A group formed to address noise issues associated with National Airport says allowing more and longer flights is a bad idea.
A bill introduced last week in Congress would “allow 28 more flights daily and permit airlines to offer more long-distance service out of National Airport, where federal rules allow only a handful of flights to operate beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter,” the Washington Post reported.
A subsequent (unscientific) ARLnow poll found that just over 50% of respondents “definitely” support the bill, while another 15% support it with reservations. But the DCA Community Noise Working Group said Tuesday in a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation that it “strongly objects to any changes to the DCA perimeter rule.”
“DCA was designed as a regional airport and is situated in the middle of densely populated and noise-sensitive residential areas,” the group wrote. “While expanding the perimeter to permit non-stop flights to cities such as San Antonio or El Paso may benefit a limited few in terms of convenience, many thousands more D.C. area residents would suffer the negative impacts of those flights.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tells ARLnow that local lawmakers have expressed objections to the bill.
The bill “would dangerously overload DCA’s operational capacity and the very significant noise impact on the area,” said Aaron Fritschner, Beyer’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
“There’s a reason this bill is getting pushed by people who represent Delta [Air Lines] hubs over the objections of people who actually work with [the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority] and the local community to strike the balance for the different things people want from DC’s airport system,” he added.
Arlington, D.C., Montgomery County (Md.) and Alexandria residents, especially those who live along flight paths near the Potomac, have long engaged in a tug of war over aircraft noise associated with National Airport. The complaints have led to noise studies, tweaks in flight paths, and — last year — a provision in a law, inserted by Beyer, that calls for NASA to accelerate work on quieter and more climate-friendly aviation technology.
The full letter from the Community Noise Working Group is below.
The federal government says it will direct helicopters to fly higher and on new paths to spare residents of Arlington and neighboring locales from excessive noise.
These changes respond to years of noise complaints about helicopters buzzing overhead, many of which are going to and from the Pentagon.
The new measures were announced yesterday (Tuesday) morning at a press conference at the Fairlington Community Center. The event featured remarks from elected officials, federal agency representatives and the helicopter industry, which were later included in a press release from U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
“Since I took office over eight years ago, helicopter noise has been a constant source of complaints from constituents across Northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “Here in the nation’s capital with military, medical, commercial and other aviation, aircraft noise will always be with us — but there are things we can do to help reduce the impact on residents.”
He said the actions taken yesterday directly respond to community input.
“I thank the many people whose efforts helped inform the actions we are announcing today, as well as our partners across levels of government who are acting to reduce helicopter noise in Northern Virginia,” he said.
Meanwhile, a system for logging complaints — developed last year from recommendations in a 2021 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report — will be sticking around so residents can continue filing complaints.
Arlington County and neighboring jurisdictions will jointly pay to keep the complaint system operating.
Local elected officials in attendance included Arlington County Board members Katie Cristol, Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantonis and Vice-Chair Libby Garvey, who gave a speech.
“We are especially pleased that our residents could participate meaningfully in this process, and now will continue to,” she said. “In a democracy it is crucial that people have a voice in how their government affects them.”
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said the system is “far more than a nicety to assuage frustrated residents.”
“This tool gathered data that was used by the [Federal Aviation Association] to make important changes that will mitigate helicopter noise across our region,” he said. “Our residents weren’t just listened to — they were heard.”
The FAA reviewed data the system collected last year as well as studied by the GAO, Arlington and Montgomery counties, and the Dept. of Defense, which suggested helicopters could fly higher.
After studying this body of work, the FAA and the Helicopter Association International decided to draft new, higher flight patterns.
“It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we’re all in the same room with the same access to information and working toward the same goal,” Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Policy, International Affairs and Environment Peter Hearding said in a statement.
Jeff Smith, Chair of the Helicopter Association International Board of Directors, agreed.
“Best practices from this program, along with the data collected from this new initiative, can and will make a noticeable difference in this community,” he said. “This pilot program is a perfect case study for how government and industry can work together to address issues and deliver tangible results.”
