Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Free Pet Food for Furloughed Feds — Kriser’s Natural Pet, which has stores in the Courthouse area and the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, is giving a free bag of food for anyone affected by the shutdown who shows a government ID. [Tysons Reporter]

County Clears Trash from TR Island Lot — With National Park Service maintenance workers furloughed, Arlington County crews helped clear overflowing trash from the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot last week. [Twitter]

County Opens ‘Safe Haven’ for Families — “The Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Services Unit is pleased to announce the grand opening of its Safe Havens Supervised Visitation and Exchange Center. Located at the Department of Human Services at 2100 Washington Blvd., the program will serve families who have been affected by domestic violence.” [Arlington County]

McAuliffe Vs. Stamos — Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has endorsed defense attorney Parisa Tafti over incumbent Theo Stamos in the race for Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney. All three are Democrats, but McAuliffe is still upset that Stamos “joined Republicans in arguing to the state Supreme Court that his mass rights restoration was unconstitutional.” The endorsement has earned a rebuke from Alexandria’s former Commonwealth’s Attorney, who called it “sad.” [Washington Post, Washington Post]

More Money Woes for Arlington Startup — “Danny Boice, the CEO and founder of private investigation company Trustify Inc., allegedly used company money to pay for personal expenses, including $600,000 for a documentary film about him and his wife, Jennifer Mellon, according to a new lawsuit filed by former Trustify employees seeking back pay and other damages.” [Washington Business Journal]

Forum to Discuss Dementia — “A community forum on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 23 from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. at Shirlington Library.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

More School Renaming Committees on the Way — Though the Washington-Lee controversy gets all the headlines, the School Board will also soon kick off the process of naming two new buildings and renaming two others. Patrick Henry ES will likely draw the most scrutiny. [InsideNova]

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe Fundraising for de Ferranti — Virginia’s last chief executive will help Democratic County Board hopeful Matt de Ferranti fill his campaign coffers later this month. McAuliffe, a potential 2020 presidential hopeful, joins Attorney General Mark Herring as another statewide politician lending de Ferranti a hand in his bid against John Vihstadt. [Twitter]

County Treasurer Slashes Tax Delinquency Rate Again — Carla de la Pava has hit new highs by ensuring that more taxpayers are keeping up with their payments than ever before, recording the lowest delinquency rate in county history. [InsideNova]

Arlington Centenarians Still Dancing — The county has at least 47 residents who have passed the 100-year mark, and they say they feel as young as ever. [WAMU]

Flickr pool photo via Erinn Shirley

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Sen. Tim Kaine has organized an “action planning meeting” in Arlington with gun violence advocates, victims’ families and faith leaders, the day before gun violence prevention marches are scheduled nationwide.

The event will be held at George Mason University’s Founders Hall on Friday (March 23) at 1 p.m. Per a press release, meeting attendees will “talk about the work they are doing in the community to promote safety reforms that make communities safer.”

The senator, according to the release, “is optimistic that the activism of students and parents who have spoken out all over the country has changed the dynamic of the gun violence prevention debate and could finally spur action in Congress.

Kaine’s event is scheduled a day before the national March For Our Lives anti-gun-violence rally on Saturday, March 24. Arlington Democrats are planning a weekend of events around it.

Among the events is a “Town Hall for Action on Commonsense Gun Safety Measures” held by the Arlington County Democratic Committee. It is scheduled to take place on Sunday, the day after the rally, at Faith Lutheran Church (3313 Arlington Boulevard) from 2-4 p.m.

Virginia Del. Chris Hurst (D-12) will be the keynote speaker, discussing his personal gun violence story.

The following speakers will also attend the town hall and “offer unique perspectives on the issue of gun violence and concrete action steps,” per a Facebook event listing.

  • Beth Arthur, Arlington Sheriff’s Office
  • Kris Brown, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
  • Karina de Leede, Arlington Student Activists
  • Chloe Fugel, Arlington Student Activists
  • Josh Horwitz, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • Celia Slater, Moms Demand Action Arlington
  • Yasmine Taeb, Alumnus of Stoneman Douglas High School and current DNC member
  • Tannia Talento, Arlington School Board

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be leading Arlington Democrats in the march on Saturday, starting on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge at 10:30 a.m., according to a press release from state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s office.

