Arlington, VA

Just a few months into the county’s “Housing Arlington” initiative, Arlington’s Housing Director is retiring.

David Cristeal is stepping down after 15 years with the county, including six as Housing Director. Cristeal was elevated to the position in 2013 after a nationwide search.

At the time, he won plaudits from then-County Manager Barbara Donnellan for “working successfully with Arlington community members and non-profit partners to plan and preserve affordable housing.”

On Thursday, a county spokeswoman said Cristeal was retiring, after an inquiry from ARLnow about a job ad on the Washington Post website. His last day will be next Friday, the spokeswoman said.

From the job listing:

Arlington County’s Community Planning, Housing and Development is seeking a dynamic, energetic, and innovative Housing Director. This is a unique opportunity to work on a variety of housing solutions for one of the country’s most densely populated and well-educated communities. Recently, Arlington County has attracted new and expanding companies that have or will be bringing tens of thousands of new, high paying jobs to the County over the coming decade. This significant influx of workers will further stress the region’s already competitive housing market.

Duties include:

  • Implementing a new Housing Arlington initiative through a multi-department effort, while remaining responsible for other housing programs and initiatives that serve a diverse community;
  • Providing regional solutions to solve the complex challenge of serving the growing needs of the low and moderate-income residents in the County;
  • Developing strategies to increase supply for low income residents and moderate-income residents who are also impacted by increasing housing prices; and
  • Providing comprehensive approach to meeting housing needs, which is vital for economic sustainability, diversity, and quality of life.

The ad was posted on Thursday and lists an annual salary range of $101,150.40-$197,163.20.

The Housing Arlington initiative aims to create more housing — particularly for low- and middle-income residents — to help accommodate anticipated population growth. Earlier this year Arlington County reported that it had lost 17,000 market-rate affordable housing units since 2005 and was expecting 58,000 more residents by 2045.

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Top Pike Booster Retiring

Cecilia Cassidy, the Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, is retiring.

CPRO, which was established in the 1980s to “champion and connect business and community along Columbia Pike,” announced the retirement in a press release Monday afternoon.

A search for Cassidy’s replacement is currently underway, the organization said. Her last day is currently expected to be Dec. 31.

More from the press release:

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) announces the retirement of its Executive Director, Cecilia Cassidy. Cassidy has served as the organization’s executive director since February 2016.

“CPRO is grateful for Cecilia’s leadership and her contributions to the organization,” said CPRO board president John Snyder, “but even more grateful for the spirit, enthusiasm, and friendship Cecilia has shared with us.”

Under Ms. Cassidy’s leadership, the organization has seen its largest period of financial growth in its 30-year history and adopted a strategic plan that included new initiatives such as the installation of nearly 70 place-making banners that were installed this month along the four-mile stretch of Columbia Pike that CPRO serves, unifying the corridor and celebrating “Arlington’s Oldest and Newest Main Street.”

Before joining CPRO, Cassidy led Rosslyn Renaissance, one of Arlington’s four public/private partnerships, and was instrumental in the creation of Arlington’s first BID, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which she headed until 2013.

CPRO’s Board of Directors is in the early stages of the search process for Cassidy’s replacement.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public/private partnership. CPRO is a coalition of residents and civic associations, businesses and property owners, and the Arlington County Government.  For more information visit www.Columbia-Pike.org

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Morning Notes

More on Art Truck — Arlington’s new art truck will bring “hands-on experiences to schools and public events.” The art truck’s offerings are curated by Cynthia Connolly, who was involved in Arlington’s punk music scene in the 80s and 90s. There is no direct cost to county taxpayers, since the art truck is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and other contributions. [WTOP, Twitter]

Pitch, Hit, Run Event in Arlington — Boys and girls ages 7-14 can participate in the Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run skills challenge at Barcroft Park Friday night. There is no registration fee and the first place overall champion in each age group will advance to the next round of competition. [Eventbrite]

Renovations at Culpepper Garden — A major renovation project will soon be getting underway at Culpepper Garden, a retirement home for low and very-low income seniors age 62 years and older. Built in the 70s, Culpepper Garden is undergoing renovations of its 204 original apartments and some of the building’s amenities. [Connection Newspapers]

Photo courtesy of our local tech guru, Alex Chamandy

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Since opening Filipino grocery store Fiesta Oriental in 1991, Fred Sunga and his family have done much more than sell food and provide other services to a bevy of loyal customers.

