Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]

Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]

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Morning Notes

County Board Roundup — As expected, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to approve a contract for Nauck Town Square, a purchase agreement to acquire Virginia Hospital Center-owned property, and a permit to convert former administrative offices next to Washington-Lee High School to classroom space for up to 600 students.

Adding Amazon Acquisitions in Arlington? — “Keep an eye on what companies Amazon.com Inc. buys next. It could be what fills HQ2. Acquisitions will likely determine what jobs and teams develop at the second headquarters in Arlington, said Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of worldwide economic development.” [Washington Business Journal]

Drivers Work to Inflate Prices at DCA — “Every night, several times a night, Uber and Lyft drivers at Reagan National Airport simultaneously turn off their ride share apps for a minute or two to trick the app into thinking there are no drivers available — creating a price surge. When the fare goes high enough, the drivers turn their apps back on and lock into the higher fare.” [WJLA]

Garvey Endorses Stamos — “I believe we could use a healthy debate about equity in Arlington and how our legal justice system works. However, a healthy debate means using facts about what is working and what is not… I hope you will join me in voting for Theo Stamos for Commonwealth’s Attorney on June 11.” [Libby Garvey]

Sun Gazette Endorses Favola, Lopez — “In its endorsements, the paper said neither Nicole Merlene (who is challenging Favola) nor Julius Spain (who is taking on Lopez) has reached the rather high bar set for an endorsement of challengers to sitting office-holders.” [InsideNova]

Merlene on Kojo — “On @kojoshow, @NicoleMerleneVA says a second bridge over the Potomac, perhaps in Loudoun County, is needed, especially in light of the recent Beltway closure. She also expresses support for marijuana decriminalization and medical marijuana in Va.” [Twitter]

Arlington Firms in Fortune 1000 — Four Arlington-based companies are in the new Fortune 1000 list: AES, CACI International, Graham Holdings, and AvalonBay Communities. Fairfax County, meanwhile, is home to ten Fortune 500 companies. [Fortune, Twitter]]

Man Sentenced for Threatening Ajit Pai — “Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal. This prosecution shows not only that we take criminal threats seriously, but also that online threats of violence have real world consequences.” [Twitter, USDOJ]

Another Amazon-Adjacent Acquisition — “Amazon’s planned second headquarters continues to attract the interest of major investors to the National Landing area.  Newmark Knight Frank announced Friday it brokered the sale of Presidential Tower at 2511 Jefferson Davis Highway on behalf of the seller, Beacon Capital Partners. The building sold for $123M, according to CoStar information.” [Bisnow]

Photo courtesy @zachzsnapz/Instagram.

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Residents and passersby may see fire and smoke may coming Reagan National Airport this weekend, but don’t worry — it’s just a drill.

The airport will be testing its emergency preparedness plan by simulating an airline crash with hundreds of pretend casualties, officials say. The full-scale disaster drill will be held from 9:00-11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

“During the exercise, smoke, fire, participants with mock injuries and a large number of emergency response vehicles may be visible to passengers and the public,” said the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

“Activities will be concentrated on the south side of the airfield in a controlled area near Runway 4,” MWAA said in a press release.

The drill will test how officials respond to a fiery airplane crash — from battling the flames, to triaging and transporting victims, and to coordinating communications with the public.

For those interested in participating, the airport is seeking volunteer victims who are at least 18 years old and have some clothes they don’t mind being destroyed by “moulage” — a.k.a. costume wound materials like fake blood.

All told, the airport hopes to attract 130 victims for the event.

Federal Aviation Administration regulations require airports develop emergency plans for disasters and test them with a full-scale disaster drill every three years. Saturday’s drill comes three years after DCA’s last drill in 2016.

MWAA also warns scanner listeners that they may hear first responders participating in the simulated scenario on Saturday.

Local law enforcement planned an emergency exercise of their own in case of a terrorist attack last month, after holding one two years ago.

Image via Eventbrite

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Morning Notes

Amazon Signs Another Lease in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. has tacked on another block of space to its planned footprint at National Landing, less than a month after executing its first set of leases and purchase agreements with JBG Smith Properties for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beyer Endorses Buttigieg — “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg picked up his first endorsement from a member of Congress on Wednesday when Rep. Don Beyer from Virginia announced his support for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor.” [CNN]

County Scooter Pilot May Be Extended — “Though scheduled to come to an end in June, Arlington officials could extend through the summer months a pilot program allowing motorized scooters across the county – while potentially imposing additional regulations in the interim.” [InsideNova]

Soros Funding Stamos Challenger — “A political action committee funded by Democratic mega­donor and billionaire George Soros has made large contributions to two upstart progressive candidates attempting to unseat Democratic prosecutors in Northern Virginia primary races.” [Washington Post]

Airports Authority Mulling New HQ — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering moving its headquarters to a potential development on the Reagan National Airport footprint as part of a larger plan to accommodate Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters in Arlington County.” [Washington Business Journal]

