Using a restrictive covenant in a 1938 deed, neighbors in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood convinced a developer to build a single-family home instead of a duplex.
The home, 1313 N. Harrison Street, is not far from a wall that separated the historically Black neighborhood of Hall’s Hill from single-family-home subdivisions originally built exclusively for white people. In addition to specifying that only one home can be built on the lot, a second provision in the deed bars owners from selling to people who are not white.
This second provision came to light this week after ARLnow and Patch reported on the neighbors convincing the developer to back down from building a two-family home. A copy of the deed circulated on social media shortly after and ARLnow obtained a copy from Arlington County Land Records Division to confirm its authenticity.
While racially restrictive covenants were rendered unenforceable by a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court ruling and illegal by the Fair Housing Act of 1968, many homeowners never scrubbed them from their deeds, according to local researchers who are mapping racially restrictive covenants in Arlington. Thus, in some cases, they exist alongside separate covenants restricting multifamily construction.
Using the covenant against multifamily housing appears to be a valid workaround for neighbors and Arlington County says it has no legal role in how these covenants are used between private parties. The county began approving 2-6 unit homes in previously single-family-only neighborhoods two months ago, but this is the first instance ARLnow knows of where such a document was used in this way.
Their use, however, resituates one of the initial reasons Arlington County said it embarked on the housing policy changes in the first place: to right historical wrongs caused by racism. It provoked the ire of some Missing Middle advocates, including the Arlington branch of the NAACP, which is calling on the county to address the issue.
“The whites-only restriction can’t be disentangled from the one-house restriction; they were meant to work together, with the purpose and effect of excluding people of color,” said Wells Harrell, the chair of the housing committee of the NAACP, in a statement. “It is profoundly disappointing to see restrictive covenants from the Jim Crow era being invoked to block new housing and exclude families today.”
Several months ago, Arlington resident Stephanie Derrig identified these covenants as a way property owners could block Missing Middle-type housing from being built in their neighborhood.
She told ARLnow this week that she does not support the racist elements of restrictive covenants. At the same time, she sticks by her belief that a “restricted deed is a land use tool… to protect your largest investment, in many cases.”
YIMBYs of Northern Virginia leader Jane Green and Former Planning Commissioner Daniel Weir, both supportive of Missing Middle, take the view of the local NAACP that the two restrictions are part of one legal document, written with exclusionary intent.
Whether these provisions can be separated is a legal question — and a thorny one, at that, according to Venable land-use attorney Kedrick Whitmore.
When a court rules part of an agreement is unenforceable, the court does not rewrite the agreement to be legal, he said. This principle might affirm the initial view of the developer, BeaconCrest, which argued — before backing down and deciding to build a single-family home — that the document seems unenforceable.
On the other hand, courts do not want to remove other rights and obligations for which two parties negotiated. This means the court could uphold the rest of the agreement, giving credence to the arguments made by the neighbors.
“This is not exactly cut and dry,” Whitmore said. “You could make arguments either way. If you went to court, the stronger argument is for the non-racially restrictive elements to remain valid. But again, that’s a question.”
Arlington National Cemetery is seeking public input on its proposal to remove the Confederate Memorial from its grounds.
Atop a 32-foot-tall pedestal in the cemetery stands a bronze statue of a woman depicting Confederate soldiers and Southern civilians, according to the cemetery website. The figures include an enslaved woman holding the infant child of a white officer and an enslaved man following his owner to war.
“The elaborately designed monument offers a nostalgic, mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery,” the website says.
The statue is set to be removed nearly 110 years after its unveiling and placement in a section of the cemetery where Confederate soldiers were buried starting in the 1900s — decades after the war ended. The memorial’s sculptor, Moses Jacob Ezekiel, was also buried there.
The proposal is part of a broader effort by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to remove all references, displays and paraphernalia that commemorate the Confederate States of America and its soldiers from each of the Dept. of Defense’s assets. This includes renaming several military bases and removing statues from the West Point Military Academy, among other recommended changes.
Plans to remove the Confederate Memorial have already been challenged in court, the Washington Post reports. The federal government is seeking to dismiss a suit filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and descendants of Confederate soldiers in March. The plaintiffs argue it would be a “disgrace” and illegal to remove the statue because it serves as a grave marker for Confederates buried at the site.
