Four inches of snow has fallen in Arlington, according to the 2 p.m. snowfall total at Reagan National Airport.
The snow has led to slippery roadways and numerous closures. Though above-average temperatures and dogged work by Arlington and VDOT crews has resulted in many main roads being more wet than snow-covered as of mid-afternoon, a number of accidents and spinouts have been reported.
On a hilly stretch between Rosslyn and Courthouse this morning, at least a half dozen vehicles were stuck for upwards of 15 minutes after one driver slid down the hill, according to a witness.
Across the county, firefighters were told this afternoon to put tire chains on their vehicles to help with traction, according to scanner traffic.
Snow will gradually taper off through the evening. Please continue to use caution when travelling. pic.twitter.com/iibU6MUrar
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) March 21, 2018
Photo (top) courtesy Chris Warner
A man was able to crawl out from an overturned car in the Douglas Park neighborhood Tuesday night.
The vehicle crashed just before 9 p.m. on the 1700 block of S. Quincy Street, several blocks south of Columbia Pike. The man, believed to be the driver, was briefly trapped in the vehicle but was able to “self-extricate” after firefighters arrived on scene, according to scanner traffic.
The man was evaluated for injuries by medics.
A fire department spokesman said via Twitter that drivers should be cautious on roads, which are “already slick” ahead of Wednesday’s predicted snowstorm.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) March 21, 2018
A two-alarm fire scorched the top floor of a small office building in Virginia Square tonight (Tuesday).
A passerby called 911 just after 7:45 p.m. to report flames and smoke coming from the building at 933 N. Kenmore Street. The blaze was extinguished thanks to an “aggressive attack” by firefighters, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant, but not before causing “heavy fire damage on the fourth floor.”
Smoke and water damage was also reported on the third and second floors. No injuries were reported. The Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating the cause.
The office, across from the George Mason University Arlington campus, houses a number of small businesses, including an insurance agent and a massage therapy center. A web search found two businesses on the fourth floor of the building: an immigration law office and long-time conservative political magazine The American Spectator.
More photos and video via social media below, after the jump.
Map via Google Maps. Video courtesy Arash Tafakor.
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) A tree fell on a car in the Donaldson Run neighborhood Friday afternoon, amid the ongoing wind storm.
The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. on the 4200 block of Vacation Lane, not far from the Stratford building that houses the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program.
Initial reports suggest that a tree fell on a car, trapping the driver inside and sending live power lines down across the street. Firefighters were able to extricate the driver, who was reportedly not injured, within about 15 minutes.
Vacation Lane is expected to remain closed for an extended period of time, awaiting the power and tree removal crews.
#Breaking: Units responded to 4200 block of Vacation Ln to a person trapped in a vehicle due to a large tree collapse. Crews were able to quickly free the person trapped. Luckily no injuries. #Windmageddon pic.twitter.com/l9kEU8JunA
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) March 2, 2018
ARLINGTON COUNTY | 4200 BLK. OF VACATION LANE | TREE ON CAR, PATIENT EXTRICATED WITH NO INJURIES pic.twitter.com/U2iDfvkTf6
— LincolnACFD (@LincolnACFD) March 2, 2018
— Mike Mount (@MikeMountDC) March 2, 2018
Photo via Google Maps
The westbound lanes of Columbia Pike are temporarily closed due to damage to the outside of the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike).
On traffic cameras, the front panel of the Drafthouse’s marquee sign, which announces upcoming acts, could be seen dangling precariously in the wind. Firefighters are currently working to secure it and reopen the roadway ahead of rush hour.
While traffic is being diverted, there is another road hazard nearby. According to scanner reports, a large tree has fallen across 8th Street S. near the intersection with S. Walter Reed Drive.
More views of the dangling Drafthouse sign:
— Marcos W (@HockeyTarheel) March 2, 2018
#Windmageddon strikes again! Damage to the Arlington Cinema Draft House, caused lanes of the Pike to be shut down while crews cleared the hazard. All lanes of Columbia Pike are now open. pic.twitter.com/kozDkGUz1u
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) March 2, 2018
Update at 3:20 p.m. — All lanes of Columbia Pike have reopened. A photo of the tree down on 8th Street S. is below.
Update at 2:45 p.m. — The base’s public affairs office released the following statement Wednesday.
The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Feb. 27 incident where 11 personnel began feeling ill after a letter was opened on the Marine Corps side of the base remains under investigation.