“When you have a Filipino business, your country people, they come to you for information,” he said. “They always call you, if they have a problem they will call you. Even if sometimes their car won’t start they will call and ask if I know a mechanic.”

But next month marks the end of an era, as the 67-year-old Sunga is set to retire on June 30 and close the Arlington Forest staple at 4815 1st Street N. That means that the area’s growing Filipino community must go elsewhere for groceries or to send money and packages to family back in the Philippines.

Sunga moved to the United States in 1978 and started working in a bank before opening Fiesta Oriental. He prides himself on staying true to his Filipino roots, right down to watching television shows from the Philippines in the store and speaking to customers in Tagalog, the country’s official language, or one of its many dialects.

And in addition to Filipinos, who come from as far away as Manassas and Maryland to shop at his store, local schoolchildren will now have to go elsewhere for their after-school snacks.

“When the school bus stops there, the kids are going to come and get their candy and soda,” Sunga said. “Just last week I told them that I’m closing up the store next month, and they said, ‘Why? Why are you doing this to me?'”

For the family, Fiesta Oriental was a major part of growing up in Arlington. Sunga’s three daughters, Audrey, Alyssa and Angelica, all worked there at least part-time from elementary school onwards and helped on Sunday when they would cook and sell homemade Filipino dishes.

The store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Sundays, when it closes at 6 p.m.

Audrey Sunga, who has a 2-year-old son, Emmett, and another baby due in August, said it is a shame that the family business will close before they are old enough to appreciate it.

“We’re going to start buying rice for the first time in our lives,” she joked. “For Emmett and the baby on the way, it’s kind of sad they won’t be able to see this. We grew up with it our whole lives, so it’s sad to see it go.”

Fred Sunga, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to being a “stay-at-home grandpa,” and enjoying more time with his family. Both Audrey and Alyssa work in Arlington and graduated from VCU, while Angelica is still there studying electrical engineering.

While he is excited to start the next chapter of his life, Fred Sunga said it is hard when customers are clearly upset he is leaving.

“I’m going to miss the store that I’m doing every day,” he said. “Especially when my customers, when they come here and I’m telling them I’m retiring next month, I feel so sad when they say, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to miss you.’ Some old people, they cry when I tell them I’m retiring.”

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The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that Chief Deputy Paul Larson will retire from the department on June 2.

Larson joined the Sheriff’s Office in September 2008. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office and supervised its Administration, Corrections and Judicial Services Divisions.

Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Larson worked for the Arlington County Police Department from 1988-2008. With the police, he commanded the department’s Criminal Investigations Section, the Third Patrol District, the Special Operations Section and the Internal Affairs Section.

“Chief Deputy Larson has had a tremendous impact on the office during his tenure and I appreciate his commitment and dedication,” said Sheriff Beth Arthur in a statement. “He has been an impactful member of Arlington County public safety and the county during his 28+ years of service.”

Retired Major Dave Kidwell will succeed Larson as the next Chief Deputy. Kidwell spent more than 25 years in the Sheriff’s Office, and retired in September 2015 as Director of Corrections.

“His experience, character and loyalty to the Sheriff’s Office will make this transition as seamless as possible,” Sheriff’s Office representatives said in a statement. “He has the values, dedication and passion to continue the strong traditions of the office and understands the challenges that the law enforcement profession faces in the future.”

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Screenshot via Yorktown HS video(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Yorktown High School principal Dr. Ray Pasi is retiring at the end of the school year.

Pasi announced his plans in a recent email to parents.