In his remarks, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Real Property, Ronald Tickle, said the Pentagon is committed to being a good neighbor.
“The Department looks forward to further collaboration to mitigate helicopter noise in the National Capital Region, while continuing to meet mission requirements,” Tickle said.
Since last fall, residents in the 22204 zip code, which includes a large swath of south Arlington around Columbia Pike, say they’ve been getting their mail two to three times a week or not at all.
“Our mail delivery in 22204 had been irregular, sporadic or often non existent for past 5 or so years,” writes resident Nancy Miller. “Frustration abounds! Meanwhile in other Zip Codes in Arlington, mail delivery has not been a problem.”
While this wave of complaints started last fall, Douglas Park neighborhood in particular has had a history of spotty service. Problems back in 2015 are the same problems the neighborhood has today: staffing and topography. Many of the residents who spoke with ARLnow for this story live in that area.
There have been reports of “perennially” bad service in the Ballston and Virginia Square neighborhoods as well, supposedly because it is considered a training route.
“U.S. Mail delivery is in crisis in Douglas Park, after many years of inconsistent service,” resident Rebecca Kraft says.
The issue can, in part, be chalked up to staffing, says Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has been engaging with residents about the mail issue for a number of years.
“The main issues leadership at Arlington branches have raised to us recently are hiring and retention,” he said. “They specifically point to losing workforce to private competitors because of differences in pay and benefits. Rep. Beyer cosponsored legislation to boost recruitment and retention for this reason.”
Recruitment and retention might be expected to be a more widespread problem, resulting in mail delivery issues in other neighborhoods, but the complaints ARLnow has seen online were mainly concentrated in certain neighborhoods within the 22204 zip code and at the post office at 1210 S. Glebe Road.
The intractable problem has to do with topography, according to Douglas Park resident Thomas Schaad. The last house on a hilly, residential route with few businesses and apartment buildings, he said when they did receive mail, it was late in the evening.
“The postmaster basically told us the routes are antiquated in terms of how they’re laid out, but they can’t be changed,” Schaad said. “As a result there are some routes that are good, and others that are considered ‘bad,’ the ones nobody wants.”
Another neighbor, who just wanted to be referred to as Molly, said “we’re pretty much chopped liver.”
Mail carriers bid for their routes based on seniority, and the more difficult routes, with more houses or hills or walking, are typically assigned last. Improving the routes requires a study with recommendations, which may happen but likely not until the end of this year, depending on funding. A study was planned for 2020 but got axed due to Covid.
“Until the last two weeks, when it improved to daily delivery, we were getting someone who had completed their route and had come back and been told to finish this route,” Schaad said. “During the Christmas holiday season, they couldn’t hire anyone… the employment pool was being absorbed for the holiday rush by private entities, and the post office suffered in terms of hiring.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has secured $2.25 million in federal funding for stormwater infrastructure projects in Arlington.
The funding was part of a bipartisan omnibus government funding bill that passed the House of Representatives and the Senate last Thursday, three days before Christmas.
“I am proud to announce that bipartisan legislation which will soon pass into law includes funding I secured for worthy projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County,” Beyer said in a statement.
The omnibus appropriations bill helps pay for each of Beyer’s fifteen community project funding requests. Four requests were partially funded in Arlington.
It awards $750,000 for stormwater projects in the Gulf Branch watershed downstream of Military Road and in the Lower Long Branch Watershed along S. Walter Reed Drive. These will include a mix of “gray” infrastructure, such as culverts and storage tanks, and “green infrastructure,” or nature-based solutions.
“The Project will treat and store polluted stormwater runoff, reduce impervious coverage, and mitigate climate vulnerability,” the county said in its request, reprinted on Beyer’s website.
Another $1.5 million will fund rehabilitations of segments of two sanitary sewer interceptor pipes. Interceptor pipes “intercept” the flow from smaller pipes and funnel stormwater and sewage to a treatment plant.