NCIS and the FBI are conducting the joint investigation.
The three Marines who were transported for additional medical evaluations were released from the hospital at approximately 10 p.m. last night.
This office will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Earlier: Firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement responded to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Tuesday afternoon for a hazmat situation involving an unknown substance that was mailed to the base.
Firefighters were first called to Henderson Hall, the headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps, just after 4:30 p.m. for a hazmat incident. Ft. Myer, Arlington County and Alexandria firefighters and hazmat units were dispatched to the scene, as was an “EMS task force” that is usually dispatched to mass casualty incidents.
Initial reports suggest that a certified letter was opened in one of the buildings and that it contained some sort of potentially hazardous substance, prompting an evacuation of the building and the deployment of an emergency decontamination station.
Eleven people were treated for symptoms and three were transported to the hospital in stable condition, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. Symptoms included a nose bleed and a burning sensation, according to initial reports.
A Marine Corps official released a statement saying that the victims were Marines.
“An envelope containing an unknown substance was received, today, aboard Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall,” the statement said. “Personnel in the affected building took immediate preventative measures by evacuating the building. Base officials are coordinating with local hazmat teams and the FBI. Several Marines are receiving medical care as a result of this incident.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said via Twitter that he is “closely following the situation.”
With the help of the local hazmat teams “the building was screened and cleared, and the letter was removed,” the Marine Corps said late Tuesday. The FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are now conducting a joint investigation.
National news media, including major television networks, gathered outside of the base in Arlington’s Foxcroft Heights neighborhood to report on the story. A press conference to be held outside the base was later cancelled. No reason was given for the cancellation.
During the incident police closed off the road near the entrance to Henderson Hall, at the intersection of S. Orme Street and Southgate Road.
Engine 161’s crew evacuated and decontaminated 11 patients from the hazard area, all evaluated by EMS-3transported to area hospital. All units have picked up, scene turned over to @FBIWFO @FBI pic.twitter.com/cAbNW75zOJ
— IAFF LOCAL F253 (@FortMyerFire) February 28, 2018
#Update: Ft Myer Hazmat, 11 people started feeling ill after letter was opened in consolidated admin building. 3 were transported. Condition not known. Ft Myer PIO enroute.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) February 27, 2018
#Update: Ft Myer, 3 transported patients in stable condition. Command is scaling back incident starting to put some units in service. Investigation ongoing.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) February 27, 2018
Closely following the situation at Ft. Myer in Arlington. This is scary, I hope very much that everyone involved will be alright. https://t.co/19WHBmUNCp
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) February 27, 2018
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) February 27, 2018
A collision at a busy intersection in Lyon Park blocked traffic during the Monday evening rush hour.
The crash happened just before 5 p.m., at the intersection of N. Daniel Street and 10th Street N. One vehicle, a Volvo XC70, tipped to its side while a Mitsubishi Eclipse was severely damaged.
Two ambulances were dispatched to the scene, though no serious injuries were reported, according to the police scanner. The intersection was temporarily blocked by emergency vehicles; it reopened around 5:45 p.m.
At least two vehicle occupants were walking around the closed-off intersection speaking with police and taking photos of the crash.
Map via Google Maps
The Arlington County Police Department is planning a “strategic restructuring” as a wave of retirements and departures leaves significant gaps in its staffing.
Services could be reduced as the department’s functional strength falls to a projected 50 officers below its authorized force of 370, according to an internal memo sent by police chief M. Jay Farr and obtained by ARLnow.com.
The Arlington Police Beneficiary Association, an employee organization representing Arlington officers that is advocating for higher police compensation in the county’s current budget process, said the “historic understaffing” is due to “sub-par pay.”
— Arlington Police Beneficiary Association (@ArlPoliceAssoc) February 21, 2018
— Arlington Police Beneficiary Association (@ArlPoliceAssoc) February 24, 2018
In the past 4 1/2 years, as ACPD has been trying to hire additional officers, the Department is actually DOWN a total of 12 officers. You can't recruit/retain high-quality officers with sub-par pay. #ACPD #ACFD
— Arlington Police Beneficiary Association (@ArlPoliceAssoc) February 22, 2018
Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed budget includes a 2.5 percent pay raise for rank-and-file officers, on top of pay hikes for all county employees. The raise does not apply to the department’s command staff. The County Board voted over the weekend against a property tax rate increase, meaning that any additional money for the department beyond Schwartz’s recommendation will likely result in reductions elsewhere in the budget.
