Facing a shortage of moderately-priced housing options in the “missing middle” between apartment buildings and single-family homes, the County is kicking off a study to figure out whether it should open up some areas zoned only for single-family homes to denser housing types.
But Clement, a perennial candidate for the last decade, said Garvey has given outsized importance to the racial-justice component of this plan to gloss over economic problems. One problem is the possibility that these new housing options may still be out-of-reach for Black residents, according to Clement.
“The County has been very successful in persuading people it is a social-justice and racial issue, but the people that they are addressing are not aware of the dynamics of the real-estate market,” Clement said.
In the mid-20th century, Arlington began zoning most of the county for single-family homes and forbade the construction of more compact dwellings, which were more commonly inhabited by the county’s Black population because fewer could afford detached homes. There were also deed covenants that explicitly prevented non-whites from buying homes, even if they could afford them.
Today, 75% of the county is zoned for single-family homes. Given the median income earned by Black Arlingtonians, homes in all but a few neighborhoods are out of reach for most.
“What we’ve got now is the result of very intentional systemic racism,” Garvey said of local housing patterns. “Whether this study is going to fix it or not is hard to say. I don’t think we’re saying that.”
Clement agreed that the effects of Arlington’s exclusionary housing policies in the 20th century remain. She said what is disingenuous is framing duplexes, townhouses or other small-scale, multi-family housing as a way to correct Arlington’s racist past, when some data suggest these new options could be unaffordable due to the county’s inflated land values.
“Due to ever increasing land values no one earning less than area median income will afford the housing built on densified lots,” Clement wrote. “In addition many moderate income residents, including people of color, will be forced to sell when real estate assessments escalate in their up-zoned neighborhoods.”
Garvey did not refute the possibility that the study could find that these alternatives would not necessarily be more affordable, but said it is “way too early” to draw conclusions from a study in its infancy.
“The only thing we’ve said is that we have a real issue with sufficient diversity of housing to meet a lot of needs,” she said.
Clement argues that the current unaffordable housing landscape in Arlington is because the county allowed affordable homes to be torn down and replaced with more expensive housing. Renovating existing structures would be a better solution, she said.
This spring, the County Board voted to eliminate a tax credit to landlords who renovate their buildings. Senior Housing Planner Russell Danao-Schroeder said the program had outlived its usefulness: Only large developers were availing themselves of the credit to keep their buildings at the top of the market.
The empty Red Cross building (4333 Arlington Blvd) in Buckingham will come down in a few weeks to make way for a new apartment building called The Cadence.
The building, developed by Wesley Housing Development Corporation, will have 97 units, all set aside for low- and moderate-income households. It is part of a complex that includes 19 nearly complete market-rate townhouses a stone’s throw away.
Local officials, project financiers and construction company representatives gathered for a socially distanced groundbreaking on Tuesday afternoon at the site in Buckingham. The event also commemorated renovations that will begin next year on the neighboring complexes, Whitefield Commons and Knightsbridge apartments, which Wesley also operates for low-income residents.
“The cadence that we set has changed tempo a few times, from where we were to where we are going, but we’re still moving ahead and at this point, we see no reason that we won’t stick the rest of the schedule going forward,” quipped Shelley Murphy, President and CEO of Wesley Housing.
Mark Weisner, the president of Bozzuto Construction Company, which is building The Cadence apartment building, said his company has “a lot of work to do in the next 24 months,” when the building is set to open its doors to renters.
Wesley’s presence in Northern Virginia continues to grow, as well as its staff. The nonprofit owns and operates 2,000 affordable housing units across the region, with about 690 units located in Arlington, including a mixed-income apartment building in Rosslyn that opened in 2017. The company also provides services and programs to residents.
Libby Garvey, the chair of the Arlington County Board, said this groundbreaking is an important milestone for the county, which — like every in-demand urban area — struggles to maintain affordable housing when wealthy families also desire to move in.
“Healthy communities provide work and housing opportunities for all levels of the social and economic spectrum,” Garvey said. “The pandemic has shown clearly how important housing is to everyone’s health.”
