Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Schwartz Presents New Capital Plan — “County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a $277.5 million one-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The County Manager, rather than proposing the traditional 10-year plan, is presenting a short-term proposal until the County better understands the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of the one-year CIP is on projects that are already underway, those that improve failing or end-of-life infrastructure, and those required by legal or regulatory obligations.” [Arlington County]

Juvenile Court Reeling from Coronavirus Cases — “An outbreak of covid-19 in the clerk’s office of the Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court has forced the court to close the office to the public and has concerned lawyers who practice there daily. Four of the seven clerks in the office have tested positive for covid-19.” [Washington Post]

Small Business Grants Announced — “Arlington County today announced 394 businesses are receiving the Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term). The GRANT program provides financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The GRANT funds were designed to bridge the gap to provide near-term relief for businesses and nonprofits, some of whom have experienced delays or limitations with federal relief initiatives.” [Arlington County, Arlington Economic Development]

Va. Not Ready for Phase 3 — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that statewide Covid-19 numbers ‘continue to look favorable,’ but that he will not move the commonwealth into phase 3 of reopening this week. ‘I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of our country,’ Northam said.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Wardian to Run to Every District Taco — “This is Mike Wardian, a Guinness-World-Record winning runner, who is partnering with DT on Saturday, June 20 as he runs to ALL 12 DMV LOCATIONS (just about 60 miles)! If you see Mike on his run, snap a pic and use #whereswardian for in-app credit for a free taco!” [Twitter]

County Offers Free Trees and Tree Maintenance — “Arlington County loves trees, and knows trees are critical for our stormwater infrastructure, environmental and human health benefits, and through its Tree Canopy Fund EcoAction Arlington offers grants to plant or maintain trees on private property.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Tap Water Change Today — “The District of Columbia, Arlington County and northeastern Fairfax County will clean out their tap water network starting Monday — a safe, annual process. Service continues uninterrupted during the process, which runs from March 30 through May 4. During that time, drinking water in the may taste slightly different. But the purification process remains unchanged and the water is essentially unchanged.” [ARLnow]

Jail Takes Extra Precautions — “We have created a unit that is strictly for all new individuals that are committed to the jail. These individuals are ‘quarantined’ from the rest of the population for an initial 14 days and checked daily by our Medical Staff. With the Detention Center population being low, we were able to move inmates around, creating the safest environment for those individuals that have been remanded to our custody and for new individuals entering the facility.” [Arlington County]

Human Services from a Distance — “Arlington’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is taking steps to provide services that don’t require in-person visits in an effort to contribute to the community slowdown of the spread of COVID-19.” [Arlington County]

Post Editorial Assails Arlington Judges — “Parisa Dehghani-Tafti last fall ran for commonwealth’s attorney on a promise of criminal justice reform, and voters in Arlington County and Falls Church chose her — and that platform — over the longtime, tough-on-crime incumbent. Now her efforts to deliver on her promise of progressive justice have run into opposition from judges who have taken highly unusual — and some say inappropriate — steps to undermine her discretion as the jurisdiction’s top elected prosecutor.” [Washington Post]

Shirlington Circle Closure in Place — “The northern section of the Shirlington Circle bridge over the general purpose and express lanes on I-395 will close from 10 p.m., Sunday, March 29 until midnight, Wednesday night, April 1… Travelers driving north on the I-395 general purpose lanes will not be able to access Shirlington from Exit 6.” [Press Release]

New Cap Gets Arlington Orientation — “When trying to adjust to life in a new city, it can be nice to have a familiar face around to help you. That’s exactly what Brenden Dillon had after he was traded to the Capitals in Joel Ward… Dillon and Ward were teammates in San Jose for three seasons from 2015 to 2018. Dillon credited Ward for helping him get acclimated to Arlington, Va. and the Washington area.” [NBC Sports Washington]

Tree Advocates Worry About Fate of Big Oak — “In the latest in Arlington’s tree wars, homeowners at 5920 N. 35th St. joined with passionate volunteers from the Arlington Tree Action Group to sound alarms over the threat to a towering water oak outside their home of 28 years, which might soon be a tear-down… The owners believe it is Arlington’s tallest outside the national cemetery.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

More Signs of Coronavirus Preps — Emptier shelves at local grocery stores, less traffic on the roads: there are signs that locals are taking the coronavirus threat seriously. During the first hour of yesterday’s evening rush hour, traffic on I-395 was relatively light. Last night, there was barely any canned soup left on the shelves at the Lee-Harrison Harris Teeter. [Twitter, Twitter]

Some Churches Close, Others Announce Changes — Episcopal churches in the D.C. area have suspended worship services, while the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced a series of measures intended to help prevent the spread of disease. [Washington Post, Press Release]

