No Mardi Gras Parade Today — Clarendon will not be hosting a Mardi Gras parade this year. What was formerly an annual tradition remains on hold, perhaps permanently. The last parade was held in 2018.
Retail Rents Rising on the Pike — “Arlington economic-development officials say they will assist where possible, but in many cases, small-business owners wishing to stay in the corridor will have to do the hunting on their own… The arrival of Amazon not far down the road in the Pentagon City area is just one factor that is impacting rents in the Columbia Pike corridor, once known as a low-cost alternative to Arlington’s Metro corridors.” [Sun Gazette]
Affordable Housing Buy Nearby — “A 14-story Arlandria apartment complex has been acquired by the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, the latest move in an effort to preserve affordable housing in an area facing significant development pressure. AHDC recently announced that it bought the Park Vue of Alexandria apartments from Florida-based ZRS Management with support of $51.4 million from the $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund.” [ALXnow, Twitter]
Va. Weed Bill Goes Up in Smoke — “Republican members of Virginia’s House of Delegates on Monday voted down a bill that would have permitted legal sales of marijuana later this year, delaying any movement on the issue until at least mid- or late-2023 — if not even later than that. The party-line 5-3 vote in the House’s General Laws Subcommittee dashed the hopes of many Democrats and marijuana legalization advocates.” [DCist]
It’s Fat Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day today, the first day of March and the last day before Lent. High of 57 and low of 32. Sunrise at 6:42 am and sunset at 6:02 pm. [Weather.gov]
Rapist Gets Life in Prison — “Michael F. Thomson, 65, of Montross, VA pled guilty and was sentenced on Friday, February 11, 2022, in the Arlington County Circuit Court to life in prison plus 56 years for his role in a 1991 cold case rape series. Judge DiMatteo imposed a sentence of life in prison on one count of rape, 50 years on a second count of rape, 10 years with eight suspended on one count of attempted abduction with intent to defile, and two years each on two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of the rapes.” [ACPD]
Police Auditor Bill May Pass — “Bills acceding to a request by the Arlington County Board to employ a police auditor have won approval in each house of the General Assembly, suggesting the measure likely will make it the desk of Gov. Youngkin… Adding a police auditor responsible to the board, rather than county manager, was one of the recommendations when County Board members in 2021 approved revisions to policing policies in the county.” [Sun Gazette]
Fire Depts. Adjust to Bridge Issues — “How bad are structural issues with the T.R. Bridge? It isn’t just the public impacted by emergency repairs. STATter911 has learned both @ArlingtonVaFD & @dcfireems are restricting how fire apparatus can access the bridge for emergencies.” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 67 and wind gusts as high as 33 mph. Sunrise at 6:56 a.m. and sunset at 5:48 p.m. Rain tonight and Friday morning. Mostly cloudy through mid morning Friday, then gradual clearing, with a high near 54. Breezy, with a northwest wind 16 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. [Weather.gov]
Mask Optional Bill Heads to Governor — “As had their state Senate colleagues the preceding week, members of Arlington’s delegation to the House of Delegates were unanimous in their opposition to legislation ending mask mandates on students in Virginia’s public-education system. But the opposition did nothing to stop the bill’s momentum – the measure on Feb. 14 won final passage in the House of Delegates and is on its way to Gov. Youngkin.” [Sun Gazette]
More on Roosevelt Bridge Work — “The Roosevelt Bridge connecting Arlington and D.C. got a close-up inspection Monday after transportation officials ordered emergency road work to the bridge over the weekend. D.C. Department of Transportation Director Everett Lott said the bridge, which is 58 years old, was given a ‘poor’ rating during an inspection in 2018 and a “fair” rating in 2016. Lanes will be shut down on the bridge for as long as six months due to a rusted beam.” [NBC 4]
Homeless Shelter Moved Everyone to Motel — “Staffers at Arlington County’s largest homeless shelter for adults have spent the better part of the past two years trying to keep the coronavirus in check. They tested everyone regularly, moved any person who caught the virus into isolation. They had strict protocols, high vaccination rates among the nearly 100 homeless residents who use the facility and required that face masks be worn indoors… But then came omicron.” [Washington Post]
Preservation Bill Dead for 2022 — “Advocates of historic-preservation legislation patroned by two Northern Virginia lawmakers will have to wait until 2023 to try and win enactment. The House of Delegates Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns voted Feb. 11 to delay final consideration of legislation patroned by Del. Hope (D-Arlington) to next year.” [Sun Gazette]
Towing Accountability Bill Fails — “A measure its patron said would provide more teeth to Virginia’s statutes regulating the towing industry died a perhaps predictable death in the House of Delegates. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Fairfax) had patroned legislation that would have made violations of state and local towing rules subject to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. It also would have provided ‘meaningful civil penalties’ for towing malfeasance, the patron said in comments to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation.” [Sun Gazette]
Small House Fire in N. Arlington — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “This morning at approx. 0920 crews were dispatched for a reported structure fire in the 3600 BLK of N. Vermont St. Crews found a small fire with minimal extension. No injuries were reported.” [Twitter]
W-L Track Wins Championship — “For what is officially supposed to be an indoor sport, the Washington-Liberty Generals improvised quite well and won a Liberty District boys track and field championship as a result. The Generals finished first with 128 points, with the Yorktown Patriots second with 88.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Tuesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 40. Sunrise at 6:58 a.m. and sunset at 5:46 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny and breezy, with a high near 54. [Weather.gov]
A pair of bills proposed by an Arlington lawmaker in the General Assembly could help bolster the ranks of health care workers and teachers stretched thin during the pandemic.
