Advanced Towing’s legal troubles are not over yet, but owner John O’Neill is feeling good.
Even with the Virginia Attorney General’s office now seeking attorney fees from Advanced, in addition to the mere $750 fine imposed by an Arlington judge, O’Neill feels “vindicated” and calls the AG’s case against him “blackmail.”
On Friday morning, both sides appeared at Arlington Circuit Court in front of Judge William Newman to enter a final order in the AG’s suit. However, since the court didn’t initially rule on the payment of attorney’s fees, a final order couldn’t be agreed on due to the AG’s office insistence that it’s still owed additional money.
As expected, the defense didn’t agree, so the case will continue with another hearing. That’s likely to come in April, when Republican Jason Miyares succeeds Democrat Mark Herring as the state attorney general.
While it’s unclear at this time how much those attorney’s fees may be, O’Neill tells ARLnow he isn’t worried about it.
“Come January, there’ll be a new AG in charge who believes this case is overbearing. I’ve talked to him,” O’Neill says. “I’m very comfortable that this will not be [sought].”
It was a month ago that the court ruled for the towing company to pay a civil fine of $750 for five separate violations of trespass towing rules. Herring’s office brought the case alleging the Advanced often improperly and unsafely tows vehicles, calling the company’s practices “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.”
The three-digit fine is not the outcome the now-outgoing Attorney General was seeking.
“I am disappointed that the Court only awarded $750 in civil penalties and did not award restitution to consumers, especially the victims of Advanced’s dangerous towing practices who voluntarily testified in court to tell their story,” the outgoing Herring wrote in a statement to ARLnow last month. “Advanced Towing has employed predatory and illegal towing practices for years, costing Virginia consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and it deserves to be held accountable for its actions.”
But to O’Neill, the court’s decision was proof that his company operates legally, despite public perception to the contrary.
“I was right along. I was vindicated,” he says. “I always had authority to tow and we never made a mistake. People who got their tow parked illegally and we worked in accordance with the law.”
He calls the $650,000 sought by the AG’s Office “blackmail money” and says the whole case was a “witch hunt.”
In a conversation with ARLnow, O’Neill also took shots at the Assistant Attorney General who prosecuted the case.
“She wanted to make my life hell,” he said. “We spent the next year and a half with paperwork up our ass.”
When asked if there were lessons learned from the experience, O’Neill says that just because the government says you are guilty of something, doesn’t mean that you are.
“I didn’t accept the blackmail attempts. This was David vs. Goliath,” said O’Neill, adding that he’s still working to pay the bill for his legal defense, helmed by attorney and sitting state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax).
“We didn’t have the means to fight this case, but I protected my business and the rights of private property owners across the Commonwealth,” he said.
In terms of the violations for which the court found Advanced Towing liable — including drivers not securing safety straps on vehicles — O’Neill was dismissive and noted that this was primarily the driver’s responsibility.
Saying he “went through hell” with the trial, O’Neill believes Advanced Towing’s victory is a triumph for the entire towing industry.
“Private property owner rights were at stake,” he said. “If [the AG’s office] had won, towing companies would have been hesitant to tow cars… The entire industry is rejoicing. Now, they feel protected.”
The court has ordered the towing company, whose tactics have angered many in Arlington, to pay a civil penalty of just $750 for five separate violations. That’s a far cry from the $650,900 that the Attorney General’s office was seeking at trial.
“Although the Defendant’s conduct is sanctionable, the Court is constrained by the remedies available in both the Virginia and Arlington County Code,” wrote Judge William Newman in an opinion letter sent to both sides late Wednesday afternoon.
Additionally, the court did not issue an injunction against the towing company, writing that while there were “deficiencies” in Advanced Towing’s business practices and record keeping, the court “does not find evidence to issue a permanent injunction against Defendant.”
Chap Petersen, Advanced Towing’s attorney — as well as a Virginia state Senator — said at trial that he believed “the office of the Attorney General wants to put my client out of business.” He said the ruling largely vindicates the company and owner John O’Neill.
“While disappointed that the Court made any findings against our client, we feel vindicated in that the Court only assessed a $750 fine for the [five] found violations,” writes Petersen in a statement to ARLnow.
