by ARLnow.com — October 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington County Board on 9/27/16Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is floating the idea that Arlington County Board members should be paid better.

Currently, County Board members are paid between about $51,500 and $56,500. The position is considered part-time, and three out of the five current members have other jobs, but in practice Board members end up working full-time hours in service of the county.

As reported by the Washington Post, Garvey wants to start a discussion about raising County Board member pay closer to the county’s median family income of $110,900, which would be more in line with what Fairfax and Montgomery counties pay their elected officials.

Board member John Vihstadt, a partner with a D.C. law firm, says he does not favor a pay raise and thinks it’s better for County Board members to have other jobs.

What do you think?

by ARLnow.com — October 3, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

“Some cities are taking another look at LED lighting after AMA warning.”

That was the headline from a Washington Post article last Sunday, discussing the pushback against modern Light Emitting Diode streetlights in local communities. While the new streetlights are more energy efficient, last longer and save money compared to older sodium lights, some say they are too bright or cast to harsh of a light.

The American Medical Association warns that excessive blue light from certain LED streetlights could “disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions,” according to the Post. Localities, however, say LED streetlights are not only more economical and more ecological, but are safer for drivers as well, helping to improve visibility on streets.

In Arlington, 85 percent of the more than 7,000 county-owned streetlights are now LED, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. Arlington’s streetlights operate at 5500 Kelvin, she said, casting a bluer tint than the warmer 3000K color temperature recommended by the AMA. The blue tint has been compared to that cast by natural moonlight.

When LED streetlights were first rolled out in Arlington neighborhoods, there were loud complaints from some groups of residents. Since then, O’Brien said, many of the complaints about lighting technology — more than 50 formal complaints between 2013 and 2016 — have been addressed.

“The County has installed shields on county-owned LED streetlights to help better direct the light towards the sidewalk and street,” she said. “Most LED streetlights are also on a dimming schedule to decrease in brightness throughout the course of the night, dimmed as low as 25% of full brightness.”

Nonetheless, the county is studying the AMA report.

“Arlington County streetlights meet current federal standards,” O’Brien said. “The County is studying AMA’s report that LED lights may have negative health and environmental impacts. We are researching this issue and will consider this report, industry standards, and other factors in making a final decision around LED streetlight temperature as part of the County’s Street Light Management Plan that will be completed in 2017. Additionally, our staff will work closely with Arlington’s Public Health Division throughout this process.”

LED streetlights are 75 percent more energy efficient than older models. Arlington expects to save $1 million annually once all county streetlights are converted to LED technology.

What do you think about LED streetlights in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com — September 20, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Pumpkin beer in the Clarendon Whole FoodsPools might close after Labor Day but summer has been very much still in effect over the past couple of weeks.

With high temps in the 80s and 90s, one does not exactly get the twigs and acorns crunching pleasurably beneath one’s boots feeling that traditionally prompts a craving for fall-related items — you know, the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte or a malty Oktoberfest beer.

Starbucks has been offering the “PSL” since the end of August (McDonald’s now has a version, too) and Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers started hitting local store shelves even earlier than that.

We know that such seasonal beverages are popular choices when the air gets crisp and the days shorter. But are they popular now before the official start of fall? (The autumnal equinox is Thursday.)

Given the proliferation of Starbucks and the crowds at our fall beer tasting event over the weekend, it seems like the answer might be yes. But let’s see whether actual consumption so far this season actually bears that out.

by ARLnow.com — August 31, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Clarendon MetroIt’s the week before Labor Day, which — in our experience — is the runner up for slowest week of the year in the D.C. area, second only to the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

There’s not a whole heck of a lot going on locally and lots of people are out of town. The weather is nice for outdoor activities, but otherwise it’s a pretty boring week.

On the plus side, traffic is noticeably lighter than the usual terribleness, everything is less crowded and it’s easier to get a table at popular restaurants.

Do you prefer a slow week like this to busier, more traffic-clogged but less exciting weeks?

by ARLnow.com — August 30, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

The polling place at Barrett Elementary School is slow for the 2014 special electionThe presidential election showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been endlessly covered on cable news, online and in print this summer. The Arlington County Board race — considerably less so.

Next week, the week of Labor Day, is the traditional kickoff of the local election season, with such landmark events as the Arlington County Democratic Committee chili cook off and the Arlington County Civic Federation candidates forum.

