While it’s impossible to know how the year will end, we do know a bunch of the milestones — including local events and openings — that will be taking place along the way.
Which of the following 20 things are you most looking forward to this year?
While one might think of New Year’s as a time to get dressed up and head into the city — or, if you’re a parent, stay home and go to sleep at 12:05 a.m. — it seems that going out here in Arlington is also a popular choice.
Already, NYE parties at Don Tito and A-Town are completely sold out, according to their respective Eventbrite pages. Another big local NYE event at Sehkraft Brewing is nearly sold out, as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.
So do more Arlingtonians stay home, go out in Arlington or go out elsewhere in D.C.? Or are most people heading out of town? Let’s find out.
An Arctic blast will drop temperatures into the teens and 20s in the D.C. area starting mid-week.
The cold air is expected to push into the area Wednesday night, and will bring with it wind and the possibility of some light snow.
The last time we saw snow in Arlington was when the remains of a giant snow pile in Ballston, left over from the January blizzard, finally melted. Unlike some past years, to our knowledge no flakes fell in November this year.
Are you looking forward to the first flakes of the season?
(See some local tips for preparing for winter weather, published last week, here.)
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Judging by the multiple Washington Post articles about it this year (and another from last year), it seems that some sizable percentage of the population is dreading their Thanksgiving dinner conversation following Donald Trump’s election.
Especially when the family is divided politically, such conversations can apparently go downhill fast.
Are you among those who cringe at the idea of Uncle Bob passing along his political views with the gravy and stuffing? Or is that not a concern for you?
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?
“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?
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.
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?
The 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?
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?