The court assessed one $150 civil penalty for not safely securing consumer vehicles with straps, one $150 civil penalty for not updating contract changes for a commercial parking lot in Ballston, and three $150 civil penalties for employing three drivers that were not registered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
During the trial, the AG’s office, represented by Assistant Attorney General Erin Witte, called Advanced Towing’s practices “predatory, illegal, and dangerous.” To prove this, they called up a parade of witnesses, including Arlington County police officers and drivers who had their cars towed.
The court found merit in only some of the Attorney General’s claims.
The AG’s office argued that Advanced Towing didn’t clearly mark parking spaces at the Ballston lot, near Gold’s Gym on Wilson Blvd, leaving consumers confused. However, the court ruled the spots were properly labeled and signs properly posted and, therefore, didn’t assess a civil penalty.
Additionally, the AG’s office claimed that Advanced Towing didn’t have copies of towing contracts available for public inspection. But the court ruled that the relevant contracts were available to the public and, also, didn’t assess a civil penalty for that.
“Advanced Towing has been found to have violated the law and it’s time for the company to clean up its act. I am disappointed that the Court only awarded $750 in civil penalties and did not award restitution to consumers, especially the victims of Advanced’s dangerous towing practices who voluntarily testified in court to tell their story,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring wrote in a statement to ARLnow. “Advanced Towing has employed predatory and illegal towing practices for years, costing Virginia consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and it deserves to be held accountable for its actions. I am proud of the hard work my Consumer Protection Section has done on this case, and we will not stop going after bad actors who prey on Virginians just trying to go about their daily lives.”
Petersen noted that, before the trial, the Attorney General’s office offered to settle the case over the summer for $780,000 and an injunction against certain practices by the company.
“I think the difference between the AG’s offer and the Court’s decision speaks for itself,” he said.
While it remains possible that the Attorney General could appeal the ruling, Herring lost his bid for a third term last week, putting further action in the case into question.
A final decree is scheduled to be presented to both sides in court on December 10.
A decision is expected in Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s lawsuit against Advanced Towing within the next two weeks, a judge said after the trial’s closing arguments Wednesday.
The AG’s office is seeking $650,900 in restitution and civil penalties from Advanced Towing, as well as an injunction. The defense is asking for the case to be dismissed.
Arlington County Circuit Court Chief Judge William T. Newman is presiding over the case, which pits the Commonwealth against a widely-loathed but also widely-used, Ballston-based company that tows vehicles that are considered to be trespassing on private property.
Word of the pending ruling comes after three days of arguments, with the trial starting earlier this month and concluding this week. Wednesday’s closing arguments took just over an hour combined and were intended to crystalize their positions for the judge.
The AG’s office, represented by Assistant Attorney General Erin Witte, reiterated that Advanced Towing practices were “predatory, illegal, and dangerous” while focusing on three main arguments.
First, the employment of unregistered drivers. The AG’s office alleged that more than 10,000 tows, pulled from company records, were made over the last several years by not up-to-date or unregistered tow truck drivers. All drivers are required to be registered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
While Virginia code puts the onus on individual drivers to be registered, it also states that no tow truck operators should “violate, or assist, induce, or cooperate with others to violate, any provision of law related to the offering or delivery of towing and recovery services.”
Witte argued that Advanced Towing ran afoul of this provision by allowing drivers to tow without registration, no matter their intent. There’s also no company policy to have those registrations on file.
Then, the focus shifted to alleged unsafe towing conduct with the AG’s office citing consumer, resident, and police officer testimony of spotting (and ticketing) drivers not applying safety straps when towing. Witte also noted the “unprofessional” interactions some customers had, including testimony from one man who had his car lifted at the tow yard while he was in it.
Finally, Witte spoke about the legality of the contract and towing being done at a specific shopping center parking lot, along Wilson Blvd near Ballston. The contract wasn’t kept up to date with specifics about when Advanced Towing could tow and when, the assistant AG said. The contract also wasn’t made easily available to the public, as county code stipulates, and a revised contract was once backdated before it was provided to a customer upon their request.
Additionally, the markings on individual parking spaces were unclear, particularly night, leaving customers confused, the Commonwealth argued.
