Arlington, VA

Crystal City could be getting a new rooftop sign courtesy of the local WeWork.

A site plan amendment has been proposed to allow the company to place a rooftop sign at 2221 S. Clark Street. WeWork occupies the entire building, with a large co-working space and a WeLive co-living space.

Approval of the amendment is docketed for the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday (July 13).

Arlington’s sign ordinance currently allows signs above 40 feet to be approved administratively, but the site plan for the building predates the ordinance change.

“It is no longer a standard site plan condition to require County Board approval of such signs,” staff said in a report on the amendment. “Therefore, staff recommends that the County Board adopt the attached ordinance approving a site plan amendment… for the building located at 2221 S. Clark St.”

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Drivers at the busy Washington and Wilson Blvd intersection are continuing to make the left turn onto Wilson, despite that action having been made illegal in March.

Current plans call for the tricky intersection to be overhauled and made easier to navigate for both pedestrians and drivers. That includes eliminating the left turn that has caused frequent backups.

At least two signs at the intersection indicate that left turns are not allowed, even though the street does feature a left-turn lane that serves seemingly no purpose as the road funnels into one lane at the other side of the intersection.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow that the violations are not surprising when a change is made to an intersection like that.

“It takes time to change driver behavior, especially when the change is to a long-standing travel pattern,” said Balliet. “We always start with education, finding ways to inform drivers about the change and their options. Our efforts so far included a blog post and video shared multiple times through the county’s email listservs, social media posts from our department as well as Arlington County Police, an electronic message board located near the intersection, and the new signage we’ve installed noting the restriction.”

Navigation apps Waze and Google Maps no longer direct drivers to make the turn, which Balliet said was partially the result of communication from county staff.

Balliet said he believes as construction continues on the intersection, known at Clarendon Circle, the confusion should clear up.

“The no-left-turn will become clearer to drivers as construction for the Clarendon Circle project moves forward and the street is reconfigured to remove the left turn pocket,” said Balliet.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City to Grow With Amazon — “‘Amazon, and its 25,000 employees, coming to Crystal City will change everything,’ [Vornado Realty Trust Chairman and CEO Steven] Roth wrote in the letter. ‘Crystal City will become a teeming metropolis of apartments, shops and offices.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Couple Talks About Deadly Accident — “An Arlington couple is making a personal plea for a recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play sleeper after their son died while laying in the product. Arlington parents Evan and Keenan Overton’s baby son Ezra died in the Rock ‘N Play sleeper right before Christmas in 2017.” [WJLA]

FLIR Moves to Pentagon Row — Infrared camera manufacturer FLIR Systems is moving its D.C. area headquarters to Pentagon Row, in the former LA Fitness space. The company recently announced an investment in a drone company and a large new DoD contract. [FLIR, BusinessWire, BusinessWire]

Confusing Signs Corrected on the Pike — A pair of seemingly contradictory direction signs on Columbia Pike, at the Washington Blvd interchange, have been corrected, county officials say. [Twitter]

Arlington Holds #MeToo Event — “On Wednesday, several Arlington County groups and Arlington’s ‘Project PEACE,’ held an event named ‘#MeToo: Being Men – Raising Men’ at the Arlington County Central Library. Lisa Tingle, the senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County and Falls Church, said it is important to teach men about sexual harassment at an early age.” [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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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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Morning Notes

APS Adds Non-Binary Gender Option — “This school year, Arlington Public Schools added a new question on its form for students to indicate a designated gender, including male, female and ‘X.'” [DCist]

ACPD Has New Electronic Sign — “You may see a new electronic signboard around @ArlingtonVA thanks to JAG grant funds provided through the @TheJusticeDept! These signboards help ACPD share important public safety messaging around school zones, events and campaigns… The signboards also display motorists speed so remember to slow down and obey posted speed limits.” [Twitter]

Leak Prompts Early Morning Road Closure — “A water leak has been repaired after causing early morning traffic problems Wednesday in Arlington. The leak was reported along S. Arlington Ridge Road between 23rd St S. and the Interstate 395 Service road.” [Fox 5]

Jail Holds Holiday Party for Inmates’ Kids — “The Arlington County Detention Facility was transformed Tuesday night into the fictional town, Whoville, in anticipation of a few special visitors. Some children were given the opportunity to visit their incarcerated parents.” [WUSA 9]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon is planning to bring a “Treasure Truck retail vehicle” to the D.C. area. One way to accommodate new HQ2 workers would be to upzone nearby residential neighborhoods like Aurora Highlands to the population density of Capital Hill or San Francisco’s Mission District. Prompted by Amazon’s arrival, George Mason University plans to build a new 400,000 square foot facility on its Virginia Square campus in Arlington to house the Institute for Digital Innovation, “a research enterprise for fields like data analytics, cybersecurity and defense.”