Murphy said the moderate-income units and market-rate townhouses in The Cadence make good on a promise that Wesley made to the community to bring more income diversity to Buckingham, which has a significant number of affordable housing units already.
“We want to make sure we are helping Arlington County build neighborhoods of opportunity,” she said.
Knightsbridge and Whitefield Commons provide “extremely deep affordability” for families with an average income of less than $20,000 and $30,000 a year, respectively, she said. The Cadence will cater to families of four who earn between $62,000 and $80,000 a year.
Wesley also promised to preserve the Whitefield Commons — which was built in 1943 and formerly known as the Windsor Apartments — and to encourage residents to seek transportation alternatives to cars. The developer faced some opposition from neighbors, who said Buckingham’s percentage of affordable housing units is much higher compared to other neighborhoods.
The project has received state and county funding, loans and tax credits. Additional funding comes from Wesley selling the land for the townhouses to Tysons-based home builder Madison Homes.
Arlington County is considering a plan to host some children of working parents in community centers for supervised learning, while Arlington Public Schools readies its plan for a return to in-person learning.
The use of community centers would be a relief valve for families that are unable to have a parent stay home during the day and do not have the means to pay for daytime child care. It would serve as an interim step until APS again offers full-time, in-person learning — whenever that may be.
“There’s no one silver bullet that’s going to fix the whole situation for schools or for childcare,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said at a virtual COVID-19 town hall meeting on Friday.
“We are looking at opening a couple of our community centers for children to have supervised learning when their parents have to be working,” Garvey continued. “I know that the school system and we too are interested in trying to get students back [to school] or get students into childcare who need it. We’re trying to do it in a priority order for those who are most at risk and having the toughest time with the current situation.”
Asked for more information on any such planning, Deputy County Manager Michelle Cowan issued the following statement to ARLnow.
The County has been exploring multiple options for care for school-aged children with APS and non-profit partners, with the initial priority being at-risk children. All options are being evaluated with the understanding that the County must comply with COVID and safety requirements when these types of services are provided in either County or APS facilities, and in many cases, child care licensure requirements. We are using some community centers for activities related to COVID (e.g., testing at the Arlington Mill Community Center) and for early voting; the County is working to ensure that the mix of uses is appropriate in light of COVID requirements.
Arlington’s public schools remain closed, but the school system is “continuing to plan for returning to hybrid, in-person learning,” Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán said in an email to families on Tuesday.
Durán is expected to announce a similar plan at tonight’s School Board meeting.
The tentative plan is for some students with disabilities to return by the end of October; PreK-3 students, career and technical education students, and other students with special needs to return by “early to mid-November;” and for all students opting for a hybrid learning model — two days per week in classrooms — to return in early December.
The plan is contingent on there not being a deterioration of health metrics in Arlington County.
“Our teachers and students are doing incredible work to adapt to distance learning, and we are doing everything we can to support their efforts,” Durán wrote on Tuesday. “We are working to bring in small groups of students based on level of need and will define that further at this Thursday’s meeting.”
Purple Lounge is resuming operations after reaching a settlement with Virginia ABC for the restoration of its liquor license.
Six people have been shot in violence linked to the business at 3111 Columbia Pike since last September, including a double shooting late last month and a triple shooting, in which one person was killed, in June. The continued violence, complaints from neighbors, and repeated code violations led Virginia ABC to suspend Purple Lounge’s license to serve alcohol earlier this month.
As a result of a settlement this week the business can resume serving alcohol — but with a number of restrictions.
The restrictions include “stopping all sales and consumption of alcohol at 12:45 a.m.,” “closure of the business no later than 1:00 a.m. and no reopening sooner than 8:00 a.m.,” and keeping four certified security guards on duty — including in the violence-prone parking lot — when the lounge is open at night.
In a press release Wednesday night, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said the county would have preferred the business been fully closed by Virginia ABC. She noted that further violations, however, could result in a permanent loss of Purple Lounge’s ABC license.
More from the county press release:
Today, Arlington County officials were informed of a settlement agreement reached between the management of the Purple Restaurant and Lounge and the Virginia ABC. Arlington County is not a party to this settlement.
