Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest.
Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.
Both Reeds teach and coach high school basketball. As teachers, Katrina said they strive to create an inclusive environment in their remote and in-person classrooms.
“Our thought process was, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to be inclusive at home?'” she said.
The death-to-discrimination markers received a lot of love from neighbors, but drew the ire of the Fairlington Arbor management. The dispute centers around whether the gravestones are signs, which are not allowed unless the Board of Directors approve them, or seasonal decor, which are allowed if they are “modest and in keeping with community norms.”
A letter from management and addressed to the Reeds on behalf of the Fairlington Arbor Board of Directors asked them to “correct this matter” to “avoid further action by the Board of Directors.”
The letter treats the gravestones as decor, but the messages as signs.
“While the frames on your sign are compliant, the content is not,” the letter said. Joe disputed the application of the bylaw in an email to management.
“The signs displayed are not deemed ‘seasonal’ by the board since they display a message that does not fit the Halloween occasion,” Arbor management said in response.
The letter’s author, Fairlington Arbor’s general manager, declined to comment further. In an automated message, Matt Duncan, the President of the Board of Directors, said he is out of office and referred inquiries to management.
In a private neighborhood Facebook group, Katrina asked her neighbors for advice and to see if others had similar experiences. The response was overwhelming, with more than 175 comments on Katrina’s post so far.
“People went nuts,” she said. “They were ready to light their pitchforks and find the board members.”
One Facebook commenter said of the decorations: “We thought they were awesome. 10/10. Do not take them down.”
“These have made me very happy every time I walk by!” another said.
The couple maintains that stifling free speech causes more division than signs promoting inclusivity.
“If you can let people express First Amendment rights within a time period, I think it solves these issues,” Joe said.
The couple said the bylaws need to be clarified and they plan to speak about it during the next board meeting on Oct. 27. Joe said ironically, he was on the board and helped write the bylaws.
“I don’t envy them,” he said.
On Facebook, some theorized that the condo board was pushed to take action by a handful of complainers.
“Neighbors have been complimentary of our messages of inclusion, but I seem to have offended the racists, homophobes, etc.,” Katrina wrote in her post.
Others guessed that the current political climate might have caused an overreaction by condo management.
“It’s probable that no one is offended by your decorations but management just wants to head off something truly objectionable,” wrote one commenter, who congratulated the couple for speaking up.
This summer, the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington was the site of a showdown between those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and counter-demonstrators who replaced BLM slogans with pro-Trump messages.
‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]
County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]
Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]
W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]
Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]
AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]
Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.
Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.
“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”
“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”
Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.
“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”
“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”
On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.
Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.
“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.
“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Arlington Democrats are decrying what the local party describes as a wave of vandalism of Democratic election signs.
Almost every election cycle in Arlington there are reports of small-scale vandalism and mischief involving campaign signs. Rarely do those reports, on message boards and community listservs, rise to the level of county-wide news.
But the Arlington County Democratic Committee says the latest vandalism spree, which happened just after the signs went up, is different.
“At least 30 election signs lawfully placed in public street medians by the Arlington County Democratic Committee encouraging citizens to vote in the Nov. 3 election and to support Democratic candidates, including presidential nominee Joe Biden and Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, were destroyed and vandalized overnight,” the party said in a press release Sunday. “Signs not specifically referencing the Democratic ticket were not disturbed.”
Each election season, the signs for candidates of all stripes pop up in roadway medians 31 days before the election, as permitted by local and state law. Democratic signs are particularly prolific, given the party’s electoral dominance in Arlington and the committee’s organizing prowess.
But this time around, Democrats say, the signs appear to be the target of a wider-scale vandalism effort. Signs “along Sycamore Street between Williamsburg Circle and Lee Highway, and on Little Falls Road at Lexington Street were either destroyed or vandalized” over the weekend, according to the press release.
The latter intersection is about a 15 minute walk from where a church’s Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized in June.
“We always get a certain amount of vandalism, but the vandals are off to a fast and aggressive start this year,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to the Arlington County Police Department, reporting the crimes. At Little Falls Road, “it looks like someone actually drove onto the median in order to run over the signs.”
“Arlington Dems understand the police department has more urgent issues to address, but wanted to document the destruction,” the press release adds.
Arlington Republicans tell ARLnow that the Democrats tried to pressure them into condemning the vandalism, which the local GOP says is nothing new.
“This is every election cycle’s ‘dog bites man’ non-story,” Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser said in an email to ARLnow last night. “Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids.”
“Arlington Democrat campaign hacks attempted to pressure us into condemning this vandalism over the weekend,” Loposser continued. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable — whether it’s Antifa and BLM rioters destroying small business storefronts or bored high school students ripping up political yard signs.”
