Press Club

Morning Notes

New Deputy County Attorney Named — “Mr. Ryan Samuel, who joined the County Attorney’s Office (CAO) in 2018, serves as a board member for the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia and is a member of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation American Inn of Court.” [Arlington Government]

APS Launches Test to Stay — The Virginia Department of Health has authorized Arlington Public Schools to implement its “test to stay” pilot program, which consists of contact tracing and serial COVID-19 testing so students can continue attending school during after being a close contact to someone who tested positive. [APS]

Still Not Getting Mail? — From Rep. Don Beyer: “We’re working with USPS leadership to resolve mail delivery problems arising from winter weather and omicron-driven staffing shortages. I’m told some USPS units are working with just 1/3 of normal staff. Keep alerting my District Office to your issues, we’ll do our best to help.” [Twitter]

DES Seeks Input on Eads Street — From DES: “It’s a concept. It’s a design. It’s a concept design for upgrading S Eads Street between 12th and 15th Streets S. And you can chime in.” [Twitter, SurveyMonkey]

Virginia Hospital Center Names CEO — “The Arlington hospital said Wednesday that New York health care executive Christopher Lane will succeed Jim Cole, who’s retiring after nearly 37 years as its president and CEO.” [Washington Business Journal]

Speed Cameras Could be Coming — “Coming soon to a thoroughfare near you – Arlington aims to install speed-monitoring cameras that will spit out $50 citations to offenders.” [Sun Gazette]

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Arlington County could start cracking down on speeding near schools and highway work zones with newly-allowed speed cameras.

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to set a public hearing for its Jan. 22 meeting on the question of whether to install speed cameras.

Currently, Arlington County only has cameras that capture red-light violations, but in 2020 the Virginia General Assembly allowed localities to install radar-based speed detectors around school crossing zones and highway work zones. Now, the county is poised to consider adding 10 movable cameras to these zones.

Cameras will improve street safety and make enforcement more equitable while reducing public interactions with police officers, according to a county staff report.

“Automated speed enforcement will significantly advance Arlington County’s transportation safety and equity initiatives as stated through the Vision Zero Action Plan and Police Practices Group Recommendations and leads to considerable reductions in speeding, crashes resulting in injuries, and total crashes — thereby making roadways safer for all users,” the report said.

“Automated speed enforcement also reduces unnecessary interactions between residents and police and further advances confidence in equitable outcomes by reducing or eliminating the possibility of race-and ethnicity-based disparities in traffic enforcement,” the report continues.

State code requires that localities post signs informing drivers of speed cameras and sets the threshold for enforcement at more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Fines cannot exceed $100, and speeding violations do not add points on a driver’s license nor are they considered for insurance purposes, per the state code.

Arlington is proposing a $50 fine for violations. It would match the current $50 fine for red-light violations captured by red-light cameras and fulfill a recommendation from the county’s Police Practices Group, according to the county report.

The group initially recommended calculating fines based on the speeding driver’s income and fixed expenses, the county report said. Since state law doesn’t currently allow such a sliding scale, the group suggested a lower fine and 30-day grace period after cameras are installed.

Before installing the cameras, Arlington County will focus conduct “a robust educational plan,” per the report.

“This plan will include significant outreach across the County to ensure a broad range of residents with different experiences and backgrounds receive information on placement and implementation,” it said.

An unscientific ARLnow poll this summer found that respondents are divided on traffic enforcement: about one-third of respondents wanted to see more speed cameras, while 45% wanted more red light cameras and just over half did not want more enforcement from either type of camera..

Arlington will hire transportation safety consultants to develop guidelines for placing cameras in school zones, using a $60,000 grant from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Camera placement can change in response to data on speeding, citations, crashes and transportation volumes.

The police department estimates installing and maintaining 10 cameras, and hiring a full-time employee to manage the speed camera program, will cost about $600,000 a year, the report said. Arlington County expects fines to offset the ongoing costs of the program.

Last year, the County Board asked the state to expand the use of speed cameras beyond school and highway work zones.

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Morning Notes

Prelude to Speed Cameras in Arlington — “This week the D.C. region’s Transportation Planning Board announced it is awarding a $60,000 grant to help Arlington with its plans to install the first-ever speed cameras in the county. The TPB says the money will go towards consulting services to help Arlington County install speed cameras in a fair, data-driven manner.” [WJLA]

NAACP Wanted Stronger Police Oversight — “Despite the County Board’s recent adoption of a Community Oversight Board (COB) ordinance, we are disappointed that the County Board refused to adopt the General Assembly-approved authority for the COB to be truly independent and to make binding disciplinary determinations. Nevertheless, we will work with all parties to ensure that the process is equitable and transparent.” [Press Release]

Judge’s Ruling on Rouse Estate Suit — “On May 14, Reeder filed a challenge to the county board’s rejection of local historic district status that some hoped would have protected the now-demolished 160-year-old Febrey-Lothrop house… Judge DiMatteo said Reeder faced ‘an uphill battle.’ The community ‘is not voiceless,’ she said. A community member can speak to board members and, if one doesn’t like their decision, ‘vote them out.’ But without standing, that party can’t appeal in court. Virginia law, she said, requires an ‘aggrieved party.’ She rejected Reeder’s claim.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Friday Carbeque on Route 29 — “Video from van fire and fuel leak impacting traffic on eastbound Lee Highway at Kirkwood.” [Twitter, Twitter]

GOP Blasts County for Biden Event — “Arlington County is misusing taxpayer resources and county bandwidth to actively promote a partisan campaign rally. One-party rule in Arlington continues to produce a lack of accountability for our elected leaders and county officials. Not only are they actively promoting a political event, they also went a step further to link to the event RSVP page.” [Press Release]

Guess the Price of This House — “The beauty of this 5,227 square-foot lot in Arlington, VA, is in its simplicity. Along with being a short Uber ride to Washington, DC, amenities include: Attached garage with one parking space, Big trees, Water heater (not new, just one in general), Great location to build on if you’re cool with bulldozing the home. How much for the world’s most average house?” [Morning Brew, Zillow]

Reminder: Vote in This Week’s Arlies — Do you have a favorite preschool or daycare you take your children to? Cast your vote in this week’s Arlies category by midday tomorrow. [ARLnow]

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