The Arlington National Cemetery website disagrees with this interpretation of the Confederate Memorial. It says the statue perpetuates the narrative that Southern secession was a noble “Lost Cause.”
“This narrative of the Lost Cause, which romanticized the pre-Civil War South and denied the horrors of slavery, fueled white backlash against Reconstruction and the rights that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments (1865-1870) had granted to African Americans,” the website said.
While the cemetery says the government has already started preparing “for the careful removal and relocation of the memorial,” the public is invited to provide feedback on “alternatives that will avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects of the monument’s removal.”
Arlington National Cemetery is seeking comments from the public on the congressionally-mandated removal and relocation of the Confederate Memorial.
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) August 4, 2023
The Army is seeking its first round of public feedback now through the beginning of September. There will be a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
“The removal of the Confederate Memorial must be conducted in a manner that ensures the safety of the people who work at and visit ANC and that protects surrounding graves and monuments,” the website said. “The entire process, including disposition, must occur according to applicable laws, policies, and regulations.”
Two years ago, Congress directed the establishment of a naming commission tasked with assessing how much it would cost to remove Confederacy references and recommending renaming procedures.
The commission developed recommendations that informed a plan approved by the Dept. of Defense last October.
When living civil rights legend Joan Trumpauer Mulholland participated in sit-ins, she carried a Bible with her.
She kept her birth certificate inside “so that they could identify the body,” her son, Loki, said during an event on Saturday at the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington honoring his mother’s activism.
Joan piped up: “I didn’t have a driver’s license or anything like that. So I needed some way for them to know who I am.”
For protesting segregation with lunch counter sit-ins and bus trips known as Freedom Rides, Mulholland was briefly incarcerated in a maximum security prison and hunted by the Ku Klux Klan. In the intervening 60 years, her activism inspired books and documentaries and the creation of the Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation, which provides anti-racist education.
During the event — just shy of the 60th anniversary of a historic sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi, in which Mulholland participated — people gathered at the Columbia Pike museum to hear from her and check out an expanded exhibit with objects from her days as a Freedom Rider.
Just under her Bible, visitors can see memorabilia from the historically Black sorority she joined, Delta Sigma Theta, to advance racial integration.
Nearby is a blue dress she wore during a sit-in at the Woolworth’s in Jackson, Mississippi on May 28, 1963, in which white people attacked her and other Tougaloo College student and faculty demonstrators.
“We want to honor her… because when I talk around and ask people to name some white, anti-racist civil rights leaders, they can’t name anybody but Abe Lincoln, but there’s a lot of them,” museum president Scott Taylor says. “If you don’t know what to do with white privilege, you can look at this right here and she’ll show you.”
Author M. J. O’Brien told attendees that seeing a photo of two demonstrators flanking her — “in all her glory, getting sugar dumped on her, as if she wasn’t sweet enough” — moved him to write a book about the impact of the Jackson Woolworth’s sit-in, “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
Reminiscing, Mulholland said that photo, taken by local newspaper photographer Fred Blackwell, “went worldwide.”
“Back in the days before color photography in the press, it was colorized on the front page above the centerfold of the Paris Match, the most widely read newspaper in Europe,” she recounted.
“We didn’t have any Asian-American students at that time in the school, but we had it pretty well-covered,” she said.
(Updated at 11 a.m.) The namesake of Maury Park in Virginia Square is Matthew Fontaine Maury, a pioneer of oceanography and a Confederate commander during the Civil War.
The park’s name could change, however, if renaming is included in a planning and renovation process slated to begin at the end of 2023.
“It is likely that the renaming of Maury Park may be considered during its upcoming master planning process, similar to other park renaming efforts,” Jerry Solomon, a spokeswoman for the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation, tells ARLnow.
References to Maury have been removed over the last few years, prompted by the racial reckoning catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd by police officers. Last week, the U.S. Navy announced it will rename the oceanographic survey ship USNS Maury.
In July 2020, a statue of Maury in Richmond was removed after the mayor ordered the removal of all Confederate statues on city property.
