Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Kaine Event at Federico’sUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — “On Monday, May 13, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will hold a roundtable in Arlington with fair housing advocates to discuss the work ahead to ensure equal access to housing for all Americans and address discrimination that LGBTQ Americans continue to face as they search for homes.” The event is now being held at 9 a.m. at Federico’s Ristorante Italiano (519 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City, per an updated media advisory.

Amazon Hiring for Alexa Job in Arlington — Among other open job positions for Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, the company is now hiring a “Principal Product Manager” for its Alexa Experience team. [Amazon]

Puppy Recovering from Pike Crash — “Earlier this week Yoda ran into oncoming traffic after escaping his leash. I ran after him in attempt to save him, which resulted in both of us getting hit by a car. I am okay but Yoda was not so lucky. He has two major fractures in his back leg which lead him into surgery. He is resting but having a difficult time.” [GoFundMe]

Satisfaction with Metro Rebounds — “Metro’s reputation in the region has improved dramatically in the past two years and has almost reached the positive levels it enjoyed before a fatal smoke incident in 2015, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll… A 68 percent majority of Washington-area residents rate Metrorail positively, up from 42 percent in 2017. In 2013, 71 percent had positive ratings of the subway system.” [Washington Post]

Post Endorses Tafti — The Washington Post has endorsed challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti over incumbent Theo Stamos in the Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney primary. [Washington Post]

SoberRide Record for Cinco de Mayo — “Nearly 800 (792) persons in the Washington-metropolitan area used the free safe ride service, SoberRide, this Cinco de Mayo as opposed to possibly driving home drunk.” [WRAP]

Flickr pool photos by John Sonderman and GM and MB

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Last month Arlington County announced that it would stop recycling glass collected curbside.

The decision, which only applies to the county’s residential recycling pickup and not to offices and apartment buildings, was explained as a matter of economics — it’s more expensive for the county to recycle glass than it is to incinerate and dispose of it in a landfill.

While recycling glass does save energy, it doesn’t save much compared to the more efficient aluminum, steel, paper and cardboard recycling processes. The cost to recycle glass isn’t worth the marginal energy savings, some say.

While there’s logic in that argument, some locals don’t like the idea of sending a recyclable material to landfills.

“If a community gives up glass, it is admitting defeat in the face of readily available alternatives,” said the writer of a letter published in the Sun Gazette.

The county does have an option for those who want their glass to be recycled, though it requires extra time and energy:

Alternatively, people can dump their glass at one of two designated drop-off locations — at Quincy Park (N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd) or the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street) — which carts it to Fairfax County for an experiment in paving roads with smashed up glass.

In a Facebook live chat yesterday, Erik Grabowsky, chief of Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau, said the public outreach process about change is still ongoing and Arlington will continue collecting glass in recycling bins through the end of July.

The county has not been recycling glass residents placed in blue carts, according to Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services. Instead, it was being pulled at the material recovery facility and trashed.

“By putting glass in the black carts, it goes to Covanta where it’s melted (not incinerated) with trash and those results are landfilled, saving the whole transportation/sorting issues with the recycling process that does also have an economic aspect,” Golkin said, in an email.

What do you think about the county no longer recycling glass?

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This year, half of all calls to your mobile phone could be robocalls, according to predictions by call protection company First Orion. And ARLnow wants to know: have you noticed more robocalls to your phone?

There were 27.2 million robocalls placed to 703-area-code numbers in March, per call tracker YouMail, and 13.2 million calls to 571 numbers.

That’s up from 17.2 million robocalls to 703 numbers in March of last year, and 8.5 million calls to 571 numbers.

One Arlington resident who’s definitely getting spammed with robocalls is FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver set up a robocall system to call Pai every 90 minutes and leave a voicemail urging him to take action to reduce robocalls.

First Orion’s prediction that robocalls will make up half of all cellphone calls was based on an analysis of 50 million calls which showed an increase from 3.7 percent of cellphone calls were robocalls in 2017 to 29.2 percent in 2018.

It may be a reason why one analysis of monthly calls by caller ID provider Hiya found people now only pick up their phone about half the time it rings.

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It was an April Fools’ Day joke, but an interesting one.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District, riffing off the much-ballyhooed but not-actually-happening Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola proposal, floated an idea: a zip line over the Potomac.

