Press Club

Morning Notes

Deer in a local neighborhood (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Memorial Day Closures — County offices and facilities like libraries and community centers will be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Metered parking will not be enforced. But trash collection will continue as normal. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Tree Group Opposes ‘Missing Middle’ — “A tree-advocacy group believes proposed changes to Arlington housing policy could have a cataclysmic impact on existing tree canopy in the community. ‘Tell the county ‘no’ – do not enact policies that further reduce our tree canopy,’ the Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) said May 20 in response to a county-government proposal on possible zoning changes.” [Sun Gazette]

Chamber Supports New Ballston Metro Entrance — “I am writing to express our strong support for full Authority funding of Arlington County’s $80 million application for the Ballston-MU Metrorail Station West Entrance. This project is a critical improvement to the regional transit network and supports the Authority’s programming goals of modal and geographic balance… As we move forward, its construction will be very important to the success of businesses in Arlington.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

W-L’s Royal Rowing History — “In the spring of 1958, under the guidance of head coach Charlie Butt, a group of teenage rowers from Washington-Lee High School (now Washington-Liberty) performed so well at stateside races that they earned a spot at the Henley Royal Regatta in England–becoming the first public high school in America invited to the iconic race, which dates to 1839. But first, they needed money.” [Arlington Magazine]

County Now Offering Boosters for Kids — “After federal approvals, Arlington County and other providers are offering the COVID-19 vaccine booster to children aged 5 to 11.” [Patch]

County Polling About Pickleball — “As Arlington’s population continues to grow and sports trends change, the Department of Parks and Recreation recognizes there has been a shift in the use and demand for outdoor athletic courts. Our Outdoor Athletic Court Project includes creating criteria to identify existing courts that are candidates for permanent pickleball lines as well as identify an existing amenity to convert into a permanent pickleball facility.” [Arlington County]

Storms Possible Tomorrow — From the National Weather Service: “We’ll stay mostly dry and cloudy for the remainder of today with highs in the 60s across the area. We are monitoring the potential for an unsettled start to the long holiday weekend this Friday with severe storm/flood threats.” [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 71 and low of 60. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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Townhomes in the Green Valley neighborhood (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) The Arlington branch of the NAACP has come out in support of the county’s Missing Middle Housing Study draft framework.

The proposal calls for allowing small-scale multifamily housing in the residential areas of Arlington currently zoned only for single-family homes. The new “missing middle” homes — ranging from townhomes to 8-plexes, depending on the lot size — would be limited to the same physical size and footprint currently allowed for single-family homes.

The NAACP said in a letter to the Arlington County Board that such an action “is a first step in a series of necessary actions to reverse the damage done to Black and Brown residents by governmental and nongovernmental acts designed to segregate and disempower.”

“The recommendations successfully balance the needs of existing single-family home residents by keeping design standards the same while opening previously closed single-family home neighborhoods to diverse residents by allowing townhouses and buildings with 2-8 units in R-5 to R-20 zones,” said the letter, which was sent to the Board on Monday. “This change will begin to rebalance Arlington’s land-use policies with the makeup of its population; 70% of Arlington’s residential land reserved for single-family homes will potentially provide desperately needed housing to many more residents.”

Graphic used by the local NAACP in an email supporting ‘missing middle’ housing (via Arlington NAACP)

The proposal has faced criticism on local listservs and social networks, with some residents expressing concern about parking, traffic, school crowding and other issues that could potentially arise from higher-density housing. A Change.org petition entitled “Arlingtonians Opposed to Upzoning” has received more than 800 online signatures.

The group Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future, which is leading the opposition to the proposal, wrote last week that “the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington,” adding that the proposed changes would be “politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.”

Additional criticism has been aimed at the relatively short window for public comment, which is currently set to close on Friday. Three-quarters of respondents to a recent ARLnow poll said the window should be extended to allow more time for residents to weigh in.

The County Board is currently expected to take action on the proposal later this year.

The NAACP says the proposal, if enacted, “will not repair the harm done to communities of color in Arlington in the last hundred years,” but argued that it would open up more housing opportunities to lower- and middle-income residents.

“The proposed Missing Middle framework is an important first step to addressing the legacy of racial discrimination and segregation in the housing market,” the group wrote.

The local NAACP has been particularly influential in Arlington in recent years, notching victories in its calls to rename Lee Highway and remove Arlington House from the county seal and logo.

The full letter is below.

