Press Club

Morning Notes

Metro Delays Due to Safety Snafu — “Metro’s Chief Safety Officer reports that nearly half of Metro’s 500 rail operators have lapsed recertification… In consultation with the Board of Directors, Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage.” [WMATA]

APS Changes Bell Schedules — “The School Board in Arlington, Virginia, voted to lengthen the school day by a little less than 10 minutes and to rearrange school start and end times in the first change to the county school system’s bell schedule in more than two decades. At its Thursday meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of the adjustments.” [WTOP]

Psaki Spat With Arlington GOP — Outgoing White House Press Secretary (and Arlington resident) Jen Psaki “acknowledged that there have been instances in which she shared information with the Secret Service about threats… She said that no one has physically come to her home, but added, ‘There is a circulation of my address among the Arlington Republican Party.’ The Arlington GOP in a statement to The Hill said it ‘has not publicly disseminated any Biden Administration official’s home address.'” [The Hill]

Rosslyn Tunnel Congestion Revisited — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is pressing leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority not to forget about congestion at the Rosslyn tunnel. In a May 6 letter to (outgoing) Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, NVTC chair Carek Aguirre urged the transit agency to ‘recognize the strategic importance of moving swiftly to design a solution to relieve train congestion’ at the tunnel.” [Sun Gazette]

Wakefield Rowing Storms State Tourney — “At Saturday’s regatta… the Warriors stood just as deep as any other school on the Occoquan River and stepped into the dynasty conversation themselves, with the boys’ and girls’ top varsity eight boats each rowing to titles.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Trucker Protest Returning — “The People’s Convoy is slated to be in D.C. by Tuesday, as they’re currently in Ohio. Further, a convoy leader tonight took to the microphone to try and squash fear over being hit with eggs in the city, saying: ‘I happen to like eggs.'” [Twitter]

DCA Using UV to Zap Covid — “Reagan National and Dulles International airports now have ultraviolet disinfection technology to combat the spread of viruses including Covid… The airports authority’s statement of work specifically called for the technology to disinfect the air in 39 spaces at National and 73 spaces at Dulles, including ticketing and baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, transit platforms and gate hold rooms.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Real Estate is Really Expensive — “There may be an end in sight at some point for rising single-family home values in Arlington. But so far, it hasn’t been reached. The average sales price of the 100 single-family properties that went to closing in April was $1,348,813. That’s up 14.5 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Missing Falls Church Teen — “City of Falls Church Police seek information to help a teen return home. Abigail… is 16 years old and was last seen at her home in the City at about 3 a.m. on Sunday after an argument with family. Abigail is about 5 feet tall, has black brown hair and a nose ring.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Monday — Rain and storms, some severe, in the afternoon and evening. High of 77 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:16 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photos courtesy Will Wiard, Geoff Collins, Dave Statter and Kelly Harrington

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Morning Notes

A window washer outside of a Ballston office (staff photo)

Metro Project Not Great for Pedestrians — “This @ArlingtonDES Ballston multimodal project isn’t providing a great pedestrian experience.” [Twitter]

Moon Shot — “Incredible view of the moon in Clarendon tonight.” [Twitter]

Arlington Real Estate Remains Hot — “The county this month ranked at the regional tippy-top of the T3 Home Demand Index, created by the Mid-Atlantic multiple-listing service Bright MLS… Arlington garnered a score of 230 for March activity; figures were reported April 12. That’s up from 176 a month ago, confirming that seasonal trends are back in the local market: strong activity in spring and summer and lower levels in autumn and winter.” [Sun Gazette]

Nearby: Dogfish Head Alehouse Closing — “After 15 successful years in business, Dogfish Head’s Falls Church Alehouse has made the difficult and emotional decision to close our doors… Our last day of service will be Sunday, May 15.” [Twitter, Annandale Today]

Rainy Afternoon on Tap — “Skies will be overcast in the morning, and a steady rain will develop by the early afternoon and continue for the rest of the day. Temperatures will be quite cool, with highs in the upper 40s and a gusty east wind at 10 to 20 mph.” High of 48 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:28 am and sunset at 7:49 pm. [Weather.gov, Capital Weather Gang]

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Is Arlington experiencing a Gen Z takeover?