“We are very disappointed that ABC did not fully close or revoke the liquor license for The Purple Lounge. We view the result in this matter as only a partial step towards ensuring our community’s safety, which is our primary concern,” Libby Garvey, Chair of the Arlington County Board noted. “The restrictions now in place, if followed, at least offer a path forward. The penalties for failure to adhere to the restrictions include permanent loss of licensure. Our police and public health officials will work closely with Virginia ABC to ensure that this settlement is strictly followed. Our staff will be conducting regular visits and monitoring activity inside and outside of the Purple Lounge to ensure full compliance.” Community members who observe behaviors believed to be outside of the negotiated agreement are urged to contact Virginia ABC or the Arlington County Police Department.
On September 1, following a series of disturbing events at the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge (Purple Lounge), the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (“ABC”) issued an Order of Summary Suspension, temporarily suspending its alcohol licenses.
After an investigation, Virginia ABC cited two violations against the Purple Lounge relating to its failure to take reasonable measures to prevent violence on the property, and the Purple Lounge’s adverse effects on neighboring properties. A formal hearing was scheduled to occur on September 16-17th regarding the status of the Purple Lounge’s liquor license as a result of these charges. Possible outcomes ranged from full reinstatement of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses, partial reinstatement of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses with restricted hours, or full revocation of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses.
Garvey Stands By Streetcar Stance — “It cost her the goodwill of many in the county’s Democratic ranks, and four years ago nearly cost her her job, but Libby Garvey says she has no regrets. Garvey, now seeking a third full term on the Arlington County Board, used the Sept. 8 Arlington County Civic Federation candidate forum to remind voters of her full-throttle opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar system – the biggest political controversy of recent years.” [InsideNova]
Local Man Facing Child Porn Charges — “An Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigation by state and local agencies has resulted in the arrest of an Arlington man. Detectives arrested Luis Hernandez Orozco, 25, and charged him with two counts of Possession of Child Pornography. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Somewhat Affordable for Renters — Arlington has ranked No. 18 on a new list of the “Cities Where Renters Can Afford to Live Alone,” which ranks locales based on average rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment, relative to the median income in the area. [SmartAsset]
Drive-In Movie on Saturday — “The drive-in is back, and coming to a neighborhood near you. Gather the family and cruise down to Ballston to watch an exclusive screening of Night at the Museum at Ballston’s Drive-In Movie Night. Tickets include free sweet treats, but be sure to bring your own movie snacks.” [Ballston BID]
Two top local Democratic elected officials are calling on the Trump administration and the president’s Rosslyn-based campaign to wear masks while in Arlington County.
Rep. Don Beyer and Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey sent a letter today to Trump’s chief of staff and campaign manager, imploring them to follow public health guidelines at campaign headquarters and at events.
The letter was prompted by Vice President Pence’s June visit to Trump HQ, in which he and dozens of mask-less staffers were photographed crowded together, as well as by a recent presidential speech in a Pentagon City hotel ballroom, in which few of the conservative activists in attendance wore masks.
Trump’s Rosslyn headquarters was temporarily shut down in July due to a COVID-19 case, according to Politico.
“It is deeply important to us that everyone when they are in Arlington, including the President and personnel affiliated with him, adhere to public health guidelines requiring physical distancing and face coverings in indoor settings,” Beyer and Garvey wrote in the jointly-signed letter. “We beseech you to prioritize the health of the people around you, including your own staff and, especially, the residents of Arlington whom we represent. The future health of our community may depend on it.”
Trump, Beyer and Garvey are all up for reelection in November.
The full letter is below.
“We’ve seen too many accidents here. Think [before] you cross!”
So reads signs recently placed on Little Falls Road, at the crash-prone intersection with Old Dominion Drive, below signs restricting traffic to right turns only during rush hour. A few yards from the signs, around lunchtime Friday, was yet another crash.
The two-vehicle, T-bone crash involving an SUV and a minivan resulted in at least one vehicle occupant, a young woman who was visibly shaken, being evaluated by medics. A young girl appeared to have been riding in a car seat in the minivan at the time but was uninjured.
