Currently, in Arlington County, a podcasting studio would need to go through a county permitting process to inhabit an office building.
But that is likely changing.
A proposal to allow more “untraditional” uses in traditional office buildings is headed to the Arlington County Board this weekend.
On Saturday, the Board is set to consider revising the zoning ordinance to allow broadcasting studios and businesses in the audio-visual production field to occupy commercial space by right. It is also expanding what counts as research and development while allowing those uses by right, too.
Under the changes, entrepreneurs would no longer need a permit to outfit an office for podcasting and influencer studios — Instagram-ready backdrops for people to take photos and record content.
Arlington’s extensive roster of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence startups, meanwhile, would no longer need a permit to conduct research and development. Facilities doing technological, electronic, biological, scientific and engineering research would be able to lease a typical office building in the same way as any other office tenant.
These businesses could also engage in small-scale product design, development, prototyping and testing. The changes will not allow industrial scale production or manufacturing.
Arlington Economic Development says these are some emerging trends it is looking to pounce to tackle its office vacancy rate and remain competitive in a changing economic landscape. Otherwise, it may lose out to peer cities, such as Seattle and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“In the past, [AED] has had prospects come through looking for flexible research and development space to locate their semiconductor and microchip, cyber and quantum computing, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning companies,” according to a county report. “However, the AED team was not always readily able to accommodate those prospects due to zoning barriers.”
“The competition for attracting research and development investment is fierce, the market for these uses is strong, and technological advances have allowed these uses to fit seamlessly into existing business districts,” it continued.
This is the fourth zoning code update headed to the County Board in 13 months under the “Commercial Market Resiliency Strategy.”
Through this strategy, the county established a streamlined public engagement process that expedited the approval process for these changes. Some Planning Commissioners have balked at the shortened engagement period and the nuisances that may arise.
Despite these misgivings, the strategy has already been used to allow micro-fulfillment centers, urban agriculture, breweries and distilleries, and artisan workshops to operate in office buildings, without additional red tape.
Most recently, the County Board approved a broader definition of by-right indoor recreation use, meaning pickleball courts and ax-throwing could be coming to an office building near you.
It used to be that we could just post article links to our Facebook and Twitter accounts and call it a day.
But each social network has been leaking users and reducing the organic reach of news publishers, so in order to connect with readers where they are we’ve been upping our game.
Two recent initiatives include a push to get email newsletter signups, to cut out the middleman between readers and our local news stories, and posting our top stories on Instagram.
As of today, something new: we’re going to be publishing business- and economic policy-related local news stories on our new ARLnow LinkedIn page.
Just click “Follow” on the page to get our links in your LinkedIn feed.
Much has been written about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and what that means for the platform.
One thing we know for sure is all that drama caused interest in the open-source social network Mastodon to spike. Many who have tried out the network have not stuck around, and there’s skepticism about whether any new Twitter-like network will be able to supplant the original, but nonetheless some recent developments point to potential staying power for Mastodon.
One such development is that our social media management system now supports Mastodon publishing.
That makes it feasible for us to launch ARLnow Mastodon presence and start publishing links to stories. But… would it be worthwhile? Is there a critical mass of Arlingtonians hanging out on Mastodon?
Let’s find out.
Photo by Battenhall on Unsplash
There has been lots of drama since Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
While ARLnow’s favorite social network likely is not going away anytime soon, despite the doom and gloom, maybe with the layoffs and firings of senior engineers it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign up for our email newsletter as a backup plan.
The free Afternoon Update newsletter goes out at 4 p.m. every day we publish and has all of the day’s articles, plus the Morning Notes and more.
(A special early morning newsletter, with a preview of the Morning Notes and the stories we’re covering that day, is also available but only to ARLnow Press Club members.)
Sign up for the Afternoon Update newsletter below.
When Diana Gamerman was little, she wanted to do exactly what her older sister did.
The Arlington resident has a studio in Alexandria called DianaArt, where she sells her work, but it’s on Nextdoor where she have been gaining a degree of local fame.