“As you might imagine, this has not been an easy decision to make,” he wrote in his email. “I have given it serious thought, however, and after 20 years here in Arlington as the Yorktown principal, and nine years as a principal elsewhere before coming here, I believe the time is right.”

Yorktown is currently in the midst of an ongoing controversy over signs that some say are political, though Pasi’s announcement does not reference it. He says the decision was made “several weeks ago.”

Pasi shared the news with the school’s faculty members during a meeting yesterday afternoon.

The full letter is below.

Dear Yorktown Families:

I wanted to let you know that several weeks ago, I informed our school Superintendent, Dr. Murphy, that I plan to retire at the end of this school year. I informed the faculty of my decision at a meeting this afternoon and wanted to share the news with all of you, as well.

As you might imagine, this has not been an easy decision to make. I have given it serious thought, however, and after 20 years here in Arlington as the Yorktown principal, and nine years as a principal elsewhere before coming here, I believe the time is right.

Yorktown has been an amazing and wonderful school community, and it will be hard to leave when the time comes. I have enjoyed being part of such worthwhile work here, and have been grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with so many students, faculty, staff and parents on a wide range of projects over the years. I have admired and appreciated our collective commitment to make Yorktown the kind of school where students have the opportunity to grow and flourish. This work is never complete, but I am proud of the many successes and progress we have achieved together along the way.

I want to thank the School Board, Dr. Murphy, my past and present colleagues throughout APS, and most especially everyone here at Yorktown. In the coming weeks, Dr. Murphy will begin working with the PTA to discuss the process to select the next Yorktown principal.

Over the remaining months of this school year, and through our last day in June, I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the success of all our students.

With gratitude and continued best wishes,

Ray Pasi, Principal

Screeenshot via Yorktown High School

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Diana Sun (photo via Arlington County)Diana Sun is set to retire from her post as Arlington County’s chief spokeswoman this summer after 13 years on the job.

Sun, who joined the county as director of communications and assistant county manager in 2003, is slated to step down in the next couple of weeks. Her last day will be Friday, Sept. 2.

County Manager Mark Schwartz, who announced Sun’s retirement at a County Board meeting last month, said her communications department had “excellent relationships” with journalists and was available at all times to help with media relations.

“She’s held our communications efforts to the highest ethical standards and she has enhanced our reputation as a national leader,” he said.

Prior to working for the county, Sun served as the vice president of corporate communications at Capital One. The experience she brought with her had an immediate effect on the county government, her co-workers said.

“She joined us when we had at best a rudimentary public information office structure and she was bought in to professionalize and modernize the effort and she succeeded brilliantly at the task,” said Schwartz. “She built what I think is one of the best communications teams of any jurisdiction in the commonwealth and perhaps the United States. We are regarded as leaders and innovators in so many areas.”

During her time in the county government, Sun helped oversee the building and rebuilding of the county’s website, led the county’s expansion into social media, redesigned its Citizen newspaper and tracked down the history of the county seal, eventually getting it trademarked.

“The length of time you’ve been here, there’s been an enormous evolution of the communications function here in the county and a professionalization of that,” County Board member Jay Fisette said.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Bonfire at the Rosslyn Holiday Market in Gateway Park on Friday

Guns Stolen from Nova Firearms in McLean — A burglary has occurred at Nova Firearms, the gun store that wanted to open a location in Cherrydale before residents pressured the store and the landlord to scuttle those plans. Two handguns were stolen from Nova Firearms’ McLean store just after midnight this past Friday. Police are seeking tips in the case. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Taxicab Fares Raised in Arlington — A taxi ride in Arlington will now cost an extra 25 cents per ride and an extra six cents per mile. The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved new taxi rates that also include a $25 cleaning fee for those who “dirty or foul a cab enough that the cab must be removed from service.” [Arlington County, WJLA]

Locals Make ’50 On Fire’ List — A number of Arlington-based companies and individuals have been named to this year’s DC Inno “50 on Fire” list. Local honorees include Vornado/Charles E. Smith honcho Mitchell Schear, Crystal City incubator Eastern Foundry, newly-IPOed Evolent Health in Ballston, Ballston-based tech firm Distil Networks and Rosslyn-based advertising agency LMO Advertising. [DC Inno]