“It’s always this intersection here,” a police officer directing traffic could be heard saying to a passerby.
Friday’s crash was the eleventh so far this year at Old Dominion and Little Falls, according to Arlington County Police Department data. By comparison, there were 14 crashes there during all of 2019 and 13 throughout 2018.
Locals have long known the intersection — with no stop for Old Dominion traffic and limited sightlines for Little Falls traffic — to be dangerous, so much so that three years ago a 13-year-old took it upon himself to start a petition for safety changes, ultimately leading to the rush hour restrictions. Though the restrictions have been in place for a year, the crashes have not slowed down.
A wreck in May sent an SUV careening over the sidewalk and into the front yard of a home in the corner. No injuries were reported. A subsequent ARLnow morning poll found that more than 70% of respondents think a four-way stop or a traffic signal should be installed at the intersection.
There was another two-vehicle crash at the intersection on Monday, though it’s not clear whether it actually occurred in the intersection.
No additional changes are currently planned for the intersection, though some may be forthcoming — eventually.
Arlington County officials tell ARLnow that VDOT has applied for grant funding for the intersection on the county’s behalf, a process that might take some time.
“This intersection continues to pose safety challenges, and has been investigated by our Transportation Engineering and Operations (TE&O) staff,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “As the intersection is under VDOT control, we’ve applied to the VDOT STARS (Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions) program for grant funding.”
Hui Wang, Arlington’s Transportation Engineering and Operations Bureau Chief, said the state grant would help fund a study that will then provide recommendations for safety changes.
“If approved, VDOT has a group conducting comprehensive review of all aspects with community engagement included,” Wang said.
Garvey said she has also asked about “interim solutions.”
“I’ve asked our staff for a briefing to better understand the situation and, if there are any further interim solutions to pursue, I’m hopeful we can advanced them,” she said.
(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Another shooting in the parking lot of Purple Lounge on Columbia Pike has county officials mulling additional action against the nightlife venue.
Police say a man was shot around 5 a.m. Sunday outside the business at 3111 Columbia Pike, after the suspect opened fire into a crowd. The shooter was also shot and lightly wounded by security guards, according to an Arlington County Police Department press release.
Both the victim and the suspect suffered injuries considered non-life threatening.
The weekend exchange of gunfire follows another shooting in the same parking lot nearly a year ago. A 29-year-old suspect was arrested last September after police say he shot a man in the abdomen, seriously injuring him, following an early morning dispute.
Last year’s shooting prompted the Arlington County Board to revoke the lounge’s live entertainment permit in December. The Board was told that police had responded to the venue nearly 70 times between January and November, and that neighbors were frequently complaining about early morning noise and incidents associated with the business, even well after closing time.
Despite the incidents and alleged health code and alcohol violations, Purple Lounge had its Virginia ABC permit to serve beer, wine and liquor renewed for a year on May 1, according to public records.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, in a statement to ARLnow, said the county is exploring ways to “halt bad behavior” at the business.
“The incident at the Purple Lounge is the latest in a series of very disturbing events associated with that establishment,” Garvey said. “The Board is working with the Manager and our attorney to explore all the options available to us to halt bad behavior within and around the property.”
In July, Arlington denied Purple Lounge’s application for expanded outdoor seating in its parking lot, a county spokeswoman noted.
Photos courtesy @lavvra/Twitter
(Updated at 11 a.m.) Arlington has reached a new high water mark for coronavirus cases this summer.
The county recorded 175 new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days — an average of 25 per day — according to new Virginia Dept. of Health data. Twenty-nine new cases were reported overnight.
The seven-day trailing total of new cases peaked in early May at 316, during the height of the local epidemic. It bottomed out at 42 in late June, and reached a previous summertime peak of 156 on Aug. 8.
Arlington’s test positivity rate has also been increasing. It currently stands at 5.3% — above the county’s 3.7% positivity rate two weeks ago but below the current statewide average of 6.7%. More than 400 PCR-based tests are being performed daily in Arlington, on average.