Gamerman has been painting professionally since she was 22 years old, she told ARLnow. While she owes her initial interest in art to her sister, the now 80-year-old has continued her passion, specializing in watercolor, oil painting and sculpture work. Her work has even been featured in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
“[I’ve] done it all,” Gamerman joyfully said.
Gamerman’s inspiration comes from everyday life experiences. What she chooses to paint is influenced by things she likes — if she sees a beautiful landscape, she’ll create art from it. She also takes her inspiration from Wayne Thiebaud, a California artist who specialized in landscapes and cars.
She said watercolor is more convenient to use but she opts for oil pastel when the weather is good — “don’t have to worry about things flying away.”
One painting, of her music teacher, took three years to complete, she said.
Gamerman posts to Nextdoor, the social media website for neighbors, photos of her paintings, which are most often pictures of homes in the neighborhood. From time to time, she posts sketches of people sitting at Compass Coffee or pictures of her sculptures.
The posts have become something of a fixture of the local social network.
One post she made on Nextdoor, of a home in her neighborhood, garnered hundreds of likes and dozens of comments on her talent. Her feed shows dozens of paintings of “what is happening” in her neighborhood, at a development project, at her studio, at a coffee shop.
In another painting, vivid yellows and oranges mesh together to show scenes of workers at a construction site and another with workers doing road work.
“I can show you what is happening in my neighborhood because I love [to] paint the work men because they wear such bright colors,” she wrote with the post.
She called Nextdoor a “wonderful” platform where she can share her work and people reach out to her to commission paintings. Her posts are a way to make extra money and enjoy her time — another hobby of sorts, in addition to playing the banjo and mandolin, she said.
The site is also a place to find a sense of community that transcends the local and national controversies that prompt less neighborly discussions.
“Everybody makes nice comments on Nextdoor,” Gamerman said.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares visited Arlington yesterday (Thursday) to launch a political fund aimed at unseating progressive prosecutors.
The reform-minded approach of “left-wing liberal prosecutors” has “directly resulted in higher crime in our communities and they must be stopped,” Miyares said in a statement that specifically called out Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.
The goal of the Protecting Americans Action Fund, he said, is to “elect District Attorneys who will enforce the law and prosecute criminals, instead of this warped version of criminal justice, which is endangering Americans.”
Miyares did not name-drop Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Descano’s Arlington counterpart, but coming to Arlington was enough to prompt her to mount a defense of her prosecutorial approach.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church fired back on Twitter with a volley of tweets.
2/16 Through the campaign & since his election, the AG targeted, often by name, Commonwealth’s Attorneys in NOVA, whose counties actually are the safest & have the lowest crime rates of any large jurisdictions in Virginia and country. This is particularly true of my jurisdiction.
— Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (@parisa4justice) March 24, 2022
Dehghani-Tafti was elected in 2019 on a pledge to reform the criminal justice system by reducing racial disparities in prosecution as well as recidivism and incarceration, while investigating wrongful convictions. Last year, there was an effort to recall her that accused Dehghani-Tafti of offering criminals lenient plea deals.
Miyares contends crime is up in places like Northern Virginia, under the leadership of Descano, Dehghani-Tafti and Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. But Arlington’s top prosecutor says these jurisdictions “have the lowest crime rates of any large jurisdictions in Virginia and country.”
She reiterated the crime trends she touted earlier this year, including that her jurisdiction recorded no homicides in 2021 — down from three homicides in 2020 and two in 2019.
(Two reported deaths last year were in federal jurisdiction, including the police officer who was stabbed, shot and killed outside the Pentagon and the security contractor who died at the U.S. State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center.)
“I’ve long resisted the claim that the drop in homicide is due solely to my policies. Instead, I’ve credited the work of our County Board, local delegation, police department, school board, defense bar, public defender, and community and faith groups in teaming up to prevent crime,” she said.
“And yet, the AG and other anti-reformers have no hesitation in cherry picking any individual incident or any uptick in any crime, however slight, to mislead the public and paint a false picture of our reform achievements,” she continued.
Some crimes were trending up during her election year, 2019, and continued upward during her first year of office. This includes an uptick in property crimes, driven largely by carjackings, according to 2020 crime data — the most recent available from Arlington County Police Department.