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Morning Notes

Rainy day in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

‘Midsummer’ Starts Next Month — “Synetic Theater, the home of American Physical Theater and movement-based storytelling, announces the return of its acclaimed adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed and choreographed by company co-founders Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili. The production runs June 30 through July 24.” [Synetic Theater]

Local Donut Shop Expanding — “The owners of a Ballston doughnut shop and cafe are building out a commercial kitchen in Tysons to support a growing wholesale business and its own planned expansion… Charles Kachadoorian, a Good Company co-owner, said the shop has outgrown its capacity at 672 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, from which it produces sweets for its cafe, for other coffee shops to sell retail, and for its own catering business. It plans to expand across all of those avenues, Kachadoorian said, including with a new shop in Crystal City in the shorter term and one in D.C. in 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

GOP Concern Over ‘Missing Middle’ — “Several Arlington Republicans have expressed your concerns about the County’s proposal to upzone single-family residential plots in neighborhoods across the county. We are passing along information from Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF), should you decide you want to make your voice heard on this issue.” [Arlington GOP]

Planetarium Supporters Look to Future — “Boosters of the Arlington school system’s planetarium are hopeful that new budget funding will enable the facility – shuttered since before the pandemic – to reopen with a permanent teacher attached to it by fall. School Board members in early May overruled Superintendent Francisco Durán and dropped in nearly $150,000 to support the David M. Brown Planetarium for the coming school year. Durán had proposed keeping the facility closed for another year.” [Sun Gazette]

Rosslyn Walk Planned — “When you’re out and about, do you find yourself contemplating how sidewalks, land use, and street connectivity influence your experience and enjoyment of public spaces? If so, make sure to RSVP to WalkArlington’s upcoming “Walk and Learn” focused on street design in Rosslyn on Wednesday, May, 25 from 5:30 – 6:45pm.” [GGWash]

W-L Boys Win District Soccer Tourney — “With the Washington-Liberty Generals hosting the championship match of the Liberty District boys soccer tournament, head coach Jimmy Carrasquillo expressed some pre-game concerns. The top-seeded Generals (15-0-1) entertained the third-seeded Yorktown Patriots in an all-Arlington clash, and Carrasquillo knew the rematch would be much tougher than his team’s 4-0 regular-season victory over its neighborhood rival.” [Sun Gazette]

Some Cicada Stragglers Spotted — “Have you ever been late to a party? I mean really late, so late that by the time you arrived, the party was over and the guests were long gone? If so, then you have something in common with the periodical cicadas that have been popping up in the last few weeks from Maryland to Tennessee. They’re a year late to the raucous party billions of their fellow Brood X cicadas threw last summer.” [Washington Post]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning, ending in the afternoon. High of 65 and low of 56. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:23 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The sky is reflected off glass office windows in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s Bike to Work Day — “Bike to Work Day is back… This free event is open to everyone. Arlington will have ten pit stops and BikeArlington will host five pit stops in Rosslyn, Ballston, Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Clarendon.” [BikeArlington]

Unleashed Dog Leads to Bluemont Brandishing — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when an unleashed dog ran towards him while barking. A verbal dispute ensued between the victim and dog owner, during which the suspect, who is known to the dog owner, became involved. The victim continued on his route, during which the suspect reapproached and allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the victim.” [ACPD]

Metro Restoring Some 7000-Series Cars — “A seven-month train shortage that has brought lengthy waits for commuters is closer to ending after Metrorail’s oversight agency approved a request to reinstate some rail cars that were pulled from service because of a rare wheel defect. Transit officials submitted a plan to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore a limited number of 7000-series cars.” [Washington Post, WMATA]

Slight Increase in Homeless Population — “Though down by more than half compared to a decade ago, Arlington’s homeless total rose from 2021 to 2022, according to new data. ‘There’s work to do,’ said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti, parsing the new data during the May 17 board meeting. The… homeless count (conducted Jan. 26 with data recently released) revealed a total of 182 people living in shelters and on the streets in Arlington, up 6 percent from 171 a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Op-Ed: Arlington Could Be National Model — “Arlington’s Missing Middle draft framework is extremely ambitious and might serve as a model for the entire country if the county board gets the policy details right to enable new construction.” [GGWash]

Group: ‘Missing Middle’ is ‘War’ — “With the release of the Missing Middle Phase Two Report on April 28, and the accompanying consultant analysis, the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington… Developers, who have essentially run out of room among our 26 square miles, have pushed for Missing Middle up-zoning that will be politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]

