Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Developer May Give Parking Lot to County — “Arlington County planners and the owner of the Crystal House apartments have struck a deal to turn one of the four proposed buildings in its 798-unit expansion over to the county for affordable housing and public parking. It’s a change that has brought some hope to owners and operators along Crystal City’s restaurant row of 23rd Street, who, for the last few weeks, have criticized [the development] because it could have reduced access to parking spaces.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving — “While Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Thursday and Friday, we want to remind you of all the great ways you can celebrate Thanksgiving week in Arlington. Whether you’re traveling or staying locally, these tips will help ensure you have an enjoyable — and safe — Thanksgiving holiday.” [Arlington County]

Dozen Arrested at DCA Protest — “On one of the busiest travel days of the year, American Airlines catering workers held sit-in protests at Reagan National Airport demanding higher pay and better access to healthcare. According to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), 12 individuals were arrested and released on summons… the issue occurred when protesters entered the street and blocked traffic outside the B/C terminal.” [WUSA 9]

TSA Confiscates Loaded Gun at DCAUpdated at 8:20 a.m. — “A Fredericksburg, Virginia, resident was cited by police after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a 9 mm handgun loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber, in the man’s carry-on bag at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on Monday, November 25.” [Transportation Security Administration]

Local Lawmakers Become Committee Chairs — “Two of the three state senators in Arlington’s legislative delegation will chair committees in the 2020 session, which opens Jan. 8. State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) has been tapped to chair the Senate Committee on Finance, while Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) will chair the Committee on Rehabilitation & Social Services.” [InsideNova]

Impact of a Casino in N. Va. — “With Virginia’s General Assembly expected to debate casinos and gambling in the upcoming legislative session, its research agency issued a report Monday examining fiscal impacts on the state — including what a casino in Northern Virginia might mean. According to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission study, a Northern Virginia casino would produce $595 million in gaming revenue annually.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Climate Change Protests in D.C.Updated at 8:45 a.m. — As expected, demonstrator are blocking a number of key intersections in D.C. this morning to protest against government inaction in tackling climate change. The roadblocks have caused major backups on northbound I-395. [WTOP, Twitter]

APS Implements New Verification System — “Arlington school officials say a new, higher-tech effort to gather requisite start-of-school information from parents is moving forward as expected. The new online-verification process has been completed by 54 percent of families as of Sept. 19, Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members.” [InsideNova]

County Board Approves Pike Redevelopment — “A new six-story apartment building and ground floor retail will replace an aging shopping center and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, under a plan approved today by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Worker Hurt Friday in Madison Manor — “Scanner: ACFD on scene of a worker who fell out of a tree on the 900 block of N. Potomac Street in Madison Manor. Being transported by ambulance to a local trauma center with potentially serious but non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Post Praises Swell Sausages at Ballston’s Bronson — “The five kinds of housemade sausages emerged from the kitchen tinkerings of Barley Mac chef Chris Harman and co-owner Mike Cordero, Koh says. Both the bratwurst and the wiener, reminiscent of a hot dog that spent a semester abroad, have a pleasantly snappy casing and a peppery pungency. The Bronson is rightly proud of its sausages, which are available to-go from a case at the front.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Harris Teeter Design Event — “Come share your thoughts on the consolidated design for the public space at Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Rd at an open house Mon., Sept. 23 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Arlington Room at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex (accessible from the 8th floor). This design is based on prior community feedback. Don’t forget your sweater! The Arlington Room is next to the rink and you might get a little chilly.” [Arlington County]

APS Trying to Fix Bus Issues — “Arlington school officials continue to work out start-of-school transportation kinks, with a goal of having everything running as expected by the end of the month… ‘We have heard from families who are still experiencing challenges,’ Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members on Sept. 19. ‘We’re working to resolve all the concerns.'” [InsideNova]

New LEED Certification in Ballston — “4201 Wilson Boulevard, a 595,000-square-foot office building at Ballston Exchange in Arlington, VA, has earned LEED Silver certification, making it the first office building in the state of Virginia to certify using the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction green building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building constitutes one half of the 776,000-square-foot Ballston Exchange development.” [Press Release]

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Planned climate change protests in D.C. may cause major disruptions during Monday morning’s commute.

Arlington County Police are warning those driving into the District to expect delays. Also expected: an increased police presence in Arlington.

“The National Capital Region may experience traffic disruptions during the morning commute on Monday, September 23, 2019, due to protests in Washington D.C.,” ACPD said in an advisory Friday afternoon. “Commuters are encouraged to follow local news reports and adjust travel as necessary. Police will monitor conditions and the public can expect to see an increased law enforcement presence throughout Arlington County.”