New CMO, CFO for Arlington Startup — “Snag today announced key appointments to the senior executive team as the company continues to expand its online marketplace for hourly workers and employers.” [PR Newswire]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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Morning Notes

New Census Population Estimate — “Arlington’s estimated population was up 14.4 percent from 2010 to 2018, more than double the increase statewide and nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal government’s recently released guesstimate of Arlington’s population as of July 1, 2018, stood at 237,521, up about 1 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]

Fraudster’s Arlington Home Sold — “The Arlington home of real estate developer Todd Hitt — who pleaded guilty in February to eight counts of fraud — has found a buyer, according to court documents. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, approved the $1.3 million sale of the 5,500-square-foot house on North Kensington Street.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Working With MoCo on DCA Noise Study — “Arlington government officials plan to formalize their agreement with leaders in Montgomery County, Md., to fund a study on the northerly aircraft departure route out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The County Board plans to ante up half the projected cost for a consultant, with the Montgomery County Council putting up the other half.” [InsideNova]

County Proposes New Development Review Fee — “Arlington County staff is proposing a new fee for the acceptance and review of conceptual site plan applications, a process through which developers can get input on their projects before their formal submission.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Man Nabbed for Gun at DCA — “The number of firearms caught by Transportation Security Administration officers at checkpoints at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) have increased at an alarming rate this year as TSA officers caught the ninth gun of the year yesterday, April 7.” [TSA]

Trustify Co-Founder Lands Federal Appointment — Once high-flying Arlington startup Trustify, which has shut down amid a flurry of lawsuits and accusations of malfeasance, has generated another headline, this time for its co-founder’s new job. Jennifer Mellon was appointed confidential assistant to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee, prompting questions from one energy industry publication. [E&E News]

Fire at Pike Apartment Building — “Units on scene 5500 blk of Columbia Pike for fire in trash compactor in high rise residential building. Fire is out, extinguished by sprinkler system. No extension. No injuries reported.” [Twitter]

Phoenix Bikes Rises — “With a newish executive director and a new space to call home, Phoenix Bikes will have a lot to celebrate at its upcoming ‘Makers’ Ball’ later in the month.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy Noah Kaufman

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The civic association for Aurora Highlands and Crystal City are requesting the county officials take action on traffic caused by the Uber and Lyft waiting area along S. Eads Street.

The area, sometimes called the “TNC lot,” comprises two parking lots located at 2799 S. Eads St. where Uber and Lyft drivers must park while queuing for passengers at Reagan Airport.

The associations say there have been persistent traffic problems caused by the lot, and discussions about solutions have “stalled.”

The neighborhood groups wrote a letter to Arlington Department of Environmental Services (DES) Director of Transportation Dennis Leach this week citing ongoing congestion woes caused by “7,800 additional vehicles per day” on Eads Street northbound.

That’s despite the county opening an entrance to and exit from the lot along Route 1, to ease traffic near the residential neighborhoods along Eads.

Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Scott Miles told ARLnow that as of last night (Thursday at 5 p.m.) the associations have not received a response from county officials.

Miles and Crystal City Civic Association President Carol Fuller signed the letter, which proposed two solutions for DES and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority:

  1. Allow ride-hailing drivers to enter, but not exit, the lot via Eads Street.
  2. Turn the lot into airport employee parking and make Uber and Lyft drivers wait at a new lot on airport property instead.

Today, Uber’s guide for drivers picking up at DCA features a section how vehicles should queue in the waiting area, noting that, “When exiting the lot, left turns only are permitted in an effort to reduce traffic congestion along S. Eads St.”

Before picking the Eads space for the lot, the Airport Authority had set up a temporary parking space a block northward at Crystal Drive and 26th Street S. which also caused traffic headaches.

Image via Google Maps

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Interplanetary and interstate travelers now have a chance to mingle at Reagan National Airport thanks to a Star Wars-themed event planned in the airport’s historic Terminal A.

The event is being hosted by D.C.-based Scorpio Entertainment on May 4  a day otherwise known as “May the 4th Be With You” to Stars Wars fans. The event will feature an open bar and a mix of music from new pop, EDM, Motown, 80s, and disco.

“Explore all corners of the glass-enclosed lobby with front row views of the runway, as we present an epic night of fun celebrating all things outer space,” the DJ company said in its Facebook post about the upcoming event, where it encouraged attendees to wear “themed attire.”

The party will “blast off” at 7 p.m. that night with a pre-show, followed by the main event, according to the event’s webpage.

Tickets are on sale for $45 and the event is open for attendees 18 years or older.