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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Morning Notes

County Board to Vote on Arts Grants — “County Board members on July 14 are slated to approve $215,810 in direct support to Arlington arts groups for the coming year. The funding request, which is in line with those of previous years, comes from the Arlington Commission for the Arts.” [InsideNova]

New Building Sign in Rosslyn — The logo for the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business now sits atop one of Rosslyn’s skyscrapers. The school recently expanded its facilities within the building at 1100 Wilson Blvd. [Twitter]

‘Instagrammable’ Sights in Arlington — Stay Arlington, the county’s tourism promotion agency, has a list of the “Most Instagrammable Places in Arlington.” The list includes: the Air Force Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon, murals in Crystal City, Theodore Roosevelt Island, New District Brewing Co. and the Mount Vernon Trail. [Stay Arlington]

Local Young Professionals Spend Wisely — A “money diary” for a married, young professional couple in Arlington has none of the excesses usually found in the genre. Instead, the couple jointly makes $175,000 per year, plus bonuses, and spends it modestly on things like cheddar Chex Mix and a $1,600 per month one bedroom apartment. [Refinery 29]

New Look for Our Homepage — You might have noticed that ARLnow’s homepage has a new look. This is an interim step on our way to launching an entirely new website design. Please let us know what you think about it in the comments. Also, let us know if you find any significant bugs or problems, as we’re still working out the kinks.

Nearby: Dual-Use Path on W&OD Trail — “Within the next year, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use separate, parallel sections along the trail in the city of Falls Church.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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Opinions seem to be divided about the house in Arlington’s Highland Park neighborhood with the chalk message declaring “F–k the NRA.”

On one hand, many people — even those who are not fans of the National Rifle Association and pro-gun policies — object to writing a large profanity on the front of a house along a busy road. There are children in the neighborhood who walk by this house, those who object to it say.

On the other hand, the resident who wrote the message is exercising his or her right to free speech and addressing an important topic. When guns are being used to kill children in schools, supporters say, the “F-word” should be the least of people’s concerns.

What do you think?

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) An Arlington resident decided to voice an opinion on gun control via a message scrawled in chalk onto the front of their house, after the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida two weeks ago, but the message is causing some controversy not related to politics.

The house is located along busy Washington Blvd, roughly between East Falls Church and Westover Village. Despite Arlington’s deep blue political leanings, the words have been a hot button conversation among neighbors because the message — “F–k the NRA” — includes a profanity in plain sight of anyone driving or walking by.

“I have no issue with their freedom of expression, but I am concerned that my young kids are going to see the profanity as we drive by and ask what it means,” one resident said on the local NextDoor message board. “I also tend to think it’s possible to express the same sentiment without public profanity. Is this kind of thing even allowed under Arlington code?”

“Regardless of how you feel on the issue, it’s highly offensive and inappropriate,” another said. “But we can explain to kids that vulgarity is evidence of a weak mind.”

“I’m no fan of the NRA but it’s outrageous and counterproductive to boot,” said yet another peeved resident. “Freedom of speech and expression does not need to sink to this level,” echoed a neighbor.

One resident who lives nearby told ARLnow.com that he contacted police, to no avail.

“I called ACPD non emergency number as kids shouldn’t be seeing that kind of language in my opinion,” he said. “Their response, ‘police have been out and there is nothing that they can do.’ First Amendment protection is needed absolutely but it was shocking that there was no profanity law that was being broken.”

Some message board posters, however, said they did not have a problem with the sign.

“I pump my fist in the air every time I drive by,” said one, “in case the owners are reading this and think everyone is against their statement.”

“That house usually has pretty artwork or other positive statements. Obviously the profanity is pushing the limits for some neighbors but personally I don’t have a problem explaining the use of profanity to my kids because the intention behind it is good,” said another supporter. “The artist isn’t promoting violence, unhealthy or dangerous behavior. Has anyone close to the neighbor talked to them and explained how the language is affecting them?”

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A sign near the Arlington Mill Community Center marking one of the early skirmishes in the Civil War will be unveiled this weekend.

The ceremony is set for Saturday, November 11 from 11 a.m. to noon at the center at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street. Members of the Army of the Potomac Living History Society portraying Union soldiers will provide a color guard, and a short video will be shown to show the Civil War history in the area.

“On June 1, 1861 one of the early skirmishes of the Civil War occurred near Arlington Mill when Union pickets were attacked by a handful of Confederate soldiers,” an announcement reads. “After a brief fight, the Confederates fell back. One Union soldier was killed.”

