Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Home Prices Up in 2019 — “Data from Bright MLS, a multiple listing service that analyzes real estate data in the Mid-Atlantic region… revealed the average home sale price in Alexandria City, Arlington and Fairfax counties, collectively, rose by 4%, from $590,582 in 2018 to $614,236 in 2019.” [WUSA 9]

Endorsements for Choun — Chanda Choun, who is running in the Democratic Arlington County Board primary against incumbent Libby Garvey, has received the endorsement of a pair of current and former elected officials: former County Board member Jay Fisette and, most recently, current Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy. [Twitter, Chanda Choun]

Chain Salon Locations to Close — “The parent company of Hair Cuttery, Bubbles, and other salon chains will close more than 80 locations around the country starting later in January… A full list of the stores that will shutter was not disclosed. There are more than 30 Hair Cuttery locations, 20 Bubbles locations, 14 Salon Plazas and three Salon Cielos in Greater Washington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Musical Performances at DCA — “Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) will host its annual Black History Month celebration of achievements and contributions to American history by African Americans with musical performances for passengers traveling through both airports each Thursday during the month of February.” [Press Release]

Dorsey Absent from WMATA Board Meeting — Arlington County Board and WMATA Board member Christian Dorsey was absent from the latter body’s meeting yesterday, raising an eyebrow. A WMATA spokesman tells ARLnow that Dorsey was not at the meeting because we was “going to Richmond to provide testimony.”

Monday: MLK Day of Service in Arlington — “Celebrate the National MLK Day of Service by joining EcoAction Arlington to clean up trash and debris from Four Mile Run and surrounding streets. Everyone is welcome; we will provide supplies and snacks.” [ARLnow Events]

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Morning Notes

Emergency Water Main Repairs — Work is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today to repair a 20-inch water transmission main along 7th Road S. from S. Florida Street to S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike. Upwards of 200 customers are expected to lose their water service during the work. [Twitter]

Stamos Picks Up Challenger — Parisa Tafti, a “lifelong public defender and innocence protection attorney with a more than 18-year record of defending the indigent and speaking for the innocent,” has announced that she will be running against Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in her bid for reelection to the top prosecutor job. [Blue Virginia]

Kanninen Calls for Kaepernick — Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen is among those calling on social media for the Redskins to “#BringColintoWashington” amid a rash of season-ending injuries at the quarterback position. [Twitter]

Fisette Launches Consulting Firm — Former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette has started a consulting firm to “advise business, nonprofits and local governments throughout the Washington region” with former Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner. [Bethesda Beat, Maryland Matters]

Office Rent Expected to Rise in Crystal City — “Crystal City is at risk of losing its status as the low-cost alternative for nonprofits and others on the hunt for office space in Northern Virginia as Amazon.com Inc. rolls out its headquarters plans… Colliers projects rental rates in Crystal City could jump by 17 percent in five years and by 37 percent in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Effect on Residential Real Estate — “Any immediate impact on the local housing market is expected to be muted… Long & Foster predicts the Amazon effect will add an additional 3 percent to appreciation the Washington area would otherwise experience.” [WTOP]

Harper Leaving Rosslyn? — Possibly outgoing Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper “has chosen not to renew his lease at his penthouse condo in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA, according to a source.” [Real House Life of Arlington]

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Morning Notes

Human Rights Award Winners Announced — The 2018 winners of Arlington County’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award have been announced. The two individuals and two groups to be honored at a Dec. 13 ceremony are: former Arlington Public Schools social study teacher Marty Swaim, former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, and Arm & Arm, “an Arlington-based community group providing a variety of services to veterans and the incarcerated to aid in their reentry to society.” [Arlington County]

Fill the Cruiser Tonight Near Crystal City — Today, on Giving Tuesday, the Arlington County Police Department will bring its “Fill the Cruiser” toy drive to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Aurora Highlands, from 6-8 p.m. [Twitter]

JBG Re-Ups Crystal City Tenant — “JBG Smith, just weeks removed from winning D.C.’s biggest economic prize in a generation in Crystal City, is already reaping side benefits. The REIT signed National Cooperative Bank to a 15-year extension on its 66K SF lease at 2011 Crystal Drive, it announced Monday. The building is a few blocks from where Amazon is leasing space from JBG Smith for Phase 1 of its HQ2 requirement.” [Bisnow]

Amazon News Roundup — Questions are being raised about the nondisclosure agreements Amazon required of jurisdictions bidding for HQ2. Alexandria officials “are confident housing prices and rental rates won’t become unbearable when Amazon sets up shop in Crystal City.” The spillover effects of Amazon’s Crystal City campus on the commercial real estate market may not extend much beyond Arlington’s Metro corridors. And finally — no, Amazon did not rename Crystal City.