Zoomers — the generation born after 1997 — make up the “only active generation of apartment seekers nationwide,” and they are disproportionately choosing Arlington County, according to a new study from RentCafe.

Between 2020 and 2021, Arlington saw a 55% increase in apartment applications submitted by this age group, according to the website, which follows trends in the apartment market. It analyzed 3.2 million applications for the study.

“Once known as a verified Millennial hub, Arlington is getting a much-needed glow-up from this up-and-coming generation of young renters, ranking as the country’s sixth trendiest Gen Z hub,” RentCafe said.

That ranks Arlington behind the cities of San Francisco, Jersey City, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston and ahead of San Jose (California) and Seattle.

Zoomers are gravitating here after spending a one-year hiatus back home or in their college towns, RentCafe says.

“Young adults returned to their families’ homes in larger numbers in 2020, and with Gen Z being particularly affected by the pandemic, it’s safe to say it played an important role in their migration pattern,” RentCafe spokeswoman Michelle Cretu tells ARLnow.

But now, as society emerges from the pandemic, Zoomers are “following in the footsteps of their Millennial counterparts when it comes to independent living,” she said.

Millennials came to Arlington in droves during the Obama years, according to a previous RentCafe study, which found 52% of Crystal City’s population was made up of the generation also known as Gen Y. For them, Arlington offered employment opportunities plus plenty of nightlife and housing options, Cretu said.

Now, Gen Yers are in their home-buying years, and many are ditching their renter status to buy homes in Alexandria, Reston and Frederick, Maryland, according to RentCafe.

Younger Millennials, however, are still renting because they’ve been “outpriced by an overly competitive housing market,” she said.

Data show the new generation is, on a relative basis, choosing Arlington over D.C., which recorded a smaller increase — 31% — in the share of Gen Z renters. The City of Alexandria, the 13th trendiest Zoomer hub, also ranks higher than the District.

“So, it’s not a matter of Gen Z not choosing D.C., but one of Zoomers choosing Arlington in higher numbers,” Cretu said.

One reason is Arlington’s growing concentration of tech jobs, fueled in part by the construction of Amazon’s second headquarters.

“While both cities score in diversity and vibrant social scenes, Arlington is a developing city where new career opportunities are just emerging,” she said.

Zoomers are showing a keen interest in tech jobs, with three in 10 ranking software development as their top career choice, according to a study by the software company CloudBees. So it comes as no surprise that they are choosing Arlington alongside the well-known tech sectors of San Francisco and Seattle and the new tech hubs of Atlanta, San Diego and Baltimore.

Another factor behind the trends Cretu cited is that Arlington has bigger apartments.

Developers are building larger units here than they were five years ago, while in D.C., the average square footage of a new apartment is shrinking. The prospect of more spacious new construction could also be why the RentCafe list features suburbs of New York City and Dallas.

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The Garrison residence (courtesy of Les Garrison)

The owner of a two-family home near Crystal City says he may cancel his redevelopment plans because county approval processes have delayed construction and run up costs.

“As of right now, the project is on hold, possibly dead, because the County delayed it so long that the prices of construction (up 40%) not to mention the $150,000 in costs so far to get it approved, have made it unaffordable,” owner Les Garrison tells ARLnow. “The payback time is now unreasonable.”

It’s an outcome that Planning Commission members have said would be avoided if homes like his — duplexes on nonconforming lots — enjoyed the simpler, cheaper reviews that allow owners and developers to replace aging single-family dwellings with larger, luxury homes, sometimes referred to derisively as “McMansions.”

The main difference, they say, comes down to the fact that it’s a multi-family building.

Garrison’s proposal requires community review as well as Planning Commission and County Board approvals because he plans to increase the square footage of his house, which sits on a smaller-than-average lot. But commissioners argue more renovations on nonconforming lots will come forward and the county should preempt them with a faster approval track.

Since these hypothetical projects would update existing low-rise multi-family buildings — which are not permitted in many neighborhoods under current zoning — commissioners suggest considering these changes via the Missing Middle Housing Study. The study’s primary goal is to evaluate whether county codes should allow housing types like as duplexes and townhouses in districts zoned exclusively for single-family homes.

