The Army’s annual Twilight Tattoo events are open to the public again and just as loud as before.
The military pageantry includes a booming accompaniment from the Presidential Salute Battery, which might be heard in parts of Arlington tonight between 7-9 p.m.
The Twilight Tattoo events, which are held on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Summerall Field, were closed to the public in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. This year the public is again invited and the Army expects a full house tonight and for at least the next month.
The free events are scheduled on Wednesdays through July 27. Pre-show music starts at 6:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to arrive after 5 p.m. but well before the 7 p.m. start time.
While tickets are not required, attendance is limited and some people may be turned away, particularly if inclement weather prompts organizers to move the show indoors.
More on the event, below, from the Army’s website.
The U.S. Army’s Twilight Tattoo is an action-packed military pageant featuring Soldiers from the U.S. Army Military District of Washington’s ceremonial units, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” The show features performances by The U.S. Army Blues, The U.S. Army Band Downrange, The U.S. Army Voices, The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and The U.S. Army Drill Team. Twilight Tattoo is appropriate for school-age children and enjoyed by all ages! Learn more about the participating units and Twilight Tattoo history.
Although Twilight Tattoo is fun for all ages, the show does contain a few loud noises. Those attending – and anywhere in the vicinity of @JBMHH – may hear brief periods of ceremonial gun salutes on Wednesday evenings (7-9pm). pic.twitter.com/G32RlT8i3V
— MDW USARMY (@MDW_USARMY) May 11, 2022
More on the Weird Chime Sound — “Janae Bixby first heard the sound near Pentagon City, where I-395 and Glebe Road intersect, as she picked up her kid from daycare on Monday evening around 5. She described it as ‘some sort of clock or doorbell chime that you would hear — very digital.’ She assumed the noise was coming from the building and started heading home. But then, in her car ride home to the southern edge of the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, she kept hearing it, again and again.” [DCist]
Parents Group Wants Smaller Class Sizes — “A group of parents in Arlington, Virginia, is urging the county’s board to allot additional funding to its school system in the next fiscal year’s budget. The group Arlington Parents for Education said in a letter to the board this week that more money should be provided so that class sizes can be smaller, teacher pay can be competitive with surrounding school districts and student mental health and learning loss can be addressed.” [WTOP]
TR Bridge Work Could Wrap Up in June — “A section of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that was closed abruptly for emergency repairs two months ago is likely to reopen to traffic in June, according to officials with the District Department of Transportation. Crews began work on the 58-year-old bridge after an early-February inspection found steel support beams had continued to deteriorate, prompting the closure of three middle lanes and restrictions on heavyweight vehicles.” [Washington Post]
Operator Shortage Behind Bus Delays — From MetroHero: “For most of the morning, only one #WMATA 16Y bus has been in service where at least 5 are supposed to be running right… Previously-unannounced operator shortage was the cause of poor 16Y service this morning.” [Twitter]
School Bus Crash Yesterday Afternoon — “A crash involving several vehicles including a school bus has snarled southbound traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, near Campbell Elementary… No injuries have been reported and one lane of traffic is squeezing by the crash scene. This is the same stretch of road where a group of residents recently called for safety improvements. [Twitter]
Video: Adorable Baby Squirrel — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We’ve definitely got the cutest thing on the internet today! This baby squirrel came to us underweight and hungry, so after a snack she was transferred to a local wildlife rehabber who will care for her until she can be released back into the wild!” [Twitter]
Arlington GOP Ramps Up Outreach — “They are still on the lookout for local candidates, but the Arlington County Republican Committee also is working to connect with prospective supporters. ‘There are thousands of Republican voters who turn out on Election Day but who are otherwise unengaged with the Arlington GOP,’ party communications chair Matthew Hurtt said. ‘We can change that.'” [Sun Gazette]
FBI Warns of Moving Scam — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning the public about increasingly prevalent moving fraud schemes and providing information about how to avoid being victimized by them. A typical moving fraud scheme begins when a customer is enticed into entering into a contract with a moving company to transport their household goods by offers of extremely low-cost estimates from a sales representative or broker.” [FBI]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]
