were lost or not delivered, as well as those who placed their orders after mid-August.
There are a few measures residents can take to avoid a ticket during this period.
“Most RPP residents have off-street parking available in addition to their temporary passes. We encourage those residents with off-street parking to use it if possible, and for all customers to use valid temporary passes while they wait for permit materials to arrive in the mail,” Golkin said.
Those who are worried their temporary passes will expire soon can email [email protected], call 703-228-3344 or visit the Treasurer’s Office in-person at county government headquarters in Courthouse for assistance, he said.
“If a resident is concerned that a temporary pass is about to expire before an order arrives, email [email protected] and the situation will be investigated and a new temporary pass issued if necessary,” he said.
This is the latest blip for the permit parking program. The county reported technical difficulties with its software last year, when a handful of residents with newly constructed homes risked getting ticketed because the system did not recognize their newly created addresses.
The county modified the program in February 2021, reducing available permits for households with driveways, raising fees for additional vehicles and visitor permits while lowering prices for low-income residents, and allowing some multi-family buildings to join the program.
An idea to institute paid, two-hour parking in RPP zones was nixed after pushback from residents and some members of the Planning Commission.
Arlington County is launching an initiative to make sure all kids have a trusted adult they can talk to.
Dubbed the “Askable Adult initiative,” the program will help to provide “access to adults who listen, provide support and understanding, and answer questions without judgment,” according to a press release.
It is being launched by Project PEACE, the county’s effort to respond to intimate partner and sexual violence, after a recent Arlington Public Schools survey revealed that fewer than half — 42% — of middle and high school students “talk with an adult at home about what matters to them most frequently or almost always.”
A series of workshops are scheduled this fall, starting on Saturday, Sept. 17, for adults interested in helping to support middle and high school-aged youth. The initiative will also be promoted at this week’s Arlington County Fair.
The full press release about the initiative is below.
Access to adults who listen, provide support and understanding, and answer questions without judgment increases youth resiliency. It’s with this goal that Arlington’s Project PEACE is launching the Askable Adult initiative to ensure every young person in Arlington County has at least one supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult–an “askable adult”–in their life.
Project PEACE, Arlington’s Coordinated Community Response to Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence, and its partners believe that everyone has a role to play in supporting the health and well-being of children and youth in our community. The most common factor for youth who develop resilience to stress and adversity is having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.
The U.S. Surgeon General recently announced that youth mental health is a national public health crisis. Mental health struggles increase in times of stress, and stressors have skyrocketed with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the same prevention strategies that promote mental health–such as helping youth feel connected–help prevent a range of negative experiences, such as child abuse, bullying, suicide, and violence. Ultimately, youth challenges cannot be addressed solely in isolation but rather through the shared efforts of young people, their families, local communities, private organizations, and all levels of government.
An askable adult is an individual a young person has identified as willing and able to listen, provide support and understanding, and answer questions without judgment. Askable adults encourage positive youth development so that they are empowered to reach their full potential.
The latest data from Arlington Public Schools’ Spring 2020 6th-12thGrade Student Survey reveals that only 42% of Arlington middle and high school students talk with an adult at home about what matters to them most frequently or almost always. The Askable Adult initiative aims to help adults in Arlington step into that role.
The Arlington Askable Adult initiative includes the following components:
- Ongoing Becoming More Askable workshops beginning this fall to support hands-on learning for individuals, groups, and organizations.
- An Askable Adult mobile brochure, published by Project PEACE and its partners Second Chance and the Arlington Foundation for Families and Youth, offers strategies to strengthen skills for being askable and provides local resources to aid in the journey. The brochure is accessible in four languages (English, Spanish, Mongolian, and Amharic) and can be distributed freely to any community.
- A website with regularly updated information, resources to enhance skills and strengthen support, and ways to become involved with the Askable Adult initiative.
The Arlington County Askable Adult initiative will launch to the public at the 2022 Arlington County Fair during the weekend of August 19-21.
About Project PEACE:
Arlington County’s Project PEACE (Partnering to End Abuse in the Community for Everyone) is a coordinated response dedicated to advancing the most effective and efficient array of education, prevention, protection, and support services to end intimate partner and sexual violence in the Arlington community.
Image via Arlington County
A man accused of robbing a security guard in Courthouse was arrested in front of Arlington police headquarters Tuesday night.
The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and started inside an office building lobby on the 2100 block of Clarendon Blvd. Arlington County government headquarters is the only office building on that exact block.