The county requested $2 million to rehabilitate 5,876 linear feet of a 30-inch pipe that runs from Arlington Blvd to Sparrow Pond. The pond is slated to be rehabilitated next year. The pipe, constructed through the Four Mile Run stream valley in 1975, serves the East Falls Church neighborhood as well as parts of the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County.
The county also requested $1.68 million to rehabilitate a 2,906-foot section of a large but decrepit pipe in order to “support continued growth in the Rosslyn area.”
“The subject sewer was originally constructed in the 1930s,” the county said in its request. “It was most recently inspected in 2017 and many sections were deemed to require immediate rehabilitation due to structural deficiencies which allow for significant infiltration and inflow and could lead to structural failure.”
In his statement, Beyer thanked his fellow representatives for enacting the legislation and the local leaders who identified and developed the requests.
“This project funding will make our community healthier, support clean energy, boost our transportation infrastructure, support affordable housing, feed the hungry, and help improve law enforcement transparency,” he said.
Additionally, the omnibus appropriations bill included language to officially rename North Arlington Post Office after letter carrier Jesus Collazos, who emigrated from Colombia in 1978 and served 25 years as a USPS postal carrier in Arlington before losing his life to COVID-19 in June 2020.
The post office on N. George Mason Drive would be renamed in honor of a late local postal worker under a bill that just passed the House of Representatives.
The House on Monday unanimously passed Rep. Don Beyer’s bill, H.R. 7082, to honor local letter carrier Jesus Collazos by renaming the North Arlington Post Office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive in his memory. Collazos, who emigrated from Colombia in 1978 and served 25 years as a USPS postal carrier in Arlington, lost his life to COVID-19 early in the pandemic.
The Senate will now need to approve the legislation before it can be signed into law.
From our reporting on the renaming proposal last year:
On Nextdoor, residents remember Collazos for the way he went the extra mile to help elderly residents and always knew someone who could help with a home improvement project. They also were overwhelmingly supportive of the renaming.
“Jesus Collazos was a neighbor,” said one resident of the Leeway Overlee neighborhood. “We called him the ‘Mayor of 24th Street.’ Sorely missed and it would be such a great tribute to his contributions to our community to name a post office in honor of him.”
A Tara-Leeway Heights resident recalled how Collazos helped her mother later in life. He came up to the door, knocked and opened it, announcing himself and putting the mail on the TV stand.
“My mom thought so highly of him,” she said. “He just did stuff like that. He was a person who really ‘saw’ those around him.”
Another poster from Tara-Leeway Heights said Collazos was well-connected in Arlington.
“If we needed the name of someone to help with anything having to do with the house, he knew someone,” the poster said. “He made us all feel like we were his friends. We miss him terribly. He made such a positive impact on everyone he met.”
Beyer delivered the following remarks from the House floor, the Congressman’s office said, as Collazos’ family looked on from the House Gallery.
Madame Speaker, I rise today to speak in support my bill, H.R. 7082, which would designate the post office on 2200 North George Mason Drive in Arlington as the Jesus Antonio Collazos Post Office Building.
Jesus was the epitome of the American Dream.
He was born in 1953 in Colombia and grew up in a modest, hard-working family.
Even at a young age, he was passionate about education and wanted to help his community and did so by helping teach literacy while still a high school student.
After graduating high school, Jesus attended the Universidad de San Buenaventura Cali to pursue a degree in accounting.
In 1978, Jesus immigrated to Washington, D.C. to reunite with his mother and sisters in hopes of seeking a better future.
In 1980, Jesus married the love of his life, Luz Miriam, who is here today with their children, Vanessa and Michael.
After working in accounting positions at various hotels, he applied to the United States Postal Service as a letter carrier, where he would embark on a 25-year career.
He made an impression early on and was given a temporary assignment in leadership which turned into a permanent offer.
He ultimately turned it down to remain a mail carrier.
This turned out to be the right decision as Jesus preferred to spend his days outdoors, building relationships on his route, and connecting with the neighborhood.
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A major rally is being planned for later this week in front of the county government headquarters, in a show of solidarity with recently-unionized Starbucks employees.