Police Looking for Missing Teen — “MISSING: ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anahi… Described as a [Hispanic] female, 5’4″ tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a nose piercing. She was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. today in the 400 block of S. George Mason Drive.” [Twitter]
Amazon Banana Stand in Crystal City — “Amazon has operated a stand in front of 1770 Crystal Drive, one of the office buildings it occupies in Crystal City, since July. The banistas give away bananas, individually or by the bunch, every weekday between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Anderson said. And anyone can take them, from Amazon employees to residents to passers-by. The stands have dog treats, too.” [Washington Business Journal]
Reports of Strange Sounds Last Night — “Locals: anyone know what that annoying chime / doorbell thing is that goes off every 10 minutes? I’ve seen reports of hearing it from Arlington to Alexandria.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Power Outage Last Night — “Just over 600 Dominion customers are without power tonight in the Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods. Restoration expected within a few hours.” [Twitter]
Metro Wants to Develop Housing — “Metro has released a 10-year joint development plan that’s chock-full of big projects to extend the agency’s reach and increase ridership… The agency says it could produce 26,000 new housing units and 31 million square feet of new development through joint development projects at 40 stations. This could create a projected $50 million in yearly lease revenue.” [Axios]
It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. Breezy, with wind gusts of up to 31 mph. High of 50 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 7:50 pm. [Weather.gov]
The two nightlife venues replacing Whitlow’s on Wilson are gearing up to open over the next few months.
Taking over the long-time local watering hole, which closed in June after more than 25 years in Clarendon, are B Live and Coco B’s.
“We are thrilled to open B Live early spring, and Coco B’s late summer,” Bramson tells ARLnow. “We do not have anticipated opening dates yet, but construction and design are well underway for both concepts.”
Additional details will come soon, he said.
Building permits indicate B Live will occupy the first floor and possibly the basement of the space and Coco B’s will be the name of the old rooftop tiki bar at Whitlow’s. (The name Coco B’s could be a nod to the tiki bar theme, or to the noted local TikTok personality whose spats with two Arlington bars attracted considerable attention last summer.)
Bramson’s updates come after last Tuesday’s County Board approval of use permits for live entertainment and dancing at the two spots, as well as for a 48-seat outdoor café at B Live. The approvals came despite opposition from some neighbors over noise concerns.
The County Board approved the following operating hours: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays, which a county report says are similar to those of neighboring bars.
The Lyon Village Civic Association proposed earlier cut-off times of 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, the report said.
Board members instead approved a recommendation from county staff to review these permits this November and evaluate how successful the bars are at mitigating sounds.
Bramson says the spots will have sound panels and dampening curtains and speakers will be strategically placed to lessen noise levels.
“We are a neighborhood spot and want the community to be comfortable whether they are within the spaces or living nearby,” he said. “We hope our proactive response and action have served to allay any residential apprehension and show that we are taking their concerns very seriously.”
Noise from Whitlow’s was a source of consternation for neighbors that resulted in operating hours being curtailed from 2 a.m. to midnight, plus a requirement to install sound dampening panels and curtains, county planner Cedric Southerland told the County Board last Tuesday.
“That came after years and years trying to work with them to remedy their sound impacts on the neighborhood,” Southerland said. “Additionally, that issue is what preceded the formation of the Clarendon Live Entertainment Group (CLEG), along with other bars and restaurants coming online at that time.”
Established in 2002, the CLEG brings together county staff, restaurant owners and neighbors to address concerns and coordinate code enforcement. Southerland says recently, the CLEG has been meeting fewer times per year, which he takes to be a sign that the group is addressing the concerns that led to its creation two decades ago.
But not all neighbors say mechanisms like the CLEG actually help residents enjoy their homes. Julissa Marenco told the County Board on Tuesday that staff are not sufficiently enforcing noise violations and these organizations do not actually go to bat for neighbors.