Big Development Kicks Off in F.C. — “West Falls, a major mixed-use development near the West Falls Church Metro station, broke ground Thursday, less than a week after the development team closed on $391 million of financing. In this first phase of its long-planned development, the project, spearheaded by D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates and joined by real estate giant Trammell Crow Co., will comprise five buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal, Patch]y

Veep Coming to Falls Church — “Kamala Harris coming to [Meridian High School in Falls Church] tomorrow to talk electric school buses? The school didn’t name Harris in an email to parents about the event tomorrow, but they said it will stream live at [whitehouse.gov].” The event is scheduled for 3:40 p.m., which means motorcades through Arlington are likely this afternoon. [Twitter]

Plan for Yellow Line Bridge Work — “The City of Alexandria is preparing for a Yellow Line shutdown in Alexandria later this year due to bridge and tunnel rehabilitation and bringing the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system… Blue Line trains will be running frequently from the airport with a replacement ‘Yellow Line’ route running to New Carrollton during the September-October.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:53 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A chart of the number of people experiencing homelessness in Arlington (via Arlington County)

What can we do to help those in our community who are experiencing homelessness is a question Triina Van gets a lot.

Van has been Homeless Services Coordinator at Arlington County’s Department of Human Services for about a year and a half. But she has more than two decades of experience working in the field and thinking about this very question.

It’s a difficult one to answer, she says, because the issue of homelessness is “an incredibly complex one.”

ARLnow spoke with Van about how people can help, common misconceptions about those experiencing homelessness, and where people can turn if they need help.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

What are some of the most common reasons that people in our community experience homelessness? 

I’d attribute that to a lot of different reasons. It’s compounded by issues of lack of affordable housing, rents increasing during lease renewals, and challenges associated with not having incomes that can really sustain the cost of living in our community. It can also certainly be compounded by mental health challenges and family violence. There’s also the much deeper systemic roots… woven into our systems with the historical context of our housing policies and how this country has been stood up.

They all contribute to housing loss, housing instability and homelessness.

You noted two different terms there — housing instability and homelessness — what’s the difference?

Yeah, generally when we speak about housing instability, we’re talking about folks who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. That could mean they are contributing over 30%, 40% of their monthly income to rent. Maybe they’re doubled up, living with other families and households to try to make ends meet.

When I’m speaking about homelessness, I’m really talking about people who are sleeping outside, sleeping in emergency shelters.

I think housing instability is a less visible challenge. Arlington is not alone, it’s a nationwide crisis. When they are challenged with this, people often turn to their networks of support like family, friends, congregations, and other communities of faith for assistance.

Man sleeping on a bench outside Arlington Central Library (file photo)

When people are facing house instability or are experiencing homelessness and need help beyond these networks, where can they turn? 

If someone is experiencing homelessness or if you know someone who’s experiencing homelessness, you can call what we call the “1010 line” — that’s 703-228-1010. That’s our main shelter line and can reach someone 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s operated by the Community Assistance Bureau during normal business hours, but we also know homelessness can happen any time of the day. So, it’s also staffed by one of three shelter providers in Arlington who rotate that coverage throughout the non-business hours, overnight, and weekends.

That’s an immediate first step folks can take.

So, what happens after that first phone call?

Staff will complete an assessment to understand the different circumstances people are facing. They’ll look for creative solutions that can help people stay in their housing or find another option that prevents them from entering the homelessness system.

Sometimes, that could be providing temporary financial assistance or maybe negotiation with a landlord to try to prevent an eviction from happening. It could also be more long-term assistance depending on the personal family’s needs. It could also be helping find a new apartment. And, sometimes, people just need a security deposit or first month’s rent.

If the staff can’t assist directly, they have a deep knowledge of other community resources and can help people connect to other options.

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Slide from Missing Middle Housing Study draft framework (via Arlington County)

A few weeks is not enough time for Arlington residents to provide informed commentary on a major local issue, according to the Arlington County Civic Federation.

The group is calling for the county to extend the public comment window for the Missing Middle Housing Study’s draft framework until Sept. 30, from the current deadline of Friday, May 27.

The framework calls for properties only zoned for single-family homes to also allow small-scale multifamily housing — from townhomes to 8-plexes, depending on lot size — provided the building is no larger than zoning currently allows for single-family homes.