In conclusion, Witte said the AG’s office is seeking restitution and civil penalties to “send a message to the defense.”
“[Advanced Towing] tows as many cars as fast as possible,” Witte said. “And acted without regard for the law or safety… we need to hold the defense accountable.”
In his closing arguments, Advanced Towing’s attorney, Chap Petersen — who’s also a state senator — defended his client from these allegations.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s lawsuit against Advance Towing, long accused by many of predatory towing, finally went to trial this week.
During two days of arguments, the AG’s office honed in on the towing company for what they considered to to be unsafe towing practices, overstepping their authority, and allowing unregistered drivers to tow.
Saying that both the county and consumers don’t have much recourse on these matters, Assistant Attorney General Erin Witte made the point that the responsibility was on the Commonwealth to hold Advanced Towing accountable.
“If we don’t do it, it won’t happen,” she said during her opening arguments and speaking to Chief Judge William Newman.
The AG’s office is seeking an injunction to end Advanced Towing’s “illegal practices,” restitution for consumers, plus civil penalties, and attorney’s costs and fees.
While the case was initially supposed to be wrapped up within two days, Judge Newman ruled to allow it to extend to a third day for closing arguments on Oct. 20. A decision by the judge is expected shortly after that.
It was back in June 2020 when the Commonwealth of Virginia filed a lawsuit against Advanced Towing for conduct the state deemed to be “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.” However, it took 16 months of motions, requests for information, and withdrawn trial dates to get to this point.
It’s undisputed that Advanced Towing’s tactics have angered scores of drivers, unhappy with being towed, including former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, Amazon delivery drivers, and others. One person has even set up and, for years, maintained a website dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoing by Advanced, after his Jeep was reportedly damaged while being towed in 2016.
Advanced has argued repeatedly that it is providing a necessary service by towing vehicles that are trespassing on private parking lots. But those being towed nonetheless frequently vent frustration, often prompting calls to police over disputes at the Advanced lot in Ballston.
Sometimes it goes further. In January 2020, an Uber driver trying to drive out of the lot without paying struck owner John O’Neill at the company’s lot. During his testimony during this trial, O’Neill referred to this as his “accident” and said it has caused him severe medical issues.
The company’s attorney Chap Petersen, who is also a Virginia state Senator, acknowledged that there are a lot of people who are pretty upset with his client.
“This lawsuit isn’t about much. There were 40,000 tows in Arlington [since 2017]. That’s a lot of unhappy people, sure.” said Petersen. “But [those tows] weren’t illegal.”
But the question before the court is whether the actions of Advanced Towing are actually illegal despite the company’s assertions to the contrary.
The days-long trial examined a number of alleged bad practices of Advanced Towing, including towing of police vehicles, towing without proper authority, not properly securing vehicles while towing, the safety and professionalism of Advanced Towing employees, if contracts with property owners were properly signed and up to date, the registration status of drivers, and whether towing signage and markings were clear enough for consumers.
To make their case, the AG’s office brought a parade of witnesses to the stand. Among them were several Arlington County police officers, Advanced Towing employees, and people who have had their cars towed.
The police officers testified they had written a number of tickets over the last several years to Advanced Towing, related to improper towing due to safety straps not being applied and not securing the load properly.
Consumers spoke at length about their experiences being towed. One witness recounted having her car towed from her own co-op residence parking lot.
Although she eventually got her car back without paying a fee, she recounted how much time and stress it caused her.
“I was devastated,” she said on the witness stand.
Several witnesses spoke about the “unprofessional” interactions they had with Advanced Towing employees, including one woman who said she was aggressively accosted at the company’s tow yard, which made her feel unsafe.
While the company operates throughout Arlington County as well as in parts of Fairfax County, a lot of time was spent on their towing authority and practices related to a Wilson Blvd parking lot near Ballston that’s used by Gold’s Gym, &Pizza, and bicycle store Spokes Etc.
Local residents on the witness stand (some appearing virtually) recounted their times of running into one of these businesses, only to have their vehicles towed within minutes.
