Press Club

Arlington is in the midst of a rash of vehicle-related crimes.

In just the past three weeks or so, 28 cars have been stolen and 35 airbags have been stolen, according to the Arlington County Police Department. That’s in addition to numerous break-ins and other auto crimes during that same time period.

Earlier this month, we reported on a series of 20 airbag thefts near Gunston Middle School, all involving Hondas. Thieves — unclear whether it’s the same thief or thieves — struck again early Wednesday.

Nearly a dozen Honda vehicles had airbags stolen from the 2000 blocks of Columbia Pike and S. Eads Street, in the Crystal City area. A tipster tells us the thefts on the Pike happened at the Dorchester Towers apartment parking lot.

“I just went around and every single Honda Civic has their windows broken and airbags stolen,” the tipster said.

More from today’s ACPD crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05180016, 2000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 1:28 a.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering in progress. Upon arrival, officers located six vehicles that had windows smashed and airbags stolen. All vehicles involved were Honda models. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05180045, 2000 block of S. Eads Street. At approximately 6:00 a.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a late larceny from auto. Upon arrival, officers located five vehicles that had windows smashed and airbags stolen. All vehicles involved were Honda models. This investigation is ongoing.

“Since April 27, there have been 35 individual airbags reported stolen,” police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

The department, meanwhile, revealed that at least 28 vehicles have been stolen in May. Most had keys or key fobs inside when they were taken.

“Police Warn Against Leaving Keys Inside Vehicles,” was the headline of the press release issued by the department this morning.

More from ACPD, below.

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A group of thieves went on an overnight crime spree this weekend, breaking into 14 cars and stealing another three, according to Arlington County police.

The crimes were first reported early Sunday morning and spanned at least three residential, North Arlington neighborhoods — Bellevue Forest, Donaldson Run and Westover — according to an ACPD crime report.

The thieves stole cash and personal items from cars and also drove off with three vehicles that had keys left inside. Two of the stolen cars were later found in D.C.

Police were not able to provide a description of any of the suspects.

More from ACPD:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO/LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05150056/05150063/05150066/05150070/005150071, 3000 block of N. Oakland Street/3000 block of N. Quincy Street/2900 block of N. Stafford Street/3700 block of 30th Road N./5700 block of 11th Street N. At approximately 4:45 a.m. on May 15, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his residence when he observed the unknown suspect enter into his unlocked vehicle in his driveway. The victim knocked on the window, during which the suspect entered into a nearby waiting vehicle and fled the scene. The investigation determined the suspect(s) entered into and rummaged through approximately 14 victim vehicles and stole personal items and an undisclosed amount of cash from several of the vehicles. Additionally, it was discovered three vehicles with keys inside were stolen from the 3000 block of N. Quincy Street, 2900 block of N. Stafford Street and the 3700 block of 30th Road N. During the course of the investigation, two of the stolen vehicles were recovered in Washington D.C. The remaining stolen vehicle is described as a red in color, 2019 Ford Edge bearing VA license plate UMT3257. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

Numerous car-related crimes have been reported in Arlington over the past month, encompassing the thefts of or from about 30 vehicles, not including this latest spree. That’s in addition to another eight or more that have been broken into without a reported theft.

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Arlington police believe a pair of suspects criss-crossed the county early Tuesday morning, breaking into cars and stealing two.

The series of thefts happened in the Glencarlyn, Bluemont and Woodmont neighborhoods, according to the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. Arlington has recently seen a rash of vehicle crimes, including the theft of airbags from 20 Hondas in late April and the theft of nearly a dozen catalytic converters in March and April.

The latest crime spree was reported to police early Tuesday. Five cars were broken into and items were stolen from one. Additionally, two SUVs — a Honda and an Acura — were reported stolen.

From ACPD’s crime report:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO/LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05100037/05100054/05100068, 5500 block of 3rd Street S./5600 block of 8th Street N./2900 block of 24th Street N. At approximately 5:00 a.m. on May 10, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed two unknown male suspects attempt to enter into her vehicle, during which she yelled and the suspects fled the scene in a silver SUV. The investigation determined that the suspects entered into and rummaged through approximately four victim vehicles and stole personal items from one of the vehicles. Additionally, it was discovered two vehicles were stolen from the 5600 block of 8th Street N. and the 2900 block of 24th Street N. The stolen vehicles are described as a silver in color, 2017 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate UDE1466 and a gray in color, 2015 Acura RDX bearing VA license plate WTARUSH. The two suspects are described as tall, unknown race males with skinny builds, wearing dark clothing and masks. The investigation is ongoing.