“The suspect was inside the lobby of an office building when the security guard informed him that the building was closed,” said an ACPD crime report. “A verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect allegedly pushed the security guard to the ground and stole her flashlight before fleeing the scene on foot.”
The security guard followed the suspect a short distance and flagged down police on the 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road, the same block as ACPD headquarters. Officers “took [the suspect] into custody without incident.”
“The victim sustained minor injuries and declined the treatment of medics,” the crime report noted.
A police spokeswoman declined to confirm to ARLnow whether the alleged robbery happened inside the county government building.
“ACPD reports criminal incidents by block number as to not directly or indirectly identify victims and reporting parties,” said Ashley Savage.
The 38-year-old suspect, who has no fixed address, has been charged with robbery, police said. Court records show no prior criminal history in Arlington, though a man of the same name and age has been arrested several times in Rhode Island, records posted online show.
Arlington is returning to the pre-pandemic process for restaurants to apply for outdoor tents, a move that has left at least a couple of local restaurants unhappy.
For the last two years, the county has made an effort to streamline the application process for outdoor tents as part of helping restaurants set up temporary outdoor seating areas, or TOSAs.
Back in December, however, the process for applying for outdoor tents was separated from the TOSA process, which was recently extended to February 2023. Arlington, meanwhile, is letting its Covid state of emergency expire on Aug. 15.
“The application process is returning to the pre-pandemic process that has always been in place. The process for tents was streamlined to help businesses during the pandemic,” County spokesperson Jessica Baxter tells ARLnow. “As they were before the pandemic, applications for tents must be submitted via the temporary structure/tent here. The guidelines for tents remain the same and have not changed.”
Those guidelines are enforced by the Arlington County Fire Department and fire marshall. Among the rules: a tent cannot be larger than 900 square feet and there needs to be a separate permit and inspections for gas heaters.
There is also a limitation on how long an outdoor temporary tent can be up: only six months (180 days) out of the year. What’s more, a business can’t apply for another permit to put up another tent until a six-month period has lapsed since the last tent was taken down.
These rules exist, said Baxter, because of the statewide fire code and there’s not much the county can do.
“The six-month temporary tent allowance is part of the Virginia Statewide Fire Code, which the County is required to follow. If an applicant wishes to make the tent more permanent, they can apply for a building permit and enter that process,” she wrote. “At this time, no tents should be up, with the exception of restaurants that received a building permit and single, pop-up tents smaller than 120 square feet.”
Of course, the fire code seems to be in conflict with the desire of many to dine outdoors, while being protected from the elements. With the state health department still reporting more than 100 Covid infections per day in Arlington, eating outside is widely viewed as a less risky alternative to indoor dining.
Baxter said the county is “actively working to create longer-term solutions that offer permanent outdoor dining options,” but temporary outdoor tents are not part of that effort because of the restrictions laid out in the fire code.
With most of the outdoor tents coming down in December, many businesses could have started reapplying for outdoor tents for the upcoming fall and winter season in June.
But reverting to a pre-pandemic process and guidelines has left a couple of restaurants that talked with ARLnow confused, frustrated, and at a loss on how to explain this to customers.
One is Medium Rare, the local steak restaurant with locations in Maryland, D.C., and one in Arlington’s Virginia Square neighborhood.
In the previous pandemic years, the restaurant did have an outdoor tent for diners, but Medium Rare had to take it down this past December, said owner Mark Bucher.
He told ARLnow that compared to other local jurisdictions, Arlington’s TOSA process, as well as the one to apply for outdoor tents, is “complicated and cumbersome.”
Bucher also wondered what the logic was behind the directive that a restaurant a tent had to come down after six months.
“Arlington has always been so restaurant-friendly, so this goes against everything,” he said. “Why put up a tent, take it down, and pay to put it back up again?”
As the weather turns cooler again, and as Covid and other respiratory diseases ramp up, customers are going to want to sit outside in a heated tent, he said. But Bucher worries that a number of restaurants are not going to go through the process to get a temporary tent again, and diners are going to take their business to other nearby jurisdictions.
For his part, Bucher said Medium Rare in Virginia Square will not be reapplying to put up an outdoor tent.