Maury Park (3550 Wilson Blvd), a small green space behind the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, formerly the Arlington Arts Center, may be next. The old school building that has housed the arts center since 1977 was renamed in 1944 to honor Maury.
Arlington does not currently have a process for surveying all county structures for potential renamings, but DPR considers name changes as parks and facilities come up in the renovation cycle, Solomon said.
Through the renovation process, the county renamed Henry Clay Park to Zitkala-Ša Park — at the suggestion of the Lyon Park Citizens Association — “in order to honor the prominent author and activist from the indigenous community as opposed to a known owner of slaves,” Solomon said.
Maury Park is one of three urban parks in the Virginia Square Planning Area and in the Ashton Heights Civic Association, including Herselle Milliken Park and Gum Ball Park, set for upgrades in the near future.
“The project will master plan all three parks simultaneously to identify community needs and priorities while taking into consideration that the parks are located in close proximity and should have complementary rather than duplicative features,” per the Capital Improvement Plan.
Citing the county’s renaming policy, Solomon said, “renaming will be considered if a valid justification for the renaming is provided, the name change will not cause undue confusion with the community, and an appropriate level of community support exists.”
There are no plans to officially rename the building, according to Cynthia Liccese-Torres, the coordinator for Arlington County’s historic preservation program. The school is known interchangeably as the Clarendon School and the Maury School, though it has long been identified by the Arlington Arts Center, now the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington.
Signage referring to Maury was replaced with signage for the Arlington Arts Center before 2008 during building renovations, she said.
Born in 1806 in Fredericksburg, Maury joined the U.S. Navy in 1821 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1836, according to a county webpage for the Arlington Arts Center building, which it calls the Clarendon (Maury) School. He served as superintendent of the Navy Department’s Depot of Charts and Instruments from 1842 to 1855 and from 1858 to 1861.
In the 1850s, he worked on a project to “resettle slaves from the U.S. to the Brazilian Amazon as a way to gradually phase-out slavery in the U.S.,” an effort that “ultimately went nowhere,” according to a blog post by the Library of Congress.
“Maury was neither a slave-owner nor a proponent of slavery,” the post said. “Nevertheless, in declining to fight against his native Virginia, Maury resigned his post and joined the Confederate Navy, initially to direct coastal and river defenses and develop naval mine technologies to use against the Union.”
He ended up spending most of the war abroad, “hoping to persuade Europeans to support the Confederate cause and bring the war to a quick end,” the Library of Congress post said.
According to Arlington County, Maury served as commander in the Confederate Navy and later as its secretary.
Following the end of the war, Maury remained abroad for several years before taking a professorship in meteorology at the Virginia Military Institute, in Lexington, where he would teach until his death in 1873.
(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) The Arlington branch of the NAACP — previously a champion of Arlington’s Missing Middle housing proposal — is claiming the proposal now being deliberated is in danger of violating federal and state fair housing laws.
After hearing nearly 200 public speeches and convening three meetings in mid-January, the Arlington County Board approved a request to authorize hearings on proposed zoning changes that would allow small-scale multifamily buildings with up to six homes in districts zoned exclusively for single-family detached homes.
In so doing, the Board removed an option to consider buildings with seven or eight units and retained an option to impose higher lot size minimums for five-plexes and six-plexes outside of major transit corridors.
NAACP Arlington Branch President Mike Hemminger, Housing Committee Chair Bryan J. Coleman and Secretary Wanda Younger decried the move in a letter released yesterday (Thursday) to Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey.
“The NAACP fiercely opposes these restrictions and urges the County Board to enact only the set of options that will supply our community with the highest number of attainable homes across all of Arlington’s residential neighborhoods,” they write. “The NAACP will not be a bystander as government policies recreate discriminatory effects of the past by preventing people of color from enjoying the same benefits as those living in the county’s wealthiest, whitest neighborhoods.”
Arlington County Board members say they support the zoning changes to partially undo the lasting impacts of housing policy decisions that excluded people of color from many neighborhoods, such as racially restrictive deed covenants, the decision to ban rowhouses — popular among Black people but deemed “distasteful” by local leaders at the time — and a physical wall white residents built to keep out Black people from the Halls Hills neighborhood.