The president of the AFL-CIO and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) are both expected to attend, among others.
The rally is one of ten across the county, organized as part of a National Day of Action by Starbucks Workers United. It’s set for this Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. outside of the Bozman Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
Workers at the nearby Courthouse Starbucks who voted to unionize last month and went on strike a week later.
Organizers say Liz Shuler the president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the country, will be there and speaking. Plus, a number of state and local elected officials are planning to attend, including Beyer, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D- 49).
Several County Board members are also expected to attend, including Christian Dorsey, Matt de Ferranti, and Takis Karantonis.
Speeches are planned from Shuler, Beyer, and several regional union leaders — including Arlington and Fairfax County teachers union presidents, who will say they will be rejecting Starbucks gift cards as holiday presents for this year in protest.
THIS FRIDAY (12/9): Stand up against Starbucks Corporate bullies at the @SBWorkersUnited Solidarity rally at the Bozman Government Center Plaza in Arlington, VA at 5pm! Pizza party afterwards at Fireworks Pizza! #SolidarityIsBrewing
RSVP: https://t.co/lzpahW0ABE pic.twitter.com/91kQEjaFZs
— Metro DC DSA Labor Working Group (@mdcdsa_labor) December 5, 2022
This “Day of Action” is also meant to ask Starbucks to stop “bullying” unionized employees and to highlight its workers’ right to organize.
“The purpose of the Day of Action is for the entire community to tell Starbucks to stop its union-busting and respect its workers’ right to organize,” says a press release.
Dec. 9 marks the one-year anniversary of the first Starbucks union election victory in Buffalo, New York. Since then more than 260 stores have voted to unionize, involving more than 7,000 workers.
Over the last year, the coffee behemoth has been hit with hundreds of unfair labor practice charges, including retaliatory firings, closing union stores, and withholding benefits from employees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating more than 300 of these accusations.
On Nov. 9, Starbucks employees at the Courthouse Plaza location voted to unionize and join Starbucks Workers United. It was the second D.C.-area Starbucks to do so. Union members told ARLnow at the time they were seeking better pay, more consistent hours, and uniformly enforced rules and regulations.
Employees went on strike shortly thereafter.
“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” employee and union member Sam Dukore said at the time. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”
Since the strike several weeks ago, “the company is still not coming to the bargaining table” a union spokesperson told ARLnow.
Earlier this week, we invited the candidates running in Tuesday’s general election to write a post about why our readers should vote for them. Find information here on how and where to vote in Arlington on Nov. 8.
Below is the unedited response from Rep. Don Beyer, who is running for re-election in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District.
My name is Don Beyer, and I have served as your representative in Congress for Northern Virginia, including Arlington, since 2015. I am seeking reelection, and your vote, in the 2022 midterm election on November 8th.
This election is one of the most important of our lives, with so much hanging in the balance, and huge implications for our economy, American democracy, and the future of the planet.
Today Northern Virginians are struggling with higher costs, and as Chair of the Joint Economic Committee I am working to help bring down prices to help families. This year we enacted the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower health care costs and prescription drug prices, and make energy cleaner and more affordable.
We also passed the Chips and Science Act, which will create jobs in our region through investments in scientific research and development, support American manufacturing, and strengthen our supply chains. And we enacted the American Rescue Plan, which has helped fuel one of the fastest economic recoveries in history, with a record 10 million jobs added since President Biden took office.
House Republicans opposed these bills to help Americans, and while they talk a lot about inflation, their plans would actually make things worse. They’ve called for more tax cuts for the wealthy, making prescription drug prices more expensive, and threatening to wreck the economy unless they get cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Led by Kevin McCarthy, they have also given total allegiance to Donald Trump, echoing the “stolen election” lie and voting to overrule Americans’ voice at the ballot box by rejecting election results.
These nihilistic positions are dangerous for the country. I will continue to oppose them, and to protect our elections and Americans’ right to vote. I will also continue working to deliver real results that change things for the better.