Courtesy image

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Screen capture of controversial sign at YorktownOn Tuesday afternoon, Yorktown High School principal Dr. Ray Pasi sent a letter to students and families regarding the ongoing sign controversy at the school.

While the “Patriots Know” signs remain up in classrooms, according to an Arlington Public Schools spokesman, Pasi apologized for the “distress” the issue — which has received national attention from conservative media — may have caused.

“We sincerely regret any distress this may have caused our students, parents or anyone in the Yorktown community,” Pasi wrote. “We want our focus to continue to be instruction, while at the same time providing a safe and supportive environment for discussion, consistent with the YHS and APS mission, vision and core values.”

Pasi said that Yorktown has adopted sign policies in place at other Arlington high schools, although he did not elaborate on the specifics of those policies nor their application to the current controversy.

The full letter is below.

For many years, Yorktown High School’s philosophy and goal has been to work deliberately, daily and collectively on fostering respect for ALL. Our long standing social-emotional learning (SEL) and ROCS (Respect for Others, Community and Self) programs are designed to help foster a positive, respectful school climate for ALL. It’s a feature of our educational program we take seriously and have worked on each day. We want every student here to feel valued, supported and respected.

We all know that we live in a challenging and sometimes difficult political climate. With that, many schools (including Yorktown) are dealing with new situations and issues. Here at Yorktown, one of those issues has been signs that have been posted with good intentions that some members of our community have supported while others have taken exception to for one reason or another.

We sincerely regret any distress this may have caused our students, parents or anyone in the Yorktown community. We want our focus to continue to be instruction, while at the same time providing a safe and supportive environment for discussion, consistent with the YHS and APS mission, vision and core values.

Last year, some APS high schools experienced a few difficulties with how and when students could post signs equitably because so many student clubs and organizations were interested in promoting their activities and events. To help provide clarity, a set of procedures and guidelines for posting materials in high schools were developed by a team of high school staff that is also consistent with the APS Printed Materials Policy.

While this was not a concern for Yorktown at that time, last week we experienced confusion over how to determine what should be posted. Moving forward, we have decided to use the same guidelines and process here at Yorktown that the other APS high schools are following so that all high schools are approaching these decisions in a uniform way.

On Friday, I met with teachers and many of our students to discuss this and we have revised our processes to be consistent with the other high schools.  We also will be meeting with representatives of each YHS student organization so that everyone knows and understands our process as we move forward.

In the future, there may be differences of opinions on one issue or another. We need to recognize that it is in the best interest of our entire community that we work together to create our future.  That comes through cooperation and understanding our similarities as well as accepting our differences.  We will continue to strive to create a school climate that is inclusive and supportive of all students.

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Morning Notes

Window cleaners in Courthouse

Kasich, McAuliffe at GMU Today — Govs. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) will help dedicate the newly-named Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington this afternoon. The school is being named after Dwight C. Schar, founder of homebuilder NVR, Inc., who has pledged $10 million to GMU.

Vornado Considering Short-Term Stays — Remarkably, the 699-unit Bartlett apartment tower in Pentagon City is more than 60 percent leased only a few months after opening. To temporarily fill vacant apartments, however, owner Vornado is asking for permission to open 50 units to short-term visitors, turning those units into a kind of extended stay hotel. [Washington Business Journal]

Police Raid Near DJO — Residents in the Williamsburg neighborhood near Bishop O’Connell High School say there was a police raid at a house on the 2800 block of N. Tacoma Street on Friday. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman would only tell us that “officers were executing a search warrant pursuant to an ongoing and active criminal investigation.”

Clement Accuses Dems of Stealing Signs — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement says he signs are being stolen and she’s pointing the finger at Democrats. The chair of the local Democrats says some of their signs have disappeared as well and called on whoever is removing any candidate’s signs to stop. County Board John Vihstadt believes the sign stealer is someone opposed to roadside signs in general. [InsideNova]

Ann Broder Dies — Former Arlington School Board member and longtime local activist Ann Broder has died at her Arlington home. She was 87. Broder was married to the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Broder, who died in 2011. [Washington Post]

Sign Regulations Updated — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved changes to its comprehensive sign plan that loosens signage regulations on buildings with older sign plans. The Board voted to make its sign regulations a bit more flexible in 2012, but the changes did not apply to existing sign plans. [Arlington County]

Marriage Jubilee Mass in Arlington — Arlington’s outgoing Catholic bishop, The Most Rev. Paul Loverde, celebrated the church’s annual Marriage Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington on Sunday. Among those in attendance were “150 couples celebrating their 25th anniversary and 109 couples celebrating their 50th anniversary.” [Associated Press]

Va. Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the last day to register to vote in Virginia before November’s election. [NBC Washington]

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