“As much as it’s important to end legacies of exclusionary zoning practices, we also have to be certain there are administrative options for improving and expanding existing multi-unit housing,” Planning Commission Chair Daniel Weir said during a meeting with the County Board and the planning division earlier this month.

Such projects go through Site Plan Review, which major development projects use, but as a potential alternative they could go through the Board of Zoning Appeals, which hears special exception requests from single-family homeowners, James Lantelme, Weir’s predecessor, previously said.

Multi-family homes like Garrison’s and oversized single-family homes are linked in another way: both often result in greater lot coverage, which often means fewer trees and plantings. The relative ease with which “McMansions” are built, compared to similar-sized multi-family units, has led some County Board members to ask the question: if both are permitted, just how big is too big?

Building up to tear down

Opposition to adding density falls into a few buckets, such as impact on existing infrastructure and loss of natural resources.

On environmental degradation, the county says keeping out duplexes won’t preserve neighborhoods from the tree loss and stormwater runoff associated with development, given the teardown-rebuild trend. Adding multi-family homes would, however, open up neighborhoods to people who can’t afford the average sale price for a rebuild in Arlington, which currently stands at $1.7 million.

Over the last decade, 1,245 homes came down and were rebuilt, for an average of 125 homes per year, according to a county report. Typically, the tear-downs are 1,515 square feet and the new construction is 4,750 square feet. This contributed to the drop in tree canopy coverage from 43% in 2008 to 41% in 2016, another county report says.

“This is a rather fast-moving problem,” County Board member Takis Karantonis said during the February meeting.

It’s one member Libby Garvey said “we should dip our toes into” through the Missing Middle study.

That’s the plan, says Anthony Fusarelli, Jr., planning director for the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

“Between now and October, we might have a better handle on some emerging recommendations — but I do expect that will be considered in some way,” he told County Board members.

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Demolition of Rouse estate in Dominion Hills (file photo by Jay Westcott)

The Arlington Historical Society is trying to convince homeowners of older and potentially historically significant properties to consider alternatives to tearing their homes down or selling to homebuilders.

The society said earlier this week that it “has sent an appeal letter to dozens of area homeowners, home-builders and real estate agents” which “asks that owners, builders and agents conduct research on their properties before rushing to the tear-down option.”

The society cited the demolition of the Febrey-Lothrop house on the 9-acre Rouse estate in Dominion Hills, along with the more recent demolition of the circa-1889 Fellows-McGrath House at 6404 Washington Blvd. Both properties are slated for the construction of new housing.

‘The recent demolition of several valuable properties… are key examples of beloved properties that fell to the wrecking ball without sufficient consideration, in our view, of creative alternatives,” the society’s letter said. “We believe the best way to preserve more properties that reflect Arlington’s heritage is through education and negotiations that honor the interests of all parties.”

The letter comes as a pair of bills intended to bolster historic preservation efforts failed to pass the Virginia legislature this year.

Supporters of the proposed legislation want to require local governments to block demolition of properties that are under consideration for historic status. In the case of the recently-razed Arlington homes, demolition took place before the county was able to complete a historic designation process urged by preservation advocates.

A press release from the Arlington Historical Society is below.

As part of its new push to improve preservation of historic properties, the Arlington Historical Society has sent an appeal letter to dozens of area homeowners, home-builders and real estate agents.

‘The recent demolition of several valuable properties — the historic Febrey-Lothrop house at 6407 Wilson Boulevard and the “Memory House” at 6404 Washington Boulevard — are key examples of beloved properties that fell to the wrecking ball without sufficient consideration, in our view, of creative alternatives,” the letter said. We believe the best way to preserve more properties that reflect Arlington’s heritage is through education and negotiations that honor the interests of all parties.”

Acknowledging that the county is changing and expressing respect for “by-right ownership and the free-market considerations that go into home sales and improvements,” the nonprofit asks that owners, builders and agents conduct research on their properties before rushing to the tear-down option. “We feel that Arlington’s government, residents, and businesses could do more to preserve properties that represent either notable personages, events, or architectural styles,” the letter said.

While the society cannot offer official advice as to whether a given property is historic, it could assist in explorations of alternatives to demolition — finding a historically minded buyer, or an architect who could design a partial renovation.

Society president Cathy Bonneville Hix invites residents who have questions on the historic importance of any residential or commercial property to contact the society via the website arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org or the county’s Historic Preservation Program office at 703-228-3831.