Events Are Being Cancelled in Arlington — “Out of an abundance of caution, the Rosslyn BID has decided to cancel our Arts & Beats series this March and April. We are hoping to run these events later this year and we will be evaluating future events on a case-by-case basis.” [Twitter]

Arlington Conferences Cancelled — “Code for America was scheduled to host its annual summit at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, from March 11 through 13. A Code for America spokesperson told Technical.ly that this would have been the first time the nonprofit was hosting the annual summit in the D.C. area, as it normally takes place in San Francisco. Code for America release a statement on Friday announcing the summit’s cancellation.” [Technically DC]

Local Real Estate Still Hot, Though — “Listing service Bright MLS said closed sales throughout the Washington metro area were up 13% from a year ago to a 10-year high… In Arlington County, Virginia, the median overall price of what sold was $635,000, up 12.4%. But the median price of a stand-alone house that sold in Arlington last month was $1.14 million, up 19.2% from last February.” [WTOP]

Arlington Works on Tree Preservation — “It’s not just housing affordability and increased traffic Arlington County officials are concerned about in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s arrival. They’re also watching out for the trees. County officials are proposing to add one urban forester position to the Department of Parks and Recreation. The new hire is needed to expand tree preservation efforts and work through the surge of site plans developers are pitching in the area of Amazon’s HQ2.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Christmas Tree Collection Underway — “Trees collected by the County the first two full weeks after Christmas are turned into mulch available from County facilities. From Dec. 30 through Jan. 10, place trees at curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing ALL decorations, nails, stands. Do not place trees in plastic bags.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Amazon Continuing to Hire for HQ2 — “By the end of 2020, Amazon plans to reach nearly 1,600 employees at the Arlington headquarters, and by December 2021 it expects more than 3,500 workers. The hiring will accelerate further in 2023 and beyond.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlingtonians Drop Off Tons of Glass — “Cheers to a successful start to Arlington’s glass recycling drop-off program. The County is closing out 2019 with more than 1 million pounds (500 tons) of collected glass for recycling in less than nine months. That’s equivalent to the weight of 27 ART buses.” [Arlington County]

Courthouse Apartments Trade Hands — “Bell Partners Inc., based in Greensboro, has acquired Vista on Courthouse, a 220-unit multifamily complex in Arlington, Virginia. The property will be renamed Bell at Courthouse and will be managed by Bell Partners. The acquisition from Equity Residential is Bell Partners’ second this year in Arlington.” [Triad Business Journal]

Reminder: NYE Events in Arlington — For procrastinators, here’s ARLnow’s listing of notable New Year’s Eve events in Arlington. [ARLnow]

Photo courtesy Dave Statter

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Morning Notes

Developer Pitches New Clarendon Apartment Building — “Orr Partners is pitching a new mixed-use building in Clarendon, seeking to redevelop a small property behind the neighborhood’s popular Silver Diner… the project will not include the redevelopment of the nearby The Lot beer garden or the Silver Diner, though rumors have long persisted that those have been targeted for changes.” [Washington Business Journal]

Most County Offices, Facilities Closed Today — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed Tues. Dec. 24 – Weds., Dec. 25, 2019, for Christmas, as well as New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, 2020… Metered [parking] areas not enforced.” [Arlington County]

Story of a Neighborhood Christmas Tree — This year, the Williamsburg Traffic Circle Christmas tree is back, thanks to contributions from local merchants. [Washington Post]

What Local Papers Were Reporting on in 1957 — “The Arlington Council of Churches was deploring grocery stores open on Sundays. A teen advice column titled ‘Help Unpopular Girls When They Cling’ was published alongside a puzzling comic strip called ‘Scorchy Smith.’ Ads touted ‘Exciting new rambler and split-level’ homes for $14,250 and 1957 Ford sedans for $239.50.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Media Spotlight on Arlington Buttigieg Supporter — “In a recent email exchange with a wealthy prospective donor, a top fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made an offer that was unusually blunt — even by modern pay-to-play standards. ‘If you want to get on the campaign’s radar now before he is flooded with donations after winning Iowa and New Hampshire, you can use the link below for donations,’ the fundraiser” wrote. [Axios]

UPS Driver Saves Christmas — “Darryl found my son’s phone and saved Xmas! He reminded my son to have faith in the many good people in the world.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Fire Behind Restaurant in Crystal City — Firefighters responded to a small blaze outside a restaurant in Crystal City last night around 7:30 p.m. The fire, reported to be under a deck behind Andalusia Hookah, Bar & Lounge (525 23rd Street S.), was quickly extinguished, but not before a large fire department response swarmed the scene. Some smoke damaged was reported. [Twitter]

Santa, Carolers at DCA — ” Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport [is] ready to celebrate the holiday season with a variety of performances, giveaways and surprises for passengers throughout the month of December.” [Press Release]