The Arlington Democrats press release goes on to report that signs in the front yard of famed local civil rights figure Joan Trumpauer Mulholland were also vandalized. In a bout of rhetoric not typically seen in Arlington politics, at least among official Democratic communications, the release quotes Mulholland in equating supporters of President Trump to “Klan sympathizers.”
PBS is asking the Arlington County Board permission to add its logo to the top of its new headquarters in Crystal City.
The public broadcasting network is moving from its current space at 2100 Crystal Drive to the northern corner of the neighborhood, at 1225 S. Clark Street, after signing a 15-year-lease for 120,000 square feet of office space last year.
There’s just one problem: the new headquarters building has a condition placed on it, from its original county approval in 1979, specifying that no rooftop signs be placed. PBS is asking the County Board, at its meeting this Saturday, to scrap the 40-year-old restriction and allow its logo to grace the top of the office tower.
From a county staff report:
The subject site consists of four (4) office buildings on individual parcels of land, and the associated underground parking; the buildings also have a small amount of below grade retail in the Crystal City Underground. The buildings are part of the larger Crystal Gateway mixed-use site plan that was originally approved in its current form by the County Board in 1979, with an additional major amendment approved in 1984. Crystal Gateway has approximately 1,380,000 square feet of office and commercial use and 242 dwelling units in two (2) condominium buildings.
The original approval of the Crystal Gateway site plan in 1979 included a condition (#3) that prohibited the installation of rooftop signs. A comprehensive sign plan for the Crystal Gateway site plan project was initially approved by the County Board in 1983 and was amended several times. Additionally, the site plan has been amended twice to specifically allow rooftop signs on separate office buildings within the project boundaries. The applicant now requests that the restrictive condition prohibiting the installation of rooftop signs be eliminated to allow for sign permits to be obtained for the buildings in a manner consistent with the current provisions of Article 13 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance
The new PBS headquarters is located next to the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters and a couple of blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2.
“We are thrilled that PBS will remain in Crystal City, especially during such a transformative and exciting time for this community,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said last year. “Keeping our headquarters in Arlington is great for PBS and our employees, and we’re proud to call ‘National Landing’ our home.”
‘BLM’ on Fairlington Bridge Restored — Residents of the Fairlington area used ties to restore a Black Lives Matters message on the bridge over I-395 over the weekend. The letters “BLM” had previously been placed on the bridge’s fence but later removed by an unknown party. Also this weekend, below the BLM letters someone scrawled “Trump 2020,” but that was later covered and “Black Lives Matter” written over it in chalk. [Twitter]
ACPD Details De-Escalation Training — “In response to community questions, ACPD has created this fact sheet highlighting how we train officers to de-escalate incidents and safely resolve situations.” [Twitter]
Update to Jim Pebley Obit — Per an email from former county treasurer Frank O’Leary: “You will be pleased to hear that, due to the actions of former commanders of our County’s namesake ship, it appears that Commander Pebley’s ashes will be spread at sea by the USS ARLINGTON. This is a singular honor and reflects the high respect the Navy feels for Jim. Nothing less than he deserves. There is an old adage, ‘The Navy takes care of its own.’ Perhaps, the same can be said of Arlington.”
Candidates on the Arts — “Arlington County voters will go to the polls on July 7 to determine who will fill the County Board seat of the late Erik Gutshall. In order to help voters understand each candidate’s stand on the importance of arts and culture in the County, Embracing Arlington Arts sent out a questionnaire for the three candidates to complete covering several issues pertaining to the arts in Arlington.” [Press Release, Embracing Arlington Arts]
TTT Now Serving Unlimited Weekend Brunch — “There’s a new all-you-can eat brunch in town. TTT in Clarendon, which stands for Tacos, Tortas and Tequila, has joined its Street Guys Hospitality brethren, including beloved Ambar, in offering unlimited eats on weekend mornings.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Reminder: Metro Stations Back Open — “Metro plans to reopen the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations in Arlington, starting Sunday.” [ARLnow]
Nearby: Fairfax Teachers Revolt — “A day after one of the nation’s largest school systems announced its proposal for fall learning, teachers within Fairfax County Public Schools rose in revolt and refused to teach in-person, as the plan demands, until officials revise their strategy.” [Washington Post]
Undeterred by the pandemic, a new outpost of a bánh mì sandwich chain is getting closer to opening.
As we reported in January, Lee’s Sandwiches is coming to 801 N. Quincy Street in Ballston, where a Subway sandwich shop closed last summer. Signs are now up outside the restaurant entrance, one of which says it is “coming soon.”
Lee’s serves “Asian-Euro sandwiches” including its flagship Bánh Mì, and is also noted for its fresh-baked baguettes and Vietnamese iced coffee. The chain opened its first East Coast store at 3037 Annandale Road in Falls Church in 2016.