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Morning Notes

An aircraft taking off from Reagan National is distorted by raindrops on a windshield (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

W-L Wins District Hoops Tourney — “Sometimes the hardest way to win a championship is being the favorite, as the Washington-Liberty Generals were in the Liberty District boys basketball tournament, with opponents motivated to knock off the top seed. Knowing that, the Generals were ready for the challenge. They played well and hungry, eliminating any chance for upsets with strong starts in winning their two games.” [Sun Gazette, Twitter, Twitter]

NAACP Blasts VLP Pause — From the Arlington branch of the NAACP: “It is a travesty that the educational future of 558 students – the equivalent of an entire school – has been decided based on an unclear budget process and fueled by a myriad of obscure decisions, outright incompetence at times, and mismanagement. Moreover, the VLP experiment was conducted at the expense of the most vulnerable students, which is unconscionable.” [Press Release]

Per Sq. Ft. Price Declines — “The District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria all saw declines in average per-square-foot sales prices in January, while other localities posted increases, according to figures reported by MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing data from Bright MLS.” [Sun Gazette]

Local FICO Scores Good, Not Great — “The median FICO credit score of Arlington residents is 754, according to new figures from Wallet Hub, which looked at credit scoring in nearly 2,600 U.S. communities. That puts Arlington in the 87th percentile nationally and 334th out of the 2,572 communities surveyed. Pretty good, but not as good as Arlington (Mass.) at 772, which ranked 49th nationally, and Arlington Heights (Ill.) at 763, which ranked 170th.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Tuesday, 2/22/22 — Rain later today. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. High of 66 and low of 49. Sunrise at 6:52 am and sunset at 5:55 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Andrew Ellicott Park, named after the surveyor of Washington, DC, holds the original western cornerstone of the District of Columbia, dating to 1791 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Preservation Bill Proposed After Rouse Razing — “Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has introduced legislation that, if enacted, could give preservationists more of a fighting chance to retain properties they deem worth saving. Hope’s bill makes several changes to the state’s historic-preservation laws, most notably prohibiting a local government from permitting the razing of a proposed historic property until 30 days after a final decision on the matter has been made.” [Sun Gazette]

Students Getting At-Home Covid Tests — “Last week we received a large shipment of rapid at-home Covid-19 test kits. These kits are in the process of being delivered to our schools for distribution to students, beginning toward the end of this week or early next.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Dorsey to Lead Regional Board — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey will chair the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for 2022.” [Sun Gazette]

Old Home Gets Rocking Aesthetic — “The white-stucco, black-shuttered exterior of this 1871 center-hall Colonial in Country Club Hills belies its rock-and-roll interior. That’s part of the fun. A century and a half ago, the stately home was likely built as a summer residence for a wealthy D.C. family. Today, it’s owned by Ben and Dina Hitch, a pair of concert-going music and art aficionados whose vast collection of original record albums and American artwork spans decades.” [Arlington Magazine]

Marymount Junior Stands Out on Court — “As a result of helping the Marymount University women’s basketball team improve to 5-0 and first place in the Atlantic East Conference, junior Symantha Shackelford recently was selected as the league’s Player of the Week in women’s college basketball.” [Sun Gazette]

Snow Incoming — “A major winter storm is set to slam parts of the Northeast on Saturday, with heavy snowfall, strong to damaging winds and coastal flooding all possible… For D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, the storm probably gets going too late to drop more than a couple inches of snow, but areas just to the east have a chance to see more substantial amounts.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 37. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m. and sunset at 5:24 p.m. A low around 27 Thursday night. Friday will be cloudy, with a high near 37. Light snow possible in the morning, then probable in the afternoon, perhaps mixing with rain. Expect snow and wind gusts as high as 26 mph Friday night. [Weather.gov]

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Townhomes in the Green Valley neighborhood (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington is seeing another big jump in residential property assessments this year, something that should bolster the county’s finances but hit the pocketbooks of local homeowners.

While a county press release, below, described “modest” growth in Arlington’s property tax base, it was a tale of two types of property.

On one hand, commercial property like office buildings and hotels, struggling with vacancy during the pandemic, is up only 0.6%. It’s an improvement from last year, when commercial property dipped 1.4%.