But removing eight-plexes and entertaining lot size minimums are “land use policies that have significant, unjustified disparate impacts on people of color,” which the Fair Housing Act prohibits, the NAACP said.
These restrictions will result in more expensive new construction and create “unequal housing opportunities in the same neighborhoods from which people of color have long been historically excluded.”
These policies would result in more expensive new construction, they say, citing an Arlington County presentation indicating six- or eight-plexes would be attainable for households making $108,000 to $118,000, compared to the $124,000 to $160,000 needed for three- and four-plexes.
By its calculations, the NAACP leaders say, increasing the household income needed from $100,000 to $150,000 would result in some 44% of white households able to buy, compared to 20.3% of Black and 24.3% of Latino households.
That means the number of Black households who can afford Missing Middle homes would decrease by 43% and Latino households by 38%, compared to white households, 32%.
The issue of whether to allow seven- and eight-plexes split the County Board. Members Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantonis and Vice-Chair Libby Garvey supported removing these options while member Katie Cristol and Chair Christian Dorsey did not.
De Ferranti has argued against it on the grounds that these are mostly going to be rental 1- and 2-bedroom properties, which are not the types of units that Arlington is aiming to build more of through Missing Middle.
The woman who wrote a law banning discrimination based on natural hairstyles, adopted in 19 states, will be coming to Arlington to talk about anti-Black bias in the legal profession.
Wendy Greene, architect and advisor on the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2022” (CROWN Act), will be joined by other lawyers and legal scholars at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School tomorrow (Thursday) to tackle whether the jobs in the nation’s top law firms, known as “big law,” are less attainable for Black people who wear their hair in afros, dreads or braids.
The two-hour “Black Hair, Big Law” symposium sponsored by George Mason’s Black Law Student Association will feature talks by American Bar Association President Deborah Enix-Ross and other lawyers and scholars from across the U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean. Attendees can RSVP online and attend in-person at the law school (3301 Fairfax Drive) or via Zoom.
The symposium kicks off at 11 a.m., with lunch starting at noon for in-person attendees. Per a press release, it will include:
- A distinguished panel of knowledgeable, relatable, and trailblazing speakers
- Compelling original quantitative graduate research black attorneys and their hair
- Poignant, thought-provoking videos about attorneys and judges wearing their hair natural
- Representation matters: 100 Black TV and Film Lawyers from the controversial “Amos & Andy” to the new CBS legal drama, “All Rise.”
All attendees will receive an anthology of nearly 100 first-hand experiences from Black attorneys, paralegals and law students describing discrimination they faced, or expected to face, because of their hair.
Here are some anecdotes:
“Depending on the court, I [used] to change my hair,” says one woman, per the press release. “As a black woman in many jurisdictions, the court assumes I am either a party to the case or the court reporter. So I would style my hair differently and in fact, dress differently to set myself apart or rather to attempt to set myself apart.”
“”I was told to change my hair when I entered law school. In law school, when in mock trial competitions my hair was judged and questioned by my coaches. Despite it all, I am who I am. My hair is a part of who I am. Thankful for my Howard University experience that helped solidify that being Black is not a badge of shame. Neither is my hair.”
Black people have long been discriminated against for wearing afros, braids or dreads, event organizers say. Some student dress codes forbade them, some people have been fired for wearing dreadlocks and women who wear their hair curly have been stigmatized as choosing a less professional style.
In the face of discrimination, Black men could choose to wear their short, but for many women, their choice is between keeping it natural or straightening it with chemicals.
This alternative, popular for decades — despite the uncomfortable side effects, such as sores — has recently been linked to uterine cancer. It prompted lawsuits to be filed in California, Illinois and New York, according to the online law blog Above the Law.
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020 prompted a renewed focus on racism, particularly against Black people, within “big law,” where a strong majority of lawyers are white, the American Lawyer reports.
The law publication’s annual “Diversity Scorecard” for 2022 showed the greatest annual increase in the percentage of minority attorneys in the industry since 2001.
The total number of minority attorneys rose to 20.2%, up from 18.5% last year and 17.8% in 2020. The number of minority partners also climbed, reaching 11.9%, up from 10.9% in 2021, and the percentage of minority nonpartners hit 26.7%, up from 24.6% in 2021.