The bills introduced by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) expedite the licensure process in both industries, allowing workers with licenses in other states to begin work upon being hired. The bills passed the Virginia Senate uncontested and will be considered in the House after the crossover deadline on Feb. 15.
Health care and education industries have dealt with staffing shortages during the pandemic as Covid patients filled hospital beds and teachers have dealt with cases in schools.
If Senate Bill 317 becomes law, hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis facilities would be able to hire workers who have licenses in other states as they await a Virginia license.
“Our facilities right now are having a very hard time staffing up, it is a quality of care issue when you don’t have enough nurses on your floor, our patients are not getting the attention they need,” Favola said to the Education and Health Subcommittee on Health Professions.
Similarly, Senate Bill 68 would allow teachers who are licensed to teach outside the United States to begin working under a provisional license for up to three years. The Department of Education would review the application and the individual could then start in classrooms, Favola told the Education and Health Subcommittee on Education.
“This is an effort to enable those who really have the ability and the interest and the talent to teach in an area that we right now are suffering incredible shortages,” she said. “Our school systems are struggling to keep teachers.”
Several educational associations spoke in favor of the bill, as well as someone who worked with refugee resettlement.
“We did have some concerns in the beginning but [Favola] addressed all those concerns, specifically with verifying those credentials… so we are in support of it,” said Shane Riddle, with the Virginia Education Association.
Favola confirmed there would be confirmation of licensure before they would be hired.
Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, chair of the subcommittee, said she hopes SB 68 will be a step toward addressing the shortage but also “be able to take professionals who come in with the skills and the knowledge, the credentials and be able to participate readily within our own school system.”
These bills solve some serious problems & will improve the lives of Virginians. Let’s applaud teachers & healthcare workers! https://t.co/tpaKthw4lx
— Barbara Favola (@BarbaraFavola) January 26, 2022
The health care licensure bill would put into state law what existed under emergency orders former Gov. Ralph Northam put in place last year. Gov. Glenn Youngkin has since also issued an emergency order, set to expire Feb. 21, that also allows a health care practitioner with a license and in good standing in another state to practice in Virginia.
Under the bill, the health care worker would work on a provisional license and within 90 days the Bureau of Health Professions would issue a Virginia license, Favola said. If the license is not issued within 90 days, there can be an extension of 60 days.
It would also allow for professionals practicing in states surrounding Virginia to get expedited requests for state licensure if their state enters a reciprocal agreement. The bill would take effect as soon as it becomes law.
Hospitals are in a staffing crisis and it isn’t going away anytime soon, said R. Brent Rawlings, Senior Vice President of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, in testimony before the subcommittee.
“We’ve had people leave the workforce and we need to have every tool in our toolbox to try to get folks at the bedside as quickly as possible and this would allow that to happen,” he said.