This uptick prompted more police patrols and coordinated regional response in 2021, which may explain why, according to preliminary ACPD data for last year, carjackings dropped from 16 in 2020 to eight, while car thefts dropped from 323 in 2020 to 306.
Arlington police say they’re now investigating a series of drive-by paintball and pellet gun shootings.
The shootings are believed to have been inspired by a viral TikTok trend dubbed the “Orbeez challenge,” which has led to numerous reports from across the U.S. of injuries and arrests from people being shot with pellets, paintballs or gel-balls.
ARLnow reported yesterday that four people were struck by paintballs shot from a passing car in Crystal City on Friday. One person was hospitalized. Today Arlington police said two recent incidents of people being shot by pellet guns, fired from passing vehicles, may be tied to the social media trend.
“The Arlington County Police Department takes these incidents seriously and continues to actively investigate to identify those responsible,” said the police department.
More from an ACPD press release, below.
The Arlington County Police Department is investigating four reports of paintballs and pellets being discharged from vehicles at community members in the last week. Similar incidents have been reported in other states and appear to stem from challenges originated on social media. While the motivation behind the Arlington incidents is unknown at this time, the Arlington County Police Department takes these incidents seriously and continues to actively investigate to identify those responsible.
ASSAULT & BATTERY, 2022-03160222, S. Eads Street at 12th Street S. At approximately 6:00 p.m. on March 16, police were dispatched to the report of disorderly conduct. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim was walking in the area when the suspect vehicle approached and discharged a pellet gun, striking the victim. The suspect vehicle is described as a maroon SUV.
ASSAULT & BATTERY, 2022-03180231/0254, 1400 block of S. Eads Street/15th Street S. at S. Eads. At approximately 7:24 p.m. on March 18, police were dispatched to the report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined the two victims were walking in the area when the suspect vehicle approached and the passenger discharged a paintball gun striking the victims, a parked vehicle and the door to a business. At approximately 9:10 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of an assault and determined two additional victims were walking in the area when they were struck by the suspect discharging a paintball gun from the vehicle. The suspect vehicle is described as a silver, older model four door sedan.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2022-03210246, Washington Boulevard at N. Highland Street. At approximately 4:54 p.m. on March 21, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim was walking in the area when he was struck by pellets discharged from a vehicle. The suspect vehicle is described as a gray or light blue small SUV.
Report Information and Incidents to Police for Investigation
These remain active criminal investigations. Anyone with information related to these incidents is asked to contact the Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
If you are the victim or witness of similar incidents, report immediately to police by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency. Provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible including vehicle description, license plate, direction of travel and suspect(s) description.
A tweet correcting the grammar and style of a press release from the Arlington teachers union has gotten some national media attention.
A local homeschooling mom tweeted pictures of the corrections she says she and her children made to a press release sent by the Arlington Education Association, which represents educators and staff in Arlington Public Schools.
Hey @VEA4Kids, are you going to send out more of these grammar worksheets over break? My kids and I had a great time spotting errors! Did we find them all? pic.twitter.com/ZfiQQbWwpv
— Ellen Gallery (@ellenfgallery) December 30, 2021
The New York Post, Fox News and the Daily Mail have since picked up Ellen Gallery’s edits, and her tweet has gone viral, garnering nearly 2,000 likes and 740 retweets as of Monday morning. AEA President Ingrid Gant has since released a statement taking ownership of the errors and explaining that the release was actually a draft that had not been edited before publication.
Gant sent the initial release after APS announced Wednesday evening that in the new year, amid record levels of reported COVID-19 cases, it would continue in-person instruction and halt sports and activities for up to two weeks. School was set to resume today (Monday) but the snow storm has delayed the start of school until at least Wednesday.
Gant’s letter to Superintendent Francisco Durán, sent early Thursday morning, called on APS to require negative COVID-19 tests of every returning student and staff member, something being done by D.C. public schools. Gant also drew attention to the possibility of increased COVID-19 transmission with lunch indoors, calling for stronger mitigation measures.
But the errors in grammar and style drew more attention than the release’s substance, Gallery told Fox News via Twitter.