The police department is actively recruiting to try to fill staffing holes, but faces competition from other D.C. area local police departments as well as federal law enforcement agencies that often have higher levels of pay. Asked about the numbers, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the total staffing level at the department is a bit higher than the functional staffing level.
“The Arlington County Police Department has an authorized staffing of 370 officers and a current strength of 346 officers,” she told ARLnow.com. “Our current strength includes recruits currently at the academy as well as officers on light duty so our functional staffing is a little lower.”
A table showing retirements and non-retirement departures from the police department, as provided by a county spokeswoman, shows a sharp uptick in 2017.
In a statement, Savage said the planned restructuring will “maximize our available resources.”
Our goals and objectives as a department have not changed, nor has our commitment to providing professional law enforcement services to the residents, visitors and businesses of Arlington County. However, our methods of achieving these goals must adapt to our current staffing challenges. To maximize our available resources, we will be completing a strategic restructuring of the police department. This will be accomplished by our command staff collaborating with the entirety of the police department and devising a staffing plan jointly. Our staffing and structure will focus on prioritizing core services and ensuring the services we are able to provide are effective and efficient. The ultimate goal is to design a police department reflective of our current staffing levels, limit the workload strain on officers by focusing on core services and promote a balanced work/life atmosphere. Our plan will also be forward looking to support growth as staffing improves. It is anticipated that the restructuring will be complete by late spring and additional information will be available at that time.
“Great work happens throughout this agency on a daily basis and this I am confident this will continue despite our current staffing challenges,” Chief Farr said in a statement issued to ARLnow.com. “The strategic restructure will provide us with an opportunity to maximize our resources by building a police department reflective of our current staffing levels while supporting our mission to reduce the incidence of crime and improve the quality of life in Arlington County.”
In the memo, below, Farr says the police department will be reevaluating its ability to provide support for special events in the county as part of the restructuring process.
The Arlington County Fire Department, meanwhile, is facing similar pressures. Fire department personnel are slated to receive an extra 4 percent bump in pay over the standard county employee raise in Schwartz’s budget, but the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association says even that might not be enough to fill gaps in staffing.
— IAFF Local 2800 (@IAFF2800) February 21, 2018
With Fairfax's 4.5% market adjustment, #ACFD will be 17.5% behind. How can Arlington County firefighters not feel devalued?
We are not asking to be at the top…just asking for comparable pay for public safety. @ARLnowDOTcom
— IAFF Local 2800 (@IAFF2800) February 22, 2018
The full memo about restructuring from Chief Farr, after the jump.
ACFD Black History Month Tweets — The Arlington County Fire Department has been recounting the history of black firefighters in Arlington in commemoration of Black History Month. There were several African-American volunteer fire departments in the county during the first half of the 20th century, serving neighborhoods like Hall’s Hill and “Hell’s Bottom,” which was cleared to make way for the Pentagon during World War II. [Twitter, Twitter]
ARLnow Wins ‘Amazon Thirsty Thursday’ Recognition — Our scoop that an internal Amazon website devoted to its “HQ2” search steered thousands of visits to a two-month-old ARLnow article, has earned us the distinction of being named the “winner” of Washingtonian’s “Amazon Thirsty Thursday” weekly feature. Our article pointing out that Amazon has an office in Arlington was apparently the icing on the thirsty cake. [Washingtonian]
Arlington Among Top Places for Women in Tech — Arlington is tied with St. Paul, Minnesota as the No. 6 best place in the U.S. for women in tech. The District ranks No. 1. [WTOP]
Shamrock Shake Sighting — The Shamrock Shake is back at McDonald’s. We spotted it on the menu at a Lee Highway McD’s yesterday. Some locations have gotten the shake, a harbinger of spring, earlier than others, according to social media reports. [Fox News, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Those are a few of the relatively small cuts that add up to enough savingsin County Manager Mark Schwartz’s new proposed budget to bridge Arlington’s $20 million budget gap.
The proposed $1.27 billion budget, which is being presented to the County Board today (Thursday), keeps the county’s property tax rate steady — at $0.993 per $100 in assessed value, per the County Board’s earlier guidance — while generating some new revenue through slightly higher utility taxes and additional paid parking hours, rates and fines, among other measures. It includes $775.9 million for the county’s operating budget and $498 million for schools.
Schwartz says his budget cuts 50 county programs and eliminates 48 jobs, including 29 currently filled positions. It includes $8.4 million in spending reductions, $6.6 million in fee and tax increases and $5.5 million in “funding realignments.”