Arlington Resident Moving to San Diego — Baseball superstar Juan Soto, who recently moved to Arlington, has been traded by the Nats to the San Diego Padres. He’ll presumably take with him some photos and art that were framed at a Clarendon frame store. [MLB]
Fairfax Barricade Ends — Updated at 9:25 a.m. — A man reportedly barricaded in a condo with a rifle near Lake Barcroft has been taken into custody. The barricade situation prompted a Fairfax County police helicopter to circle over parts of Arlington for hours. [FFXnow, Twitter]
County Getting Part of Opioid Settlement — “It’s not a princely sum, but cash is cash and the Arlington County government is set to receive its share of a new payment based on a legal settlement with a number of opioid distributors… Of the first settlement payout, about $9.94 million will go to the state government’s Opioid Abatement Authority and about $4.07 million will be distributed to localities. Arlington is entitled to 1.378 percent of that latter figure, which works out to $56,034.” [Sun Gazette]
Ballston Quarter Gets Small Tax Break — “Owners of the Ballston Quarter retail-restaurant-and-entertainment complex came away from a recent Board of Equalization hearing with a very partial victory, as that body reduced the property’s assessed valuation but not nearly as much as its owners had sought. On a unanimous vote, Board of Equalization members on July 13 voted to reduce the assessment rate – which is used to calculate the property’s annual tax bill – from $91.1 million as determined by staff to $86.7 million.” [Sun Gazette]
Va. Sens. Celebrate Vets Bill — “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated Senate passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 following obstruction efforts by Senate Republicans last week. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs.” [Sen. Mark Warner]
YHS Grads Makes Youth National Team — “Yorktown High School graduate Lauren Flynn was named to the U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team soccer roster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica from Aug. 10-28.” [Sun Gazette]
Feedback Sought for Eco Plan — “Arlington County would like your input on the draft Forestry and Natural Resources Plan. To assure future generations of Arlingtonians enjoy the benefits of nature, the County must identify what needs are urgent, what are aspirational, and how each can be addressed through both long-term initiatives, incremental change and immediate action.” [Arlington County]
Crash in D.C. Shut Down Chain Bridge — From WTOP’s Dave Dildine: “Chain Bridge closed both ways along with Canal Road and Clara Barton Parkway at the bridge. A crash occurred when traffic signals were malfunctioning. Witnesses say an officer was struck under the malfunctioning signals. These lights fall out of phase frequently.” [Twitter]
It’s Wednesday — Another hot and humid day. High of 90 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:13 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]
Bank Booting Xmas Tree Sale from Lot — “Optimist members tell 7News On Your Side that [Wells Fargo] bank officials told them in late 2021 that their parking lot would not be available to the Optimists for liability reasons. This concern was bewildering to club members as they say over the years they’ve never had any serious accidents or issues. The Optimists are now scrambling to find another space.” [WJLA]
Real Estate Agents Making Less — “Northern Virginia Realtors shared roughly $30 million less in compensation during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2021 despite rising home prices, according to a new Sun Gazette analysis. Year-over-year sales for the first half of 2022 were down 12.2 percent, according to figures reported by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.” [Sun Gazette]
Expanded Bikeshare Station in Ballston — From Capital Bikeshare: “Our teams have expanded and replaced the station at Glebe Rd & 11th St N in Arlington. Happy riding!” [Twitter]
Firefighters Rescue Stuck Bird — “The Arlington Fire and Rescue Department helped save a blue jay stuck in a tree on Monday — and the video is heartwarming. The bird appeared to have a piece of plastic material wrapped around its leg.” [WJLA, Twitter]
Arlington Seeks Feedback on Bay Plan — “The County is updating its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Plan, which speaks to effective land use management practices as required by the state. Read on, chime in.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Local Company Making New Acquisition — “Evolent Health Inc. is taking steps to expand its arsenal of services for health care providers, starting with an acquisition that will move it into the lucrative area of musculoskeletal care. The Arlington company, which helps health systems and insurance companies manage their costs and improve care, charges into the second half of 2022 on the cusp of closing its purchase of Alpharetta, Georgia’s IPG.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Burger Restaurant at DCA — “Elevation Burger has opened a new restaurant in Terminal E at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington. Founded in 2002, Elevation Burger uses USDA-certified organic, 100-percent grass-fed beef and fresh-cut fries cooked in heart-healthy olive oil.” [Patch]
It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]
Members of the public can weigh in on proposed improvements to a stretch of S. George Mason Drive that’s being studied.
The road renovation project from Arlington Blvd to the Fairfax County border is part of the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study, which aims to “identify improvements” along this “key corridor,” according to the project’s website.
Residents can provide online feedback on proposed design concepts through Sunday, Aug. 7.