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Morning Notes

Beyer to Host Helicopter Noise Forum — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting a forum about “excessive noise from military helicopters” at Abingdon Elementary School in the Fairlington neighborhood on Jan. 16. [Associated Press]

Arlington Buying New CNG Buses — Arlington Transit is buying 13 Xcelsior compressed natural gas (CNG) forty-foot, heavy-duty transit buses, according to a press release from Minnesota-based manufacturer New Flyer of America. [New Flyer]

Recounting Jay Fisette’s Career — “It was pure chance that led Jay Fisette to Arlington in 1983. A college friend had rented a cheap, spacious apartment in Pentagon City, and a nearby unit was available. So Fisette found a roommate among his college swimming buddies and began hoofing the ‘cow path’ — open land that would become the Pentagon City mall — and hopping the Metro to his new job downtown.” [Washington Post]

Northam Re-Appoints Two Arlington Residents — Arlingtonians Richard Holcomb and Jaime Areizaga-Soto have been re-appointed to their state posts under the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Ralph Northam. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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After 20 years on the Arlington County Board, chair Jay Fisette is retiring, to be succeeded by fellow Democrat Erik Gutshall.

And having presided over his last meeting earlier this week (Tuesday, December 19), Fisette was in a reflective mood as he looked back at his tenure, but said he is excited for the future of the county.

Fisette won re-election four times after first winning a seat on the Board in 1997, and rotated in as chair in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2014 and this year. He also briefly flirted with a run for Congress in 2003.

On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Fisette about his memories of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, Base Realignment and Closure, Metro, development and the nixed Columbia Pike streetcar, among other subjects. He also had some advice for his colleagues remaining on the County Board.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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Morning Notes

Chamber Calls for Pause on Housing Conservation District — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is calling for the Arlington County Board to pump the brakes on a proposed Housing Conservation District policy, set for a vote at tomorrow’s Board meeting. The Chamber says the policy would affect more than 450 privately-owned properties. “The County’s failure to provide any notice to property owners that would be affected by the Framework is inconsistent with Arlington’s established government process and the level of transparency the community has come to depend on,” said Chamber President Kate Bates. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Carlin Springs Bridge Work to ResumeDemolition of the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over George Mason Drive was curtailed by winter weather last weekend, but is set to resume this weekend. Drivers should expect a number of detours in the area. [Twitter]

Fisette Tribute Packs Local Church — “A Dec. 13 tribute to departing Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was about 90 percent heartfelt thanks for his 20 years of service in elected office. And about 10 percent celebrity roast.” The event was so well-attended that the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was filled to capacity by those whom Fisette has not yet convinced to take the Car-Free Diet. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Gossip: Britt McHenry Back on Local Airwaves? — A noted local Twitter user who goes by the name “Clarendon Bros” shared some local TV gossip last night, claiming that Britt McHenry was seen auditioning for a job at Fox 5. McHenry at one point lived in Arlington — it is unclear if she still does — and had a well-publicized run-in with local towing company Advanced Towing. [Twitter]

Fox Leaves Crystal City BID — “After more than a decade running the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Angela Fox is stepping down. The BID’s board of directors announced Fox’s departure Thursday, but has not named a permanent replacement.” [Bisnow]

Local Homebuilder Getting Bigger — “Arlington-based homebuilder CalAtlantic Homes is purchasing Home South Communities, a privately held homebuilder based in the Atlanta area. CalAtlantic itself is in the midst of a $9.3 billion merger with Miami’s Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), expected to close early next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Realtor Group Extends Clothing and Food Drive — “Despite the weather, the first community wide drop off for the Arlington Realtors Care (ARC) initiative, held on Saturday, Dec. 9 was a great success. ARC is sponsoring a second community wide drop off date scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 at RGS Title.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

More on Axios Staying in Arlington — Media startup Axios, which just inked a 10 year lease in Clarendon, is getting a $60,000 performance-based “Gazelle Grant” from Arlington County. It is the fourth company to receive the economic development grant, joining Stardog, VideoBlocks and Phone2Action. “Axios is an excellent example of a Gazelle tech company here in Arlington — fast-growing and a leader in Arlington’s robust media industry,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Axios’ decision to remain here in Arlington as it grows and expands is the true purpose behind the Gazelle incentive program and demonstrates how Arlington’s assets are truly paying off. We are thrilled to continue to work with Axios as a partner in our business community.”

County Giving Away Free Snow Shovel — Updated at 11 a.m. — As part of a social media promotion, the Arlington County Dept. of Environment Services is giving away a free snow shovel, courtesy of Twins Ace Hardware in Courthouse, to one lucky winner who “describe[s] to us [on Twitter] or on DES Facebook your favorite phase of Arlington snow treatment and why.” [Twitter]

Public Invited to Gutshall Swearing-In — “The public is invited to join the Arlington County Board on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 for the swearing-in of Board Member-elect Erik Gutshall… The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m., and will be followed by a reception outside the Board Room, Room 307 in the County Office Building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA, 22201.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Morning Notes

Fisette Has To-Do List for Final Months — Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette has a number of items left on his to-do list as he nears retirement from the Board at the end of the year. Among the items with some momentum is a plan to name the county government headquarters after long-serving Board member Ellen Bozman. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Purple Ribbons on ACPD Cruisers — “During the month of October a purple ribbon, donated by [local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families], will be displayed on many Arlington County Police Department vehicles in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Gets Press for Security Clearance Letter — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is getting some national media attention for his continued push — alongside Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) — for the Trump administration to revoke the security clearances of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. [CNN]

History of Sushi Zen — Sushi Zen, a Japanese restaurant on N. Harrison Street, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by holding 20 fundraisers for local nonprofits. But the path to success for the sushi spot was bumpy. The family-owned restaurant struggled in its early years and enlisted the help of Georgetown MBA students to help turn things around. [Connection Newspapers]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Jay Fisette, the most senior member of the Arlington County Board, has less than six months to go until his retirement. And while it will not happen during his tenure, there’s something Fisette wants for Arlington, eventually: for it to become a city.