The cuts are necessary, in part, due to budget pressures from Metro and the need to raise employee salaries, particularly in the police and fire departments, to remain competitive with nearby jurisdictions. Arlington’s fast-rising home values, which have helped the county keep up with rising expenses, were offset this year falling commercial property values caused by higher office vacancy rates.
Among the ways the proposed budget increases county revenues:
- Commercial utility taxes increased by 5%
- Residential utility tax increased to $3/month per utility (revenue earmarked for schools and the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, which is proposed at $13.7 million, matching last year’s AHIF proposal)
- Parking rates increased by $0.25/hour
- Parking meter hours extended to 8 p.m.
- Parking fines increased from $35 to $40
- Household Solid Waste fee up $2/year
Among the proposed cuts and “realignments:”
- The Citizen printed newsletter, sent to all county residents ($82,000/year)
- Lee Highway planning process scaled back ($500,000)
- ART routes 54 and 92 eliminated ($350,000/year)
- Snow blower loaner program eliminated ($30,000/year)
- Free community paper shred events eliminated ($20,000/year)
- Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy residential rebate program cut ($555,000)
- Poet laureate eliminated along with other humanities programs ($77,000)
- Long Bridge Park Fourth of July event entertainment eliminated ($50,000)
- County window washing reduced from twice to once per year ($48,000)
- In-house pharmacy and lab services cut from Dept. of Human Services ($625,000)
- Reduction in DHS employment services staffing ($825,000)
- Eliminate the Office of Community Health in the Dept. of Parks and Recreation ($483,000)
- Eliminate a youth boxing program ($85,000)
- Eliminate a parks volunteer office ($197,000)
- Reduce money earmarked for Crystal City infrastructure, originally intended for the streetcar project, as generated via Tax Increment Financing (about $1 million)
- Reduce the parks department vehicle fleet ($52,000)
- Cut county funding for Arlington Independent Media by 20 percent ($91,000)
- Eliminate the county cable administrator, who receives complaints about cable service from residents ($181,000)
The budget includes raises for many county employees, and even higher raises for most public safety personnel. Police officers, from the rank of sergeant on down, will see an additional 2.5 percent increase in pay, while firefighters will get an extra 4 percent bump over other county employees. Schwartz acknowledged that the departments have been having trouble filling open positions due to competition from other jurisdictions.
Schwartz said he and the county’s economic development office are determined to reduce Arlington’s office vacancy rate, which is back to nearly 20 percent after ticking down a bit from its previous high water mark. Schwartz expects office vacancies will put pressure on the budget for the next several years.
“It remains my primary focus to work on that vacancy rate, to get it down,” he said in a budget briefing with reporters. “We need to work through this problem. We have a lot of economic projects that are coming into the county, but this is the underlying problem that is going to challenge us in coming years.”
The Arlington County Board will advertise a property tax rate on Saturday, setting a ceiling on what the rate may go up to, and will hold various budget work sessions and hearings between now and final adoption on April 21.
Updated at 3:21 p.m. with additional details.
Updated at 9:41 a.m. with additional photos: A high rise AC unit caught fire this morning (Thursday) in Ballston, shutting down the 800 block of N. Quincy Street.
The fire was reported around 8:30 a.m., prompting a large response of Arlington County firefighters as well as units from Fairfax, Alexandria, and Fort Myer. The fire was extinguished quickly after units arrived on scene, according to Capt. Ben O’Bryant, Arlington County Fire Department spokesman.
O’Bryant confirmed that the Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause. The fire comes a day after record-breaking February warmth.
The building, at 801 N. Quincy Street, is home to the soon-to-open restaurant Urban Tandoor, along with numerous office tenants.
— Jacob Torrey (@JacobTorrey) February 22, 2018
Firefighters Push for Raise — IAFF Local 2800, which represents Arlington firefighters and paramedics, is pushing for a raise in this year’s county budget process. The group says Arlington’s compensation for public safety employees “is at the bottom of the DMV.” [Twitter]
Chamber Concerned With 4MRV Initiative — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the County Board expressing concerns with the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative and possible changes to or acquisition of the light industrial properties along Four Mile Run Drive. [Arlington Chamber]
Growing Up Black in Arlington — From 1950 to 1962, growing up black in Arlington meant facing segregation and racism at every turn, and not feeling safe venturing out of the largely self-contained confines of a historically African-American neighborhood like Hall’s Hill. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Startup Raises $3 Million — What started as a way for the owner of conveyor belt sushi chain Wasabi Sushi to streamline his accounting is now a venture-funded startup. Arlington-based MarginEdge has raised $3 million to go national with its restaurant management software. [Washington Business Journal]
An unexpected find by a Lyon Park resident prompted a police and fire department response on the 200 block of N. Barton Street last night.
