Garvey, a Democrat who has clashed with the local Democratic establishment over her endorsement of independent John Vihstadt and opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar, was unanimously elected County Board Chair at the Board’s annual New Year’s Day organizational meeting on Jan. 1.
Garvey is up for reelection this year and it is a long-standing tradition that the Board member who is up for reelection serve as Chair.
Jay Fisette, meanwhile, was elected vice chair. Fisette, who has served on the Board since 1999, is now the body’s most senior member, following the retirements of Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada. Their successors, Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey, served their first day on the Board at Friday’s meeting.
Garvey, who was first elected in 2012, outlined her priorities at the meeting. Among them:
- Improving county government customer service, including by reforming the “Byzantine” zoning and permitting process for homeowners, small businesses and developers.
- Moving forward with a new transit plan for Columbia Pike. Garvey said she was frustrated with the slow pace of planning following the streetcar’s cancellation, and instructed the County Manager to report back later this month on plans including off-board fare collection and traffic signal prioritization.
- Broader civic participation in county government. Garvey wants to see busier people — those with kids or jobs that prevent them from attending long meetings — have a greater voice in local policymaking.
- More flexibility in local regulation. Garvey said Arlington should be careful not to stifle innovation and to not over-regulate to the point where there’s too much sameness in Arlington’s local communities.
Garvey said she also wants to “ensure that every Arlingtonian, people of all ages, interests, and from across the socioeconomic spectrum, can live and work here comfortably.”
Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz said he and county staff are focusing on improving the county’s use of technology in service delivery and to promote government transparency and accountability. Possible new initiatives include streaming county commission meetings, which currently are not recorded for public broadcast.
Vice Chair Fisette, meanwhile, said his focus will be on schools and county facilities
In her remarks, Garvey said she looks forward to “the need for facilities, including schools, while constrained by limited land,” along with strengthening Arlington’s economic competitiveness, balancing the budget and focusing on housing affordability.
“Clearly, some things are going to be different this year, but a lot will stay the same,” Garvey said. “My goal is to see that Arlington achieves its potential.”
“We have challenges, like our commercial vacancy rate, our growing need for more school space, and our shrinking supply of affordable housing but this remains a wonderful community,” Garvey continued. “I’m confident that, together, our residents, our businesses, our staff, and this new Board will make sure that Arlington delivers outstanding customer service to all our residents and businesses, that every Arlingtonian who wants can have a voice in our government, and that we will work strategically to make this wonderful County even better.”
Here’s what happened in Arlington between Christmas and New Year’s.
Last Sunday, a number of dirt bike, motorcycle and ATV riders rumbled through Rosslyn and Pentagon City, part of a larger group that also rode through D.C. and along the Beltway in Maryland.
We published our top 30 most-read Arlington stories of 2015. No. 21-30 included a number of weather stories and the story of a W-L student who was accepted to all 5 Ivy League colleges to which she applied. No. 11-20 included mostly crime and restaurant stories. At the top of the top 10 list, believe it or not, was a morning poll about towing.
In sad news, an elderly woman died after suffering a medical emergency and causing a five-vehicle smash-up in the parking garage across from Whole Foods in Clarendon.
Meanwhile, a lobbyist and former Senate staffer who lives in Arlington Ridge threatened to kill a guy who was trying to fix his computer.
In happier restaurant news, District Taco is opening this week in Rosslyn, the Pentagon City and Crystal City area is getting its eighth Starbucks cafe and a Christian clothing store is coming to the Pentagon City mall.
Consider yourself caught up. For a slow, partial workweek between two major holidays, it was a pretty busy week for news.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for Arlington? Feel free to discuss in the comments.