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Morning Notes

County Aims to Fix Boring Columbia Pike Architecture — “Arlington County Board members on Dec. 16 approved amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance that revamps existing regulations for Pike properties that are built under the Form-Based Code, a 15-year-old process that aims to speed the development timeline but has had the unintended consequence of rendering architectural creativity persona-non-grata on the Pike.” [InsideNova]

McAuliffe Proposes Metro Funding Plan — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is proposing a $150-million-per-year state funding plan for Metro. The plan includes using a portion of Northern Virginia’s regional transportation sales tax and increasing three other regional taxes. [WTOP]

Gutshall to Be Sworn In Today — Erik Gutshall, the newest Arlington County Board member, will be sworn in today at 5 p.m. at county headquarters in Courthouse. [InsideNova]

Pentagon Had UFO Office — The truth is out there, in Arlington —  at the Pentagon, specifically. It was revealed this past weekend that the Pentagon had a secretive program that investigated reports of Unidentified Flying Objects. The “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program” officially ended in the 2012. [Politico, Washington Post]

Phoenix House Renovation and Expansion — “On time and on budget – and without a dollar of government funding – Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic on Dec. 12 unveiled new and updated facilities in Arlington aimed at giving an extra boost to patients moving through the addiction-recovery process.” [InsideNova]

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A top Nestle official will join Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe at Oakridge Elementary School on Friday to announce the company’s support for an anti-child hunger initiative.

Ahead of its move to Rosslyn, the company will announce its support for the No Kid Hungry campaign on Friday, December 15, a spokeswoman said.

Nestle’s USA CFO Steve Presley will announce the company’s support for the initiative alongside McAuliffe, who is described by the spokeswoman as a “longtime advocate of fighting childhood hunger.” The event is scheduled to take place from 8:20-9:40 a.m. at the school in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood near Crystal City.

McAuliffe is part of the No Kid Hungry initiative, alongside the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Education and several corporate partners.

The public-private initiative aims to end child hunger in America by ensuring children have access to healthy food where they live and where they learn.

“Oakridge Elementary has implemented a breakfast program in partnership with No Kid Hungry that aims to provide children with a healthy, nutritious start to their day,” the spokeswoman said.

An Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirmed the visit, and said McAuliffe will show the officials from Nestle “how the school serves breakfast.”

File photo

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today a plan to fund a public electric vehicle charging network across the state.

McAuliffe’s administration has released a Request for Proposals for the network, which will be paid for with funds from a lawsuit settlement with Volkswagen, stemming from its emissions scandal.

The Commonwealth is seeking to expand the network of public fast charging stations across the state — there are currently only about 100 — to keep up with rising adoption of electric vehicles.

The RFP notes:

The average growth rate of EVs registered in Virginia from 2008 to 2016 is 35%. As of 2016, there were 4,058 EVs registered in Virginia. Assuming this historical growth rate continues, Virginia EV registrations are projected to reach 1.3 million by 2035.

More on the RFP, below, from a press release issued by the governor’s office.

Governor McAuliffe today announced the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to deploy an interconnected and statewide public electric vehicle charging network. The request is part of the Governor’s broader Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative, which is aimed at driving infrastructure investments that will support an overall electric vehicle adoption rate of 15 percent by 2027, equal to approximately 1 million vehicles statewide. Funding, in the amount of $14 million, comes from Virginia’s portion of the Volkswagen settlement.

“Today’s announcement offers an exciting opportunity for the private sector to partner with the Commonwealth to drive greater deployment of electric vehicles in Virginia and I am pleased that we will be able to utilize funds from the Volkswagen settlement to support this project,” said Governor McAuliffe. “By providing the charging network citizens need to move quickly and at long distances throughout Virginia, we will make certain that electric vehicle travel in the Commonwealth is seamless. This infrastructure will also help us to reduce our collective carbon footprint and drive innovation in the new Virginia economy.”

As part of the Volkswagen settlement, which resulted from the use of emissions testing defeat devices in Volkswagen vehicles, Volkswagen is required to establish a nearly $3 billion environmental mitigation trust. Virginia is expected to receive $93.6 million from this trust, and the Commonwealth may spend a maximum of 15 percent on electric vehicle infrastructure.

“Expanding Virginia’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure will contribute to Virginia’s economic diversification by encouraging innovation in electric vehicle technology, making electric vehicle travel easier, and facilitating public-private partnerships throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “This targeted and rapid deployment of EV charging stations is designed to jump-start adoption and generate more private investment in EV technology in Virginia.”

In order to develop a robust network of electric vehicle charging stations along the most-traveled portions of the state, Virginia will designate the full 15 percent, representing approximately $14 million dollars, for electric vehicle infrastructure. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the lead agency for the Commonwealth, has issued a request for proposals for allocation of the full $14 million to establish an interconnected and statewide public electric vehicle charging network. Responses to the RFP are due by 2:00pm on Monday November 6, 2017.