The rule of thumb is that most voters aren’t paying much attention to local races between the primaries and Labor Day.

But that hasn’t stopped certain local candidates from doing some campaigning this summer. Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement, for instance, just sent out a press release detailing a number of campaign pledges, including building more school capacity at a lower cost.

Clement is facing off against Democratic incumbent Libby Garvey in November.

Republican congressional candidate Charles Hernick, meanwhile, sat down for a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in July. And Mike Webb, who’s running as an “independent conservative” write-in candidate in the congressional race, has blasted out some 100 press releases since he lost to Hernick in the Virginia 8th District GOP convention. (During that time Webb also accidentally made national news.)

Hernick and Webb will face incumbent Democratic Rep. Don Beyer and little-known independent candidate Julio Gracia in November.

Our question for readers: what has been your level of interest in these general election races so far? Is it even worth trying to campaign in the summer, or should candidates perhaps stick with the Labor Day conventional wisdom?

by ARLnow.com — August 19, 2016 at 10:35 am 0

Road Work in RosslynAugust is a slow month in the D.C. area.

Congress is out of session. People are fleeing the area left and right to get their vacations in before the summer ends. This year, many media and political types are on the campaign trail. Heck, traffic becomes somewhat bearable and even the Arlington County Board gets a break for the month.

On ARLnow.com, we haven’t run out of local stories to cover — in fact, this is shaping up to be our highest-traffic August yet — but there’s no denying that the pace of news coverage drags big time compared to a busier month like April or October.

The most oft-cited reason for why August is slow is that people are out of town. Anecdotal evidence — the number of people who we email only to get those automatic “Out of Office” auto-replies — seems to support this. But we wanted to check to see just how many people are fleeing Arlington this month and for how long.

So… unless you’re on military or foreign service duty, or any other long-term absence, how many days will you be out of town in August?

by ARLnow.com — August 9, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Building Permits at Nando's Peri-Peri in BallstonAs we’ve been reporting, this has been an active summer for local restaurants.

A number of prominent Arlington eateries have closed or are closing, while some highly-anticipated restaurants are nearing an opening.

Here are some of the restaurants expected to open later this year:

Of those, which are you most looking forward to?

by ARLnow.com — July 15, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Arlington National Cemetery by SchlickwShould cyclists be allowed to ride through Arlington National Cemetery if they’re not there specifically to visit a departed loved one?

Currently, cyclists are allowed to use a specific route through the cemetery, a route that’s mostly used by bike commuters heading to D.C. However, that may soon change.

As reported two weeks ago on the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling blog, the Army is considering new regulations that would ban bicycling through national military cemeteries except for those visiting gravesites or niches. That has cyclists who use the Arlington National route writing to oppose the regulations.

The recent uproar over those playing Pokemon Go at Arlington National Cemetery suggests that among the general public there is still a special reverence for the cemetery’s hallowed grounds. Does that extend to those quietly bicycling through the cemetery?

Photo by Schlickw

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

An iPhone user playing Pokemon Go in Fairlington, with a dog oblivious to the nearby virtual PokemonIf you have no idea what the headline of this article means, you’re not alone but you’re part of a rapidly dwindling group.

Late last week and into the weekend, the smartphone-based game Pokemon Go exploded in popularity and has become a pop culture phenomenon. That’s especially remarkable if you consider that the game was only officially released on Wednesday.

Walk around any given Arlington neighborhood last night and you were likely to see people loitering about, glued to their phone — more so than usual, at least. The game takes place on local streets and gathering places across the world, in augmented reality.

Pokemon creatures may appear on the sidewalk in front of you. A park or a community center may be a Pokemon gym (there’s even a Pokemon gym inside the Pentagon). A local business may make a payment in the game to attract Pokemon — and thus attract Pokemon-playing potential customers.

Given the game’s popularity, we were interested in knowing which team local players were joining. Let us know in the poll below.

by ARLnow.com — June 6, 2016 at 8:35 am 0

Traffic map on 6/6/16 (via Google Maps)Today is the first weekday of Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance surge.

Via Twitter there are reports of crowded trains and long waits at stations, although Metro says early indications were that everything was going according to plan. Via Google Maps, traffic appears to be heavier than usual, with lots of red on the traffic map.