Free Late Night Metro Rides Tonight — Metrorail will run through 3 a.m. tonight, to accommodate New Year’s Eve revelers. Rides from midnight to 3 a.m. will be free, courtesy of Miller Lite. Tomorrow, on New Year’s Day, Metro will operate on a Sunday schedule, with service starting at 7 a.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
Last Minute NYE Options — Procrastinated on your New Year’s Eve plans? Our event calendar has some good suggestions, with events along the Orange Line and Columbia Pike. Some NYE events at popular Orange Line bars have already sold out of advance tickets. [ARLnow]
New Year’s Closures in Arlington — All Arlington County offices will be closed tomorrow (Friday) in observance of New Year’s Day, with the exception of the County Board offices, where the Board will hold its annual organizational meeting (see below.) Parking meters and zones will not be enforced Friday. Public libraries will close at 5 p.m. today and will reopen Jan. 2. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
Board to Hold New Year’s Day Meeting — The County Board will hold its annual Jan. 1 organization meeting tomorrow. It will be the first day of work for new Board members Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. A new County Board Chair and Vice-Chair will be chosen, but it’s unclear at this point who will be selected. [Arlington County]
Violand-Sanchez Won’t Seek Third Term — Arlington School Board Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez says she will not seek a third term on the School Board in 2016. Previously a school administrator, Sanchez has had a 40-year career with Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]
Median Home Sales Price Rises — The median sales price for a home in Arlington rose 5.75 percent to $560,000 in 2015, faster than the rate of increase in Fairfax, Loudoun or Alexandria. [Washington Post]
Arlingtonian Surprised to Be Named 50 Millionth Passenger at SFO — Arlington resident Katheryn Castagna was getting ready to fly from San Francisco back to Reagan National Airport when she was surprised by airport officials and news crews, who told her she was the airport’s 50,000,000th passenger of 2015. Castagna, who works at CEB in Rosslyn, received two round trip tickets to Hawaii. [SFGate, CBS San Francisco]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Green Party, VOICE at Odds on Affordable Housing — Two groups that both support more affordable housing in Arlington, the Arlington Green Party and Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), are seemingly at odds over the means to that end. VOICE didn’t support the Green Party’s housing authority referendum, and now the Green Party is blasting VOICE because the group “prefers, apparently, to work closely with the Democratic ruling party behind closed doors and support a dysfunctional housing-assistance program.” [Sun Gazette]
New Year’s Eve Events — If you’re still trying to decide where to celebrate the arrival of 2014 in Arlington, our New Year’s Eve guide has 10 ideas for you.
New Year’s Day Closures — Most Arlington County facilities and services will be closed tomorrow, Jan. 1. The Arlington County Board, however, will hold its traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting at 11:00 a.m.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
All offices, courts, libraries, schools, community centers and pools will be closed. There will also be no trash collection and only ART bus routes 41 and 51 will operate. Parking meters and permit parking will not be enforced.
In addition to the Christmas and New Year’s closures, some facilities will also be closed or will closed early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Courts and the Sheriff’s Office will be closed. Community centers and pools will operate on a modified schedule.
The County Board will hold its traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Jan. 1. The meeting will be held at the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
Walter Tejada, the new Arlington County Board Chair for 2013, says he will use his chairmanship to push for progress in four local policy areas: affordable housing, fitness and health, urban agriculture, and pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Tejada and other County Board members outlined their vision for the county at the Board’s traditional New Year’s Day meeting on Tuesday. As Chair, Tejada’s priorities will receive the sharpest focus.
In a seven-page speech, Tejada repeatedly called on the county to “move forward together… for all of Arlington.”
Tejada’s first major policy initiative is affordable housing. Tejada repeated a call he and Board member Chris Zimmerman previously made: for new affordable housing investment funded via adoption of Tax Increment Financing for Columbia Pike. The TIF would steer a percentage of taxes gained through increases in property values along Columbia Pike to the creation of new affordable housing, to bolster the county’s existing 6,585 committed affordable units.
“Already on Columbia Pike, market forces are threatening one of the County’s largest supplies of market-rate affordable housing,” Tejada said. “I have asked [County Manager Barbara Donnellan] to analyze and submit a recommendation by June 2013 for creating a transit oriented affordable housing fund on Columbia Pike through adoption of a TIF.”
“We need to house our healthcare workers and teacher aides, our cashiers and restaurant workers, our cleaning staff and small business employees, and other hard-working people so vital to our County’s economic health,” he continued. “We need to maintain the cultural and economic diversity that is so vital to Arlington’s soul, for all of Arlington.”