This term saw enactment of my hate crime prevention bill, and major suicide prevention initiatives I helped fund. I helped enact an expanded Child Tax Credit, which saw poverty in the United States hit an all-time low. I helped craft provisions of the biggest climate bill ever enacted, and a key measure in the first major gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. I voted for the bipartisan infrastructure law, which is already funding transportation improvements in our region. I helped thousands of constituents get assistance from federal agencies, and secured millions in federal funding for local projects.
But we still have so much more work to do.
My top priorities start with continuing our very important work to address inflation and strengthen the economy. I will keep pushing for more legislation to prevent gun violence, and seek to advance bills that will enact universal paid leave, support affordable housing, bring down the cost of health care and child care, protect union rights, and raise the minimum wage.
One of the most important things I will work for in the next Congress is federal legislation to protect abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 8th, to continue the progress we have made. If you have questions please visit www.friendsofdonbeyer.com. Regardless of who you support, I encourage everyone to vote in the midterm election, and send my thanks to all who are doing their civic duty by participating in our democracy.
Editor’s note: Candidates for local races are invited in advance to submit candidate essays, via contact information ARLnow has on file or publicly-listed contact information on the candidate’s website. Reminders are sent to those who do not submit an essay by the evening before the deadline.
It’s not easy to beat a Democratic incumbent or endorsee in deep blue Arlington, but independent and GOP candidates in local races are trying to find ways to do just that in the days approaching next week’s general election.
Rep. Don Beyer, who is running to be re-elected to Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, is trading political punches with his challenger Karina Lipsman over news of an investigation into one his staff members.
Barbara Hamlett, a scheduler for Beyer, allegedly reached out to other congressional aides to set up meetings with Chinese embassy members to discuss policy, National Review reported.
“From the moment he learned of these inappropriate activities, Rep. Beyer closely followed directions of security officials, and the staffer is no longer employed by his office,” Beyer spokesman Aaron Fritschner told ARLnow in a statement. “He has been and remains a prominent critic of China’s record on human rights, its threatening behavior towards Taiwan, and its totalitarian repression of its citizens.”
Hamlett “did not have any national security or foreign policy role or influence,” and “inappropriately tried to connect staff in Republican offices with Chinese Embassy staff without Rep. Beyer’s knowledge or consent,” Fritschner said.
ARLnow asked what additional steps Beyer’s office has considered taking to prevent this from happening again. Fritschner said all he can say is that “we are working with security officials to address the issue.”
Lipsman has called for Beyer’s removal from Congressional committees and for a Congressional investigation. Beyer sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.
“I have been part of investigations on sensitive national security subjects before, and it’s very clear to me that, based on what we know, this matter must be thoroughly investigated by Congress,” she said. “The extent of Beyer’s office’s ties to the Chinese government needs to be determined, so the level of national security risk can be determined. His office has clearly been compromised. Again, I’ve held top-level security clearances for years and this situation is well within my experience. It needs to be treated extremely seriously.”
Lipsman said she has served for 14 years in the U.S. defense and intelligence communities and has had security clearances “exceeding Top Secret.”
Fritschner said Lipsman’s “baseless, Trumpian insinuations are reminiscent of her previous declaration that ‘Fauci should be jailed.'”
“Lipsman’s unserious demands are a ploy for attention and money, not a genuine concern about national security, which is why she is fundraising off them,” he said. “In reality, when she was busy scrubbing mentions of her opposition to abortion rights from her website in August, Congressman Beyer was in Taiwan standing with our allies in defense of freedom. Lipsman would rather make political hay out of this than talk about her backing for House Republican leadership which wants to wreck the economy, make inflation worse, cut Social Security and Medicare, and cut off support for Ukraine. We are confident that Northern Virginians will see through her.”
The back-and-forth comes a week before the election. This year, registered voters in Arlington can cast their ballots for the Arlington County Board, School Board and Virginia’s 8th Congressional district, as well as six local bond referenda totaling $510 million. For those who are still on the fence, ARLnow will publish, as we do every local election cycle, candidate essays on Friday.