Nauck Town Square Design Meeting — A community discussion will be held at Drew Model School to help officials arrive at a final plan and design for its Nauck Town Square project. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. tonight (Monday). [Arlington County]

Review of Oz in Clarendon — Oz restaurant in Clarendon, which opened in September, continues to receive so-so reviews from the critics. The latest review suggests that Oz suffers from the inherent blandness of Australian cuisine, which it attempts to recreate faithfully. Oz may benefit, however, from its co-owner’s casting on the Real Housewives of Potomac. [Washington Post]

Arlington Fire Captain Retires After 35 Years — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Robert Patterson has retired after 35 years on the job. [WJLA]

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Varius, a 13-year-old black lab, is retiring from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office tomorrow after 11 years of service as a narcotics-sniffing K-9 officer.

The dog “will remain in the care of Deputy Patrick Grubar, who has been his partner since teaming up at the U.S. Customs Service K-9 Training Academy in 2004,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “The duo shared in the Arlington County Crime Solvers 2013 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.”

Varius, who’s a senior citizen in dog years, “plans to spend his days watching Animal Planet with his pug ‘little sister’ and keeping up with fans on his Facebook account.”

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Rosslyn skylineArlington is the second best place to retire in the U.S., according to new rankings from Bankrate.com.

Arlington received kudos for low crime and above-average quality of health care, along with “great” resident well-being and area walkability. Taxes and weather were deemed “average” and the only negative mark on Arlington’s report card was a “very high” cost of living.

(Arlington was paired with Alexandria as a “city,” for the purposes of the rankings.)

The only place to best Arlington in the rankings was top-ranked Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona. New York City was ranked last, at No. 172, thanks in large part to a very high cost of living and tax burden.

Bankrate.com had the following to say about Arlington.

Typically associated with America’s most famous cemetery, retirees have more to do in Arlington than visit Civil War tombstones.

There are more than 100 miles of trails, bike lanes and routes throughout the city, so it’s not surprising that residents here embrace a healthy lifestyle and rank high on the wellness index.

Arlington has a low crime rate, and locals can get by without a car. Much of the city is walker-friendly, including areas like Crystal City, Rosslyn and Ballston. The city has ample public transportation, with a handful of metro stops in the area. Neighboring Alexandria is also friendly to walkers.

Virginia also has one of the better health care systems in the country. And when compared with the other states, Virginia’s tax rate is more favorable than the national average and falls below its higher-taxing neighbor, Washington, D.C.

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Susanne Eisner (Photo via Arlington County)(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Arlington Department of Human Services Director Susanne Eisner is retiring, ARLnow.com has learned.

Eisner will leave her post at the end of May, DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick confirmed. She is the latest high-level Arlington staffer to retire, following Police Chief Doug Scott’s announcement in January and County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s announcement last Friday.

Eisner has been with DHS for more than 30 years, joining the Arlington Employment Center in 1984 and working her way up to director in 2005. Although the timing is conspicuous after Donnellan’s announcement last week, a source tells ARLnow.com there’s “nothing sinister here” and that Eisner is just hoping to travel with her new husband.

Eisner immigrated to the United States when she was 8 years old and worked as an immigrant counselor before she joined DHS, her biography says. In DHS, she has served as chief of the Economic Independence Division and served for three years as DHS deputy director before taking over the top job from Marsha Allgeier.

“She is proud to have completed the consolidation of all DHS services here at Sequoia Plaza (Public Health and Behavioral Health are joining us here this summer, joining the rest of the programs that came her in 2010) and maximizing the integration of human services in a centralized location,” Larrick said in an email. She is “also proud of all the work the department has done to strengthen, protect and empower Arlingtonians in need.”

The county has not formally announced Eisner’s retirement. It’s unclear who will take over the department when she leaves her position.

Photo via Arlington County

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