Langston Blvd Plan Meets Resistance — “Following this May’s release of area planning maps and a presentation on density from consultant AECOM, a furious screed was published by Lyon Village Civic Association president John Carten. Though the process is still in the community engagement phase that precedes concrete recommendations, the hint of possible changes in the General Land Use Plan prompted the Lyon Village group to predict a parade of horribles.” [Falls Church News-Press]
New Clarendon Apartment Building Sold — “Trammell Crow Residential has sold the Alexan Earl, a 333-unit multifamily building at 1122 N. Hudson St., to Lincoln Property Co. for $192 million… The Earl represents the first phase of the long-planned Red Top Cab redevelopment… Shooshan continues to plan for the second phase, a roughly 250-unit building fronting Washington Boulevard at the intersection with 13th Street North. It expects to start demolition this fall.” [Washington Business Journal]
Online Fundraiser for Fallen Officer –” The family of George Gonzalez started a memorial fund Sunday for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer who was fatally wounded Tuesday on the platform of the Pentagon Transit Center… By 3 p.m. on Monday, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $15,000, outstripping its original goal of $1,000.” [Patch, GoFundMe]
Local BBQ Joint Competing in ‘World Championship’ — “Arlington’s Smokecraft Modern Barbecue… has been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Taking place in Lynchburg, TN on on October 8th and 9th, ‘The Jack’ as it is known, is widely considered the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.” [Press Release]
Va. AG Continues to Fight Robocalls — “Attorney General Mark R. Herring today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement caller ID technology. Attorney General Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general have in submitting comments to the FCC.” [Press Release]
Pentagon to Require Vaccinations — “The Pentagon will require members of the military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo on Monday. About 64% of active duty military members are fully vaccinated, a low enough rate to pose concern for potential outbreaks and international deployment.” [Axios]
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Advanced Towing, long accused by critics of predatory towing, is being sued by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
The Commonwealth alleges that Advanced often unsafely tows vehicles, sometimes tows without legal authority, and in general exhibits conduct that is “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.”
“Advanced frequently tows vehicles quickly and carelessly in an effort to tow as many vehicles as possible,” the lawsuit said. “This predatory and overly aggressive behavior causes consumers to become irate and results in many phone calls to the local police department.”
One such irate customer was current Fox News personality Britt McHenry, who famously was caught on video berating an Advanced Towing employee after her car was towed from a restaurant parking lot in Clarendon.
The suit cites instances in which Advanced has towed food delivery vehicles and Amazon vans. It also alleges that on at least two occasions — in August 2019 and February 2020 — Advanced illegally towed Arlington County Police Department vehicles.
The suit discusses how the company has managed to become such a prolific tower of cars determined to be trespassing on the lots of local businesses. Advanced “has employed the use of ‘spotters,’ who are individuals (sometimes children or teenagers) who patrol a parking lot and contact Advanced’s drivers when they see a vehicle they believe is impermissibly parked,” the suit says.
The company operates a tow lot in Ballston, a frequent destination for Arlington police responding to towing disputes. Such disputes led an Uber driver to allegedly strike Advanced owner John O’Neill with his car in January. Another towing dispute, at a Crystal City gas station, led to a stabbing in 2018.
Advanced Towing has even made political headlines.
“Incumbent candidate Barbara Favola was recently criticized by challenger Nicole Merlene for allegedly helping to loosen state towing regulations after accepting combined contributions of $7,250 over previous years from Advanced Towing, with an additional $2,500 coming from company owner John O’Neill,” ARLnow reported last year.
Critics of Advanced Towing have, over the years, frequently emailed ARLnow with tales of alleged bad behavior and have given it a rare one-star review on Yelp. One even created a website with an exhaustive list of complaints about the company.
The lawsuit is “seeking restitution on behalf of consumers, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, and asking the court to ban Advanced Towing from further violating the Virginia and Arlington County towing code provisions,” notes a press release (below).
Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed a lawsuit against Advanced Towing Company, LLC, a towing and recovery operator based in Arlington, Virginia. The Complaint alleges that Advanced Towing has violated Virginia and Arlington County towing code provisions, resulting in towing conduct that is “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.”
“Virginia consumers should not have to worry about towing companies acting illegally or employing predatory, unsafe business practices,” said Attorney General Herring. “My team and I will continue to hold towing companies and bad actors accountable when they break the law and take advantage of consumers.”