That could allow more housing types and price points in Arlington, which will otherwise continue to see small homes torn down in favor of large single-family homes, the framework suggests. The study only expects a modest amount of new “missing middle” housing through the change — about 20 properties per year.

The Civic Federation, however, says that this is a major change no matter how many new duplexes, triplexes, etc. are expected to be built in what are now exclusively single-family home neighborhoods.

The federation passed the following resolution on Tuesday by a vote of 90% to 10%.

WHEREAS Arlington County has an established General Land Use Plan (GLUP) that allows for existing single-family residences and high-density, mixed-use development along the high-density, mixed-use corridors;

WHEREAS Arlington County’s Planning web page states, “Planning decisions are informed by extensive research, professional expertise and community input” and “relies on extensive community input. Individual residents can have a say on the decisions that affect their neighborhoods and the County as a whole”;

WHEREAS on April 28, Arlington County released its proposed Phase 2 Missing Middle Housing Framework document, which is the guiding framework that will facilitate the upzoning of these residential zoning districts — R-5, R-6, R-8, R-10, and R-20 — thus authorizing greater housing density in what are currently referred to as “single-family” neighborhoods countywide;

WHEREAS the impact of the Missing Middle Housing framework and its subsequent upzoning will impact not only housing density but also parking, public school enrollment, stormwater management and tree canopy preservation in residential neighborhoods countywide;

WHEREAS the deadline for public comment and feedback for the Missing Middle Housing framework is May 27, 2022, four (4) weeks from the framework’s release to the public;

WHEREAS this is a complex initiative, civic associations and other county organizations will require additional time to notify their own members, study the likely consequences of the upzoning, and develop a membership response in order to provide meaningful feedback to the county; and

WHEREAS four (4) civic associations — Arlington Forest, Boulevard Manor, Bluemont, and Glencarlyn, which represent more than 4,000 households in central Arlington — have already shared their concerns about the inadequacy of the four-week public feedback period for the proposed Phase 2 Missing Middle Housing Framework document;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Arlington County Civic Federation (ACCF) asks the Arlington County Board to immediately request that the County Manager extend the public review period for the Missing Middle Phase 2 concept plan to September 30, 2022 — to make it possible for civic associations and other community organizations to have sufficient time to assist in disseminating Missing Middle Housing Framework materials to their own members, to meet with and pose questions to staff, to analyze and understand the potential impacts on their neighborhoods, and to provide meaningful feedback before the framework is finalized.

The four civic associations referenced in the resolution noted in an April 25 letter to county officials that “our community associations, like so many others, are inactive during June, July and August,” thus making it difficult to study the issue and engage residents before September.

On the other hand, Arlington has something of a reputation for dragging out its public input and analysis processes, leading 55% of respondents to a 2018 ARLnow poll to say that “elected officials should make quicker decisions based on a streamlined community input process.”

Do you agree with the Civic Federation that residents should be given a few more months to provide their feedback on the draft plan, prior to it being compiled and analyzed by county officials ahead of potential zoning ordinance amendments?

Or should the county just get on with it?

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Slide from Missing Middle Housing Study draft framework (via Arlington County)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Some “missing middle” housing types would be legalized in residential zones throughout Arlington, under a draft proposal released late last week.

The framework is the latest output of the county’s Missing Middle Housing Study, which has been ongoing since October 2020. The study concluded that allowing housing that’s denser but no larger than single-family homes currently allowed under zoning would increase housing supply while diversifying housing types and providing a net environmental benefit.

The recommendations will now be subject to what is likely to be a contentious community engagement and feedback process, expected to be followed by County Board action to amend the local zoning ordinance this fall.

If ultimately approved, the new zoning rules would be similar to those that passed in Minneapolis and Portland to considerable fanfare and White House interest.

Specifically, the framework calls for dwellings with up to eight housing units in most of Arlington’s residential zones. The size of the structure would be subject to existing rules for single family homes, though existing requirements for on-site parking could be reduced.

The maximum number of units would scale down with the lot size, from a simple duplexes to townhomes and triplexes, up to an 8-plex on a relatively large lot.

“Missing Middle Housing (MMH) types with up to 8 dwellings can fit within the same footprint, placement, and height standards as single-detached housing,” said the proposal. “Applying single-detached standards to MMH can minimize or eliminate environmental impacts, compared to status quo redevelopment.”

That represents a significant change from Arlington’s current zoning, which restricts most of the non-federal land in the county to only single-family homes. A county spokeswoman noted that while the proposed zoning changes would increase flexibility for property owners seeking to build, it would not force owners to change anything if they don’t want to.