Preservation Bill Proposed After Rouse Razing — “Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has introduced legislation that, if enacted, could give preservationists more of a fighting chance to retain properties they deem worth saving. Hope’s bill makes several changes to the state’s historic-preservation laws, most notably prohibiting a local government from permitting the razing of a proposed historic property until 30 days after a final decision on the matter has been made.” [Sun Gazette]
Students Getting At-Home Covid Tests — “Last week we received a large shipment of rapid at-home Covid-19 test kits. These kits are in the process of being delivered to our schools for distribution to students, beginning toward the end of this week or early next.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Dorsey to Lead Regional Board — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey will chair the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for 2022.” [Sun Gazette]
Old Home Gets Rocking Aesthetic — “The white-stucco, black-shuttered exterior of this 1871 center-hall Colonial in Country Club Hills belies its rock-and-roll interior. That’s part of the fun. A century and a half ago, the stately home was likely built as a summer residence for a wealthy D.C. family. Today, it’s owned by Ben and Dina Hitch, a pair of concert-going music and art aficionados whose vast collection of original record albums and American artwork spans decades.” [Arlington Magazine]
Marymount Junior Stands Out on Court — “As a result of helping the Marymount University women’s basketball team improve to 5-0 and first place in the Atlantic East Conference, junior Symantha Shackelford recently was selected as the league’s Player of the Week in women’s college basketball.” [Sun Gazette]
Snow Incoming — “A major winter storm is set to slam parts of the Northeast on Saturday, with heavy snowfall, strong to damaging winds and coastal flooding all possible… For D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, the storm probably gets going too late to drop more than a couple inches of snow, but areas just to the east have a chance to see more substantial amounts.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 37. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m. and sunset at 5:24 p.m. A low around 27 Thursday night. Friday will be cloudy, with a high near 37. Light snow possible in the morning, then probable in the afternoon, perhaps mixing with rain. Expect snow and wind gusts as high as 26 mph Friday night. [Weather.gov]
(Updated 9:10 a.m. on 1/26/22) A second candidate for the new, metropolitan House of Delegates District 2 has emerged.
And Adele McClure, 32, says she was in the right place at the right time to even consider running. She was in the middle of moving apartments when the state Supreme Court accepted new district maps after a months-long redistricting process.
“The opportunity literally arose when I found out my old place was no longer in the district and the new place was,” said McClure, who is the Executive Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. “Isn’t that crazy? It felt like everything was aligning.”
If elected — and the election will likely be held in 2023 — McClure says she will increase funding for and expand affordable housing and homeownership opportunities, fully fund public schools, make healthcare more accessible and equitable, champion criminal justice reform and tackle climate change.
She said she will bring professional and personal experience to her role while, as a Black and Asian woman, representing marginalized perspectives in Arlington’s state delegation, which has been historically white. McClure has worked both in the legislative and executive branches of Virginia government and has lived experiences of the same issues she’s tackled professionally.
“I’ve been at the execute and implement stages, creating the legislation, getting it through and jumping it over to execution side to make sure that communities have the resources they need and connecting with folks to make sure the bill gets off the ground,” she said.
McClure says she experienced hunger and periodic homelessness growing up in the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County and attending the public schools there. In high school, she worked three jobs and took care of her niece and nephew while her brother was incarcerated. She was the first in her family to attend college, graduating in 2011 from the Virginia Commonwealth University.
“If you told me, as a little girl, I would be running to represent Arlington County, I would think it was so out of the realm of possibilities,” she said.
Since then, she has spent the last decade building up a resume of service in Arlington and in state politics.
After graduating from VCU, she moved to Arlington, where she lived until she decamped to Richmond to work under Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax as the policy director. (She resigned after he became the target of sexual assault allegations.)
She also ran the state Department of Housing & Community Development’s first eviction-prevention effort. Three years ago, McClure earned a spot in the law and policy category of the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was elected to the Forbes Under 30 Global Board.
In Arlington, McClure has served on the county’s Action Plan for Ending Homelessness, the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Housing Solutions, the Community Services Board and on the CSB’s Substance Use Disorder committee, and the Continuum of Care homelessness outreach program.
She is involved in the Arlington County Democratic Committee, has volunteered during elections as an assistant precinct chief, and worked to establish the Dulles Justice Coalition, which provided interpreters and attorneys to travelers when former President Donald Trump’s travel ban went into effect.
“There are a lot of folks out there who can give a ton of background and lived experience with these policies,” she said. “I’m intentional about reaching out to those who will be closely impacted by the legislation.”
She’ll be going up against Nicole Merlene, a former candidate for State Senate and ARLnow columnist. Merlene has also made expanding affordable housing in her hometown of Arlington a top priority and has an extensive resume of local leadership.
A proposed bill, inspired by the former Virginia Attorney General’s lawsuit and case against Advanced Towing, would allow residents and localities better ability to protect themselves against bad acting towing companies.