The Complaint alleges that Advanced Towing has employed tow truck drivers who are not properly registered with the Commonwealth, implemented a practice of unsafely towing vehicles, towed vehicles without the proper legal authority, unlawfully towed police vehicles and commercial delivery vehicles like Amazon delivery vans, and failed to maintain appropriate contracts with property owners authorizing tows.
Attorney General Herring is seeking restitution on behalf of consumers, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, and asking the court to ban Advanced Towing from further violating the Virginia and Arlington County towing code provisions.
APS Creates Learning at Home Guide — “We have created a Learning at Home webpage that pulls details on instruction, additional educational resources for families, activities and resources for coping with stress. If you have questions, please send them to [email protected]” [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]
How to Report Price Gouging in Virginia — “If you see excessive price increases for coronavirus (COVID-19) necessities, report it to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.” [Facebook, Attorney General Mark Herring]
Costco Encouraging Social Distancing — Costco in Pentagon City has had lines out of the door every morning since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The line has gotten longer — and more spread out — in the interest of social distancing. [Twitter]
Signature Theater Show Goes Online — “Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is looking to make its production of Dani Stoller’s ‘Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes’ available online to ticketholders.” [New York Times]
Ramen Shop Offering Free Food for Seniors — “Gaijin Ramen Shop management and staff are heartbroken by elders without food because of the COVID-19 pandemic… We are offering FREE delivery of fresh vegetable ramen soup to any elderly in need.” [Community Post]
Free Pizza for Kids at Troy’s Italian — “On March 20, from 12-8 p.m. we will be doing free pizza slices for kids. We are also offering contactless curbside pickup. Call us at (703) 528-2828 when you get here, and we will bring the food out, and put it into the trunk of your car for you.” [Facebook]
Vehicle Inspection Enforcement Suspended — “Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
New Local Facebook Page — “Community activist and Arlingtonian Kellen MacBeth has centralized tools and resources for people in need during the coronavirus outbreak. His Facebook page, Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19, is up to 2,000 members in just one day of its existence.” [WDVM]
Nearby: Coronavirus Strikes Falls Church Senior Center — “A resident at The Kensington assisted living center in the City of Falls Church has tested positive for COVID-19, the Fairfax County Health Department reported today. It is the first reported case of the coronavirus in the City.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]
Thousands Expected at Today’s Amazon Event — “Thousands of job-seekers are expected to swarm the site of Amazon’s future headquarters at a ‘career day‘ in Crystal City on Tuesday, as the online retail giant begins to accelerate its hiring and presence in Northern Virginia.” The opening time has been pushed up to 8 a.m. [Washington Post, Twitter]
Suspect Chomps on Cop Along Lee Highway — “The officer initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and made contact with Suspect One, when he observed Suspect Two attempt to flee on foot. With the assistance of additional officers arriving on scene, Suspect Two was stopped. While officers attempted to remove Suspect One from the vehicle and detain him, he actively resisted and bit an officer.” [Arlington County]
Race No Longer Required on Marriage Licenses — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — “Virginia will no longer require couples to identify by race on their marriage licenses, the state’s attorney general announced this week. Under a new policy — which Attorney General Mark Herring detailed in emails to court clerks and members of the media late Friday — people getting married will be able to select ‘Declined to Answer’ in a box asking about race.” [Washington Post]
‘Mabel’s Restaurant’ Coming to Arlington Heights — The restaurant coming to the grounds of the Dominion Apartments, at the former Sherwin Williams paint store (3411 5th Street S.), is called “Mabel’s Restaurant.” An outdoor seating area is planned for the restaurant, according to permit filings. [Arlington Economic Development]
Northam Visits Amazon — “In June, we were excited to open our first temporary office space for our Arlington headquarters in Crystal City. Today, we welcomed @GovernorVA to tour our new work space and meet with Amazonians from the Commonwealth.” [Twitter]
Crystal City Conducting Survey — “The area encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard – Arlington is a dynamic mixed-use urban center and Virginia’s largest walkable downtown… we are embarking on a place branding effort to uncover our neighborhood story and create a striking visual identity.” [Crystal City BID]