“The draft framework would add housing type options in the County’s zoning districts that currently only allow single-detached housing and accessory dwelling units,” said Erika Moore, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “It does not eliminate any housing options that currently exist.”

Also not changing: neighborhoods that currently allow duplexes and townhouses.

“Framework provides an opportunity to welcome potentially more neighbors within a similar building footprint,” said the presentation. “Neighborhoods that are predominantly duplexes and townhouses today (e.g., Arlington Mill, Green Valley, Penrose) and other mixed-use areas would not be impacted.”

Despite the big change, the study suggests that the actual impact on new housing would be modest.

“MMH has inherent economic disadvantages compared with large single-detached homes, including increased costs to build, increased complexity for ownership and sales, and lack of familiarity in the market,” said last week’s presentation. “Based on the financial feasibility and study of other jurisdictions, only approximately 20 lots per year would become ‘missing middle’ (94-108 units).”

That would work out to about 150 additional residents per year over the course of ten years.

While not affordable to lower income households, the new housing is expected to be affordable to more residents than what would be built under current single-family-only zoning, which the presentation says incentivizes construction of large, expensive homes.

“Expected outcome is a wider range of housing types at lower prices than what is currently available,” the study said. “New housing types would be attainable for households with incomes from $108,000-$200,000+. Housing designs would be of a scale consistent with single-household redevelopment already occurring.”

News of the framework was cheered online by those who have been advocating for denser housing in Arlington.

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Morning Notes

Cranes above construction between 18th and 20th St. S. in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Police Looking for Missing Teen — “MISSING: ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anahi… Described as a [Hispanic] female, 5’4″ tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a nose piercing. She was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. today in the 400 block of S. George Mason Drive.” [Twitter]

Amazon Banana Stand in Crystal City — “Amazon has operated a stand in front of 1770 Crystal Drive, one of the office buildings it occupies in Crystal City, since July. The banistas give away bananas, individually or by the bunch, every weekday between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Anderson said. And anyone can take them, from Amazon employees to residents to passers-by. The stands have dog treats, too.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reports of Strange Sounds Last Night — “Locals: anyone know what that annoying chime / doorbell thing is that goes off every 10 minutes? I’ve seen reports of hearing it from Arlington to Alexandria.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Power Outage Last Night — “Just over 600 Dominion customers are without power tonight in the Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods. Restoration expected within a few hours.” [Twitter]

Metro Wants to Develop Housing — “Metro has released a 10-year joint development plan that’s chock-full of big projects to extend the agency’s reach and increase ridership… The agency says it could produce 26,000 new housing units and 31 million square feet of new development through joint development projects at 40 stations. This could create a projected $50 million in yearly lease revenue.” [Axios]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. Breezy, with wind gusts of up to 31 mph. High of 50 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 7:50 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A United States flag and a Ukraine flag along the W&OD trail bridge over Langston Blvd (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Local Tech Co. Makes Acquisition — “Arlington’s Fluence Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FLNC) said Monday it has reached a deal to acquire Nispera AG, a software-as-a-service company from Switzerland focused on the renewable energy sector. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.” [Washington Business Journal]

Students Plan Earth Day Event — “Several local high schools and their environmental-club student-leaders are partnering with EcoAction Arlington for an Earth Day community event on April 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at Bon Air Park in Arlington. The initiative will help to raise funds as well as educate the public, in addition to serving as a cleanup event at the park.” [Sun Gazette]

Poll Finds ‘Missing Middle’ Support — “The Zillow report, which surveyed 12,000 adults across 27 metro areas, found that 80% of respondents in the DC region were in favor of allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), duplexes and triplexes in residential neighborhoods. 70 percent of respondents in the region believe that allowing these types of homes in residential areas would have a positive impact on the availability of more affordable housing options.” [UrbanTurf]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 73 and low of 55. Sunrise at 6:37 am and sunset at 7:43 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Police Looking for Missing Teen — “ACPD is seeking assistance locating 15-year-old Alejandro… Described as a Hispanic male, 5’8″ tall, 145 lbs with brown eyes and half yellow/half black curly hair. He has ear piercings, a nose piercing and wears a silver dog chain necklace.” [Twitter]