“Being able to write a clear, persuasive letter is a fundamental skill all students should master before high school,” she said. “The quality of this writing was so glaringly terrible that it distracts from the writer’s message.”
On Saturday, Gant released a follow-up statement in response to the viral Tweet and the national news coverage.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has persisted far longer than any of us in the Arlington community had anticipated. A draft letter was sent in place of a fully edited one in a rush to address the latest challenge. While I personally take full responsibility for this mistake, errors in my letter should in no way distract from its message: Arlington’s students and educators are returning to school Monday without sufficient testing supplies and with a lunch plan that fails to address the increased risks associated with the Omicron variant. Arlington’s students and educators deserve a safe return to in-person instruction.”
“It is clear that a layered mitigation strategy is the key to safe and effective teaching and learning in our county’s classrooms. As a community, we must focus on acquiring a sufficient supply of tests for every student and staff member prior to our first in-person day in January and on enhancing our meal service mitigations. The children of Arlington deserve no less.”
This week, Smart Restart APS — a group that advocates for improved COVID-19 protocols in schools — is outfitting APS staff with the higher-grade masks reportedly needed to lower the transmission of the highly contagious, but less deadly, Omicron variant. It called on Durán to provide better masks, promote the booster shot and upgrade air filters in school buildings.
The holiday spirit is alive and well in Arlington, with a number of markets and events planned over the next couple of weeks.
First up is Rosslyn’s holiday market, set for this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 10-11) at 1800 N. Lynn Street. Friday night will feature a celebration for the dogs of Rosslyn, including giveaways for the pups as well as a chance for your canine to take photos with Santa Claus. Saturday will feature a family-friendly performance at Synetic Theater and photos with Santa Claus.
There will also be food, free hot chocolate, and a dozen vendors.
After that, the first annual Ballston Holiday Wreath Market is taking place next Friday and Saturday (Dec. 17-18) at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Stuart Street.
Organized by the Ballston BID, the two-day event will include a pop-up outdoor bar, live music from the Arlington Children’s Chorus, a cello performance from local TikTok personality Andrew Savoia, a light art projection from Robin Bell, Santa Claus selfies, and holiday wreaths for sale.
Proceeds from the wreath sales will go towards local nonprofits including Bridges to Independence, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Culpepper Garden, Doorways for Women and Families, and The Sycamore School. Wreaths can be ordered in advance online for pick-up at the market.
Arlington County Police Department’s toy-collecting cruiser will also be there on Saturday, ready to receive wrapped gifts that will be donated to area kids.
Performing at 5 p.m. on Friday, 25-year-old Ballston resident Andrew Savoia became gained social media notability last year with his cello covers of modern pop songs. Washingtonian described his music as “Cardi B meets Beethoven.”
Robin Bell’s light art show will be projected onto the Ballston Macy’s storefront, described as a “celebration of holidays around the world.” Bell is known for sometimes politically charged and profound art projections. He previously projected a beach scene in Ballston in 2020. Bell’s holiday illumination will be displayed from 7-9 p.m. each night.
The outdoor bar will include warm beverages, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic hot chocolate, a “mistletoe spice cocktail,” beer, and wine. The hope is that the Ballston Wreath Market will become an annual Arlington tradition, a spokesperson tells ARLnow.
The National Landing BID, meanwhile, is hosting two events over the next couple of weekends, including a holiday market and a peppermint mocha latte competition.
The latte competition is taking place this Sunday morning (Dec. 12), starting at 11 a.m., outside of 2121 Crystal Drive. It will feature seasonal drinks from Commonwealth Joe, The Freshman, and Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen. Attendees will be able to sample minty creations from each neighborhood coffee shop and vote on their favorite. The event is free.
The next weekend, on Friday and Saturday (Dec. 17-18), the BID is holding a holiday market outside of 2121 Crystal Drive, with an assortment of live music, shopping, and food.
Friday night’s market will feature music from Laygod, a self-described “cult-fiction rock n roll band,” and Nicaraguan musician Pedro Night. Playing Saturday’s market is Jerel Crockett. More than 25 vendors are expected to offer their wares.
