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Voting at Swanson Middle School in November 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington could use ranked choice voting in next year’s primaries, ARLnow reported yesterday.

From our article:

The system, also known as “instant runoff,” prompts voters to rank candidates and a winner is selected over the course of many elimination rounds.

The Board could vote in November to introduce ranked-choice voting (RCV) during the primaries next June. […]

The survey of voter preferences went live yesterday (Wednesday). From now until Nov. 4, locals can share any comments and questions they have about RCV, whether they’ve voted that way before and — on a scale of “very unfavorably” to “very favorably” — how they view it.

The county may be surveying residents, but we also wanted to gauge reader opinions on ranked choice voting, which some see as a way to encourage more candidate diversity while minimizing the chance that a fringe candidate wins due to other candidates splitting the vote.

RCV is also being recommended by a citizen task force that was charged with recommending ways to improve Arlington politics.

Opponents say ranked choice is confusing to voters, produces results similar to standard plurality voting, and is inferior to conducting an actual runoff election between the top vote-getting candidates.

What do you think?

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Christmas decoration in the Pentagon City Costco on 9/14/22 (photo courtesy John Antonelli)

Christmas items are now on display at the Pentagon City Costco.

Reader John Antonelli sent the photo above, which is perhaps jarring given the current beautiful, 80 degree weather — and the fact that many of us have not even started thinking about Halloween.

“Ho ho ho,” Antonelli said in his email.

But perhaps Christmas items in September are fine. Maybe there’s a subset of the population that appreciates getting to prepare for the holiday more than three months in advance.

Which of the following do you most associate with?

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For sale / contract pending real estate sign (file photo)

The once-hot real estate market in Northern Virginia is cooling as interest rates rise.

The median home sale price dipped slightly in July. While Arlington’s stats did not include a price drop — prices here have held up better than the outer suburbs — the number of home sales dropped.

More from the Sun Gazette:

The median sales price for homes that sold in Northern Virginia in July stood at $580,000, according to figures reported by the Virginia Realtors trade group.

While higher by nearly 5 percent than the $553,000 recorded in July 2021, the $580,000 figure trails the median sales price of $583,000 for the first seven months of 2022.

Put another way: While the year-to-date median sales price through July was up $13,100 (from $539,900 during the first seven months of 2021), July 2022’s sales price was down $3,000 from the same point a year before.

A sign of the apocalypse? No. But decidedly a sign of cooling. Especially as the summer months tend to be among the strongest, price-wise, in the local real-estate market.

Today we’re asking a somewhat counterintuitive question: do you, personally, think this dip in prices is a good thing?

After all, the run-up in home costs have come at the expense of affordability for first-time homebuyers, pricing many middle-income families out of the market for homes in places like Arlington, even as it has benefited existing homeowners.

So, purely from your perspective, do you see a home price swoon as a net negative or a net plus?

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Light streaks from cars on I-395 in Shirlington during a cloudy evening (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A decade ago, we asked readers where they were from, originally.

The poll found that only 11% of readers were from Arlington and only 20% from elsewhere in the D.C. area. Combined, that’s less than the just over 35% who said they were originally from the “north.”

On a Friday in late August, we’re asking that question again, but with the regions more precisely defined. Let’s see if the number of Arlington and D.C. area natives is higher than last time.

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A runner at Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

After a pretty nice couple of days, temperatures in the 90s are back — and sticking around for awhile.

That’s not great news if you’ve been waiting for cooler weather as fall approaches, so you can better enjoy your outdoor fitness routine.

The return of the heat has us wondering: what do you consider an ideal temperature for outdoor exercise — like running, biking, and tennis — or strenuous activities, like mowing the lawn?

Are you more a fan of sunny 75 degree afternoons, misty 45 degree mornings, or something else? Let us know in the poll and in the comments below.

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Person working on laptop (Photo by Burst on Unsplash)

Nearly half of remote and hybrid government workers say their team performance has improved during the course of the pandemic.

That’s according to new research from Crystal City-based consulting firm Eagle Hill Consulting.

From a press release:

 Forty-six percent of government employees who telework – both fully remote and hybrid employees – say their team’s performance improved during the past two years. Only 35 percent of in-person government workers say their team’s performance has improved during the period, according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting.

And as the trend for remote work continues among both federal and state and local governments, more than half of the government workforce reports teleworking, either in a fully remote (26 percent) or hybrid environment (24 percent). A substantially higher number of younger workers in government report working fully remotely (34 percent) as compared to mid-career (24 percent) and older workers (11 percent). Those working in-person are far more likely to be older workers (70 percent).

Findings like this may lend further credence to the idea that hybrid and fully-remote work environments are not just a pandemic blip and are here to say, which will present significant challenges for both office building owners and local governments, including here in Arlington.

Today, we wanted to pose the performance question to readers, as well.

Are you working remotely, either on a full-time or hybrid basis? And, if so, do you think remote work has improved or hurt your team’s overall productivity?

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An Amazon van was towed from an apartment complex on Tuesday. This was the second time we’ve noted one of the company’s delivery vehicles getting towed.

It raises a question: should delivery drivers get special treatment and a blind eye turned to violating a given property owner’s parking rules, or should the rules apply to them too?

In the latest case, tow company Advanced Towing told ARLnow that Amazon’s van was parked in a fire lane — and, indeed, we spotted “no parking, fire lane” signs on the property.