Early voting numbers are down compared with 2021. As of the end of the day yesterday (Monday), about 11,600 people had voted, Arlington Director of Elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said. That tracks with the muted start to early voting in September.
“On average, we’ve been slightly slower than last year’s election,” she said.
A week prior to the election last year, about 15,400 people had voted.
For voters, evaluating Arlington County Board candidate views of Missing Middle will look a lot like Goldilocks sampling porridge.
Three familiar names are vying for a seat on the County Board: incumbent Matt de Ferranti and his independent challengers Audrey Clement and Adam Theo, who have both ran for a seat on the Board before — Clement numerous times before.
Now, potential Missing Middle zoning changes are becoming a key battleground for the candidates, as both community support and opposition intensifies. The two-year study is entering a final phase of community discussion before it is slated to go to the Planning Commission and County Board for consideration as early as this year.
County Board, School Board and congressional candidates fielded multiple questions from members of the Arlington County Civic Federation last night (Tuesday) during its annual candidates forum. The Civic Federation previously took up the issue of Missing Middle, passing a resolution saying residents need more negotiating power during upzoning and land-use proposal proceedings.
During Tuesday night’s questioning at the Hazel Auditorium in Virginia Hospital Center, Theo said he is “a huge fan” of Missing Middle because “it’s about not squeezing the middle class anymore, of allowing opportunities, options and housing types.”
Clement reiterated her equally entrenched opposition to it as “a scheme to rezone Arlington’s residential neighborhoods for much higher density multi-family dwellings,” which will keep housing types out of reach for anyone not making six figures.
De Ferranti, meanwhile, says he supports the construction of low-density units up to a point.
“Your input has led me to oppose eight plexes as not being worth the cost,” he added. “Your input has led me to tier the ideas so that the smallest lots would have duplexes and as you get to the largest plots, more density would be allowed.”
None, however, pronounced the county’s community engagement efforts as “just right.”
The Goldilocks principle reappeared when candidates discussed whether to do away with first-past-the-post voting for their seats and replace it with ranked-choice voting (RCV) for County Board elections.
Under this system, which has support from some current Board members and which the county has tested out, voters rank candidates by preference and a winner is selected over the course of many elimination rounds.
Clement, an independent, said it would increase competition in otherwise predictable election cycles. Theo agreed.
“Ranked-choice voting has potential, and I want it now in Arlington County,” he said.
Both independents support the change for general elections, while de Ferranti said he is supportive of it for primaries and more cautious about using it for the general election.
“It’s something I’m supportive of,” de Ferranti said. “There are fair critiques with respect to the simplicity and timeliness — as we just saw in Alaska — of the results.”
The County Board may consider ranked-choice voting before January, de Ferranti said.
While expressing support for ranked-choice voting, Clement claimed it would not work in Arlington because of media bias.
“Unfortunately, ranked-choice voting only works in competitive elections, where the media are unbiased and endorse candidates on their merits. That is not how media operate in Arlington,” Clement said. “A continual stream of press releases by and features about those who promote the status quo are published as news, together with biased editorials, all but guaranteeing the defeat of their challengers.”
(ARLnow no longer publishes opinion columns and has never endorsed candidates for office, though the Sun Gazette routinely publishes editorials and letters to the editor.)
Like their County Board counterparts, School Board candidates Bethany Sutton and Vell Rives said they would work to improve community engagement.
“A change I might make is to make sure we have multiple ways for people to engage and we are deliberately transparent as to how all that engagement has factored into the board’s decision making,” said Sutton, who received the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee after another candidate, Brandon Clark, withdrew from the caucus and then the election entirely.
Rives, meanwhile, said the School Board needs to vote on all “massive decisions,” such as extended school closures or starting a new school.
Sutton and Rives both said a chief concern is addressing student mental health. Both said APS can tighten security at school entrances, while Rives supports reinstating School Resource Officers and Sutton called for clear, consistent emergency communications.
The School Board removed school-based police officers last summer, citing racial disparities in juvenile arrests in Arlington. Following the decision, the Arlington County Police Department said it would be a challenge to staff the program again.