“We are all in support of music, we are all in support of living in an urban dwelling, we understand the considerations that come with living in these neighborhoods,” she said. “But it’s now at a point on Wilson Blvd, in Clarendon, that it’s having a tremendous impact on individuals.”
Residents of a North Arlington neighborhood say a large house with a huge yard on their quiet cul-de-sac is generating even bigger problems: boisterous parties, underage drinking, fast driving and trash.
“This is worse than an accident waiting to happen; it’s a potential tragedy in the making,” said Darren Trigonoplos, a resident of the Riverwood neighborhood, which borders the George Washington Parkway, during the public comment portion of Saturday’s County Board meeting.
When neighbors call the Arlington County Police Department, he said, the officers who arrive to the house on N. Nelson Street issue citations but do not stop the parties outright. Trigonoplos asked the County Board to set firm conditions on how the house can be used and to ensure the police have the power to bring activities at the house under control.
He also asked the county to make it easier for residents with complaints to figure out where to go to resolve their concerns — especially if their problem falls under the purview of multiple county offices.
It turns out Arlington County staff were already combing through county code to develop an infographic on how to report noise disturbances, County Manager Mark Schwartz said during a County Board meeting yesterday (Tuesday).
“Right now, you’re left to your own devices to navigate the county website,” Schwartz said. “I will tell you, being a homeowner, you get extremely frustrated when it’s midnight and there’s a party and you don’t know what to do.”
Staff worked through four different code sections to draft the infographic, he said.
“You can look on the left-hand column and find whatever’s ruining your day, and then you find out what time of the day and who do you call,” Schwartz said.
But to manage expectations, he said, the go-to for residents is the Arlington County Police Department non-emergency phone line, which may mean a few days between the call and a response by the police or another county enforcement agency.
Board Member Libby Garvey asked if residents can do anything to help their case, such as record the incident with their phone.
According to County Attorney MinhChau Corr, recordings “are not unhelpful,” but the gold standard is law enforcement observing the violation, as videos require verification.
The enforcement issue resurfaced when Board Member Takis Karantonis asked for the inclusion of reports of excessive vehicle noise. Unless police hear the noise and track down the offending car, those complaints are also hard to enforce, Schwartz said.
He acknowledged “it is a big issue and we might want to add that to this list,” but the best means of enforcement will be through automated devices.
Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey suggested the county revisit the idea of only specifying “nighttime” disturbances in the infographic — though other types of noise complaints were also listed — as more people work from home and work non-traditional hours.
“This is a vestige from a time when it was normative when people went somewhere during the day and wanted quiet enjoyment when they got home,” he said. “It seems silly to have the weight of government to enforce quiet enjoyment of your home only at a time when we think it might be relevant.”
Obit for a Local Legend — “John T. ‘Til’ Hazel Jr., a Virginia lawyer and developer who played a crucial role in building the Capital Beltway and transforming Northern Virginia from a rural outpost of Washington into an economic powerhouse, died March 15 at his home… He was a force behind the rise to prominence of GMU, acquiring land and lobbying for a school of law in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Post, Virginia Business]
County Holding Covid Remembrance — “The County Board invites members of our community to join in remembering Arlington neighbors who have lost their lives to COVID-19 over the past two years… Saturday, March 19, 2022 | 02:00 PM.” [Arlington County]
Repeated Thefts from Courthouse CVS — “The male suspect entered into the business, went behind the counter and attempted to open the cash register before being confronted by an employee. The suspect then walked through the store and stole a beverage and food items before leaving. The suspect then reentered and exited the business two more times, stealing more beverages and food items in the process. During his third entry into the business, the suspect was confronted by an employee and attempted to throw a beverage at a witness who approached him. The suspect then fled the scene on foot but returned a short time later and was taken into custody by responding officers.” [ACPD]
Beyer Blasts Plane Plan — “Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Representative of Northern Virginia and member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, today wrote to the heads of the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration seeking a halt to procedural changes for regional airplane flight patterns. Beyer’s letter noted that the because the changes were not preceded by an environmental review process and were implemented just before a major drop-off in flights caused by the pandemic, their impact on noise levels in the region is just starting to be felt in full for the first time now.” [Press Release]
It’s St. Patrick’s Day — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 57 and low of 50. Sunrise at 7:18 am and sunset at 7:18 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent
At least two U.S. cities are using automated noise enforcement technology. Should Arlington?