Fire lanes are there for a reason, but the flip side of the argument is that delivery drivers have a tough job to do and only stay in one place for a brief period of time, making it less likely that they’ll end up getting in the way of something important.

So what do you think? For the purposes of this poll, we’ll set aside the issue of delivery drivers blocking lanes on public streets and instead focus on those on private property.

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Neighborhood cut-through traffic near Duke Street in Alexandria (courtesy Jill Hoffman)

Cut-through traffic may not make many headlines here in Arlington, but it has been a big topic of conversation in our neighbor to the south.

Alexandria communities, particularly those along Duke Street, have long complained about drivers trying to beat the traffic on the main road by taking neighborhood streets. The city has even implemented a pilot program intended to cut down on cut-through traffic, which some residents say is made worse by navigation apps steering people around traffic congestion.

Outwardly, there has not been a similar outcry here in Arlington. In fact, the county — at least as of a few years ago — has actually seen traffic volumes decline on many major roads despite population growth.

But that doesn’t mean that cut-through traffic is not a concern for some. Last month a proposed new road segment in Douglas Park was put on hold, in part due to worries about cut-through traffic. Last year, cut-through traffic was brought up as VDOT considered various plans to turn Route 1 in Crystal City into an “urban boulevard,” which raised the possibility of some existing traffic spilling onto neighborhood streets.

In 2017, meanwhile, an Aurora Hills resident said in a letter to the editor that changes to S. Eads Street resulted in cut-through traffic in her neighborhood. (To our knowledge, that particular concern has faded in recent years.)

Typically, when traffic on local roads becomes a significant safety concern in Arlington, the go-to action for the county government is to slow rather than restrict traffic, by implementing traffic calming measures, like speed bumps, narrowed lanes and reduced speed limits. But there are still examples of local streets near schools, for instance, with restrictions intended to prohibit cut-through drivers, as well as other instances in which a road was split into two dead-end sections for similar reasons.

This morning we’re wondering whether, in 2022, Arlington residents consider cut-through traffic to be a significant problem here.

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Pumpkin beer in the Clarendon Trader Joe’s on Aug. 10, 2016

It will be hot again today but things should start cooling off by the weekend, providing an early preview of the season to come.

As the calendar marches inexorably towards September, there’s a certain feeling in the still-humid air: a sense that fall will be here sooner rather than later. And that’s only enforced by what we’re starting to see on store shelves around Arlington.

Exhibit A:

Yes, like it or not, those pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers are back. As Arrowine’s Beermonger column discussed last August, it seems that fall beers arrive earlier in the summer with each passing year. And while that outrages some summer stans, those whose vibe is more a hot coffee and a warm sweater seem to like it.

After all, the breweries wouldn’t be pushing their orange-clad cases out the door if people weren’t buying them.

So this morning we’re wondering — with apologies for asking a similar poll question on this exact day in 2016 — when do you typically make your first fall beer purchase?

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Gun store Nova Armory is now open in Clarendon, after moving from its previous Lyon Park location.

The store at 2607 Wilson Blvd opened on the same day that ARLnow reported on the move, according to a Facebook post.

So far, the storefront is not marked from the outside, though there is a sign on the door instructing delivery drivers not to leave boxes outside. Opposition to Nova Armory’s opening in Clarendon was more muted than its original opening in Lyon Park, which was subject to community meetings, a letter from local lawmakers and a lawsuit (filed by Nova Armory against its critics).

The store’s actual time in business has seen considerably less drama, save for several burglaries and large crowds of customers at the outset of the pandemic.

That all said, what do you think of a gun store operating in the Clarendon neighborhood? Does the Metro corridor location change youe opinion compared to the store’s current location near Route 50?

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School Board member Reid Goldstein in 2017

The new chair of the Arlington School Board has nixed the public comment section of board meetings for the remainder of the summer.

The Sun Gazette reported this week that Reid Goldstein is doing away with public comment until September to speed up meetings.

“We are not taking public comment during the summer meetings,” Goldstein said, so the School Board could “focus on conducting the necessary business promptly.”

Public comment will return Sept. 8, said Goldstein, who rotated in for a one-year stint at chairman on July 1.

A number of people have contacted ARLnow about the report, apparently upset at Goldstein’s decision, though the move is temporary and those who wish to provide feedback to the School Board in the meantime can still do so via email and other means.

Both the Arlington County Board and the School Board provide a designated time for members of the public to opine on topics of their choosing. The process can sometimes take upwards of an hour depending on the number of speakers.

The County Board also made Sun Gazette headlines over the past couple of months, as chair Katie Cristol tried to enforce a longstanding rule against multiple speakers weighing in on the same topic, then relented.

After getting pilloried a month before for what critics called a heavy-handed approach to enforcing rules on public comment, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol on July 16 loosened her grip on the gavel just a bit.

Cristol acknowledged that she was being a little more loose in her interpretation of rules for the July board meeting than she had been in June, when she shut down comment on the government’s Missing Middle housing proposal after just two speakers at the public-comment period.

County Board rules for the public-comment period allow for only one speaker per topic on items not scheduled for public hearings (which have their own comment periods later in the meeting). Board members over time have allowed, on topics of controversy, for one speaker on each side of the issue.

Today we’re wondering what the general public thinks of public comments periods at School Board and County Board meetings.

Are you okay with restrictions like this or would you like a more open forum? Alternatively, would you advocate for nixing public comment altogether or moving it to its own dedicated meeting, when agenda items are not being voted on?

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