Tejada acknowledged that more affordable housing will not come cheap, but quoted former president John F. Kennedy in saying, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”
An affordable housing TIF on the Pike wouldn’t be the county’s first use of the funding vehicle. A TIF is in place to fund infrastructure improvements in Crystal City, including a planned Crystal City streetcar.
After affordable housing, Tejada called for the county to “promote healthy living” through an initiative called FitArlington.
The new focus on fitness and health will include the creation of a “Arlington Healthy Community Action Team” (HCAT) comprised of local health and fitness providers, youth services providers, nutrition educators and urban agriculture enthusiasts. In addition to promoting physical fitness in general, the county will work in partnership with the HCAT and Arlington Public Schools to help reduce the rate of childhood obesity in Arlington.
The childhood obesity initiative will kick off with a community meeting from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Tejada also highlighted the work of the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, which was announced as an initiative at the 2012 New Year’s Day meeting. Among the issues being considered by the task force is the controversial proposal to allow Arlington residents to raise egg-laying hens in their backyards. Tejada said he expects the task force’s forthcoming recommendations to help promote healthy eating in Arlington.
Board to Hold New Year’s Meeting — The Arlington County Board will hold its traditional New Year’s Day meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. At the meeting, Walter Tejada is expected to be elected County Board chair. Tejada and the other four Board members will then outline their policy goals for 2013. In a press release, Arlington County billed itself as “the only local government that “gets to work” on the New Year’s holiday.” [Arlington County]
Cemetery Expansion Concerns Tree Lovers — A plan to expand Arlington National Cemetery has some tree lovers crying foul. The cemetery is projected to run out of additional burial space in 2025, prompting the need for the expansion. Some Arlington residents, however, have been critical of one particular part of the expansion plan, which calls for the clearing of 890 “old-growth” trees. The cemetery plans to replant 600 trees and to preserve a stand of 220-year-old trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Bike Arlington’s Top 10 List — Staff from Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published a list of their “top 10 favorite topics from 2012.” Among the entries in the top 10 list: Capital Bikeshare’s expansion, Bike Friendly Business awards to local shops, and the county’s Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) safety campaign. [Bike Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The closures will be in effect on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, for Arlington County offices, libraries and human services offices. Courts are also closed those days; Arlington Circuit Court will be open from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on December 26, and Arlington General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts will be open from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on December 26.
The ART Information Center and all Commuter Stores will be closed on the previously mentioned four days. On December 24 and 31, ART 41, 42, 51, 77 and 87 will run on a Saturday schedule. On December 25 and January 1, ART 41 and 51 will run on a Sunday schedule. The STAR Call Center will be closed all four days and all standing order rides will be cancelled.
Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center will be open from 6:00 a.m.-noon on December 24 and December 31; all other community centers will be closed. On December 25 and January 1, all community centers, including Barcroft, will be closed.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed from December 24-January 2.
Trash and recycling schedules are as follows:
Dec 24 & 31
- Trash & recycling: normal operations
- Special collection: brush, metal, electronics – normal operations
- No cart repair or mulch delivery service
- Leaf bag collection – normal operations
Dec 25 & Jan 1
- Trash & recycling: regular services not provided. Services available for Tuesday customers on Wed 12/26 and Jan 2
- Special collection: scheduled services not provided
- Leaf bag, brush, metal, electronics, cart repair services available for Tuesday customers on Wed Dec 26 and Jan 2
- Call Center: closed
Dec 26 – 28
- Trash & recycling: normal operations – all services completed by COB 12/29
- Special collection: normal operations – all services completed by COB 12/19
- Call center: normal operations
- Trash & recycling: normal operations – all services completed by COB 1/5
- Special collection: normal operations – all services competed by COB 1/5
- Call center: normal operations
Metrorail will run on a regular weekday schedule on December 24. It will be open from 7:00 a.m.-midnight on December 25 and January 1, and will run on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription trips are cancelled for those two days. On December 31, Metrorail will run on a normal weekdays schedule, but will remain open until 2:00 a.m. to accommodate those celebrating New Year’s Eve.