Putting aside questions about feasibility — for instance, is it a good idea to have a zip line running across a major airline and helicopter flight path? — an argument could be made that a zip line would be a fun local activity and tourist attraction.

If this was a real proposal — again, putting aside whether it could actually work — would you be in favor of it?

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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.

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?

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Over the weekend, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to approve an incentive package that will help bring Amazon and its expected 25,000 or so jobs to the Pentagon City and Crystal City areas.

The approval followed impassioned public testimony from about 100 speakers.

Those in favor of the incentives, which include an estimated $23 million over 15 years from an expected rise in hotel tax revenues attributable to Amazon’s presence, says it’s a small price to pay for one of the biggest economic development prizes in a generation. Amazon, proponents say, will bring thousands of good jobs to the area and act as a magnet for other employers considering their next destination.

Those against the incentives say sending any tax revenue to one of the world’s largest companies, led by the world’s richest man, is a particularly egregious form of “corporate welfare.” That’s doubly so given Amazon’s oft-criticized treatment of its warehouse workers and the effect the company is having on brick-and-mortar retailers, critics say. Also, Amazon’s arrival may bring with it higher housing prices that could push out lower-income residents.

In the end, the Board decided that the benefits outweighed any potential negatives. Do you think they made the right decision?

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Morning Notes

Hope: No Impeachment Filing Yet Updated at 9:50 a.m. — Del. Patrick Hope (D) says he’s delaying filing articles of impeachment against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who is facing two accusations of past sexual assaults. “An enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback… has led to additional conversations that need to take place,” Hope said. [Twitter, TwitterTwitter]

More Trailers for Arlington Tech — “Students coming into the Arlington Tech program at the Arlington Career Center for the next two years may find themselves spending more time in trailers than they had thought, and more time than School Board members are happy about.” [InsideNova]

Auction for Restaurant Items — The former furnishings of now-shuttered Rolls By U are up for auction by Arlington County, to help pay its overdue tax bill. [Arlington County]

Car vs. Columbia Pike Restaurant — It appears that a car ran into the front of Andy’s Carry Out restaurant on Columbia Pike. [Twitter]

State Split on Northam’s Fate — “Virginians are deadlocked over whether Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should step down after the emergence of a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page depicting people in blackface and Ku Klux Klan garb, with African Americans saying by a wide margin that he should remain in office despite the offensive image, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.” [Washington Post]

Beyer on Face the Nation — “Democratic Virginia Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton renewed their calls for Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax to step down over their respective controversies” on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning. [CBS News]

Local Chef on CBS This Morning — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse made an extended appearance on CBS This Morning Saturday, talking about his food, his restaurants and how his aunt inspired his love of cooking. [CBS News]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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Update at 11:45 a.m. — The Washington Post is now reporting that Amazon is “reconsidering” its New York City plans.

Earlier: There is some local opposition to Amazon’s forthcoming Arlington presence and incentive package, but it’s nothing compared to the public protests and opposition from elected officials in New York.

“Amazon doesn’t care about locals who live in Long Island City,” said a key New York state senator who’s among the leading critics of the incentive package offered to the tech giant. “All they care about is how much they can squeeze out of the public till in New York.”

That lawmaker, state Sen. Michael Gianaris, has been appointed to an oversight board that has the power to torpedo the deal. Meanwhile, Virginia’s incentive package for Amazon was signed into law this week.

Should Gianaris or other NYC Amazon critics manage to turn up the heat on the company to a boiling point, it’s possible that Amazon’s plans for a huge new office and 25,000-40,000 additional jobs in New York could fall apart.

Should that happen, hypothetically, might Arlington be the beneficiary? Amazon could opt to make Arlington its full “HQ2,” as originally proposed during the HQ2 search.

If that were to happen, would you support Amazon doubling its presence in Arlington? Or should they look elsewhere?

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The Newseum is selling its Pennsylvania Avenue home of the last 11 years to Johns Hopkins University and is now looking for a new location.

A museum of the journalism profession and the First Amendment, the Newseum first opened in Rosslyn in 1997 before moving to the District in 2008. Its Rosslyn location was featured in the TV show The West Wing and later, after the Newseum decamped for D.C., became the short-lived Artisphere.

The former Newseum space is now a co-working space and Rosslyn now has a new marquee tourist attraction, but given that the Newseum is looking for a new home we thought we’d ask: do you think it should return to Rosslyn?