The two School Board candidates both support the construction of a new Arlington Career Center, but criticized how the project was discussed and the strain it could put on future budgets.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is addressing a key constituent concern — airplane noise — through the just-signed CHIPS Act.
The $280 billion bill is primarily focused on boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but contains other scientific research provisions. Among them is wording from Beyer to “bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.”
“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district,” Beyer said in a statement yesterday. “I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law.”
The legislation “authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions,” Beyer’s office said in a press release.
The roar of jet engines from airliners arriving at and departing from National Airport has long been a concern of Arlington and Alexandria residents, particularly those who live along the flight paths near the Potomac River. Beyer has frequently pledged to address the noise issue from commercial airliners and military helicopters, writing letters to top federal officials about flight paths and attaching legislation to larger bills.
The full press release is below.
President Joe Biden yesterday signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which included the first NASA authorization passed by Congress in over five years. That section of the Act, Title VII of the science division, included the full text of Rep. Don Beyer’s Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act. Beyer chairs the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; he introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to bolster NASA’s efforts to create the next generation of climate-friendly aviation while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.
“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district. I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law,” said Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to harm American communities, ensuring we are also tackling aviation emissions is vital. This piece of legislation does just that by making the necessary investments to develop the technology to make cleaner flight a reality in addition to driving innovation that would reduce aircraft noise pollution.”
This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes, accelerating NASA’s aeronautics work on reducing greenhouse gas and noise emissions. Specifically, this bill:
- Establishes the ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas compared to the highest performing aircraft in 2021 as well as being net-zero by 2050.
- Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 that will enable industry to bring a new generation of more sustainable airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
- Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
- Requires NASA to provide data and insight on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.
Text of the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act is available here.
(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) Local lawmakers have again introduced legislation to officially remove Robert E. Lee’s name from Arlington House.
For fifty years, “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial” has been the official name for the National Park Service-managed mansion that sits on top of a hill at Arlington National Cemetery.
But in recent years, there has been a push to drop Lee’s name from the memorial and return it to its original name of simply “Arlington House.”
In 2020, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va) proposed legislation to do just that since Arlington House lies in his district. The bill was co-sponsored by two other local representatives, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va), along with D.C. Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Beyer said at the time that the legislation was partially inspired by requests for a name change from descendants of those who were enslaved at Arlington House. However, the bill never got out of committee and no change was made.
Two years later, though, these local lawmakers are trying again with a bicameral push.
The House bill is co-sponsored by Beyer, Connelly, Wexton, and Norton while a new Senate bill is sponsored by Tim Kaine (D-Va). The legislation, if passed and signed into law, would strip the Confederate general’s name from the house he once lived in.
“If we are serious about ending racial disparities, we need to stop honoring those who fought to protect slavery,” Kaine said in a press release. “I’m proud to be part of the effort to rename Arlington House, and am going to keep fighting for the kinds of reforms we need to create a society that delivers liberty and justice for all.”
This year’s bills are very similar to the one from 2020, Beyer Communications Director Aaron Fritschner confirmed to ARLnow, save for small language changes including adding a formal historic site designation.
If the legislation does pass, the mansion would officially be called “The Arlington House National Historic Site.”
The building that now sits inside Arlington National Cemetery was first built by enslaved people in the early 19th century to be the residence for George Washington Parke Custis. It was also intended to be a memorial to George Washington, Custis’s adoptive grandfather.
Custis’s daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis married Robert E. Lee in 1831. The soon-to-be Confederate general was known to be a cruel and sometimes violent head of the household.
During the Civil War, the Union Army seized the house as well as the grounds and turned it into a military cemetery.
In 1955, Congress passed legislation to designate the house as the “Custis-Lee Mansion.” The name was changed again in 1972 to what it is today, “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial.”
For years, Arlington House was featured prominently in the county’s logo. That changed last year after a push to remove the house from the logo, in large part due to its formal name and association with Lee.
(An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Lee’s relationship to the house and property.)