There is a common thread among those testing positive: they’re typically younger. According to VDH data, analyzed by ARLnow, fully 70% of new cases in Arlington over the past month are among those below the age of 40.
Meanwhile, after more than a week of no new hospitalizations in Arlington, five new COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported over the past two days. No new COVID-related deaths have been reported in Arlington for weeks.
Asked last week whether the county’s contact tracing efforts have revealed anything about where people are getting infected, an Arlington Public Health spokesman said no notable trends have emerged.
“There is no evidence of a specific source or location that has put people at risk of infection more than others,” said Ryan Hudson. “Not being able to identify a single source, or a few sources, is the definition of community spread.”
In D.C., however, officials have revealed more information.
DC DOH Director LaQuandra Nesbitt says indoor dining is high risk, but that a higher proportion of cases are attributed to travel and the workplace. She says social events and travel are the things she's most concerned about.
— Jane Recker (@janerecker) August 17, 2020
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey appeared to provide some additional information on local sources of spread during a chamber of commerce event this week, pointing the finger at restaurants and family gatherings.
The number of new daily coronavirus cases in the region has fallen significantly since reaching a peak in late May, but a recent uptick, particularly associated with bars, restaurants and family gatherings, may require tightening some restrictions, said Libby Garvey, chair of the Arlington County Board.
“We’ve got to find a way to enforce things and be surgical about it because we’re going to be living with this for a while,” Garvey said during an online forum presented by chambers of commerce from across the region. “We’re going to have to do things that are hard… I think we’re going to have to come together again and have some tough discussions.”
In a Washington Post article, Garvey is more specific.
“The stubborn increase in Arlington is driven in large part by young adults who have not been using masks or maintaining their distance inside bars and restaurants, particularly in the trendy Clarendon and Rosslyn neighborhoods, said Libby Garvey,” the Post reported.
The restrictions Garvey is considering, according to the Post, “include a curfew in some areas. Or, if the situation worsens, bars and restaurants may need to be shut down.”
“I don’t know that we should keep our schools closed in order to keep our bars and restaurants opened,” Garvey is quoted as saying.
While the younger people who are disproportionately contracting COVID-19 are at lower risk for serious complications than those who are older, there are growing concerns about the long-term implications of the disease, even among those with relatively minor symptoms.
A recent study of 60 COVID-19 patients published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Lancet this month found that 55% of patients in one study were still displaying neurological symptoms during follow-up visits three months later, including confusion and difficulty concentrating, as well as headaches, loss of taste and/or smell, mood changes and insomnia.
Younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy are suffering blood clots and strokes. Many “long-haulers” — COVID-19 patients who have continued showing symptoms for months after the initial infection passed — report neurological problems including confusion, difficulty concentrating, headaches, extreme fatigue, mood changes, insomnia, plus loss of taste and/or smell.
The Marine Corps Marathon will be held virtually this year, race organizers announced today.
The October marathon usually involves miles of closed streets, tens of thousands of runners grouped together, and large festivals in Rosslyn and Crystal City. That will not be the case for 2020.
Due to the “ongoing public health concerns and the guidelines of local governments,” participants will instead be asked to run 26.2 miles on their own in order to receive their finisher medal, organizers said. Previously, the companion MCM10K and MCM Kids Run were made virtual-only, while the main event was still set to be run on Sunday, Oct. 25.
“We explored various approaches to safely execute a live event and held numerous meetings with Marine Corps leadership, local government and public health officials,” Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO), said in a press release today. “We understand this is disappointing news for many, but we could no longer envision a way to gather together in compliance with safety guidelines. While we are unable to celebrate in-person this October, we are excited about the opportunity to bring the 45th anniversary event to the homes of runners around the world through a rewarding and engaging virtual experience.”
“Health and safety are our top priorities during this challenging time,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “The Marine Corps Marathon is a treasured event and tradition in our community that Arlingtonians look forward to each year. As we celebrate the race’s 45th anniversary this year, we will be enthusiastically and virtually cheering on each runner. We can’t wait to welcome these dedicated athletes and fans back to Arlington in person in 2021.”