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Arlington police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) The neighborhoods around Gunston Middle School have again been the scene of a significant series of thefts from vehicles.

Thieves have repeatedly targeted the residential areas along 28th Street S., which connects the Long Branch Creek and Arlington Ridge neighborhoods, over the past month.

The latest involved the early morning theft of airbags from around 20 Honda vehicles, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report. Airbag thefts were also reported in the nearby Aurora Hills neighborhood, not far from Crystal City.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Late) (Series), 2022-04280050/04280074, 1400 block of 28th Street S./600 block of 26th Street S. At approximately 5:47 a.m. on April 28, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny from auto. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that between approximately 4:49 a.m. on April 27 and 5:36 a.m. on April 28, the unknown suspect(s) forced entry into approximately 20 vehicles, all identified as Honda models, and stole airbags. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

It the third such reported theft series in the neighborhood in April. Others include:

  • Five vehicles were rummaged through after windows were smashed in Long Branch Creek and Arlington Ridge on April 25
  • At least one catalytic converter theft (out of three reported total) on April 20
  • Three vehicles were rummaged through after windows were smashed in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood on April 14

In November, sixteen vehicles in Long Branch Creek had their windows smashed in one presumed overnight crime spree.

Asked about the thefts and what specifically is being done in these neighborhoods to prevent additional crime sprees, a police spokeswoman provided some general information.

“Larcenies from auto, including thefts of airbags, catalytic converters, tires and rims, as well as thefts of valuables/keys from unlocked vehicles are recurring local and regional crime trends,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. “As time and resources permit, officers conduct extra patrols in the areas of reported incidents.”

“The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of the community,” she continued. “Community members observing in-progress criminal activity should report for police investigation by contacting the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

Savage also provided the following prime prevention tips.

Officers continue to share crime prevention information, including information on the 9 P.M. Routine, with community members and organizations in the areas of these incidents.

Additional crime prevention information related to larcenies from auto include:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. Pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked.
  • Park in well-lit areas and activate exterior lights at your home.
  • Take all valuables out of your vehicle.
  • Do not leave your keys, key fobs, or valet keys in your vehicle. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle.
  • Participate in the #9PMRoutine and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do so too.

A follow up inquiry with Arlington County’s communications staff, with questions specific to the affected neighborhoods, yielded more detail about local outreach efforts.

“The incident summary from the Daily Crime Report and crime prevention tips have been shared by the ACPD Community Engagement Division with all civic association presidents as well as on all areas on Nextdoor,” wrote Bryna Helfer, Assistant County Manager and Director of Communications and Public Engagement. “This includes Long Branch Creek and Arlington Ridge civic associations as well as other areas in the County as [larcenies from auto] have been reported in nearly all neighborhoods across Arlington, typically during the overnight hours and can occur on any day of the week.”

ARLnow has not received a response to questions sent to the email address for the Long Branch Creek Civic Association. The neighborhood association’s Facebook page has been inactive for several years and its Yahoo Groups page appears to have been taken down.

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Morning Notes

Raindrops on azaleas in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Another Vehicle Larceny Series — “28th Street S. at 26th Street S./28th Street S. at S. Lang Street. At approximately 9:05 a.m. on April 25, police were dispatched to multiple reports of destruction of property. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the unknown suspect(s) broke the windows to five vehicles and rummaged through them. One victim reported having electronics stolen from their vehicle. There is no suspect(s) description.” [ACPD]

Update on Route 1 ‘Urban Boulevard’ Plan — “The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold a virtual public information meeting Thursday, April 28 on a feasibility study identifying enhanced multimodal connectivity and accommodations along Route 1 (Richmond Highway) from 12th Street South to 23rd Street South to meet the changing transportation needs of the Crystal City and Pentagon City communities.” [VDOT]

More Wins for Yorktown Lax — “The defending state champion Yorktown High School boys lacrosse team improved to 7-2 with blowout victories over Herndon, 15-2, and Dominion, 17-5, for seven straight victories.” [Sun Gazette]

Regional Grant for Ballston Metro Entrance? — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “A new west entrance to the Ballston-MU Metrorail station is in the running. Let these fine folks know why their greenbacks would be well spent.” [Twitter, N. Va. Transportation Authority]

‘Empty the Shelters’ Event Next Week — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is participating in the Bissell Pet Foundation’s spring “Empty the Shelters” animal adoption event next week from May 2-8. More than 275 shelters in 45 states and Canada are participating in the week-long event. The Bissell Pet Foundation sponsors reduced adoption fees for $25 or less.” [Patch]

Warner Weighs in on Musk Buying Twitter — From Sen. Mark Warner: “Elon Musk must work in good faith to preserve Twitter’s necessary reforms to prevent the spread of misinformation.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Mostly sunny, with a few more clouds in the afternoon. High of 58 and low of 44. Sunrise at 6:16 am and sunset at 7:58 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Police cars (file photo)

Arlington County police are investigating a series of several catalytic converter thefts.