In addition to the events, there are a number of light displays in Crystal City. At Long Bridge Park, more than 6,000 white and blue lights are twinkling along the nearly-mile walk along Long Bridge Park Esplanade overlooking the Potomac River. At Gateway Green, the former location of Summer House at 101 12th Street S., “an immersive winter lights art installation” is ongoing through the holiday season.
Can’t get enough Christmas? Other local holiday events can be found in our Arlington event calendar.
You’ve probably seen the headlines about a youth trend called “Devious Licks” that challenged students to steal or damage items at school and post video of the act on TikTok.
Now Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán is warning parents about additional challenges that encourage behavior that could result in the school system seeking police intervention.
Durán said in an email to parents yesterday evening that the theft challenge in September “affected APS schools at every level – elementary through high school.” TikTok banned the trend on Sept. 15.
“We are seeking your help in reminding students of the consequences and serious nature of these challenges,” Durán wrote.
A statement from the superintendent on Friday linked to a WTOP report about additional monthly challenges, which encourage “destructive and harmful acts at school.”
- October: Smack a staff member on the backside.
- November: Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school.
- December: Deck the halls and show your b****.
- January: Jab a breast.
- February: Mess up school signs.
- March: Make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria.
- April: Grab some “eggs” (another theft challenge).
- May: Ditch Day.
- June: Flip off the front office.
“Any involvement including filming, assisting, and sharing videos could lead to school consequences,” Durán wrote. “Depending on the severity, engaging in the behaviors listed above could lead to law enforcement involvement.”
As described, the above challenges could rise to the level of criminal vandalism, indecent exposure or even sexual battery and assault.
There is a list of social media challenges on TikTok similar to the most recent “Devious Licks” challenge that encouraged kids to vandalize and steal random objects from schools and post them in videos. Learn more and how to talk to your student: https://t.co/2MzVCqmSA4
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) October 7, 2021
This summer the Arlington School Board voted to remove sworn School Resource Officers from school grounds. The Arlington County Police Department and APS are now working on a new agreement for a “Youth Outreach Unit” that would “have meaningful conversations, answer questions, and build relationships.”
The Friday letter from the superintendent, encouraging parental vigilance, is below.
It has come to our attention that there is a list of social media challenges on TikTok similar to the most recent “Devious Licks” TikTok Challenge that encouraged kids to vandalize and steal random objects from their schools and post them in videos.
September’s challenge to vandalize bathrooms affected several APS schools, so we are sharing the list of upcoming challenges for your awareness and support. We ask that parents and guardians speak to your students about the serious nature of these challenges and help educate them that these are not appropriate for school or in the community.
These challenges could be disruptive and harmful to our school community and present a safety concern. Additionally, any involvement including filming, assisting, and sharing videos could lead to school consequences. Students are encouraged to contact their administrator if they are aware or witness any wrongdoing or harm against students, staff or property. Depending on the severity, engaging in the behaviors listed above could lead to law enforcement involvement.
The safety and security of our students, both physical and emotional, is our priority as we continue to create a learning environment that cultivates a culture of kindness, mutual respect, inclusivity and affirmation for our students and staff.
Thank you for your help as we all work together to be vigilant about our students’ online presence.
Dr. Francisco Durán
For hours yesterday, Facebook-owned services, including the Instagram, WhatsApp, and original blue Facebook app, were knocked off the internet.
It was a throwback to the growing pains of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking services more than 10 years ago, when major technical snafus like this were more common.
The timing was also conspicuous, given that the outage came one day after a bombshell 60 Minutes episode in which a former employee levied a number of accusations, including that the company incentivizes “angry, polarizing, divisive content” in order to boost user engagement.
Here at ARLnow HQ, the primary effect of the outage was to disrupt our ability to post stories to our Facebook page and photos to our Instagram account. Also our readership dipped a bit, though not as much as one might imagine given how much traffic Facebook drives.
Elsewhere, though, one would think the widespread use of Facebook and Instagram as a time-filling utility — a quick break from work, a boredom reliever, etc. — actually resulted in some people being more productive during the workday while it was down. Does that include you?
Photo by Timothy Hales Bennett on Unsplash