Meanwhile, another law publication, JD Supra, reports that 18% of all attorneys in the nation’s 200 largest law firms, ranked by revenue, are “ethnically diverse” — up a percentage point from 17%, where it sat from 2019-21.
Despite the recent progress, advocates say new lawyers will not stay if big law does not address systemic issues, such as when firms protect powerful partners accused of bullying, harassment or racial bias.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
(Updated 12:40 p.m. on 10/11/22) If you own a local restaurant, grocery co-op or healthcare clinic in an underinvested neighborhood, there’s a good chance that Arlington-based Capital Impact Partners can help find money to assist your business.
Capital Impact Partners (CIP), which has been in Crystal City for 40 years, is a Community Development Financial Institution aimed at helping lower-income and racially diverse communities secure loans as well as capital and financial assistance.
And this summer, CIP joined forces with lender CDC Small Business Finance and lending software company Ventures Lending Technologies to help clients more effectively. They are together known as Momentus Capital. The new group is already heating up the region’s economy, according to the Washington Business Journal, which named it as an honoree of its 2022 Inno on Fire Awards program.
“Small business owners, developers, and other local leaders are the engines of job creation and economic activity in communities across the country. When these leaders have the opportunity to succeed, their communities, their residents — and our country — thrive,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Momentus Capital, in a statement. “We need bold thinking and a holistic approach to unleash solutions for underestimated communities. Momentus Capital was created to meet that challenge.”
Carr, who led CIP, and Kurt Chilcott, at the time the leader of CDC Small Business Finance and now the chair of both organizations’ boards, began developing the idea for Momentus in 2019. Under the new umbrella organization, the companies will still operate as one, although they will be maintained as separate legal entities, providing but their clients will now have access to more resources and products.
For instance, Momentus is developing new lending and investing products aimed at helping people who have historically been denied access to funding. It provides borrowers with training, mentorship and networking opportunities and also provides technical support to community-based organizations and lenders.
This is the kind of work that CIP has been doing since its founding in 1982. Now a national organization, with offices in Oakland, Detroit, Austin and New York, the company got its start in Crystal City, where its headquarters remain at 1400 Crystal Drive.
“We are always thinking about racial equity, the racial wealth gap, what was our role in that as lenders, and how can we create more access to capital in a more holistic way, deep in communities,” says Alison Powers, director of economic opportunities at Capital Impact Partners. “I like to think we’ve been one of the leaders when it comes to thinking about those questions.”
That might mean helping to secure a loan for a family-owned pharmacy in Green Valley or pinpointing a grant that might assist with staffing at a small, immigrant-owned restaurant on Columbia Pike.
Powers said this work reverses exclusionary systems in the U.S., such as redlining, which prevented communities of color and low-income families from getting home loans because their neighborhoods were deemed too risky for investment.
“How we think about credit and risk and underwriting has really been influenced by the history of the U.S. and who is perceived as being good candidates for access to certain financial products,” she says.
A sociology professor at Marymount University and a former housing lawyer are poring over century-old property records to locate Arlington’s segregated neighborhoods.
It’s a time-consuming process, but the goal is to map Arlington’s “history of exclusion,” says professor Janine DeWitt.
“Our research is to take a look very closely at a granular level — lot by lot, parcel by parcel — and map the racially restrictive covenants that were in Arlington,” she said during a discussion hosted by the Arlington Historical Society last week. “We want to know the Arlington we’re in right now and how much of that was exclusionary.”
And DeWitt says she and her research partner, Kristin Neun, will not stop “until we find every last one of them and not before.”
This research effort is taking shape while the county grapples with its history of racist zoning policies through the Missing Middle Housing Study. Housing advocates who welcome the study, however, say it’s not enough to integrate neighborhoods that are still restricted as a result of the 20th-century practices DeWitt and Neun are researching.
Until the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made racially restrictive covenants illegal and unenforceable, these clauses excluded potential buyers based on their race, ethnicity or religion. Such deeds governed Arlington’s housing market and mostly targeted Black Arlingtonians, while others included Middle Eastern immigrants, Jewish people and Armenians.