The stretch of the roadway being studied is divided into three segments:
- between Arlington Blvd and Columbia Pike
- between Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
- between S. Four Mile Run Drive and the Fairfax County border
Earlier this month, the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services released its preliminary designs for the three road segments. The first option for all three segments would separate cyclists and cars into different lanes on both sides of the road, and widen the sidewalks and the vegetation buffers on both sides to six feet, according to the concept plans.
However, this design would increase the number of lanes pedestrians have to cross, as well as remove sections of on-street parking and require additional right-of-way behind the curb. Buses would also have to enter the bike lane to pick up passengers, instead of pulling up to the curb, according to an online community meeting.
The second option for the segment from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike would widen the west side sidewalk to a 12-foot, multi-use trail and the east sidewalk to six feet. It would also narrow the driving lanes while keeping the parking lane on the east side. The new multi-use trail would connect several county parks, such as Alcova Heights Park and trails like the Arlington Boulevard Trail.
However, this design would remove parking on the west side and require signal phasing changes to reduce conflict with people on the multi-use trail.
The second design option for the segment from Columbia Pike to S. Four Mile Run Drive would be largely similar except it would keep the two parking lanes on both sides of the road.
The second design plan for the third road segment would narrow all the driving lanes between S. Four Mile Run and the Fairfax County border to 11 feet and the central median to 14 feet, but it would widen the vegetation buffers on both sides and the sidewalk on the west side to a 12-foot, multi-use trail.
However, this plan may result in tree removal due to narrowing the central median, as well as the removal of some parking spots at intersections and driveways. The county would need to consider more design details, such as how the new road would interact with the driveways of houses along the road segment.
The corridor study is set to conclude between October and November this year. The county then plans to apply for grant funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
Photos via Google Maps
The news this morning brought a good reminder that Covid is very much still circulating.
President Biden has tested positive for the virus and is receiving antiviral treatment and has “very mild” symptoms, the White House said. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) was among those wishing the president well.
Best wishes to @POTUS for a swift and full recovery. I appreciate that he is setting a good example by following the science and the public health advice to avoid putting others at risk. Covid is still here, and modeling responsible behavior is a key function of leadership.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) July 21, 2022
In Arlington, meanwhile, the average number of daily Covid infections has remained remarkably steady over the past month, in contrast to the ups and downs of the past 2+ years.
As of today the county is seeing a seven-day moving average of 124 cases per day. Weekly Covid-related hospital admissions are up slightly from earlier this month, from 5.9 to 6.3 weekly admissions per 100,000 residents, according to CDC data.
Arlington’s test positivity rate is still above 20% — it’s 20.7% as of this morning — amid continued low rates of PCR-based testing, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.
Covid might not be going away any time soon, but Arlington County’s Local Emergency Declaration, made in response to the pandemic, is.
The declaration is being sunsetted as of Aug. 15, County Manager Mark Schwartz announced at Tuesday’s County Board meeting. That will mean a return to more in-person county commission meetings and a need for County Board action to allow expanded outdoor restaurant seating areas past February 2023.
Schwartz declared a local emergency on March 13, 2020. It was approved by the Board the next day.
More from a county press release:
County Manager Mark Schwartz announced the end of the Local Emergency Declaration on Aug. 15, 2022. The declaration was established to assist in the response and recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration allowed the County to shift to virtual operations, including online permitting, appointments, remote inspections, County Board and Commission meetings, as well as public comment.
A few highlights as the County moves beyond the local emergency declaration:
Virtual and Hybrid Commission and Advisory Board Meetings
A new Virginia Electronics Meeting Policy goes into effect September 1, 2022, that will offer additional flexibility for hosting virtual and hybrid meetings. This new policy offers most of our Commission and Advisory Boards the option to conduct an all-virtual meeting two times (or 25 percent of all meetings) annually and allows for remote participation for the public and individual Commission Members on exception.
Temporary Outdoor Seating Areas (TOSAs) for Outdoor Dining
During the pandemic, the County stood up TOSAs as an emergency response to indoor dining restrictions and to provide an expedited process for new or expanded outdoor seating at restaurants. Many people have enjoyed outdoor dining with family, friends, and colleagues and these provisions have been critical to restaurant owners for business operations during this time.
Even with the ending of the state of emergency, the TOSA permissions continue under the Continuity of Government Ordinance for another six months through February 2023. Over the next six months, the County will be working to create longer-term solutions that apply the lessons learned from TOSAs to permanent zoning regulations for outdoor seating. The County Manager will provide an update to the County Board in November.