The resident called the authorities after finding a military mortar shell in his or her basement. Police, firefighters and the county’s bomb squad responded to investigate.
Eventually, it was determined that the object was indeed an old World War II mortar shell, but that all of the explosives has already been removed.
“Nothing illegal or dangerous about it, but [the] homeowner turned it over to [the] bomb team anyway,” a fire department spokesman said via text message.
Northside Social Sued by Songwriters — Clarendon cafe Northside Social is being sued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for “unauthorized public performance of its members’ copyrighted musical works.” [Patch]
Phil Vassar Visits Animal Welfare League — “We had a special visitor at AWLA today: country music singer Phil Vassar stopped by the shelter today to meet three neonatal kittens that are named after his hit songs; Deputy Ray, Carlene, and Amazing Grace.” [Facebook]
Focus on Arlington’s School Resource Officers — The Arlington County Police Department has thirteen School Resource Officers, whose job it is to connect with and protect the 27,000 students at Arlington Public Schools. [WJLA]
Arlington’s First Black Firefighters Faced Hardships — “The first of Arlington County’s black firefighters — members of the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the paid men at Station No. 8 — grappled with taunts and inequities in the days of Jim Crow, according to Arlington Public Library records.” [Arlington Fire Journal]
Dems Want More Social Followers — Arlington Democrats are pushing for more social media followers, particularly on Facebook, with the goal of having the most followers of any Democratic organization in the Commonwealth. At last check, Albemarle County Democrats had more followers than Arlington. [InsideNova]
In a long Facebook post earlier this month, Bada Bing food truck owner Nicholas Terzella announced he was closing up shop, partially blaming the Arlington County government for not properly updating him on new sprinkler system requirements.
However, county officials say there were several outreach efforts once commercial hood suppression systems became mandatory in mobile food units on November 6, 2016, according to both Kim Brunette, an environmental health supervisor with the county public health protection bureau and Ben O’Bryant, an Arlington County Fire Department Fire/EMS Captain and spokesman.
The outreach efforts included “soft inspections” to local mobile food units, more commonly called food trucks, to check in with business owners with safety compliance without taking punitive measures, according to the county.
Educational flyers were also distributed to mobile food unit owners, informing them of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code requirements and the National Fire Protection Association. The updates were also available online.
From ACFD Capt. O’Bryant:
The Arlington Fire Code requirement for commercial hood suppression systems in Mobile Food Units (MFU) became effective on November 6, 2016 with the Arlington County Board’s adoption of the 2012 Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) and Chapter 8.1 local amendments.
In the two years prior (2015-2016), the fire department participated in “soft” non-punitive inspections as a combined effort with Public Health during the annual license renewal inspection period. These safety inspections were intended to help educate MFU operators on the 2012 SFPC requirements. Informational flyers were provided to MFU operators based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and SFPC requirements. This information was also posted on the fire department’s public website.
Enforcement of the code requirements began during the July 2017 licensing period. We continue to work collaboratively with Public Health, performing joint annual inspections to provide the most efficient and convenient service for MFU operators.
Arlington County only lists online the inspections records for currently licensed, operational food trucks, so inspection records for Bada Bing are no longer on the website.
Terzella additionally blamed other food truck owners for their “almost restaurant sized” vehicles, and specifically called out Loopy’s Eatery food truck owner who he called Tex. Food truck registration records in Alexandria, Va., list Teak Shin as the food truck’s primary contact.
An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman said that any parking violation citations for area food trucks would be lumped in reports with other commercial and passenger vehicles, but that there wasn’t a record of a criminal report filed detailing accusations similar to the Nicholas Terzella’s accusation that Loopy’s owner tried selling a parking space.
To our customers. We can’t put into words how much joy these last eight years of serving you has given us. Though I have…
A man who answered the listed phone number for Bada Bing food truck hung up after an ARLnow.com reporter called for comment. Three voicemails left for a number listed for Loopy’s Eatery, with a voicemail box identified as belonging to a man named Tex, went unanswered.