The three vehicle break-ins and thefts were reported early Wednesday morning in three south Arlington neighborhoods: Pentagon City, Long Branch Creek and Columbia Heights.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO/LARCENY FROM AUTO (Late) (Series), 2022-04200038/04200039/04200069, 1400 block of S. Walter Reed Drive/1500 block of 28th Street S./Army Navy Drive at S. Lynn Street. At approximately 5:45 a.m. on April 20, police were dispatched to the late report of a grand larceny auto in the 1400 block of S. Walter Reed Drive. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 7:00 p.m. on April 19 and 5:45 a.m. on April 20, the unknown suspect(s) stole the victim’s vehicle, which was later recovered in the 1600 block of S. Edgewood Street, broke the front passenger window and stole the catalytic converter. During the course of the investigation, it was determined two additional vehicles had front windows broken and the catalytic converter stolen. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

A series of eight catalytic converter thefts was reported last month in the Fairlington neighborhood.

There have been numerous reports over the past few months of a rise in catalytic converter thefts in the D.C. area. The exhaust emission control devices are a popular target for thieves because they contain several valuable precious metals.

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An Arlington County police car with lights flashing (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 9:40 p.m.) The man who was arrested on Sunday for robbery and carjacking after an inter-jurisdiction car chase on I-395 was awaiting trial in Fairfax County for stealing a car, court records show.

Laysohn Jones, 21, of Suitland, Maryland, had a hearing date set for May 2 for the auto theft charge, as well as a preliminary hearing for a failure to appear and charges for driving without a license and eluding police. He had been “released on recognizance,” according to court records, or released without bail when he allegedly committed the crime.

And two weeks ago, a man who has committed a slew of petty thefts over the last five years — from the Springfield Mall, Tysons Corner Center, and a CVS pharmacy and Macy’s in Pentagon City — was arrested on nearly a half-dozen charges.

Ronald D. Thomas, 24, is now being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility for his most recent alleged crimes — spitting on an officer, grand larceny, petit larceny, trespassing and identify theft — as well as an outstanding warrant from Fairfax County for grand larceny. Court records indicate he also had a felony second-degree assault charge from Maryland and a misdemeanor assault charge in D.C.

These cases have some blaming recent bail reforms, championed by many prosecutors who were elected on pledges to reform the criminal justice system.

“Repeat criminals are crossing jurisdictional lines and facing no consequences in first, second and third jurisdictions due to progressive policies like abolishing bail,” said Sean Kennedy, a spokesman for Virginians for Safe Communities, an organization that launched efforts last year to unseat the Commonwealth’s Attorneys for Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington counties.

“They go on to commit more crime elsewhere and those jurisdictions don’t understand their full criminal history because the same prosecutors have downgraded serious charges to light misdemeanors,” he continued. “More and more people are suffering because of that.”

Those who champion reforms to the criminal justice system, however, say repeat offense cases like these have long existed and systems like jail and bail did not deter people from offending over and over again. They add that these policies did nothing to solve underlying problems driving the criminal behavior, such as drug addiction and unstable housing.

“The inclination is, ‘We need to send him to jail for longer.’ We tried that before — that doesn’t work either,” said Arlington’s Chief Public Defender Brad Haywood.

He refuted the idea that there is a “progressive prosecution angle” at work, referencing the ongoing political tug-of-war between reform-minded prosecutors like Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, whose changes have prompted some backlash, and those who advocate for more stringent prosecution and punishment.

“This is a problem that has been an issue for decades in the U.S.,” Haywood said. “This is an issue, very broadly, with the criminal justice system.”

Bond reforms 

Eliminating cash bail was a campaign promise of both Dehghani-Tafti, whose office does not ask for cash bail, and her counterpart in Fairfax, Steve Descano, who formally eliminated cash bail in 2020.