“Founded in 1983 in San Jose, California, Lee’s Sandwiches is a quick-serve restaurant chain specializing in Bánh Mì, Vietnamese sandwiches and other Euro-Asian food products,” a press release said at the time. “From its beginnings as a food truck, Lee’s Sandwiches is now the largest Bánh Mì chain with over 60 locations in Arizona, California, Las Vegas (Nevada), Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Taiwan.”
About This Post — Due to lots of coronavirus-related news, we have a number of non-disease-related local links that we haven’t been able to get to over the past two weeks. We’re running a one-time Weekend Morning Notes post to clear our queue. This will replace the usual weekend discussion post.
Arlington Cherry Blossom Walk — “Cherry blossom season in the D.C. area is a wonderful time of year, and taking in the blossoms is a beloved tradition. WalkArlington has created a walk featuring a few of our favorite locations in Arlington where you can appreciate the blooms and enjoy all that springtime in Arlington has to offer.” [WalkArlington]
Median Signs Promote Census — “What is good for the goose apparently is not good for the gander – if, that is, the gander is the Arlington County government. Those driving the roadways of Arlington in recent weeks no doubt have seen a flurry of median signage calling attention to, and promoting participation in, the federal census.” [InsideNova]
Local Cat Makes Headlines –“An adorable cat with a jaw deformity can’t help but always stick her tongue out – and her owner has insisted she wouldn’t have her pet any other way. Pretty Kitty, five, from Arlington, Virginia, can only open her mouth a ‘small amount’, and has her tongue always sticking out thanks to the way her jaw formed.” [Daily Mail]
Instant Runoff Voting for Arlington? — “Voters in future Arlington County Board elections could find themselves using the ‘instant-runoff’ method rather than the current ‘winner-takes-it-all’ manner. Both houses of the General Assembly have approved and sent to Gov. Northam a measure allowing Arlington to conduct its County Board races using instant-runoff voting, also known as ‘ranked-choice’ voting.” [InsideNova]
Arlington-Based Textile Brand Profiled — “From a plant-filled studio in Arlington, Diana Johnson translates ideas in her head to paper by lettering, illustrating and painting. Using her background in graphic design, Johnson is able to transform her artwork digitally into handcrafted products like pillows, clutches, greeting cards and, most often, prints to add a little color to any space.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Green Valley Looks Forward — “Low-level sales of marijuana and other substances in the Green Valley community in the 1960s grew into a full-fledged, open-air ‘drug supermarket’ by the early 1980s, with the intersection of 24th Road South and Shirlington Road ground zero for the illegal operations. On March 7, leaders of the community looked back at those days, and committed themselves to ensuring a better future for their community.” [InsideNova]
Chamber Acquires ‘Awesome Women’ –“Awesome Women (AWE), the professional networking group founded in Arlington in 2014 that now has six chapters throughout the DC area, announced today that it will become a program of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce later this year. The Arlington Chamber will offer women-only networking events beginning in the fall, and will call the new program the Arlington Chamber Chapter of AWE.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Victim of Pentagon Stabbing Identified — “The man who was fatally stabbed Monday morning on the platform of the Pentagon Metro station has been identified as a 25-year-old from Northwest Washington, a spokesman for the transit agency said. Sean Ronaldo Golden, who lived near the District’s Brightwood Park neighborhood, died shortly after arriving at George Washington University Hospital, a report provided by Metro says.” [Washington Post]
And now here it is, your moment of zen…
Local Dems Tout Big Wins — “Heading into the critical 2020 presidential race, we’re especially excited about the tremendous grassroots enthusiasm that fueled Democratic victories statewide. This historic victory belongs to the grassroots activists as much as it belongs to the Democratic Party.” [Press Release]
Leaf Collection Schedule Announced — Courthouse, Clarendon and other neighborhoods are on tap for Arlington County’s first vacuum leaf collection pass of the season, starting Monday. [Arlington County]
Amazon Gives to Some Local Pols — “In the Democratic leadership ranks, House Democratic Caucus Chair Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, received $1,000. Her district is just outside of Amazon’s new Arlington home. And the company sent $1,500 to Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston, and $1,000 to Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, who both represent Arlington neighborhoods a stone’s throw from HQ2.” [Washington Business Journal]
Walgreens Applying for Sign Permits — Updated at 10:15 a.m. — Walgreens signs are going up on former Rite Aid stores across Arlington, after the chain acquired stores from its drug store competitor nearly two years ago. [Twitter]
Investment for Company With Arlington HQ — “CoreMedia, a global content management platform and developer of CoreMedia Content Cloud, is excited to announce that it has successfully partnered with OpenGate Capital, a global private equity firm, on a majority growth investment… Terms of the investment were not disclosed.” [PRNewswire via Potomac Tech Wire]
First Snow Possible Next Week — “Back-to-back Arctic cold fronts are predicted to sweep across the eastern United States over the next week, the second of which has a small chance to squeeze out some snowflakes in the Washington region late Monday and/or Tuesday.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Signs with the new black, white and orange logo — which includes a lowercase “B” in a map-pin shape — have been popping up around the neighborhood — along Fairfax Drive, Glebe Road and near the Ballston Metro station. More signs will be installed this week, a BID spokeswoman said.