Knoxville, Tennessee recently deployed a noise-monitoring camera as a test to see whether it helps to stem rising noise complaints downtown. From local TV station WATE:
Data that will be collected includes the time and date of a noise violation, the vehicle type and a photo of the vehicle’s license plate.
The camera footage cannot be be used alone as the basis for issuing a noise violation but warnings may be issued. The city release said the trends that are verified by the data can lead to more effective enforcement.
— Simson Garfinkel ☕ (@xchatty) March 8, 2022
New York City also reportedly has a system that sends out warnings to drivers whose cars are too loud.
Arlington may not be able to deploy such a system without legislative authorization, given that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. But, if the county can get the authorization, should it?
Excessive noise from cars and motorcycles became a more frequent complaint in Arlington over the course of the pandemic. Meanwhile, a law originally proposed by a local legislator, and intended to reduce racial disparities in traffic stops by prohibiting noise being used as a pretext for pulling drivers over, has made enforcement more difficult. An automated system could address both both issues.
What do you think?
(Updated, 4:05 p.m.) As a new aircraft noise study comes in for a landing, Arlington officials admit there remains little the county can actually do about the noise above.
“I know how frustrating this is. I think people don’t understand how little power we actually have,” says Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey. “We really have almost zip.”
They’re not hopeful they can get the Federal Aviation Administration on board with changes, such as shifting National Airport’s flight patterns to less populated areas. A work group plans to ask the agency to shift incoming planes away from more developed areas and is expected to recommend doing the same for departures.
For years, residents have complained about aircraft noise, resulting from the flight patterns in and out of National Airport as well as Pentagon-bound helicopters. It’s gotten marginally worse in recent years after the FAA adjusted flight patterns to push flight paths further west, away from D.C., due to the Secret Service’s concerns about commercial flights encroaching into federal no-fly zones (Prohibited Area 56). The new patterns resulted in complaints among Arlington residents who live close to the Potomac River, including those in Rosslyn.
In 2019, the Arlington County Board sent a letter to the FAA expressing its “strong opposition” to the changes while accusing the federal agency of not engaging with the community and doing something that is “quite possibly in violation of federal law.”
“Aircraft noise is a real thing,” Arlington County Board Member Takis Karantonis tells ARLnow. “It’s a quality of life issue for many Arlingtonians who live under or near flight paths.”
In May 2019, Arlington agreed to jointly fund a study with Montgomery County that would recommend to the FAA ways to reduce aviation noise and limit the impact on residents.
Now, after nearly three years, the “Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study” is reaching its conclusion.
The biggest takeaway is that the study recommends diverting flight paths in and out of National Airport so that fewer people are living directly under them. That means prioritizing noise reduction in more dense and populated areas, as well as “noise sensitive residential areas,” to the extent possible. The study also looked at how takeoff speed, trajectory, and height impact noise.
Last summer, new flight paths for incoming flights were proposed and, just this past December, departing flights were discussed. In addition to shifting paths, a recommendation was made for departures to be split into multiple segments so that there would be a “more equitable distribution of noise.”
The incoming flight paths were approved by DCA Community Working Group, which operates under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), and the departure paths will be reviewed in April.
It’s expected those recommendations, with possibly a few tweaks, will be approved and proposed to the FAA. But officials are skeptical of whether the FAA and federal agencies take them into consideration.
“Arlington County against the federal government is kind of a little unbalanced in terms of a power setup,” Garvey said, echoing what she said at last week’s recessed Board meeting.