In the case of the carjacking, Randall Mason, the president of the Arlington Coalition of Police, said Fairfax County’s release of the alleged carjacker put officers, the driver and the public at risk of injury.

“He went out and did the same thing again, and it put Arlington officers at risk because pursuits are inherently dangerous,” Mason said. “Luckily everyone was safe, and no citizens injured.”

Police are concerned about and frustrated by the pattern of people who are arrested for serious offenses and released without bond, Mason said.

Dehghani-Tafti countered that her office does seek to hold people deemed to be dangerous or a flight risk.

“It’s the danger you pose, not whether or not you have cash, that should control whether you are released pre-trial or not,” she said.

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Another incident drew a police response to a rowdy block of 23rd Street in Crystal City on Sunday night.

Police say a couple skipped out on their bill at an establishment on the 300 block of 23rd Street S. just before 11:30 p.m. A security guard who tried to write down the license plate of the suspects’ vehicle was then nearly run over, and another parked car was damaged, as they made their getaway, according to a crime report today.

From the Arlington County Police Department:

ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2022-03270226, 300 block of 23rd Street S. At approximately 11:26 p.m. on March 27, police were dispatched to the report of a hit and run just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male and female suspects left an establishment without paying their bill. A Security Guard made contact with the suspects outside the establishment and requested they return to pay. The two suspects declined and entered their nearby parked vehicle. As the Security Guard was documenting the license plate, the male suspect allegedly reversed the vehicle, almost striking the Security Guard and hitting a parked vehicle before fleeing the scene. No injuries or significant property damage were reported.

“The investigation is ongoing,” the police department noted.

While the name of the business was not listed by ACPD, there have been dozens of incidents — including fights, noise complaints and indecent exposure reports — associated with the nearly two-year-old Bowlero bowling alley on that block.

Separately, police and medics responded to the same block just before noon on Friday for a report of two teen girls having an adverse reaction — potentially an overdose — to marijuana edibles. The incident happened several hours before Bowlero’s normal operating hours and likely did not involve the bowling alley.

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Morning Notes

Cherry blossoms in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Changes Coming to ‘Crossing Clarendon’ — “Our central greenspace, The Loop, will be expanding to offer more spaces to walk, shop, relax and explore The Crossing Clarendon. This renovation includes natural planting and landscaping, a modern play structure for the kids, upgrades to the water feature, increased pedestrian zones, and updated seating for our visitors. Construction is slated until late 2022.” [Instagram]

HQ2 Is Attracting Companies, Investors — “The National Landing area, which encompasses Crystal City, Pentagon City and part of Potomac Yard in Arlington, has an $8B development pipeline, $2.5B of which is from Amazon, National Landing BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said… Neighborhood leaders, developers and brokers said that HQ2 is drawing new global investors and commercial tenants to seek opportunities in the area.” [Bisnow]

PSA: Close Your Garage Door — “2600 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 6:17 p.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the late report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., the two unknown suspects entered into the victim’s open garage and stole numerous power tools.” [ACPD]

Expect ‘Manageable’ Local Growth — “Northern Virginia localities should expect moderate levels of jobs growth in the coming two decades, with the metropolitan area as a whole adding perhaps 880,000 new ones by 2045. ‘We are a 1-percent-a-year, on average, growing region. This is not too fast, this is not amazingly high. This is actually a very manageable pace,’ said Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis, parsing new data at the board’s March 22 meeting.” [Sun Gazette]

‘Women of Vision’ Winners — “On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will honor four women for their commitment and leadership in the Arlington community with 2022 Arlington County Women of Vision awards… BUSINESS: Karen Bate and Evelyn Powers… NONPROFIT: Natalie Foote… GOVERNMENT: Tara Magee.” [Arlington County]

County Scaling Down Vax Site — “With the demand for COVID vaccines at least momentarily on the decline across Arlington, local leaders have announced plans to reopen one community center for other uses, and are working on opening up more spaces in another. County Manager Mark Schwartz on March 22 announced that, as of April 5, the Walter Reed Community Center will open for pickleball, volleyball, basketball and table games like bridge and mah jongg.” [Sun Gazette]