The BID unveiled its new look during last week’s “Ballston Street Bash and Mega Market” festival. In some of its new marketing materials, the new BID logo is followed by its new slogan, “Life is Full.”
“‘Life is Full’ was strategically created to reflect the premier neighborhood’s significant growth as a true hub of the best of what the region has to offer for businesses and residents alike,” said the spokeswoman.
Over the last 18 months, the neighborhood has seen the opening of the renovated Ballston Quarter and Ballston Exchange retail centers, along with numerous new restaurants and other new businesses. New nightlife spots like Bronson and the future Quincy Hall, meanwhile, are helping to turn Ballston from a place where people mostly just live and work to a going-out destination, as well, local leaders say.
“With all the new developments and the completion of Ballston Quarter and Ballston Exchange, Ballston is now a 18-hour neighborhood,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone.
According to the BID, there are currently 60 restaurants and 15 fitness studios in Ballston, and 2,400 new apartments under development.
“Since we launched [the BID] seven years ago, we have been a rapidly developing neighborhood in one of the most thriving, sought-after cities in the U.S.,” said Leone. “It is time for our brand to reflect all that Ballston has to offer and to communicate that ‘life is full’ right here.”
In addition to the new signs, the BID’s new branding is now adorning the rear ad panels of Metrobuses that service the neighborhood.
The BID operates as a nonprofit, funded from a commercial property tax surcharge, serving Ballston businesses and residents via everything from community events to park maintenance. Upcoming projects proposed in the BID’s $1.5 million Fiscal Year 2020 budget include:
- Establishing a digital business resource center in coordination with Arlington County and Arlington Economic Development.
- Exploring collaboration opportunities between Ballston Quarter and the Washington Capitals.
- Coordinating a Ballston holiday market.
- Developing a landscaping and signage proposal for the Route 66 gateway on Fairfax Drive.
(Updated at 11 a.m.) County crews replaced the first “Jefferson Davis Highway” sign this morning as officials work to complete Route 1’s renaming to “Richmond Highway” in Arlington.
Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Del. Mark Levine stomped on the sign honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, folding it up as crews placed the first new “Richmond” signs in Crystal City this morning at the 23rd Street S. intersection.
“It felt great,” Dorsey said afterward. “We are at a point now where we don’t have to have these monumental signs hanging over the streets of Arlington.”
Arlington’s lawmakers have pushed for the change for several years, but were stymied by conservative representatives in Richmond. The county renewed its efforts last year in the wake of Amazon’s arrival.
Earlier this year, at the prompting of Del. Mark Levine, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that local leaders could sidestep Richmond entirely. The opinion clarified that the Arlington County Board had the authority to change the name on its own.
In an statement Wednesday, Levine wrote that today’s event was important because the General Assembly named the highway after Davis long after the Civil War — in 1922 — and Davis himself few connections with Virginia.
“The purpose instead was to terrorize Virginia’s black population into submitting to unconstitutional second-class legal status under Virginia law,” said Levine. “In 1922, Jim Crow laws, lynching, and the KKK were at their peak power, while poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses kept the descendants of the courageous African-Americans who fought Davis and died for the Union from exercising their constitutional right to vote.”
“While it is necessary for us to honestly discuss and interpret Virginia’s history, I feel strongly that commemorating the president of the Confederacy through the name for a major thoroughfare is not appropriate,” Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board Secretary said after approving the name change in May.
The highway was named after Davis at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group which sponsored confederate monuments across the south in the 20th century, including a now-removed plaque in Bluemont Park. In 1946, the group also commissioned a stone marker along the highway bearing Jefferson Davis’ name, which county or state transportation officials are not quite sure what to do about.
“I’m proud of Mark Levine for getting this through,” said Freddie Lutz, owner of longtime Crystal City LGBT bar Freddie’s Beach Bar, who attended this morning’s ceremony. “It’s a great, progressive move. I’m all about celebrating diversity.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” Levine said. “It’s a sign of oppression. It was wrong to put it up [then] and it was wrong today.”
Levine added that having himself and Dorsey personally take the Jefferson Davis sign down “wasn’t planned that way, but it’s wonderful symbolic justice.”
Officials previously estimated that total cost of changing Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway in Arlington would be around $17,000, and that work would continue through October.
“We are thrilled about the overdue name change,” Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, President of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, told ARLnow. “It’s much more consistent with our values — and provides a progressive and inclusive environment to live and work.”
Jay Westcott contributed to this report.