“The Virginia code as it relates to towing is a mess. It’s all over the place,” says Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), who introduced the bill last week (Jan. 18). “My hope is to improve the towing statute and get more relief for customers harmed by the towing industry.”
Basically, HB 1218 amends the law to allow individuals and localities to pursue alleged illegal towing practices under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. As the law currently stands, the violations are solely enforceable and civil penalties can only be sought by the AG’s office.
What’s more, the law currently allows for a maximum fine for each violation of only $150, which is how Advanced Towing ended up with only a $750 fine for five violations.
By moving portions of the code to be enforced under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, it would allow for fines to be at least $500 or $1,000 per violation.
Additionally, it makes the code enforceable across the entire Commonwealth as opposed to limiting enforcement to only tows that happen in Planning District 8, which covers Northern Virginia.
Lopez, who represents a large swath of South Arlington, says he hears from constituents “regularly” about alleged predatory towing practices taking place in Arlington and across the region.
“This clarifies [the code], makes it cleaner, much more readable,” says Lopez. “There would be meaningful civil penalties that are not limited to Northern Virginia. More importantly, there could finally be individual enforcement rather than solely enforcement through the AG’s office.”
This isn’t the first time in recent years that lawmakers have attempted to help residents when it comes to towing ordinances.
This is a similar situation to the bill that Lopez introduced last year and eventually became law that allows localities to have greater say over the granting of liquor licenses.
In October, then-Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring took Arlington-based Advanced Towing to trial over alleged “predatory,” illegal, and unsafe towing practices.
A month later, a decision was handed down that lent merit to some of the AG’s office claims against Advanced Towing but not all of them. The court denied a request for a permanent injunction while issuing a fine of $750.
Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill told ARLnow in December that the decision “vindicated” his company and called the AG’s case “blackmail” and a “witch hunt.”
However, the case still has at least one more hearing since the court didn’t rule on the payment of attorney’s fees with both sides believing they are owed additional money. That hearing is currently set for March 25.
But with a new attorney general now in charge, it’s possible that the case will not be pursued any further.
O’Neill claimed to ARLnow late last year that he had spoken with the newly elected AG Jason Miyares about the case, who allegedly told the towing company owner the case was “overbearing” and would not be sought.
O’Neill’s attorney Chap Petersen (a Virginia state senator, himself) told ARLnow in an email last week that he has no intention of conceding his attorney fees since he believes the case was over-charged by the AG.
But he doesn’t believe a new AG “changes the dynamics of our case, as Judge Newman had already ruled.”
ARLnow has reached out to AG Miyares’s office multiple times to see if there’s still intent to pursue the case, if an office representative will be at the March hearing, and to confirm O’Neill’s alleged conversation with Miyares, but have yet to hear back as of publication.
Lopez tells ARLnow he thought the trial was going to have a different outcome, but is holding out hope the current AG’s office continues the case.
“I hope Attorney General Miyares would care enough about addressing this issue and take an active role in empowering individuals to use the Virginia Consumer Protection Act,” he says.
Lopez expects his bill to be referred to committee soon and is hopeful it can get bipartisan support.
More Snow Looks Likely This Week — “Believe it or not, we have a chance of more accumulating snow Thursday night. This is unlikely to rival today’s storm, but could produce a few inches in parts of the region depending on how it evolves.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Local Legislative Event Now Virtual — Today at 7 p.m., the League of Women Voters of Arlington and Alexandria City will host a public forum for locals to speak with their representatives to the state Senate and the House of Delegates. The event has moved to Zoom due to rising Covid concerns. A Zoom link will be provided to those who register online. [Eventbrite]
Video: Motorcycle Ride in the Snow — “Last time I rode a scooter in the snow was in Seoul Korea. Wanted to see how it is in Northern Virginia. Took it from Clarendon to Courthouse for lunch. The snow is packed and icy, so not possible to drive fast except on the main roads in some parts. I had a couple close calls where the tire slipped sideways.” [YouTube]
Bill Would Nix Arlington SRO Decision — “The Arlington School Board would be required to reinstate school-resource officers at local schools under legislation to be considered in the upcoming General Assembly session. Among those putting in bills on the topic is Del.-elect Timothy Anderson (R-Virginia Beach), whose measure – HB37, filed Dec. 30 – would require every school system to sign agreements with law-enforcement agencies to provide at least one resource officer for every high school and middle school, and at least one officer for every five elementary schools.” [Sun Gazette]
Reminder: Bag Tax Now in Effect — “Arlington County will begin imposing a 5-cent plastic bag tax… Effective Jan. 1, 2022, [Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County] will tax plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience shops and drugstores.” [ARLnow]
It’s Tuesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 37 and a low of 27. Sunrise at 7:27 a.m. and sunset at 4:59 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 44, a low of 32 and wind gusts as high as 18 mph. [Weather.gov]
Arlington officially has a new Virginia House of Delegates district that has local Democrats talking about who will run for the seat. One hat has already been tossed into the ring as of today.