Protesters affiliated with the group Shut Down DC plan to block key roads and intersections to “bring traffic and business as usual to a standstill.” Their goal, according to Washingtonian, is “creating major havoc… to get people in power to pay attention and enact change” to address climate change.

“Shut Down says its blockades are being strategically placed to impact the most powerful in DC: the intersections chosen will all be near places of money or power; the group is staying out of the way of public transportation,” Washingtonian reported.

Monday’s planned action follows a worldwide climate change strike today. Millions took to the streets in some 150 countries around the globe, organizers said, while a youth-organized event in Arlington drew dozens to the Courthouse area.

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A group of local students is organizing a demonstration in Arlington tomorrow (Friday) as part of a nationwide climate change strike ahead of the UN Climate Change panel.

Teenage organizers of the Northern Virginia effort say they’re organizing a teach-in about environmentalism from 8-11 a.m. at American University, followed by a rally beginning at 11:45 a.m. outside Arlington County government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse, to help the planet they’re about to inherit.

“The most important thing is to educate,” said organizer and Yorktown High School student Hannah Knittig. “That goes for government officials and also to the public.”

The students organizers are working with the Northern Virginia chapter of the Youth Climate Strike organization, and is hoping to attract attendees and passersby to the Courthouse rally with speeches, a voter registration table, and posters the local effects of climate change.

“I hope they can see that they can get involved from home where they live,” said another organizer, Cecelia O’Sullivan, 15, at the Potomac School in McLean. “They can see that this is really an accessible moment happening all over the country.”

The teen organizers who spoke to ARLnow cited concerns about global warming raising flood threats and spawning more extreme storms, also noting how activities like fracking pollute the environment and contribute to the problem.

“Our water supply and our excessive need of products in Arlington impacts people who live in Blacksburg and all over Virginia,” said Knitting. “I definitely know that my lifestyle, and my family’s lifestyle, does impact other people.”

“Seeing all these very small occurrences, which at first they don’t link immediately link to climate change. But once you dig deeper, you just see it’s all part of that larger effect of climate change,” said Saahithi Achanta, 17, who is also helping organize the event from Chantilly High School.

Knittig, 16, said that around eighty students from across the Northern Virginia area have signed up to join the Arlington strike, and another 80 students have pledged to attend the same-day sister strike in Richmond.

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Morning Notes

Flash Flood Watch Issued — Arlington and the region is under a Flash Flood Watch starting at noon today. Heavy rain and storms, some of which may be severe, are expected this afternoon and evening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Anytime Fitness Opening TodayAnytime Fitness, a new 24/7 gym, is set to open today in Rosslyn. “New member specials will be available through the end of April and free community workouts will be held every Saturday in May,” said a PR rep.

Protest Yesterday in Ballston — “A protest against power company AES is happening this morning in Ballston outside the company’s HQ. ACPD is on the scene watching over the protest, which is peaceful and includes speeches and signs against AES’ activities in Puerto Rico.” [Twitter]

Bike Recycling Event Next Month — “Bikes for the World will be collecting unneeded bicycles, bike parts and accessories on Saturday, May 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of the Arlington E-CARE (Environmental Collection and Recycling Event) at 1425 North Quincy St.” [InsideNova]

Carbeque on I-395 — A car caught fire on southbound I-395 near Glebe Road just before Thursday’s evening rush hour. Several lanes were closed as a result of the vehicular inferno, but firefighters eventually extinguished the raging flames. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Good Friday in Arlington — “On Friday, April 19, several parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will offer Living Stations of the Cross (or Via Crucis en Vivo). The Living Stations consist of a visual portrayal of Jesus on the way to his crucifixion.” [Diocese of Arlington]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

Protest in Front of Nestle Office in Rosslyn — “On Tuesday, Greenpeace activists hauled a 15-foot-tall heap of garbage, artfully crafted to resemble one of those deep sea fish that’s about 90 percent jowl, out in front of the Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.” [Gizmodo, Twitter]

‘No Stopping’ Arlington’s Growth — “Historically a commuter bedroom city for Washington, D.C., Arlington, VA continues its development renaissance with a variety of mixed-use projects that will shuttle in new residents, create open spaces and make new room for more restaurants and companies.” [GlobeSt]

Arlington Ponies Up Incentives for DEA — “The Arlington County Board is set to vote later this month to grant up to $11.5 million in financial incentives to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Pentagon City landlord to keep the agency from relocating to neighboring Alexandria, just shy of half of what it has promised Amazon.com Inc. for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Possible Meteor Lights Up the Sky — There were numerous reports of a meteor seen over Arlington, the D.C. region and much of the East Coast around 11 p.m. last night. [Twitter, BNO News, NBC Washington]

County Touts Green Initiatives Ahead of Earth Day — “Few communities can boast Arlington’s ceaseless commitment to sustainability — which is why one day in April can barely hint at the work that happens in the months before and after.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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A pair of local arts groups are planning a rally outside county government headquarters Tuesday to protest proposed budget cuts to some Arlington arts programs.