In line with the rise in local home prices, on the other hand, residential real estate assessments are up 5.8%, the county announced. That’s above the 5.6% rise in residential assessments last year and the 4.3% increase the year before that.

“The increase in property values for this year shows the attractiveness of our Arlington community, even as our community continues to face challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. The county’s press release notes that new construction “contributed 1 percent of the 3.4 percent overall tax base growth.”

The overall 3.4% rise in property values will mean a corresponding rise in property taxes, the county’s biggest single source of revenue.

Arlington’s revenue sources from Fiscal Year 2021 (via Arlington County)

Rising property taxes should help bolster the county’s finances as budget season gets underway. In its press release, however, the county said that rising workforce costs, Covid challenges and other pressures “will continue to be a challenge in balancing the FY 2023 Budget.”

Schwartz is set to present his recommended budget to the County Board next month.

The full press release is below.

Arlington’s overall property tax base grew modestly from 2021 due to continued residential growth, while commercial values were relatively flat.

Measured growth in residential property values buoyed the tax base, but the County continues to face challenges in balancing the FY 2023 budget due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, the total assessed value of all residential and commercial property in Arlington increased 3.4 percent, compared to the 2.4 percent growth in 2021. Residential property values increased 5.8 percent overall, while commercial property values increased by 0.6 percent. Overall, new construction in the County contributed 1 percent of the 3.4 percent overall tax base growth.

“The increase in property values for this year shows the attractiveness of our Arlington community, even as our community continues to face challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz.

Real estate taxes provide almost 60 percent of total County revenues. The County’s real estate tax base is spilt roughly equally between residential (54%) and commercial (46%) property assessments.

The slight increase in commercial property assessments demonstrates some growth in our business market and a rebound closer to pre-pandemic levels. After experiencing double-digit decreases in 2021, hotel property values increased by 5.6 percent as occupancy and room rates gradually recover from the initial impacts of the pandemic.

Apartment property values also saw an improvement, growing 5.3 percent from the previous year. Just under half of the growth was due to new construction, reflecting continued demand for residential development.

General commercial property (malls, retail stores, gas stations, commercial condos) values decreased, reflecting continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail stores and restaurants. Office property values also decreased due to rising vacancy rates and changing demand for office space.

The 5.8 percent increase in residential property values increased the average single-family property from $724,400 to $762,700. For CY 2022, approximately 73 percent of residential property owners saw their assessed value increase while the rest remained unchanged or declined. Residential properties include condominiums, townhouses and detached homes.

Notice of Assessments will be mailed to Arlington property owners beginning January 14. Assessment information will be available online Friday, Jan. 14, after 11 p.m.

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The Barcroft Apartments, a 1,334-unit, market-affordable apartment complex along Columbia Pike (via Google Maps)

Arlington County is loaning $150 million to a D.C.-based real estate company buying the Barcroft Apartments along Columbia Pike.

This move — approved Tuesday — is an unusual one, but Arlington County says it did what was necessary in a short amount of time to support the sale to Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners. The company has agreed to keep the property — Arlington’s largest market-rate affordable apartment complex — as committed affordable housing for 99 years.

This includes 612 two-bedroom and 47 three-bedroom committed affordable units, with larger affordable units in short supply in Arlington.

Amazon is also chipping in $160 million to pay for the acquisition of the property at 1130 S. George Mason Drive.

Here’s what else we know about the project.

It’s a big deal.

The last time the county secured a line of credit for a large affordable housing project was in 2007, when it acquired Buckingham Village 3, an apartment building in the Buckingham neighborhood near Ballston.

“Line of credit financing is typically sought when there is an immediate need and when long-term bonds would not be appropriate or possible to issue in the required timeframe,” Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, tells ARLnow. “It is a strategy the County uses sparingly and only for short-term types of obligations.”

In addition, Arlington has policies on the books ensuring government operations don’t rely too heavily on this financing. According to that policy, only 20% of the county’s debt can be made up of credit lines and variable-rate debt.

The apartments need some work. 

“Based on preliminary due diligence, staff anticipates units at Barcroft Apartments will need substantial rehabilitation and/or redevelopment,” a county report says. “It is initially planned that phasing for the rehabilitation/redevelopment of the site will be completed over the next ten years, and the majority of the affordable housing units that are renovated or redeveloped may utilize Low Income Housing Tax Credits.”