More from a press release:
The virtual MCM Weekend events including the MCM, MCM10K, MCM50K and the MCM Semper Fun Mile must be completed between October 1 – November 10, the Marine Corps Birthday. All participants will receive the corresponding participant shirt, commemorative bib, patch and/or finisher medal. Runners will also have access to an online event program, personalized finisher certificate, the MCM Audio Experience and several new digital engagement platforms.
Further instructions and a link to the registration change form will be sent this week to the e-mail address provided by participants during registration. The deadline for currently registered runners to take action on the change form is August 5, 2020.
Runners currently in the live MCM or MCM50K category have the option to:
- Defer entry to a future year (2021, 2022 or 2023) of the runner’s choice at no additional fee; These runners will have a guaranteed virtual entry available for purchase for 24 hours following initiation of the deferment process.
- Request a full registration refund including carbo dining tickets and bib mail out, if purchased.
Runners who already deferred to a future year and paid a deferment fee will receive an automatic refund of the $30 fee and have the option to:
- Remain deferred for 2021, 2022 or 2023; or
- Request a full registration refund including carbo dining tickets and bib mail out, if purchased.
Runners who previously transferred directly from the live to the virtual event have the option to:
- Request a partial refund of the registration fee minus the $45 virtual entry fee; or
- Cancel registration and request a full registration refund including carbo dining tickets and bib mail out, if purchased.
Virtual event registration is open to the public. Entry fees are $45 for the MCM and MCM50K; $33 for the MCM10K; and $20 for the Semper Fun Mile.
Refunds of registration fees will be processed beginning on August 6, 2020 and may take between four to six weeks. Processing fees will not be refunded.
In addition to marking its 45th anniversary, this year’s MCM commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima by featuring actual volcanic ash collected at that site within the event medal.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 11:45 p.m.) More than 500 people have signed a petition calling for the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 to be renamed “Black Lives Matter Bridge.”
The petition was created amid dueling efforts to place and remove the letters “BLM” on the bridge’s chain link fence, a thus far nonviolent dispute that has resulted in multiple calls to Arlington County police.
Two weeks ago, the red cups used to form the letters were removed, promping locals to replace them with new cups and to write new chalk slogans. Among them: “no justice, no peace” and “take it down and we’ll do it again.”
Melissa Schwaber, who sent photos of the cups being replaced, described those doing so as “Fairlington moms and their kids.”
The cups were later removed again, which led to Black Lives Matters supporters creating a heart and spelling out BLM with harder-to-remove ribbons. That won Twitter praise from Arlington County Board Chair and Fairlington resident Libby Garvey. The next day, however, someone spray-painted “TRUMP 2020” under the letters.
— GTO (@GtoGtoreo77) June 27, 2020
The spray paint was in turn sprayed over later that morning, and “BLACK LIVES MATTER” written in chalk over it. Then, more spray paint appeared.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, July 1, a local resident posted photos of an older man and a younger man — wearing a motorcycle helmet and a Liberty University shirt — who she accused of vandalizing the bridge and the lettering.
On Friday, a tipster said the “BLM vs. MAGA battle” was continuing to escalate.
“Now there are people putting up conspiracy theory banners on the bridge and people camped out on the bridge with large dogs,” the tipster said. The banners included a photo of Hillary Clinton under the words “WANTED 4 Crimes Against Humanity.”
— telefrank (@telefrank) July 3, 2020
Later that day, there were more skirmishes.
“I was driving on the Fairlington Bridge an hour or so ago and saw a man arguing with several white women near the BLM signs,” said another tipster. “He was waving his arms in one woman’s face. About 15 minutes ago, on my way home, I saw that the Arlington PD (about 3 cars) had detained the man at the gas station in Shirlington.”
An Arlington County police spokeswoman tells ARLnow that officers have responded to the bridge several times.
“ACPD has responded to multiple reports of disputes in the area of the S. Abingdon Street bridge regarding the posting and removal of signage,” said Kirby Clark. She said that “no charges have been filed related to any incidents involving the signs,” but one incident is under investigation.