The rally, dubbed “A Celebration of the Arts in Arlington,” is set to take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, outside of the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse.

Organizers Encore Stage & Studio and Embracing Arlington Arts are protesting what the latter group says are “draconian cuts” of about $500,000 to arts programs including:

  • Closure of the Scene Shop
  • Closure of the Costume Lab
  • Elimination of the Facilities Manager
  • Elimination, in one year, of the Facilities Technology Services Director
  • Elimination of the Audio Production Specialist
  • Elimination of Supervisor of the After-Hours Building Engineers position
  • Elimination of the Mobile Stage
  • A $70,000 (1/3 of the total grant budget) cut to arts grant budget

A petition against the cuts, which would mostly affect theatrical productions, has gathered more than 2,750 signatures.

The rally is planned to coincide with the County Board’s public budget hearing at 7 p.m.

“Many of Arlington’s performing arts groups will be showcasing their talents and expressing their opposition to the proposed arts budget cuts,” says a press release about the rally before the hearing. “The community is invited to join the festivities and share stories about the positive impact of the arts in Arlington.”

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Crystal City commuters were greeted by a bit of an unusual sight this morning at the neighborhood’s Metro station: a human-sized Amazon Echo.

Environmental activists with the group Greenpeace USA invited people at the station to ask questions to their very own “Alexa” Thursday, and posted a variety of signs around the area proclaiming it as “National Landing,” the name chosen by local officials pitching the trifecta of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard for the tech giant’s new headquarters.

It was all part of a demonstration designed to draw attention to Amazon’s practices for powering its data centers scattered across the Northern Virginia area.

Though much of the opposition to the company’s move to Arlington has centered on its labor standards or the incentive money flowing to the massive firm, this morning’s demonstration accused Amazon of falling short of its commitments to use renewable energy to fuel its 55 data centers scattered across the region.

“We asked Alexa if she thought Amazon would be a good neighbor to Virginians and she replied, ‘that depends how much you like breathing clean air,'” Elizabeth Jardim, a Greenpeace USA senior corporate campaigner, wrote in a statement. “Amazon’s cloud including Alexa is powered largely from Northern Virginia, where it uses 88 percent dirty energy — meaning every question to Alexa is driving carbon emissions.”

Activists invited commuters to ask questions of “Alexa” about Amazon’s energy practices, and the life-sized Echo (voiced by local improv instructor Donna Steele) was ready with plenty of snarky replies.

Amazon committed years ago to someday using 100 percent renewable energy at its data centers, run as part of its lucrative Amazon Web Services cloud computing division.

But Greenpeace is accusing the company of abandoning that effort, even as other tech companies in Virginia like Google and Microsoft make progress.

The tech giant responded to the report by saying it’s “firmly committed” to that goal, and claimed that Greenpeace is using “inaccurate data” that “overstate both AWS’s current and projected energy usage.”

The activists stand by their numbers, however, insisting that the company address the issue if it’s to be a good neighbor in Arlington.

“Before Amazon breaks ground on its HQ2 in Virginia, Jeff Bezos needs to take responsibility for Amazon’s already massive energy demand in the state and follow through on its commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy,” Jardim said.

Arlington officials have said in the past they’ve had their own conversations with Amazon executives about the best ways to ensure that the company’s new office buildings across “National Landing” are energy efficient, but those discussions won’t proceed in earnest until the county formally signs off on the incentive package designed to bring the company to Arlington.

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Morning Notes

Activists Speak Out Against Amazon — “Activists who believe the fix is in and the Arlington government already has rolled over for Amazon used what limited opportunities they had at the Nov. 17 County Board meeting to demand more accountability and transparency from elected officials… The confrontational stance taken Saturday by a coalition of left-leaning groups on the issue ended the five-day high Arlington officials had been on since” the Amazon HQ2 announcement last week. [InsideNova, YouTube]

Experts: Amazon Real Estate Boost May Take Awhile — “The arrival of Amazon is likely to help boost parts of the local real estate market… But pump the brakes on the enthusiasm just a bit — any growth regionwide in home sales due to Amazon will be a plus, but not so large that it overshadows overall market dynamics. ‘My sense is that Amazon’s arrival will not have an immediate noticeable impact, but will over time be a contributor to increased values in close-in Northern Virginia,’ said Carol Temple, a certified residential specialist with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.” [InsideNova]

