Earthquake Drill Today — Virginia and a handful of other states will be participating in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut earthquake drill today at 10:20 a.m. [ShakeOut.org]
Sobering News on Office Vacancies — County officials are warning that Arlington’s office vacancy rate will remain relatively high for the foreseeable future. Optimistically, economic development officials believe that by “slowly and steadily” winning lease renewals and new tenants, the vacancy rate could decline to just past 15 percent, from the current 20 percent, within a few years. [InsideNova]
Arlington No. 8 on Marathon Training Rankings — Arlington County has ranked No. 8 on a list of the best places to train for a marathon. The county earned high marks for its parks, its walkability and its climate. [Competitor]
Most Popular College Applications — The three top schools in terms of the number of applications from the high school class of 2016 in Arlington were: 1. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2. University of Virginia and 3. Virginia Tech. [Arlington Magazine]
Arlington’s Commuter Efforts Lauded — “Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is being recognized for weaving mobility into broader efforts to improve local quality of life and economic competitiveness. ACCS was named by the Association for Commuter Transportation as having the best transportation demand management (TDM) program among all large municipalities in the United States.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Katie Pyzyk
Arlington Named No. 11 Best Place in America — The same folks who named Arlington the best city to live in America earlier this summer have named it the 11th “best place to live in America.” Los Alamos, New Mexico topped the list and locally Merrifield, Virginia placed fourth. [Niche]
APS Schools Earn State Accreditation — All Arlington public schools, save one that is still being considered, have earned state accreditation. The final school is expected to be accredited later this fall, school officials say. “I want to congratulate all of our dedicated teachers and school leaders as well as our students and families on achieving full accreditation in all of our schools once again,” Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a statement. [InsideNova, Arlington Public Schools]
Park(ing) Day Returns Tomorrow — The annual Park(ing) Day event in Arlington will be held tomorrow (Friday). At least five metered parking spaces around Arlington will be blocked off and converted into pop-up parks, “to elicit a reconsideration of the designation of public space.” [Arlington County]
The financial website SmartAsset has Arlington ranked No. 1 on its list of the “hardest-working cities in America.” The website ranked 113 U.S. cities by labor market data on the average number of hours worked in a week and the average number of weeks worked per year.
The four hardest-working cities after Arlington were Anchorage, Alaska; Lincoln, Nebraska; Plano, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Detroit ranked last on the list
People in Arlington work an average of 41.5 hours per week and 40.15 weeks per year, according to SmartAsset. The company said that Arlington benefitted from steady employment at the Pentagon and other federal government offices.
Thanks in part to a large federal government presence, the Arlington, VA economy is largely immune to the economic shocks which sometimes rock the rest of the country. Government agencies like the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are headquartered here. In fact, the Pentagon where the Department of Defense is headquartered is the largest office building in the world.
In Arlington people work an average of 41.5 hours per week. This figure is the highest in the country and a big reason Arlington comes in as the hardest-working city in America.
The largest private companies (in terms of employees) in the city are Deloitte and Accenture. Other large private companies owe their presence to the nearby Department of Defense, like Lockheed Martin. All in all, workers in Arlington work an average of 1,431 hours per year.
But there’s a big asterisk to that fact, says an APS spokesman.
As opposed to 2010, when all APS high schools were included in the top 500, for the past couple of years the school system hasn’t even applied to be ranked by Newsweek.
“Unlike the Niche, Great Schools and many other ‘school rankings; which are compiled by outside sources who access data from readily available sources like the VDOE and the US Department of Education, Newsweek is one of about a dozen or so rankings that ask school divisions to complete detailed forms and provide additional data to them,” said Frank Bellavia.
“As a result, for the past few years, APS (and many other school districts in Virginia and the U.S.) have chosen to not participate in the Newsweek list,” Bellavia said. “It is a time consuming endeavor that takes away time away from providing instructional and other supports to our students and families. Consequently, while interesting, the list is not scientifically valid since it does not report using data from all eligible school divisions.”