Christmas Tree Fire Safety — “It’s the holiday season in Arlington, which means it’s time to put up your own Christmas tree in the living room. However, be aware you are bringing a major risk into your home… The Arlington County Fire Department says they don’t encourage a live tree in the house, but if you do have a live tree, keep it really watered. Also, make sure to keep any sources of ignition at least three feet away.” [Patch]

Arlington Resident Makes 30 Under 30 List — Adam Richelieu, a 29-year-old Arlington resident who works as a salary cap manager for the NFL Players Association, has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Sports list for 2020. [Forbes]

Impeachment Banner on Arlington Overpass — “Spotted [Monday]: a banner saying ‘Impeach for our country’ on the George Mason Drive bridge over Route 50. County staff said signs of any kind placed on country property like this are not permitted and will be removed.” [Twitter]

Nearby: New Restaurant Near Fairlington — “The tables are set and the staff at El Saltado Restaurant and Carryout (3616 King Street) say it’s just about ready to open in the Bradlee Shopping Center. The restaurant is replacing the Hong Kong Bistro on the east side of the shopping center.” [ALXnow]

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With the Thanksgiving holiday over, the Christmas season now begins. And for Arlington residents in search of a Christmas tree, there are a number of options around the county for finding the perfect pine.

The Optimist Club of Arlington began its annual sale Friday in Wells Fargo Bank lot along Lee Highway (2213 N. Glebe Road). All workers are volunteers from around Arlington, including members of youth athletic teams, high school honors societies, and Optimist Club members. The lot will be open every day until December 23, with the following hours:

  • Monday through Thursday: 2-8 p.m.
  • Friday: 12-8 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

The Clarendon United Methodist Church, meanwhile, is selling trees and wreaths to support a variety of the church’s mission projects. The volunteer-run lot — at the intersection of 7th Street N. and N. Irving Street  — will be open until December 21, or until supplies sell out. The schedule is:

  • Sunday: 12-6 p.m.
  • Monday through Friday: 6-8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

The Arlington South Lions Club is hosting its annual Christmas tree sale at the corner of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Columbia Pike. The sale continues until December 22, or until the club run out of trees. The lot is open:

  • Weekdays: 12-7 p.m.
  • Weekends: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

The Knights of Columbus kicked off its 25th annual Christmas Tree Sale on Saturday at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Center near Crystal City, at the corner of 23rd Street S. and S. Hayes Street. The Knights are selling most trees for between $35-90, though some larger and more expensive trees are available. The lot hours are:

  • Weekdays: 6-9 p.m.
  • Weekends: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

“As usual, we feature fresh cut Fraser and Douglas Fir trees in varying sizes up to 9 feet,” the Knights said in a press release, noting the sale will end on Dec. 22 or when the supply of trees runs out. “We will also have wreaths in 3 sizes (10″, 16″, and 24″ measured from the inside wire), white pine roping available by the foot, and tree stands. Come early to get the best trees!”

Additional Christmas tree sales to check out include a fundraiser for Mount Olivet United Methodist Church (1500 N. Glebe Road) and its boys and girls scout troops. The sale will be held this weekend, beginning on Friday, December 6 from 4-9 p.m.

At St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (400 Lorcom Lane), two hundred Christmas trees have been delivered, with sales continuing this weekend. On Saturday, the trees will be available from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and then on Sunday the lot will be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Peter Golkin 

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Applications to receive a grant from Arlington’s Tree Canopy Fund are now being accepted.

The community program funds grants for a county-administered contractor to plant a tree on private property.

New for spring 2020, the Tree Canopy Fund will also sponsor grants for property owners who may have issues with utility lines and/or have tighter yard space.

Per the application website, those eligible to apply for and receive trees include:

  • Civic and homeowner associations
  • Community nonprofit organizations
  • Civic service clubs
  • School-related groups planting on private property
  • Ad hoc neighborhood groups
  • Individuals
  • Places of worship

Those who received tree grants from previous years and now have trees that are “not thriving” can also submit requests for their tree to be considered for a warranty replacement.

The applications are due next month on Friday, December 20.

The Tree Canopy Fund was launched in 2009, after approval from the Arlington County Board two years prior. Per its website, the fund was founded with the “goals of arresting the decline and restoring and increasing the County’s tree cover over time.” Since 2009, over 1,213 trees have been planted.

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Across Northern Virginia, oak trees have started dying in significant numbers — including in Arlington.

The decline, formally called “oak dieback,” has been the subject of research and speculation for months by naturalists.

In a fact sheet produced in collaboration with groups including the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, experts cite the stress of recent droughts and extreme storms, along with construction damage, as potential causes for the dieback.