Op-ed: Build More Housing in Arlington — “New jobs don’t have to mean displacement. It comes down to a choice on the part of Arlington County policymakers: Revise local zoning rules to allow for new housing to accommodate new residents, or require a growing population to compete over a stagnant supply of housing.” [Washington Post]

Home Shopping in Arlington on a Tight Budget — “If you’re like my fiancée and me, with good jobs and ‘professional’ graduate degrees but attendant student loan debt and slightly delayed careers due to school and the recession, you probably can’t even buy into the ‘starter’ segment of the market without significant savings or a sudden gift or inheritance. However, we did manage to buy a home in Arlington for $425,000. Here’s how we did it.” [Greater Greater Washington]

How Virginia Sealed the HQ2 Deal — Amazon’s decision to split HQ2 between two different places actually helped convince some skeptical Virginia state lawmakers to support the deal. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Road Closures Planned for Thanksgiving 5K — “The 13th Annual Turkey Trot 5K will take place on Thursday, November 22, 2018. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct [a number of] road closures from 6:30 a.m. until approximately 10 a.m. to accommodate this event.” [Arlington County]

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Tina Sherman says she was stunned to wake up one morning and discover that her country suddenly wasn’t interested in promoting breastfeeding around the world.

Sherman, a North Carolina organizer with the progressive activist group “MomsRising,” was disturbed and puzzled to see the New York Times reporting that American officials pushed back on a seemingly innocuous resolution supporting breastfeeding at a gathering of the World Health Organization’s governing body.

As a mother herself, Sherman couldn’t understand why the U.S. would seek to abandon its longstanding support for breastfeeding, which research has often shown is healthier than baby formula and considerably less expensive. But as she read on, it didn’t surprise her that some advocates saw the influence of major baby formula producers at play in the dust-up.

“We know the benefits of breastfeeding, and it just seems to be in direct opposition to everything that we stood for,” Sherman told ARLnow. “We don’t know, but we can guess who was involved.”

Nestlé, in particular, has come under fire for decades now for allegedly using misleading marketing tactics in developing nations to promote baby formula, en route to becoming the market leader in infant milk products worldwide. So Sherman decided to express her outrage to the company directly, and worked with several other advocacy groups to collect more than 80,000 signatures urging Nestlé to change its ways.

The advocates, who even earned the backing of actress Alyssa Milano, delivered the petition to Nestlé’s new Rosslyn headquarters today (Tuesday) and met briefly with some company representatives to discuss the issue.

Nestlé spokesman Josh Morton says the company “welcome[s] the opportunity for meaningful engagement” on the issue, stressing that “we prioritize the health and wellbeing of babies.”

The company has long denied any wrongdoing when it comes its formula marketing, and Morton added that “Nestlé believes that breastfeeding is best for babies. Full stop.”

Though other formula companies have been more reticent to denounce the Trump administration’s actions on breastfeeding, Nestlé has worked to distance itself from the controversy, and Morton stressed that the company supports the WHO’s current stance on the practice.

Sherman says she’s certainly encouraged that the company at least says it’s willing to hear her group’s concerns. Yet Julia Skapik, a practicing physician in D.C. and a MomsRising volunteer, said she can’t help but be skeptical of company’s clear “profit motive.”

“Especially in places that are resource-poor, the idea that families are being convinced that they should take what little resources they have and put it towards formula is really frustrating and it’s sad,” Skapik said.

Morvika Jordan, another volunteer from Manassas, sees the company’s priorities misplaced, with “the idea of profit superseding the idea of health.”

But between the article in the Times and Tuesday’s demonstration, Sherman thinks executives at Nestlé, at least, “know that we’re watching.”

“If they can turn that marketing around, we’ll be right back out here cheering them, thanking them,” Sherman said. “But if they don’t, we’ll be back here to let them know what we think.”

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Morning Notes

Chess Growing in Popularity at Wakefield HS — A hot new trend with students at Wakefield High School: chess. The school offers chess boards for students and teachers to use during their lunch periods. Five or six students were regular players at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year the number of students playing on a weekly basis grew to around 200, including standout varsity athletes like Amari Cooper and Ben Horsford. [InsideNova]

Religious Protesters Picket Freddie’s — A pair of religious protesters held signs and chanted anti-gay slogans outside of Crystal City LGBTQ watering hole Freddie’s Beach Bar over the weekend. Despite their message of intolerance, owner Freddie Lutz invited the two in to have a dialogue about their beliefs and why Lutz is proud of his bar and customers. [Washington Blade]

Ballston Mall Owner to Be Sold — The Cleveland-based owner of the revamped Ballston Quarter mall is being sold to a Toronto-based management company, Brookfield Asset Management, for a reported $11.4 billion. [Washington Business Journal]

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