Bellavia said APS’ participation in the Newsweek rankings ended after 2010, when Newsweek was sold by its then-owner, the Washington Post.
“2010 was the last time Newsweek partnered with the Washington Post on the Challenge Index,” Bellavia said. “We continue to participate in the Post’s Challenge Index because it our local ‘hometown paper.'”
In the 2016 Challenge Index rankings, Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School was on the rise, ranking No. 5 in the D.C. area, while H-B Woodlawn, Yorktown and Wakefield were all down, ranking No. 8, 11 and 84 respectively.
Arlington has been named among the nation’s healthiest places to live.
The county was called the “third healthiest city in America” by Niche.com, the rankings site that previously called Arlington the No. 2 “Best City for Millennials,” “Best City to Live in America” and the No. 7 Suburb to Live in America.
The categories surveyed to determine the healthiest city included physical activity rate, obesity rate, access to doctors, access to recreation and fitness facilities and percentage of smokers.
Arlington received an ‘A’ grade in access to doctors, mental health providers and recreation and fitness facilities. With over 150 listed parks in the county and 13 recreation centers along with privately owned gyms, Arlington has many options for residents to stay healthy.
The county’s obesity rate of 17.5 percent is more than 17 percentage points lower than the national average of 34.9 percent and its physical inactivity rate of 13.9 percent is lower than the state rate of 23.5 percent of Virginians reported as physically inactive.
Arlington’s percentage of smokers is 10.1 percent of the population, lower than the national rate of 16.8 percent.
Topping the “healthiest cities” list were Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco. Arlington beat out a long list of such other health paragons as Provo, Utah; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Berkeley, Calif. Neighboring Alexandria ranked No. 18 on that list.
That’s according to the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties, which gave Arlington high marks for its tech related to “open government, transparency, citizen engagement, security and operations.”
This is the first time Arlington has achieved the honor.
“We’re proud of this award and for the work that was done this year to help create a more streamlined, responsive and inclusive government using technology,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a press release (below). “Arlington will continue to innovate and explore new technology tools with the goal of creating the best possible experience for residents and businesses when they interact with the County.”
The county is ahead of the curve in tech in a number of ways. In the past couple of years Arlington has launched a dark fiber network that’s open to businesses, a data-driven smartphone app, online streaming of commission meetings and an “open data portal.”
The full press release from Arlington County, after the jump.
In the latest rankings, Arlington received high marks for the number of millennial residents, job opportunities and access to bars and restaurants. It was dinged only for a high cost of living.
Tech and education hub Cambridge, Mass. ranked No. 1 while Arlington’s neighbor Alexandria ranked No. 3. D.C. ranked No. 9.
The top 10 localities for millennials in 2016, according to Niche, are:
- Cambridge, Mass.
- Arlington, Va.
- Alexandria, Va.
- San Francisco
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Washington, D.C.
- Austin, Texas
The report used eight categories to rank 196 cities, including cost of living, crime rate, walkability, wellbeing, taxes, health care, weather and culture.
Arlington was ranked highly in most of the categories, with low crime and tax rates complementing “great” ratings in walkability, culture, healthcare and well-being.
Arlington’s main drawback was the high cost of living. Another negative: the weather only receiving an “average” rating.
“We found that smaller cities and suburbs fared the best,” said Bankrate.com analyst Jill Cornfield. “Most seniors prefer to live in these types of communities because they offer access to big-city amenities without as much hustle, bustle and crime.”
Four of the top 10 cities on the list are located in the D.C. area with Alexandria, Silver Spring and Rockville all receiving high marks as well.
The top 10 cities in Bankrate.com’s rankings are:
- Arlington, VA
- Alexandria, VA
- Franklin, TN
- Silver Spring, MD
- West Des Moines, IA
- Nashville, TN
- Sarasota, FL
- Rockville, MD
- Des Moines, IA
- Murfreesboro, TN
Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian
Arlington County is the “Best City to Live in America,” according to the website Niche.com, as of last week.