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

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Morning Notes

TMZ Gets Rosario Dawson Scoop at DCA — “Rosario Dawson’s all in on Cory Booker for President in 2020, but she might be a little biased … because she just confirmed with us … they’re in a serious, loving relationship!!! The actress was at the Reagan National Airport in D.C. Thursday when our guy quizzed her on what’s been widely rumored.” [TMZ]

Board OKs Queens Court Loans, Again — “The Arlington County Board today cleared the way for replacing a 39-unit garden style apartment complex in Rosslyn, built in 1940, with 249 units committed to remain affordable for 75 years. The Queens Court property, at the corner of N. Quinn Street and Key Boulevard, is part of the Western Rosslyn Area Plan adopted by the County Board in 2015.” [Arlington County]

Yellow Line to Be Extended — “Metro plans to extend service on the Yellow and Red lines. The Yellow Line will finally go past Mount Vernon Square during rush hour again, and even past Fort Totten, all the way to Greenbelt. This change would double service at rush hour and ‘address current crowding conditions at the nine stations north of Mount Vernon Square.'” [DCist]

Vigil for Murdered Arlington Man — “John Giandoni had a beautiful son, a loving family, and a great job. It was all ripped away one year ago… Friday night at 7:30 p.m., John’s family and friends are holding a candlelight vigil in Ballston on the first anniversary of his death.” [WJLA]

Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 25.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Free Amazon Mugs at Northside Social — Amazon is partnering with Northside Social to give out free branded to-go tumblers this morning. [Instagram]

Kojo Explores the Amazon Effect — “We’ll look back on Seattle’s history with Amazon and discuss how our local governments can navigate their relationship with the company. Plus, we’ll hear from a policy researcher on how the DMV’s housing market will shift over the next two decades as Amazon gets settled in the region.” [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

Amazon’s Tech Effect — “Within the [D.C.] area’s tech industry – the sector likely to be most affected by the [Amazon] news – leaders are either keeping mum about their reaction or publicly expressing excitement. But behind the scenes, experts say, there is a fair amount of apprehension.” [U.S. News]

Metro to Subsidize Late Night Uber Rides? — “With Metro hours due to remain limited for the foreseeable future, Metro plans to pay cabs or a company like Uber or Lyft $1 million to slightly discount trips for certain people rather than provide alternative bus or other service.” [WTOP, WMATA]

737 Max Grounded at DCA — “For people flying in and out of the Reagan National Airport, Wednesday’s grounding of all 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets brought mixed reactions. Some flights were cancelled. Others were already in the air when the emergency order came down, and were grounded the moment they touched down.” [WJLA, NBC 4]

‘Poo’ at Wakefield High School — Arlington Public Schools has been slow to fix a direction sign at Wakefield High School that is missing the “L” in “pool.” [Sun Gazette]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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County officials and representatives from ridesharing companies are planning another community meeting to talk through traffic headaches generated by a staging lot for Uber and Lyft drivers serving Reagan National Airport passengers.

Arlington leaders will convene another gathering on the subject next week — in tandem with Uber, Lyft and airport executives — though they hope they’ve managed to alleviate many of the issues the community raised last fall.

At the time, many people living near the lot (located at 2780 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City, adjacent to S. Eads Street and a Holiday Inn hotel) said the surge of rideshare drivers in the area had snarled traffic in the neighborhood.

Airport officials only started directing drivers over that way to account for National’s massive “Project Journey” construction effort, requiring drivers to wait in the lot until would-be passengers request rides. But, back then, the lot only had one entry/exit to reach S. Eads Street, prompting big traffic backups and encouraging drivers to cut through other parking lots in the area to more easily reach the airport.

The county responded with an “interim” fix designed to make a difference in the short-term — officials opened up another entrance/exit to the lot along Route 1, installing a temporary traffic light to allow drivers to turn onto the road and jump onto an exit ramp leading directly to the airport access road.

Since then, county staff say they’ve recorded a 73 percent drop in the number of cars exiting onto S. Eads Street each day. Officials say they’ve also met with Uber, Lyft and airport executives to discuss additional steps, like “exploring the use of technology and messaging through the [rideshare] apps to reduce the volume of vehicles coming to the lot and seeking additional staging locations to reduce demand.”

The county is also mulling another, more costly change.

Officials are currently exploring the possibility of aligning the lot’s temporary exit onto Route 1 with 27th Street S., which sits directly across from the staging area. That would allow cars from the lot and 27th Street to turn at the same time, perhaps cutting down on wait times at each traffic light.

“Implementation would require relocating a traffic signal pole, replacing [the] temporary traffic signal with a permanent traffic signal pole on Route 1, and reconfiguring the [rideshare] lot to allow proper ingress flow,” county staff wrote on Arlington’s website.

That project comes with a $250,000 price tag and take at least a year to complete — plus, it requires the County Board’s approval.

Staff plan to discuss that option and others at the upcoming meeting. It will be held in the Crystal City Community Room at the Crystal City Shops (2100 Crystal Drive) on March 18, from 6-7:30 p.m.

Photo 1 via Arlington County

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