Whether you commute via Metro, car or otherwise, we want to know: was your commute slower than usual today?

by ARLnow.com — May 25, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Construction on Central Place tower in RosslynIn some parts of the country, where rents and home prices have risen to stratospheric levels, there’s a curious new movement.

You’ve heard the term NIMBY — Not In My Backyard — used as a pejorative to describe those who oppose new development near them, even though they might not be opposed to the same project elsewhere. In San Francisco, Seattle, New York and elsewhere, however, YIMBYs are starting to organize.

The Yes In My Backyard movement supports efforts to build more housing, with the goal of building enough housing that supply and demand find an equilibrium and people stop getting priced out of the housing market.

YIMBYs reject typical NIMBY arguments — proposed buildings are too tall, would create too much traffic, would destroy the “character” of a neighborhood — as reactionary impediments to achieving better housing affordability. Instead of worrying about “greedy developers,” YIMBYs say “build, baby, build.”

One thing going for the NIMBYs, who can more charitably be called neighborhood preservationists, is that they are often well organized and mobilize like-minded residents to speak passionately at local government hearings on development. That is one reason why places like San Francisco have struggled to keep up with housing demand: developers face constant roadblocks from community groups who are effective at delaying projects or getting them blocked altogether at the local government level.

The price of housing in Arlington has been rising — not as dramatically as in San Francisco, mind you, but NIMBY vs. YIMBY fights have nonetheless occasionally played out locally.

As the county’s population continues to grow — it’s expected to reach 283,000 by 2040 — more housing will be necessary to keep up with demand. The Arlington community’s reaction to continued development will be a key factor that shapes local neighborhoods and affects local housing affordability.

Generally speaking, where do you stand on the YIMBY vs. Neighborhood Preservationist spectrum?

by ARLnow.com — May 2, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Rainy February commute (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

There is a good chance of rain or storms each day of this week, through Friday.

Normally May is one of the more pleasantly sunny and warm months of the year in the D.C. area. Except for a brief period of warmth today, high temperatures this week will struggle to break out of the 60s.

How do you plan to cope with the cool, rainy, overcast weather this week?

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — April 26, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

New decals on police cars remind drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to be Predictable, Alert, Lawful, or PAL (photo via Arlington County)

(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) This week, the Arlington County Police Department is holding its annual Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness campaign.

This morning and for part of the day Thursday, police will be conducting targeted, high-visibility traffic safety enforcement and public education in Clarendon and Crystal City.


But is that enough to truly improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Arlington? In just the past week alone, two young people have been struck and seriously injured — while crossing in marked crosswalks along the pedestrian-heavy Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

In both instances, nearby residents complained that drivers were chronically ignoring crossing pedestrians, driving too fast and driving while distracted — and that police enforcement is virtually non-existent.

Those two incidents aside, local drivers will tell you that pedestrians in Arlington make a habit of darting out into the road mid-block and crossing against traffic lights, often oblivious to oncoming traffic.

So what should be done about this, to improve safety for all? Should the Arlington County Police Department issue more tickets to drivers and pedestrians in an effort to curb serious accidents and bad behavior on both sides?

(Note: this poll and discussion concerns drivers and pedestrians only. Say what you want about cyclists — and the drivers who sometimes cut them off — but the most pressing issue here is about what to do specifically about pedestrian and vehicle conflicts.)

by ARLnow.com — March 31, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Image from the draft Lee Highway Visioning Plan (via Arlington County)Today is the final day for online comments on the current draft of the Lee Highway Community Vision.

The draft plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”

The rationale behind the plan, and the community process that helped inform it, is to set an aspirational vision for future development and transportation improvements along the Lee Highway corridor. The community can thus have more of a voice than if it were to just let piecemeal development take place along the corridor without a unified plan.

So, what do you think of the plan?

by ARLnow.com — March 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Damaged power cable in a Metro tunnel (via WMATA)In an unprecedented step, WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld shut down the entire Metrorail system on a weekday for emergency inspections.

Those inspections found more than two dozen damaged power cables along the tracks, the kind which caused a deadly fire and smoke incident in a tunnel outside of the L’Enfant Metro station last year.

With the damaged cables repaired, Metrorail service resumed this morning. Do you think the disruption to hundreds of thousands of people’s daily commutes was worth it?


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