Jair Lynch told the County Board during its recessed meeting Tuesday that a majority of units will be renovated and “a selection” of vacant units will be demolished and reconstructed.

The company envisions adding free WiFi in common areas, a clubroom, a co-working space, fitness spaces, outdoor grills, improved bike storage and a package room with Amazon lockers.

A forthcoming “Master Financing and Development Plan” will have more details on the timeline for redevelopment, what immediate repairs are needed and how they’ll be paid for.

Moore deferred to Jair Lynch as to what work is needed. Jair Lynch tells ARLnow it can’t say anything beyond what was shared Tuesday.

“Regarding your inquiry, due to the confidential nature of this ongoing transaction, we are unable to provide additional information beyond what has been shared publicly by Arlington County Government at this time,” a spokeswoman said. “We’ll be happy to share more information regarding our involvement on this matter after the sale has been finalized.”

Jair Lynch will likely add some market-rate residential units to the expansive, 60-acre property, the county says.

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Morning Notes

Along Columbia Pike at sunset (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Real Estate Still Hot — “Even as much of the rest of Northern Virginia is showing signs of cooling interest from prospective real-estate purchasers, many parts of Arlington remain hot-hot-hot even as the temperature gets cold-cold-cold. A number of those Arlington locales are among the strongest in the region.” [Sun Gazette]

Police: Don’t Leave Your Car Running — “The Arlington County Police Department is warning against leaving vehicles running unattended and is sharing crime prevention tips to help combat auto thefts. During the month of December, the police department has investigated five reports of idling vehicles being stolen. In all reported cases, the victims were running short errands – such as picking up food or making a purchase at a convenience store.” [ACPD]

APS Winter Break Starts Monday — From Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán: “I wibagsh you a great Winter Break, December 20-31! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve Arlington students, and thank you for your partnership and support for Arlington Public Schools. In the spirit of the holiday season, I want to share this video message about kindness from students and staff.” [YouTube]

Reminder: Bag Tax Beginning — “Beginning Jan. 1, a disposable plastic shopping bag will get a 5-cent tax across much of Northern Virginia including Arlington County.” [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Today will be mostly sunny and a bit breezy, with a high near 64. Sunrise at 7:20 a.m. and sunset at 4:47 p.m. Tomorrow will be partly sunny, with a high near 62, with rain likely at night. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Jerome Bracey hangs an ornament on the tree in the plaza at Westpost, also known as Pentagon Row (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Carbeque on I-395 — A car was engulfed in flames on I-395 near Shirlington Circle last night. Southbound and HOV lanes were blocked as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. Most lanes reopened by 8:30 p.m. [Twitter, Twitter]

YHS Runner Advances to National Meet — “Yorktown High School’s Owen McArdle has qualified to run in a national-championship race. By virtue of finishing fifth in 15:05.49 at the Eastbay South Regional boys championship high-school cross country meet, the senior earned a spot in Eastbay’s boys national meet Dec. 11 in San Diego. The top 10 finishers in region meets earn a berth to race in the nationals. The winning time at the South Region meet was 15:00.31.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Records More Opioid Deaths — ” In an already deadly year for overdoses, Arlington County recorded at least two more opioid-related fatalities since the Thanksgiving holiday. Out of the 149 overdoses in the county (as of Nov. 26), 26 of them were deadly, according to the Arlington County opioid incident data. The 2021 numbers have surpassed the total for 2020.” [WUSA 9]

D.C. Area Home Prices Keep Rising — “The median price of single-family homes in the Washington region posted a double-digit year-over-year increase in the third quarter, but its bump up was below that of the nation as a whole. With a median sales price of $548,600 across the D.C. metro region, the area’s single-family home price rose 11.5 percent from the same July-August-September period in 2020, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s December — The first day of December (today) will be warmer than the last days of November. The kickoff of meteorological winter will be mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Sunrise at 7:08 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. There is a chance of rain between 8 p.m. tonight and 8 a.m. Thursday. Otherwise, Thursday will be partly sunny, with a high near 61, and a southwest wind 6 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. [Weather.gov]

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