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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Nearly three quarters of all IT workers across the D.C. region would consider leaving their current job to work for Amazon, a new survey shows, revealing just how impactful the company’s arrival in Arlington could be on the local labor market.

A poll released today (Wednesday) by Eagle Hill Consulting, and conducted by the survey firm Ipsos, found that 51 percent of employees across all occupations would jump ship for Jeff Bezos’ company. The group found that younger people and tech workers were especially enthusiastic about the company, with 60 percent of millennials expressing interest in Amazon and 71 percent of IT workers showing a willingness to leave.

The research underscores the fears harbored among many smaller, tech-focused startups in the D.C. area that Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City (set to begin in earnest this year) will result in a brain drain of sorts. Eagle Hill also expects that federal workers could find themselves lured into the private sector by Amazon’s hefty paychecks, particularly as the company ramps up hiring for the 25,000 jobs it expects to eventually bring to its new headquarters.

“Area employers should be worried, especially those that need to retain their tech talent,” Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill’s president and CEO, wrote in a statement. “Private sector and government employers will have to do all they can now to hang on to their employees before Amazon arrives – especially in such a tight labor market.”

As Jezior points out, unemployment rates are low around the country at the moment, especially in Arlington, which regularly posts the lowest jobless rate in the whole state. To Eagle Hill researchers, that means employers will need to “dig deep to understand their employees’ satisfaction and deliver what their workforce needs are positioned to hold onto their star employees when Amazon moves in,” Jezior said.

The poll results show that 71 percent of all workers see a move to Amazon as a chance to earn more pay, while 45 percent say they’d make the move to do “more interesting work.” An identical number said they’d move to Amazon in order to work “for a progressive company” — Bezos’ firm has been a leader in bumping up wages for its warehouse workers, but has also taken plenty of criticism for its labor practices and support for the Trump administration’s immigration tactics.

Among IT workers, those numbers are even stronger: 71 percent see a chance for higher salary, 55 percent are enthusiastic about more interesting work, and 51 percent want to work for a progressive company.

Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, acknowledged that Amazon will put pressure on the labor market, as will the tech companies who flock to the area to take advantage of Amazon’s arrival. But he was also quick to point out that companies concerned about losing employees will have to time to prepare and do the sort of introspection that Jezior recommends.

“Only a few hundred jobs are coming here in the first year, so if that’s the concern, they can get a jump on them,” Hoskins said. “The big numbers really don’t start until 2020, 2021.”

Much like other surveys of attitudes about the company, Eagle Hill found that opinions on Amazon were largely positive: 83 percent of workers surveyed believe the company will have a positive impact on the local economy. Additionally, 88 percent believe Amazon will improve prospects for job seekers and 73 percent think the company will have a positive impact on “overall compensation” in the region.

But Amazon’s impact on Northern Virginia’s already crowded roads emerged as a clear concern among those survey — 77 percent believe Amazon will have a negative impact on traffic, a common view among Arlington residents but one generally not shared by local officials.

Eagle Hill says Ipsos conducted the survey by collecting responses online from about 1,000 “working age” people across the D.C. region.

Photo via Amazon

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Since its founding in 2010, ARLnow has kept its focus solely on Arlington.

We often explain that should the Washington Monument topple over one night, our story about it — were we to cover it — would likely come with the headline “Arlington’s View of D.C. Changes.” The basic thinking is that we should cover what we do best and link to the rest — on the internet, there’s no need to spend time doing duplicative coverage of other places.

As a result, we almost exclusively cover Arlington news, while very rarely covering stories outside of the county’s borders that may be of special relevance to people in Arlington.

We’re considering changing that a bit, however, as we prepare for our ninth year in business.

We now regularly hear about younger Arlington residents trading in their rentals to buy homes in that slightly more affordable Little City on our western border: Falls Church. We would love to continue serving them. And that’s on top of other parallels between Arlington and Falls Church: the two jurisdictions share courts, a fire department, a public safety radio station, and have discussed other ways to work together.

Many aspects of civic life in Falls Church are already well covered by our friends at the Falls Church News-Press. Our approach to coverage of the two-square-mile city would be a bit different: focusing on breaking news, businesses openings and closings, events, development, roads and trails, and other subjects that could be of interest to both residents of Falls Church and Arlington.

But first, we wanted to put the question to you: do you think ARLnow should cover the City of Falls Church? (We would, in turn, also open up our event calendar to events in Falls Church.)

Map via Google Maps

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