“The Department of Environmental Quality, as lead agency on the Volkswagen settlement, is driving an innovative program to deploy electric vehicle infrastructure,” said Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources. “The transportation sector is the largest contributor to nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide emissions, so this program will also help Virginia achieve our air quality and climate change goals.”

Today, Virginia’s Direct Current (DC) fast charging network for electric vehicles consists of 100 DC fast charging stations, underscoring a significant gap in infrastructure in the state.

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced today he will send 120 soldiers from the Virginia National Guard to the U.S. Virgin Islands to help with relief after Hurricane Maria.

The 120 soldiers are assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and will deploy in the next week to mission command headquarters. Up to 400 more will follow to conduct humanitarian assistance, clear roads and give out supplies to citizens.

It is the 10th time Virginia has coordinated an aid mission at the state level, not including efforts by religious and nonprofit organizations based in the Commonwealth.

The Category 5 storm destroyed homes and boats docked on the three islands. Four people were reported dead across the U.S. Virgin Islands; the power grid and other infrastructure was devastated and may take months to restore; and residents are in serious need of aid, which was slow to arrive after the hurricane passed.

“Virginia is ready to help communities facing the long road to recovery from the devastation wrought on their cities and towns by the recent hurricanes,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Commonwealth officials, the Virginia National Guard, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and other agencies remain in close contact with our counterparts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We will continue to offer Virginia’s assistance for short and long-term recovery.”

More from a Governor’s Office press release after the jump:

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Morning Notes

Arlington Nonprofit Gets State Grant — “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $175,000 grant to La Cocina VA, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Arlington County, to enhance its culinary skills training facility, create a business plan training course, and develop a small business competition.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]

Actual Driverless Car in Arlington — Moving beyond vans with people dressed as car seats, an actual driverless car has now taken to the streets within Arlington County. An autonomous vehicle developed by Carnegie Mellon University drove itself around Ft. Myer yesterday as part of the military base’s Industry Day event. [Facebook]

Nestle Buys Blue Bottle — Nestle, which is still moving into its new U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, has bought Oakland, Ca.-based hipster coffee brand Blue Bottle. Could that mean that a Blue Bottle location in Arlington is around the corner? Possibly, but the company already has a location across the river in Georgetown. [Washington Business Journal, Nestle]

Arlington Gets Gigabit Internet — Comcast announced earlier this week that “it has launched a new Internet service in Arlington that will deliver speeds up to 1 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) to residential and business customers.” According to a press release, “these speeds will be among the fastest and most widely available,” utilizing DOCSIS 3.1 technology. The cost of the service is $79.99 a month with a one-year contract or $104.95 a month without.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program that protected younger undocumented immigrants from deportation was sharply criticized by various Arlington leaders today.

Trump announced his administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months to give Congress time to act and find an alternative plan through legislation.

The program protects some children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents from immediate deportation, and instead allows them a renewable two-year deferral and eligibility for a work permit. It is estimated that 800,000 people who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16., also known as “Dreamers,” have been shielded from deportation by DACA.

Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church and a portion of Fairfax County, criticized the decision as an “act of malice.”

“President Trump’s decision to end DACA and begin deporting our Dreamers betrays nearly one million young people who grew up with this country as their own and made so many contributions to it,” Beyer said in a statement. “This act of malice will tear apart hundreds of thousands of American families and inflict serious economic damage on the country. Congress has no choice but to act immediately, and it should begin consideration of the American Hope Act to protect Dreamers.”

Bishop Michael Burbidge, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington since December, said in a statement he is “disheartened” by the decision to end DACA:

I join my voice with those who are disheartened by the news that President Trump will rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Standing with my brother Bishops, I urge Congress and the President to enact legislation that will safeguard those currently protected by this important program.

While the issue of immigration is complicated — and our government has many considerations to balance in responding to the influx of those who seek safety, and personal and economic security in our country — offering special protection to those who only know the United States as home is a reasonable measure of compassion.

This news is undoubtedly troubling for the hundreds of thousands approved through DACA. I ask all Catholics and people of good will in the Diocese of Arlington to keep these individuals, as well as our government officials, in prayer. May we as a country be considerate of our neighbors and defend those whom we have offered protection and safe harbor.

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Trump’s decision could have enormous economic repercussions too, and urged Congress to act quickly.