History of Heidelberg Bakery — “Heidelberg Bakery is a local landmark in Arlington… In this oral history clip, Carla and Wolfgang Buchler, owners of the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, discuss the lack of diversity in breads that Wolfgang found in America when he first came to the U.S. in the 1970’s–and how tastes have changed, partly due to Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe’s delicious treats.” [Arlington Public Library]
Glebe Road Bridge Project — “The Virginia Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 13 will hold a community forum on its plans to rehabilitate the Route 120 (North Glebe Road) bridge over Pimmit Run to improve safety and extend the bridge’s overall lifespan. The event will be held on from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 North Harrison St. in Arlington.” [InsideNova]
‘Drunkard’ Ruling Won’t Be Appealed — “Virginia’s attorney general on Friday said he will not appeal a ruling that struck down a state law allowing police to arrest and jail people designated as ‘habitual drunkards.'” [Associated Press]
Oil in Sink Causes ‘Fatbergs’ — “If you pour used cooking grease down the kitchen sink, you’re not alone — according to a new survey, 44 percent of respondents in the D.C. region pour cooking oil, fat, or grease down the sink at least occasionally. In doing so — rather than dumping it in the trash–you may be contributing to the creation of something truly horrifying — a fatberg.” [DCist]
Riding Amazon’s Coattails — “As Amazon.com Inc. builds and staffs up HQ2, other tech companies who orbit the online retailer could follow, according to a JBG Smith Properties investor presentation released Tuesday. ‘Amazon isn’t just 38,000 jobs,’ the JBG Smith documents say. ‘It’s a catalyst for significant growth.'” [Washington Business Journal]
Amazon Effect on Real Estate — “While the average sales price in Northern Virginia stayed steady at $565,000 in January, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, the number of homes under contract rose by 70 percent compared with January 2018, and the number of homes for sale fell by 20 percent year-over-year. Limited availability of homes drives prices higher.” [Washington Post]
More Details on Rosslyn Holiday Inn Plan — “New renderings also show that the [Rosslyn Holiday Inn redevelopment] is set to include a ‘public gallery,’ providing an east-west connection through the property between Fort Myer Drive and N. Nash Street. The space would be bookended by public plazas and provide access to the development’s retail offerings.” [Washington Business Journal]
ACFD Safety Initiative Kicks Off — “Beginning Sat., April 6, 2019, and continuing through Sat., Oct. 5, 2019, Arlington County firefighters will be going door to door offering home safety checks to include inspecting smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and giving relevant fire safety tips.” [Arlington County]
Va. AG Sues Over Trump Wall — “‘President Trump is flagrantly disregarding the law in his quest to justify his fake national emergency and build a needless border wall,’ said Attorney General Herring. ‘He is trying to unlawfully divert resources that law enforcement agencies in Virginia and around the country need for their actual work, and his larger plan could threaten half a billion dollars in military construction projects around Virginia.'” [Blue Virginia]
Late last week, a mini legal bombshell dropped: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that Arlington County can, in fact, initiate a renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) within its borders.
After years of unsuccessfully pushing for state legislation to allow it, the Arlington County Board can now just go ahead and pick a new name for “J-D Highway” and ask the Commonwealth Transportation Board to make it so, bypassing the change-resistant General Assembly.
Herring’s opinion came at the prompting of local state legislator Del. Mark Levine (D), who cheered Arlington’s newfound ability to request the removal of the Confederate leader’s name from the main thoroughfare through Crystal City and Pentagon City.
Thrilled that @AGMarkHerring, in a formal opinion to me, has confirmed that Arlington County can change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway without going through the Virginia legislature.https://t.co/d8hMUITCi1
— Mark Levine (@DelegateMark) March 22, 2019
County Board Chair Christian Dorsey told the Washington Post that he expects the Board to move forward with a renaming.
So what should Route 1 now be called as it runs through Arlington? The obvious option is Richmond Highway: that’s what it’s already called in Alexandria and what Google Maps has unilaterally decided to label it as of January.
Of course, there will also be those who think that Jefferson Davis Highway should remain named as such, for old time’s sake. And still others may want a completely different name — Jeff Bezos Highway, anyone? (Just kidding.)
What do you think?