Another Missing Teen — “ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anderson… He is described as a Hispanic male, approx 5’7 tall and 130 lbs. Last seen wearing a black sweat shirt, gray pants and black sneakers. He is known to frequent Rocky Run Park and CVS (2121 15th St N).” [Twitter]

W-L Name Change Attorney Disbarred — “A Virginia state court has disbarred Jonathon Moseley, an attorney who has represented a slew of high-profile Jan. 6 defendants, including a member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, as well as several targets of the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.” Moseley also represented opponents of changing the name of Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty. [Politico, ARLnow Comment]

Another Drug Take-Back Day Planned — “On Saturday, April 30, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will provide the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. This disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.” [ACPD]

Fmr. APS Superintendent Leaving WV Job — “Among 75 personnel transactions during Monday night’s Berkeley County Board of Education meeting, district Superintendent Dr. Patrick K. Murphy announced his retirement, which was unanimously accepted by the board along with the other movements.” [The Journal]

Historic Home Reopens — “The Ball-Sellers House, one of the few surviving examples of working-class 18th-century housing in Northern Virginia, reopened for the 2022 season on April 2. Owned and maintained since the 1970s by the Arlington Historical Society, the house will host a number of programs in 2022.” [Sun Gazette]

Nearby: MoCo Wrangles Over Housing — “In the D.C. region, where local governments are struggling to address a severe housing shortage that is driving up prices, elected officials are under growing pressure to push back against civically engaged homeowners who mobilize against new housing construction. Montgomery County, an affluent D.C. suburb that has experienced transformative growth and demographic change in the last 30 years, exemplifies how hard that can be.” [DCist]

It’s Thursday — Rain throughout the day, until evening. High of 56 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:45 am and sunset at 7:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A detached garage stands just across the street from the East Falls Church Metro station and a stone’s throw from an I-66 entrance and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

Elsewhere in the county, developers would be champing at the bit to turn this transit-accessible carport into an apartment building with ground-floor retail.

Instead, the garage prevails as just one example of prime real estate near the station that could support the walkable development some residents and county leaders have envisioned there, but which has yet to materialize. (The garage, it should be noted, is on a parcel of land zoned only for single-family homes, preventing such development.)

Arlington has encouraged transit-oriented growth along other Metro corridors and is even seeing it along Columbia Pike, where affordable prices and the form-based code are driving and guiding significant redevelopment, connected by bus but not by rail — and only sporadically by trail.

The lingering presence of the garage — and the continued teardowns of older homes to make way for larger single-family homes, just a block or two from the station —  encapsulates how little the East Falls Church Metro-area landscape has changed, despite a plan approved in 2011 to guide future development, the opening of the Silver Line to Tysons and Reston, and the billions invested in the Metrorail system each year.

There is little evidence here of the transit-oriented development, known as “smart growth,” that has borne fruit elsewhere in Arlington, save perhaps a single block of N. Westmoreland Street featuring newer apartment buildings and some hip restaurants, a bookstore and a barre studio. (The block is located between a self-storage facility and a quiet neighborhood of single-family homes, which stands between it and the Metro station.)

After a decade of being focused on other pursuits near the station, like a $2 million bike facility and bus bay expansions, Arlington County and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are taking a second look at the 2011 plan and how it could be updated to encourage transportation and public space improvements. This work is happening as the county wades deeper into an effort to plan future development along Langston Blvd, which runs right by the station.

Ultimately, these planning efforts will still hinge on developers pitching projects.

“There’s got to be an incentive for there to be redevelopment and improvements to the corridor,” says Natasha Alfonso, a county planner. “We’re going to be relying on the private sector to achieve improvements to this corridor… There’s just a lot and the county doesn’t have money to pay for all that.”

Hurdles to redevelopment 

Currently, there are a host of obstacles to transit-oriented development near the station, according to WMATA spokesman Ian Jannetta.

One of the chief reasons he cited is residential zoning.

The plan approved by the Arlington County Board in 2011 only identified two single-family homes — across the street from the “Kiss and Ride” lot — as slated for potential redevelopment, and emphasized that any such efforts would have to be balanced with “preserving and protecting the nearby existing single-family residential areas.”

Still, it faced strong opposition from some community members who said it encouraged too much development.

Two homes across the street from a Metro station parking lot, possibly slated for redevelopment in East Falls Church (via Google Maps)

The final report recommended building heights of three to nine stories tall, with shorter buildings easing the transition to existing residences from taller buildings near I-66 and other locations “where they will have a minimal impact on surrounding single-family areas.” Read More

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