In a statement, Warner said:

The DACA program was a promise to protect certain children of undocumented immigrants, who came to this country through no fault of their own, so they could safely come out of the shadows, attain legal status and realize their full potential. Over the years, the DREAMers have shown us their true character–working hard to become this nation’s next generation of students, entrepreneurs, and military men and women.  And while Congress has a responsibility to enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides them with a fair path to citizenship, which the Senate passed in 2013, we cannot let the Trump Administration’s disgraceful anti-immigrant policies leave nearly 800,000 DREAMers in limbo. Going back on our word threatens their safety, harms our economy and speaks volumes about who we are as a country.

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Morning Notes

Advanced Towing Lobbied Hard for Bill — Advanced Towing spent $10,000 on lobbyists and made a $1,500 donation to state Sen. Barbara Favola while successfully pushing for a state bill to override Arlington’s second-signature towing requirement. Supporters of the bill say it passed and McAuliffe ultimately signed it because it had the support of the business community. Advanced is one of the largest towing companies in Northern Virginia and has drawn the ire of many local residents for its ruthless efficiency at trespass towing from private lots. [NBC Washington]

Russian Military Jet Flies Over Arlington — Yesterday an unarmed Russian military jet flew over the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and the U.S. Capitol “as part of a longstanding treaty that allows the militaries of the United States and Russia to observe the other from the air.” [CNN, Axios]

Arlington Still Hiring Teachers — Arlington Public Schools is still hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. “A total of 280 full- and part-time contract positions were unfilled as of Aug. 1… as the school system continues to process applicants,” the Sun Gazette reported. [InsideNova]

Uber, Lyft Make Mark on Local Restaurant Biz — Although readers were skeptical in a poll late last year, the Washington City Paper reports that Uber and Lyft are having a significant impact on the local restaurant industry, drawing customers from a wider area geographically than would have visited before the ride hailing services existed. It’s also bringing more customers to hot non-Metro-accessible restaurants. And it’s not just hipster-y D.C. restaurants drawing customers from around the region: Lyft said Clarendon’s Don Tito was its most visited bar in the D.C. area in 2016. [Washington City Paper]

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The project to extend the Interstate 395 Express Lanes from Fairfax County through Alexandria and Arlington to the D.C. line celebrated its ground-breaking ceremony this morning.

The toll lanes will be extended for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington, near the Pentagon.

The Virginia Department of Transportation partnered with toll road manager Transurban and contractors AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction to deliver the project. Construction is now underway and scheduled for completion in fall 2019.

The project will add a third reversible HOT lane on I-395, accessible for free by vehicles with three or more occupants and an E-ZPass Flex transponder, or for a toll by all others.

The lanes will generate funding for other transportation options in the region. Using toll money, Transurban will pay $15 million each year to local jurisdictions to help them pay for improvements. Among other projects, the south parking lot at the Pentagon is set for an overhaul, as are several nearby bridges.

The ceremony, atop a Pentagon City parking garage, marked the official start of construction. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) was joined by Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne and elected officials from across the area, including Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette and fellow Board member Libby Garvey.

Layne said such partnerships between state government, local agencies and federal stakeholders have been crucial to move the project along, heralded as the largest in the United States.

“We knew what the construction was going to be, but it took collaboration and trust to get this project underway,” Layne said.

McAuliffe hailed the project for solving a “major headache for so many commuters going into and out of the District, and going to and from our great Pentagon.”

He added that as Virginia’s population continues to grow — with people attracted by its low taxes, strong business environment and other amenities like breweries and wineries, McAuliffe said — projects to improve congestion on the Commonwealth’s roads are vital.

“This is finally going to be solved, and this is going to be a game-changer for residents of Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said.

For its part, Transurban promised to be good partners throughout construction and beyond.

Jennifer Aument, Transurban’s group general manager for North America, said workers are committed to the safety of all road users during work, and urged drivers in the area to avoid distractions, wear their seatbelt and watch their speed around the construction zone.

Aument also said Transurban would be a “good neighbor” and work with nearby neighborhoods to minimize any other disruptions.

“Now, we’ll get to work,” she said.

Work has already got underway in the existing I-395 high-occupancy toll lanes. On Monday, August 7, VDOT announced full night-time closures of the lanes in both directions from the southbound HOV exit ramp near Boundary Channel Drive to the northbound exit ramp from the 95 Express Lanes near Edsall Road.

And weather-permitting, some southbound regular lanes of I-395 will be closed overnight this week between Duke Street and Edsall Road. VDOT advised drivers to travel safely and pay attention to signs posted on the road.

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