These covenants, codified by developers in conjunction with county government, applied to all future property transfers unless a property owner removed them. Only a handful did so after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled these covenants were unconstitutional in 1948.
DeWitt says she and Neun would have started their research at the Arlington County courthouse, leafing through physical pre-1951 property records, but due to Covid they conducted research every way they could until the county wrapped up a two-year project to digitize land records documents.
Even with the digital copies, the records still need to be read and searched by hand.
“Property records are tremendously inconsistent,” DeWitt said. “It’s incredibly difficult to parse this. It requires a high-touch approach.”
Once she and Neun find a deed with a restrictive clause, they match it with a current address and plug it into a map.
So far, they have mapped out covenants on properties in the Arlington Forest and Bellevue Forest neighborhoods. They found covenants for the historic subdivisions of Country Club View, Flower Gardens, Jackson Terrace and Woodlawn Village, which are now part of the Donaldson Run, Penrose, Tara-Leeway Heights and Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhoods, respectively.
So far, DeWitt and Neun have observed these restrictions date from 1910 — and possibly earlier — all the way until the mid-1950s.
And some deeds were euphemistic, prohibiting occupancy “except for the race for which it is intended,” or prohibiting stables, pig pens, temporary dwellings and high fences.
“It’s amazing how you can vary restricting somebody,” said Neun, a former housing lawyer turned community educator.
Racial exclusion in Arlington tracks with regulations at the state and federal level, Neun said.
When Democrats took control of Virginia state politics in the early 1900s, they championed “homogeneity” — the idea that “homogeneous populations do better, live better, are happier and less risky,” Neun said.
The local NAACP is calling on the Arlington County Board to do more to encourage affordable homeownership opportunities for residents of color.
Although segregation officially ended last century, the Arlington branch of the NAACP says non-white residents are still effectively excluded from some neighborhoods due to county zoning codes, compounded by rising housing costs.
“The widespread single-family zoning scheme that prevents the construction of new housing in affluent, mostly white neighborhoods also worsens racial segregation by confining the construction of new affordable housing units to the Columbia Pike corridor and other parts of Arlington with large non-white populations,” the NAACP wrote in a letter to the county.
“People of color wishing to live in Arlington deserve meaningful opportunities to choose from a wide variety of housing types, in many parts of the county, at a reasonable cost,” the letter continues.
The NAACP says the county needs to adopt a comprehensive strategy to reform the county’s zoning laws and housing policies. It suggests reforms that go beyond those being considered in the Missing Middle Housing Study.
“We support the County’s many studies and other initiatives to promote affordable housing,” it concludes. “The best way to ensure the success of these initiatives is for the County Board and County Manager to show decisive leadership now and commit to supporting comprehensive zoning reform.”
Through Missing Middle, the county is considering whether and what kind of low-density multifamily housing could fit into single-family home neighborhoods. The county says allowing more housing types in these neighborhoods can reverse the lingering impacts of yesteryear’s racist zoning policies.
“The Missing Middle Housing Study has documented the role that Arlington’s land use and zoning policies have played in contributing to racial disparities in housing and access to opportunity,” says Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “Conducting the Missing Middle Housing Study is one of many deliberate choices the County is making to address the mistakes of the past and pave a new path for Arlington’s future.”
While supportive of the study, the NAACP suggests solutions beyond its parameters.
It recommends every redevelopment be assessed for whether it would perpetuate historical exclusion or displace the existing community. If so, developers would have to use a “displacement prevention and mitigation toolkit” to reverse those impacts.
This toolkit could include:
- property tax deferrals for lower-income homeowners
- funding for Community Land Trust acquisitions
- preferences for first-generation homebuyers
- stabilization funds for residents at risk of displacement
The toolkit would “address the unique needs of and the displacement risk experienced by the community in and around site-plan and by-right developments while also helping to address patterns of historical exclusion experienced by members of protected classes,” the letter says.
These and other tools should also receive county and state funding, like a quick-strike land acquisition account, which would be used to quickly purchase properties for affordable housing development, and targeted homeownership assistance programs, the NAACP says.
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s first veto could mean Arlington’s police oversight board cannot be led by an independent policing auditor.