Governor Signs Car Tax Bill — “Governor Glenn Youngkin signed into law HB1239 sponsored by Delegate Phillip A. Scott, empowering localities to cut car tax rates and prevent huge tax hikes driven by driven by dramatic increases in used vehicle values… If local government leadership does not address the increased value of used vehicles, then taxpayers are facing significant tax increases, as the Commonwealth of Virginia constitutionally mandates 100% fair market value in property tax assessments.” [Governor of Virginia]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 46 and low of 24. Sunrise at 6:58 am and sunset at 7:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Heavy rain along the Potomac River, with Rosslyn in the background (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Mysterious Bug Bites Reported — Arlington residents are against dealing with red and intensely itchy bug bites, the cause of which is so far unclear. One theory is that last year’s scourge of oak mites are back. [Facebook, WUSA 9]

Catalytic Converter Thefts in Fairlington — “A resident has reported that the catalytic converter on their Toyota Prius was stolen during the night March 21, 2022. The converter was physically cut away from the vehicle. There have been 7 similar thefts of catalytic converters reported from the Fairlington neighborhoods.” [Twitter]

Man Pistol Whipped By Intruder — “2000 block of S. Kenmore Street. At approximately 2:15 p.m. on March 22, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his residence when the three known suspects forced entry inside and struck him with a firearm. The victim then deployed pepper spray and the suspects fled the scene. The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital for medical treatment. Warrants were obtained for one suspect.” [ACPD]

Gym in Crystal City Unionizes — From Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon: “Movement Crystal City is the US’s first unionized climbing gym. We wrote about this place when it was called Earth Treks.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Help for Arlington’s Ukrainian Sister City — “That partnership, which came to fruition after years of advocacy by Sonevytsky, has mostly focused on cultural and professional exchanges. But the unprovoked Russian attack on Ukraine last month changed all that. Now, the Arlington Sister City Association and the volunteer group that runs the Ivano-Frankivsk relationship are focused on a new mission: helping send humanitarian aid to their partner city and educating Arlington residents about their community’s ties to a place now in a war zone.” [WAMU]

Reminder: Free Observation Deck in Rosslyn — “If you’re looking for views of the blossoms at the Tidal Basin and beyond, head to The View of DC, located at 1201 Wilson Boulevard! This 360-degree observation deck is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with evening hours until 9 p.m. on Mondays!) and admission is free with a valid government ID.” [Rosslyn BID]

Injunction Against Va. Mask-Optional Law — “Preliminary injunction granted by the federal court preventing defendants from enforcing EO 2 and SB 739 (the mask-optional law) in schools where the plaintiffs & their children are enrolled.” [Twitter, Washington Post, WJLA]

Pappy Is Back at Virginia ABC — “Good news bourbon lovers: Virginia’s annual Pappy Van Winkle lottery is back — this year with two types of Van Winkles… Anyone 21 and over with a valid Virginia driver’s license (you have to prove it when you show up to purchase) can enter the lotteries on Virginia ABC’s website from Wednesday, March 23 until Sunday, March 27 at 11:59pm.” [Axios]

It’s Thursday — After early morning storms, light rain throughout much the day. High of 66 and low of 58. Sunrise at 7:06 am and sunset at 7:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Looking at the Key Bridge and Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent)

Obit for a Local Legend — “John T. ‘Til’ Hazel Jr., a Virginia lawyer and developer who played a crucial role in building the Capital Beltway and transforming Northern Virginia from a rural outpost of Washington into an economic powerhouse, died March 15 at his home… He was a force behind the rise to prominence of GMU, acquiring land and lobbying for a school of law in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Post, Virginia Business]

County Holding Covid Remembrance — “The County Board invites members of our community to join in remembering Arlington neighbors who have lost their lives to COVID-19 over the past two years… Saturday, March 19, 2022 | 02:00 PM.” [Arlington County]

Repeated Thefts from Courthouse CVS — “The male suspect entered into the business, went behind the counter and attempted to open the cash register before being confronted by an employee. The suspect then walked through the store and stole a beverage and food items before leaving. The suspect then reentered and exited the business two more times, stealing more beverages and food items in the process. During his third entry into the business, the suspect was confronted by an employee and attempted to throw a beverage at a witness who approached him. The suspect then fled the scene on foot but returned a short time later and was taken into custody by responding officers.” [ACPD]

Beyer Blasts Plane Plan — “Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Representative of Northern Virginia and member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, today wrote to the heads of the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration seeking a halt to procedural changes for regional airplane flight patterns. Beyer’s letter noted that the because the changes were not preceded by an environmental review process and were implemented just before a major drop-off in flights caused by the pandemic, their impact on noise levels in the region is just starting to be felt in full for the first time now.” [Press Release]

It’s St. Patrick’s Day — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 57 and low of 50. Sunrise at 7:18 am and sunset at 7:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent

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