But, according to Niche, Arlington didn’t rank quite as well on its new list of the “Best Suburbs to Live in America.”
Arlington is No. 7 on the list, behind McNair in Fairfax County (No. 6); Park City, Utah (No. 4) and Merrifield, also in Fairfax County (No. 2). Superior, a town near Boulder, Colorado, topped the list at No. 1.
The “Best Suburbs” list is “based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities.”
Some Developers Are Pessimistic About the Pike — “The mood is not good,” Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization chairman John Murphy said of developers. “Some of them made big investments, big bets based on the county saying we’re going to do the streetcar. They feel betrayed, they’re not happy at all.” [Bisnow]
Board to Buy Bungalow to Bolster Benjamin Banneker — The Arlington County Board this weekend is expected to approve the purchase of a $637,500 property on 17th Street N. in order to expand Benjamin Banneker Park, near the East Falls Church Metro station. [InsideNova]
DCA Flight Path Changes — The Federal Aviation Administration is considering changes to flight paths for planes departing Reagan National Airport, in response to complaints from D.C. residents. Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is organizing a community meeting to discuss “recent changes to departure procedures for aircraft taking off to the south of the airport.” [WTOP, Rep. Don Beyer]
Chaplain at DCA Mourns Son — Rev. Nace Lanier, the chaplain at Reagan National Airport, is mourning the loss of his 10-year-old son to a brain tumor. [Washington Post]
Sehkraft Makes ‘Hottest New Bars’ List — Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon is one of the 10 hottest new bars in the D.C. area, according to Zagat, which writes: “This sprawling, pulsating Arlington brewhouse, gastropub, butcher shop, beer garden and live-music venue is powered by the brilliantly colored art on the walls, robust smoked and grilled American fare and curated craft beers.” [Zagat]
Free Smoothies Today — Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which has a location at 3811 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, is celebrating National Flip Flop Day by raising money for charity and giving out some free smoothies. The store will offer free smoothies to customers wearing flip flops from 2-7 p.m. [Tropical Smoothie Cafe]
Photo courtesy @rydaka
Arlington County has topped a new list of the “Best Cities to Live in America.”
Arlington received high marks for education, health and fitness, nightlife, family amenities, outdoor activities, length of commute and diversity, according to Niche.com.
“It has very high home values, very high rent costs, and very low unemployment levels,” the website said. “Its citizens generally have very high education levels and very high income levels.”
Arlington bested cities like Cambridge, Massachusetts and Columbia, Maryland for the top spot on the list.
“These new rankings explore 224 cities to find the best places to live in the U.S. based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities,” said a Niche spokeswoman. “Our team of data scientists analyzed data from the U.S. Census, FBI, BLS, CDC, and other sources to calculate these rankings.”
The top 15 in Niche’s new rankings are:
- Arlington, VA
- Cambridge, MA
- Columbia, MD
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Plano, TX
- Overland Park, KS
- Boulder, CO
- Berkeley, CA
- Rochester, MN
- Bellevue, WA
- Irvine, CA
- Sunnyvale, CA
- Alexandria, VA
- San Francisco, CA
- Round Rock, TX
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
Unsettled Weather This Weekend — Expect rain today, Saturday and Sunday, says the National Weather Service. On Sunday there’s a good chance of severe storms. [Twitter]
Rosslyn Outdoor Movie Fest Starts Tonight — Weather permitting, Rosslyn’s outdoor movie festival starts tonight with a showing of “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” This year’s Rosslyn movie theme is “Incredible Journeys.” [Rosslyn]
Fisette Mum on Reelection — Jay Fisette, the longest-serving current County Board member, says he will wait until the end of the year before deciding whether to run for reelection in 2017. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington ranked just below No. 3 Washington, D.C. and the top two cities for parks: Minneapolis (No. 1) and Saint Paul (No. 2). The county received high marks for having parks within easy waking distance of the vast majority of residents.