Today (Tuesday), the Republican governor vetoed his first bill: HB 670, put forward by Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D). It would have granted the Arlington County Board permission to appoint an independent auditor who would oversee the Community Oversight Board (COB), which is tasked with handling civilian complaints of misconduct by Arlington police officers.
Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol told ARLnow this morning that the Board wants to work with Youngkin to clarify the powers of the county’s police oversight board and the role of the auditor in hopes that he will rescind the veto.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee decried the veto as “play[ing] politics with a commonsense measure that passed the GOP controlled House.”
Despite passing with bipartisan support Governor Youngkin vetoed a bill from @HopeforVirginia that would have allowed an independent police auditor in Arlington
There is no reason to play politics with a commonsense measure that passed the GOP controlled House https://t.co/9TSNf4Tlpr
— Arlington Democrats (@arlingtondems) March 1, 2022
The policing auditor would have been a County Board-appointed position and the person filling the role would have answered directly to the Board. Most other top managerial positions report to the Board-appointed County Manager.
Should Youngkin’s veto remain in place, Cristol says the COB would still be led by an auditor, but this leader would instead answer to County Manager Mark Schwartz. That would mean a weaker auditor, she adds.
“It was really important that the independent policing auditor be just that, and not be under the chief law enforcement official of the county, which is the County Manager,” Cristol said.
Cristol says the Board wants to work with Youngkin because it seems — by his press release — that he misunderstands what the COB can and cannot do. She said the governor may have vetoed the bill based on a faulty understanding of the new body’s powers.
“Based on his press release, I think he made this action without full knowledge of what he was vetoing,” she said. “Specifically, he says, in referencing his vetoing of the bill, the Community Oversight Board would ‘make binding disciplinary determinations, including termination and involuntary restitution.’ Our ordinance didn’t empower the COB or the independent auditor to do that.”
Hope’s bill was merely an “administrative fix” to a bill passed last year, she said.
“Assuming this does stand, we are incredibly disappointed,” she said. “It’s not an expansion of [the] Community Oversight Board in the Commonwealth. It puts Arlington into parity with other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth.”
Del. Hope explains that his bill corrects for a shortcoming in the county charter that requires the County Board to get permission from the General Assembly to make any hire. He says Youngkin’s response is a new one.
“In my 13 years of service, I don’t ever recall seeing a Governor vetoing a local Charter bill,” he said. “To say that I’m disappointed the Governor would use his veto pen on a Charter bill to make a misguided political statement is an understatement.”
The County Board and the community have a small mountain of applications to Arlington’s new police oversight board to sift through.
Between October and December of last year, more than 100 people applied to sit on the county’s Community Oversight Board, according to Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey.
The County Board created the group last summer to receive complaints of police misconduct. Following the recommendations of the Police Practices Group — convened after 2020’s summer of nationwide racial justice protests — the Board endowed the COB with the power to subpoena for evidence or witnesses if the police department withholds them.
Now, the County Board and a panel of community members have the monumental task of winnowing down the 100 applicants to nine candidates — seven voting and two non-voting members — by mid-March.
“On behalf of all of us, I think we can say thank you, thank you for the tremendous outpouring of interest and support for this initiative in Arlington,” said Dorsey, who is a liaison to the COB along with Board member Matt de Ferranti.
A multi-step interview process is now underway, says Dorsey.
Candidates have been invited to participate in video interviews so they can be screened before they go before a panel, which will largely be composed of people who were engaged in the creation of the COB last year.
This panel will choose who will interview with the County Board.
Dorsey says the goal is to fully impanel the COB by the County Board’s March meeting.
“We are very, very thrilled that this is going to move forward,” he said. “We really thank so many Arlingtonians who are interested in transparency and accountability in law enforcement and working to build trust with our police department and community.”
Dorsey noted that he was pleased the applicant pool reflects Arlington’s diversity.
“This was very much a standard by which we want to establish our Community Oversight Board, and at least from the screening of the applicants thus far, we will absolutely be able to meet that important mandate,” he said.
The COB would be lead by an independent auditor-monitor who can conduct investigations concurrent with internal police department investigations. This position, however, is subject to approval by state legislature, possibly during the 2022 legislative session.