However, “oak decline is a complex disease with no single causal agent,” writes Lori Chamberlin of the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Currently, county officials are directing concerned residents to use prevention methods on their trees, and to be careful of how they treat trees without an accurate disease diagnosis.

Nora Palmatier of the Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria offered the following advice for trying to fend off tree decline:

  • Avoiding damage to trees, caused by anything from landscaping to rebuilding a home
  • Water trees during dry spells
  • Revitalize the soil with wood chips

Some of the troubled oak trees are on Arlington’s list of “Champion Trees.” Elizabeth Grossman, a representative from the Arlington Tree Action Group, said the county should be held more accountable for its oak tree loss.

“I’ve lived in Arlington Forest almost 30 years, and the rate of tree decline is alarming — I’ve lost two mature oaks this summer and are the first two trees I have lost in all the years I’ve lived here,” Grossman said, pointing to the Arlington Forest neighborhood and the area around Lubber Run as two particularly damaged spots.

“Arlington County has done nothing more than put out the document you have identified, and it is not particularly useful,” Grossman said.

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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At least one County Board member could be pushing to change setback regulations in a bid to provide more of a buffer between homes.

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey recently visited an infill residential development on N. River Street, near McLean, with several neighbors she said were upset that a developer clear-cut trees on the lot and is planning to build several homes that could be located close to the neighbors.

Garvey tweeted about the issue last weekend, posting photos of the project in Arlington’s tony Chain Bridge Forest neighborhood, which in September prompted a petition from neighbors concerned about mass tree removal, a loss of privacy and decreased home values.

“This destruction has caused substantial harm to surrounding neighbors who previously had a natural green oasis abutting their backyards,” the petition says.

“I actually went to our top lawyer and said ‘This is really terrible is there something we can do?'” Garvey told ARLnow. “And he said ‘Well, maybe setbacks.'”

Garvey said state laws prevent Board members from intervening on most matters related to tree removal on private property, but the Board could weigh in on the distance required between houses — as members did earlier this year when considering accessory dwelling units.

The idea is that requiring a larger distance between buildings could help preserve existing mature trees instead of incentivizing property owners to cut them down.

Garvey said she believes this type of development — clear cutting trees and building multiple homes or very large homes — is becoming more common as housing prices spike.

“You got a lot of turnover of the baby boomers starting to move on, downsize, leave their home,” she said. “Some of those homes tend to be those smaller homes with a whole lot of yard and not a whole lot of house — and that makes for an opportunity there.” 

However, trees can also help absorb storm runoff — a topic of discussion that gained new urgency after this summer’s flash flood, which sparked conversations about the need for urgent stormwater management solutions.

When asked whether those discussions led her to request the regulatory review, Garvey said she has always been an advocate for preserving Arlington’s tree canopy.

“Looking at a big tree-covered lot turn into a big mud pie is just upsetting to everyone,” she said. “But the community as whole is more aware of [the importance of trees.]”

Garvey said she expects the review of setback regulations to take “a few months” and result in a set of recommendations to the Board.

The Board has been long-criticized by environmental activists before for its failure to preserve trees on private properties, as well as public parks.

Board members have frequently cited state laws that prevent them from interceding on private property, with former member John Vihstadt (I) once describing Virginia as a “‘mother-may-I’ state.”

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Morning Notes

New Restaurant Opening Soon in Ballston — “Zoup! Eatery, the fast casual restaurant known for its award-winning soups and made-to-order sandwiches and salads, is set to open its first Arlington location on Monday, Oct. 21.” [Press Release]

School Library Lending Down Slightly — “Who says print is dead? Circulation of print materials at Arlington’s public-school libraries held relatively steady during the 2018-19 school year at about 980,000 items – or about 36 items per student. The total figure… was down about 1.5 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]

Notable Tree Nominations Open — “Since 1987, Arlington has identified and registered its most notable trees, as well as the residents who care for them.” Nominations for 2020 notable trees nominees are now open, with a Dec.  1 deadline. [Arlington County]

Job Fair for Local Census Workers — “Interested in a job with the U.S. Census for 2020? @ArlEmploymentCt is hosting recruitment events this month. The first two sessions are Tuesday, Oct. 8.” [Eventbrite, Twitter]

‘Cautionary Tale’ for Gondola Plans — “Several years after closing the gondola that served the Alemão favela, the state of Rio de Janeiro has kept up hope that it would restart service. In May, the state said it would reopen the line by the end of the year. But with three months left in 2019, there’s little sign of action.” [Wired, Twitter]

Nearby: Bearer of Bad News for Hire — “Want a divorce? Have to quit your job? Need to tell your family you crashed your car into the side of the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center? Sometimes there’s no easy way to break bad news, so don’t. An Alexandrian is offering his services via Craigslist to break the bad news for you.” [ALXnow]

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