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?
As we’ve been reporting, this has been an active summer for local restaurants.
Here are some of the restaurants expected to open later this year:
- Matchbox in Pentagon City
- Nando’s in Ballston
- Pamplona in Clarendon
- BrickHaus on Columbia Pike
- Quinn’s in Rosslyn
- Dudley’s in Shirlington
- Spirits of 76 in Clarendon
- Ambar in Clarendon
Of those, which are you most looking forward to?
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
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.
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?
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?
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
(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.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 26, 2016
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.)
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?
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?
In the eyes of some, Arlington Public Schools students have already had enough days off school this year. Still, there are some murmurs that Arlington should follow the lead of other school systems and give students an off day on March 1 — the Super Tuesday primary election in Virginia.
Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties have all decided to close schools on March 1 while voters go to the polls in the contentious presidential primary.
Arlington has no such plans.
“March 1 is still a school day for students,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
Those who support students getting the day off typically say that the flood of voters could disrupt the normal school day and could pose security concerns. Those who want school to go on as usual say the election could be a backdrop for a hands-on civics lesson.
What do you think?
The blizzard of 2016 is long gone, but reminders of it are still piled high on the side of local roads and parking lots.
Life has largely returned to normal — students went back to school today for the first time since Wednesday, Jan. 20 — though there are scattered reports of continued mail delivery issues.
It was a Herculean task to clear two feet of snow from local roads. Though major arteries were plowed and made passable pretty quickly, as usually happens with large snow storms in Arlington the residential streets remained snow-covered and treacherous for days, prompting complaints.
Overall, how would you grade Arlington’s snow removal effort?
The latest forecast suggests a “crippling” blizzard is headed for the region, with snowfall totals in the double digits and strong winds possible. And before we go any further, let us remind you that you asked for this just one week ago.
With any winter storm comes a lot of excitement and plenty of panic. How have you prepared thus far? Snowblower gassed up? Are your shovels sharpened? Did you buy the bread, eggs and milk?
It also comes with a healthy dose of skepticism. After all, how many times have we woken up to a light dusting when we were promised snowmageddon?
So, we want to hear from you: Are we snowtally doomed? Or does the hullabaloo surrounding the latest forecast make you want to tell people, “snow way, Jose.”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has again proposed a bill to decriminalize marijuana for personal use in Virginia.
Ebbin, who has won the endorsement of the pro-pot group NORML, proposed a similar bill last year, but it failed in the conservative Virginia General Assembly.
The bill, SB 104, would reduce marijuana possession to a civil offense punishable only by fines, like a traffic ticket, rather than jail time. It would also reduce the criminal penalties for marijuana distribution and possession with the intent to distribute.
Would you like to see marijuana decriminalized in Virginia?
Where are those plans taking you? Many, no doubt, will stay in Arlington — either at home or at a bar, although Virginia ABC laws preventing establishments from offering an open bar puts a damper on the kind of parties one can attend at bars and clubs.
Many will also likely head into the District to take advantage of the myriad NYE parties, although transportation back is always a challenge. Wait for Metro, try to get one of the few available cabs, pay Uber’s top surge price, or designate a driver and try to find parking — the decision isn’t always ideal.
Others may be headed out of town, or headed to other suburban D.C. locales. Which one describes your plans?