“Arlington scored even better for park access, with 98% of residents living with a 10-minute walk of a park,” noted a press release. “However, its overall score was hurt because Arlington reserves only 11.2% of city area for parks. That is still above the national ParkScore average of 8.9%, but considerably behind the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C.”
An excerpt from the press release from the Trust for Public Land, including the top 10 ranked jurisdictions, is below.
Washington, DC, earned 5 “park benches” on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index, ranking 3rd among the 100 largest U.S. cities. Washington also placed 3rd in 2015. Neighboring Arlington ranked 4th, earning 4.5 park benches and finishing as the highest-ranking debut city in 2016, as the ParkScore index expanded to 100 cities, up from 75 last year.
“Every American deserves to live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and ParkScore helps us measure which cities are meeting that mark,” said Will Rogers, President of the Trust for Public Land.
ParkScores are based on three factors: Park Access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ½-mile); Park Size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Facilities and Investment, which combines park spending per resident with the availability of four popular park amenities: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, and recreation & senior centers.
According to ParkScore, 97% of District residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Washington’s score was also helped by high marks for spending per resident ($287) and percentage of city area reserved for parks (21.9%). Arlington scored even better for park access, with 98% of residents living with a 10-minute walk of a park. However, its overall score was hurt because Arlington reserves only 11.2% of city area for parks. That is still above the national ParkScore average of 8.9%, but considerably behind the Twin Cities and Washington, DC.
Atop the ParkScore rankings Minneapolis narrowly edged out Saint Paul for first after the cross-town rivals shared the top spot in 2015. Fresno, California, also marked an important achievement for 2016, climbing out of last position for the first time in ParkScore history. The Central California city was buoyed by the opening of several new playgrounds and a dog park.
Nationally, The Trust for Public Land reported a trend toward increased investment in local park systems. Returning ParkScore cities increased spending on parks by an average of $1 per person in 2016, according to the organization.
“Cities are investing in park systems and that’s showing up on the ParkScore index. It is great news for public health, the environment, and local economies,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land. “Parks provide places for children and adults to get exercise, and they serve as community meeting places where friendships are built and a sense of community is strengthened,” he added.
According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking park systems in the United States are:
- Minneapolis – 5.0 park benches
- Saint Paul – 5.0 park benches
- Washington, DC – 5.0 park benches
- Arlington, VA – 4.5 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)
- San Francisco – 4.5 park benches
- Portland, OR – 4.5 park benches
- New York – 4.5 park benches
- Irvine – 4.5 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)
- Boston – 4.5 park benches
- Cincinnati (tie) – 4.0 park benches
Madison, WI (tie) – 4.0 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)
An analysis by the firm Bay Alarm Medical looked at half a million geotagged tweets and found that Arlington sees about 265 sickness-related tweets per 100,000 residents. That puts Arlington No. 10 on a list of the “sickest cities” in the U.S.
New Orleans, Miami and Atlanta are No. 1-3 on the list, respectively.
The research also found:
- Sickness tweets reach their height in December and January.
- Sickness talk decreases as weather warms up.
- Sickness-related complaints peak on Tuesday instead of Monday.
Image courtesy Bay Alarm Medical
Here’s what the website had to say about Arlington and its No. 1 spot.
“If you’re looking to live near other educated people, this Washington, D.C., suburb is the place to be. A whopping 71.5% of Arlington’s 25-and-older population holds at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest percentage on our list. Arlington also is tops for the number of jobs in management, business, science or arts occupations, as well as for salaries.”
“Arlington, Virginia, stands out in our analysis because 67.1% of its workforce find jobs in management, business, science or the arts. These fields have the most jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher.”
“However, if you move here, be ready to give up a big chunk of your salary for housing. The median rent is one of the highest among the 100 cities in our analysis, and it would take up nearly a third (31.4%) of that paycheck.”
The report analyzed a number of data points, including:
- Percentage of population 25 and older with bachelor’s degree or higher
- Percentage of population ages 20 to 29
- Median earnings of residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree
- Jobs in management, business, science and arts occupations
- Rent as a percentage of income
- Unemployment rates