The Supreme Court of Virginia last week unanimously accepted new district maps for Virginia’s House of Delegates, the state Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. For Arlington’s Richmond representation, the maps created an entirely new House District 2 encompassing Arlington’s Metro corridors, and redrew boundaries for the state Senate.
Last fall, a newly-created bipartisan group, the Virginia Redistricting Commission, began the decennial process of redrawing district maps. When the group couldn’t agree on new maps, the courts appointed two “special masters” to draw the final maps.
The maps take effect in the next general election to be held for each office, says the Virginia Public Access Project, which would be this year for U.S. Congress, 2023 for state Senate and this year or 2023 for the House of Delegates.
The new maps divide Arlington into House Districts 1, 2 and 3, which are mostly contained within county lines, save for part of District 3, which extends into part of the City of Alexandria.
House District 2 includes Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston, Crystal City and parts of Pentagon City. Those neighborhoods currently are part of House District 49 (represented by Del. Alfonso Lopez), House District 48 (represented by Del. Rip Sullivan), or House District 47 (represented by Del. Patrick Hope).
Sullivan, a McLean resident, has been redrawn out of Arlington and into the new District 6, which encompasses McLean and Great Falls.
Hope and Lopez also reside outside House District 2, according to a VPAP analysis, and some local Democrats are already thinking about who will represent the district, located within a populous, heavily Democratic part of Arlington.
Already hearing the names of at least half a dozen Dems thinking about running in the new, deep-"blue" HD2 in Arlington https://t.co/6alOwhWI5X pic.twitter.com/sJ5VJmvHFu
— Blue Virginia (@bluevirginia) December 29, 2021
Former State Senate candidate Nicole Merlene officially threw her hat into the ring this morning (Monday).
“After decades of underrepresentation in the Virginia General Assembly, Arlington’s metro corridor now has the opportunity to have a voice,” Merlene, who also previously wrote an ARLnow opinion column, said in her campaign announcement.
If elected, she said she will “help expand middle class housing, require mental health parity in our healthcare system, expand childcare capacity and increase school funding, expand criminal justice reform to eradicate the disproportionate incarceration of Black people, and include environmental sustainability in all legislation.”
A former progressive Democrat candidate for the state house, Matt Rogers, told ARLnow he’s mulling a bid as well.
“Of course I’m considering it,” said Rogers, who was stopped short of running against Hope in last summer’s Democratic primary due to a paperwork snafu.
Chanda Choun, who lost his bid for a seat on the County Board during the June primary to County Board Member Takis Karantonis said he’s not considering this seat right now.
“My current plan is to go on active military duty this spring and deploy to the Middle East for an Army Reserve mission,” he said.
An oft-discussed potential pick for state legislature, County Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol, was not available to comment. She is poised to become the next County Board Chair during the Board’s first meeting of 2022, rescheduled from today to tomorrow (Tuesday) due to snow.
With redistricting complete, the Arlington County Republican Committee says it intends to put forward qualified House candidates.
“We were delighted to see Republican candidates in each of Arlington’s House of Delegates districts in 2021, and we encourage former candidates and would-be candidates to get involved in their community and consider running for office,” said GOP Communications Director Matthew Hurtt.
A half-dozen bills are set to hit the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates in January that were inspired by the poor conditions at the Serrano Apartments and other Virginia affordable housing properties.
After residents exposed poor living conditions at the Columbia Pike apartment complex, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49) tells ARLnow he began drafting bills to strengthen tenant rights and improve living conditions in affordable housing properties across the Commonwealth.
“I believe no one should have to go through what the folks at the Serrano went through,” said Lopez, whose district includes the Serrano, owned by affordable housing developer AHC Inc., as well a dozen other properties owned by AHC and other local developers.
Since residents and advocates came forward in an ARLnow article published in May, AHC has committed to making changes under the eye of the Arlington County Board, undertaking repairs, installing new leadership, adding communication channels and establishing a claims process for damaged belongings.