That’s one of the reasons Arlington partnered with Montgomery County on the aircraft noise study, so that two jurisdictions could come together with credible data to ask the FAA and Secret Service to make changes.
The counties are also in talks with D.C. and other local jurisdictions to apply more pressure to the federal agencies. But she understands why some residents may feel like just doing a study is not enough.
“Our residents who are frustrated with the noise see nothing [being done] and they’d like us to sue the FAA or something like that,” says Garvey. “I understand the desire to do that, but that actually would be very counterproductive and not actually get us anywhere.”
It appears that Bowlero — an allegedly rowdy Crystal City bowling alley at the base of apartments — won’t be headed to the gutter this year.
The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to renew use permits for Bowlero (320 23rd Street S.) sparing it from closure, on the conditions that staff will review its operations next January, closely monitor the business in the meantime and review it again in 2025.
But the relationship between the bowling alley and the residents of The Buchanan apartments above it is uneasy. There have been dozens of reports to Arlington County Police Department of fights, drunk and loud patrons, indecent exposure and damaged property.
It reached a point where ACPD hosted an online town hall on March 31 last year to hear tenants’ concerns and discuss the work by officers and Bowlero staff to get crowds under control.
Eighteen months after opening, Arlington County is recommending the Board renew Bowlero’s permits with the one-year review to make sure community concerns about night-time nuisances are minimized. Since it opened in July 2020, there have been nearly 70 calls for service to ACPD.
The county says it supports renewing the permits because the quality-of-life problems caused by rowdy patrons are being addressed through the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI), a partnership between ACPD and restaurants and bars to make Arlington a safe nightlife destination.
Otherwise, it says in a county report, staff found no other problems with the business operating there.
The police department supports the renewal because Bowlero maintains the restaurant initiative accreditation it earned in October 2020, per the report. The alley’s management plays an active role in involving police, ACPD said in the town hall, making half of the 52 calls for service between July 2020 and March 31.
“Bowlero has also implemented proper security measures and best practices, as recommended by Arlington County Police Department (ACPD), for calming and managing crowds, in addition to proactively responding to pending reports on site,” the report said. “The Police Department has not identified any outstanding public safety issues related to the continuation of the subject use.”
These security measures include scanning people with wands and checking bags, the report says. In addition, a neighborhood liaison has been appointed to address residents’ concerns.
Still, members of a nearby civic association have expressed their concerns “about reports of a high volume of late-night noise and potentially dangerous activity related to patrons of the establishment,” the report said.
One former resident, who moved away partially because of the nuisances downstairs, said metal detectors and police’s best practices are “treating the symptoms” but not addressing their root causes: alcohol, prices, promotions and hours.
The permits allow Bowlero to operate from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday through Sunday.
The former Buchanan resident said the calls to police detailed in the report — chiefly calls about fights and loud and drunk patrons — “seem typical of what I experienced.”
“They are absurd,” he said. “Gun issue? Street fights? Woman exposing herself? These are not just noise complaints, nor was this U Street [a street in D.C. known for its nightlife] prior to Bowlero opening. It was a calm and pretty safe street that turned into a place to actively avoid.”
Here’s the full list of what residents called for in 2021:
(Updated, 4:40 p.m.) Loose steel plates on Columbia Pike that are keeping residents up at night with the sounds of cars driving over them are the work of a general contractor doing 5G work.
The same contractor also damaged a gas line on the Pike causing a large gas leak last week, according to Washington Gas.
The plates were recently installed on the 1800 block of Columbia Pike, prompting complaints from residents who say that they are rattling and banging loudly when passing vehicles drive on them. The plates are the result of work done by contractor Crown Castle, a spokesperson for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow.
“We’ve determined those annoyingly loud plates on Columbia Pike to be the work of a 5G contractor,” spokesperson Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “Our Construction Management and Permits folks have been investigating and will work to get the plates secured and end the racket as soon as possible.”
The racket was first brought to both ARLnow’s and the county’s attention by rattled citizens on social media.