In Virginia, local governments are divided into two top-level classifications: counties and independent cities.

Arlington is the fourth-largest county in Virginia by population — after Fairfax, Loudoun and Henrico — but by far the smallest, at only 26 square miles. In fact, Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. (Mathews County, on the Chesapeake Bay, is the second smallest in Virginia, at 86 square miles.)

Fisette says Arlington has more in common with Virginia cities, like neighboring Alexandria and Falls Church, than it does with counties. And, he says, it makes sense that an increasingly urbanized place like Arlington should be governed as a city.

Additionally, many already refer to Arlington as a city, and for population-counting purposes the U.S. Census Bureau includes Arlington in its list of Virginia towns and cities, an exception the Bureau only makes for Arlington and for places in Hawaii, which has no incorporated cities.

A change to city status, however, would require action by Virginia’s state legislature.

“I have come to believe that Arlington County should ultimately become the City of Arlington,” Fisette tells ARLnow.com. “In 1846, we became Alexandria County — because we were much more rural than the City of Alexandria or DC. Then in 1920, we became Arlington County, in order to cause less confusion with our neighbor — the City of Alexandria.”

“Today, we are the geographically smallest, and most densely populated self-governing county in the U.S. and my experience is that we have much more in common with cities than counties,” Fisette continued. “I have not looked into this in a while, however, I know the change to a city would require General Assembly action. While I am not clear what they are, there may be some further changes that would be automatic with a city designation.”

In 2010, an attempt to change Arlington’s form of government, to one in which County Board members are elected by districts rather than at-large, failed to gather enough valid petition signatures.

Fisette didn’t reveal any plans to take action on changing Arlington from a county to a city, but did say he hopes it is “considered” by county leaders moving forward.

Fisette discussed the idea last month at the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s annual meeting. At the meeting, he also expressed his belief that the “City” in “Crystal City” should be lopped off and the neighborhood renamed simply “Crystal.”

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Morning Notes

Superintendent Gets New Contract — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has received a new four-year contract after a 3-2 vote by the Arlington School Board on Thursday. “We need stability and strength,” said School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, who voted ‘yes’ with James Lander and Tannia Talento. “We have a lot of issues we have to deal with. Dr. Murphy has gotten the job done.” [InsideNova]

APS Medicaid Reimbursement — Arlington Public Schools received a much lower reimbursement from Medicaid for the 2015-2016 school year than neighboring jurisdictions like Alexandria and Fairfax County. [Arlington County Taxpayers Association]

Fisette: Schools Are Not the Only Priority — Last week, at his final State of the County address and during a work session, retiring Arlington County Board member addressed the capacity crunch facing Arlington Public Schools. Fisette suggested predictions of the student population reaching 40,000 are “not accurate,” said APS needs to find ways to trim per-student spending and said APS priorities must be weighed with the needs of other interest groups. [InsideNova]

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In his final State of the County address before he retires at year’s end, Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said he is proudest of providing stable leadership during the county’s transformation.

Fisette, in his fifth annual address before the Arlington Chamber of Commerce as chair since coming onto the Board in 1998, said he believes his legacy will be the way Arlington has become more urbanized and expanded its population while staying true to its values.

“For me, it would be helping to guide the 20-year transformation of the community into an urban success story that we are,” he said. “Change is hard, and doing that in a way that has resulted in a community that’s a model in so many areas of public life, while at the same time protecting the connectedness and the compassion of a small town. There are a lot of things that have to happen to make that kind of recipe work.”

In his remarks before more than 100 business leaders, elected officials and other attendees Wednesday morning, Fisette touted various successes in his tenure as the current Board’s longest serving member.

He noted the 9.5 million square feet in new office space and 2.5 million square feet in new retail space, 2,700 additional hotel rooms, more than 29,000 new homes and other indicators, all while the unemployment rate stayed largely consistent at 2.5 percent, among the lowest in Virginia.

“In short, the state of the county is really good,” Fisette said. “In my view, Arlington works.”

But, Fisette said, Arlington faces numerous challenges, including on affordable housing, Arlington Public Schools capacity and an 18 percent office vacancy rate among others. He said the county has faced problems on his watch, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the loss of thousands of jobs through Base Realignment and Closure, but has always come through.

And despite those challenges, Fisette said the relationship between the business community and the county government remains strong, “[e]ven when our relationship is one where we don’t agree,” like the recent spat between the Chamber and Board over proposed changes to the towing ordinance.

Fisette had 10 recommendations for county leaders, after the jump:

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