Lopez is proposing the following bills to protect tenants with livability grievances against their landlords:
- Include “bare minimum livable standards” in the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code
- Extend the period of time eligible for rent reimbursement for condemned properties
- Strengthen the prohibition against retaliatory evictions by landlords
- Institute a “warranty of habitability” clause that tenants can enforce against landlords whose properties don’t meet living basic standards
These are also four changes that former ARLnow opinion columnist Nicole Merlene called for after the conditions at the Serrano garnered widespread attention.
“I’m appreciative that Del. Lopez has been working with local stakeholders to ensure that tenants living in aging buildings will have enhanced rights moving forward,” Merlene, who co-chairs Arlington’s Tenant-Landlord Commission, tells ARLnow.
Lopez has pre-filed these and two bills unrelated to the Serrano. After they’re drafted by attorneys with the Virginia Division of Legislative Services, he’ll introduce them to the House of Delegates during the upcoming two-month General Assembly session, which begins in mid-January.
The first bill would make it easier and cheaper for residents to substantiate in court that their dwelling is unlivable. With “bare minimum” livable standards only found in the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, tenants must hire professional experts to testify on their behalf, Lopez says.
“If these basic standards were in the code, a county inspector would be able to file an abatement order and write a letter of attestation for use in court,” he said.
Advocates say the current court process, with the lawyers and experts required, dissuades tenants from asserting themselves.
The second would entitle residents to three months of rent if their residence is condemned and they have to vacate, since Lopez says the conditions wouldn’t have worsened “overnight.” Currently, tenants are only entitled to one month’s rent and their security deposit.
The third bill would protect tenants from being evicted six months after they bring problems to their property management or sue. Lopez said states with similar laws presume eviction is retaliatory if it happens within a six-month period.
“The reason that’s helpful is so that tenants aren’t scared to bring forward issues,” Merlene said.
Newly proposed redistricting maps would create a new Virginia House district in Arlington while potentially pitting long-time Senate incumbents against each other.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Virginia unveiled draft maps for the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. The maps were drawn up by one Democrat and one Republican appointed by the court, after a non-partisan committee failed to complete the task earlier in the year.
The maps are based on 2020 census numbers and are not final. As mandated by federal and state law, districts are redrawn every decade based on new census data.
In the proposed maps, both the borders and numbering system of all the Virginia House districts are altered. The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) has a tool that allows residents to see which House, Senate or Congressional district they’d be in if these maps were approved.
While the proposed maps have those who follow state politics considering the Commonwealth’s future political alignment, in Arlington the potential redistricting does not alter the Democratic stronghold.
But the draft maps do take into account Arlington’s recent population growth, as 15% more people live in the county now compared to a decade ago.
The maps propose an entirely new House district that essentially encompasses Arlington’s Metro corridors, including Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston, Crystal City and parts of Pentagon City.
Currently, those neighborhoods are either part of House District 49 (represented by Del. Alfonso Lopez), House District 48 (represented by Del. Rip Sullivan), or House District 47 (represented by Del. Patrick Hope).
None of these incumbents reside in the proposed newly-created House District 2, a VPAP analysis says, meaning there’s an empty seat that could be filled by a political newcomer.
“They redrew maps by shrinking the borders of the current districts,” said David Ramadan, professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and a former Virginia House delegate for Loudoun County. “Because [the law] requires them to have a close to equal population. That’s why there’s a new district.”
The population of Arlington’s Metro corridors, purposefully, have grown tremendously in size over the last decade. In fact, a census tract within Ballston now has the highest density of population in the entire D.C. area.
Local officials are already taking notice of this potential new district in Arlington, which would likely add another Democrat to the Virginia House of Delegates.
Looks like Arlington would have an open House of Delegates district with this map—HD 2 including Ballston, Courthouse, Lyon Park, Rosslyn, and Crystal City https://t.co/sUkoK7YZkt
— Barbara Kanninen (@BarbaraKanninen) December 9, 2021
Senate maps, meanwhile, do not propose a new district, but they could pit two long-standing local Democrat incumbents against each other in the next primary election.
Janet Howell, first elected in 1991, currently represents Senate District 32, which covers Dominion Hills, East Falls Church and Westover as well as parts of Fairfax County. The new maps would see those Arlington neighborhoods moved to District 40.
A big chunk of the current Senate District 31, which includes Rosslyn, Ballston, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike, Pentagon City, Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge, will also become part of District 40. District 31 has been represented by Barbara Favola for a decade.