— J. F. (@vtmathteacher) December 12, 2021
Crown Castle blames the rattling steel plates on a general contractor working for the telecom infrastructure company. The steel plates have since been removed and replaced it with asphalt, a company spokesperson has confirmed to ARLnow.
“Crown Castle continues to expand our infrastructure in Arlington to provide connectivity to the community. One of Crown Castle’s general contractors was conducting work to support network enhancements for our enterprise and wireless customers, including 5G,” wrote a company spokesperson. “The temporary steel plate has been removed and has been replaced with asphalt. Final restoration will be completed in the coming weeks as we coordinate with the county and account for holiday schedules.”
Washington Gas tells ARLnow that the contractor is also responsible for damaging a gas line near S. Scott Street during the course of this work. That resulted in Columbia Pike between Quinn Street and S. Walter Reed Drive being shut down for several hours.
“Washington Gas recently conducted repair work to a natural gas line that was damaged by a third party contractor on Columbia Pike,” a spokesperson for the natural gas provider wrote.
Crown Castle confirmed to ARLnow that its general contractor damaged the gas line.
“We coordinated with Washington Gas and the county to quickly address and repair the situation and restore service,” the spokesperson wrote.
A short distance away from the newly-repaired gas line, the rattling steel plates remained until at least Friday afternoon, when an ARLnow photographer observed the scene. While there, the photographer saw that crews had removed some of the plates to continue work below.
DES said at the time that it was investigating and asking the contractor to fix and secure the plates as well as lower the noise level in general. Golkin said the county appreciates the outreach from residents.
“We want [to] thank the nearby residents for alerting the County directly and through social media,” he said.
(Updated 2:15 p.m.) The county has crystallized plans for temporarily storing and dispatching Arlington Transit (ART) buses near Washington-Liberty High School while a new bus facility in Green Valley is built.
Nearly 30 ART buses will come and go from the site, on the 1400 block of N. Quincy Street, where the county currently parks some fire and police vehicles, as well as a portion of the Arlington Public Schools vehicle fleet. The site also has warehouse storage for Covid-related supplies and serves as the drop-off center for E-CARE recycling events.
In 2015, the county agreed to pay $30 million to acquire the six-acre property, which is across from W-L to the west, I-66 to the north and houses to the south and east.
Meanwhile, construction on the Shirlington Road facility in Green Valley — intended to address the need for more space to park and maintain Arlington’s growing fleet of ART buses — is expected to start in the summer of 2022, Department of Environmental Services Director Greg Emanuel told the County Board during its recessed meeting yesterday (Tuesday). The county bought that site, along the 2600 block of Shirlington Road, for $24 million in 2018.
Ahead of construction, DES says it has to move 41 buses, including 12 to a bus site on S. Eads Street, which opened in 2017 near Crystal City. The other 29 are going to the N. Quincy Street site because it’s the only available and affordable site zoned for vehicle storage, Emanuel says.
Buses will be parked at and dispatched from the N. Quincy Street site on weekdays, with a majority of movement happening between 5 a.m. and midnight, he said. Weekend operations will be run out of the Crystal City facility.
Although the facility neighbors the high school, DES says traffic related to school pickup and drop-off should not pose a problem.
“We don’t anticipate conflict with W-L traffic across the street because the peaks are outside the normal peaks here,” Emanuel said.
Still, the news is not exactly welcome among some neighbors, who told the County Board and county staff their concerns about noise during quiet hours, as well as how this decision was communicated. Residents previously opposed the relocation of APS bus parking to the Virginia Square site, also known as the Buck site.
Board members indicated support for the temporarily relocation but said they were sensitive to residents’ concerns.
A noise study conducted earlier this year concluded that the new bus activity will increase noise levels upwards of three decibels, with overall noise “still in the comfortable range,” Emanuel says. Currently, a row of trees lines the southern edge of the property, but additional noise mitigation measures are a possibility down the road.
Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol said the county needs to make long-range plans for building attractive, landscaped noise buffers, as the site will continue to support other “back-of-house functions” for northern parts of Arlington.