Arlington, VA

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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Over forty trees are planned to be removed to make way for a new elementary school in Westover, but Arlington Public Schools is hosting one last meeting about potential tree-saving solutions before construction starts.

A discussion is scheduled with neighbors on Monday (Sept. 16) at the edge of the grove will involve discussion of whether any of the trees can be saved. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the basketball court on the Reed site (1644 N. McKinley Road).

The current plans call for the removal of roughly 42 trees to facilitate construction that will add to the building that houses the Westover Library and, soon, a new neighborhood elementary school.

Residents have expressed concerns about the removal of the grove, which includes a variety of maple, cedar and mulberry trees. A presentation on the project noted that an inventory of the trees was prepared by a certified arborist and tree removal was recommended.

According to the presentation:

Decisions on tree removal balanced: Building location and required excavation, site improvements (play areas, universally accessible walkways, etc.) and underground utilities (sanitary, storm, geothermal, etc.).

The designs for the site include adding 82 replacement trees, well above the 49 trees required to be planted according to county regulations.

But the plans have drawn some criticism from neighbors and local environmentalists. County Board candidate Audrey Clement specifically addressed the County Board’s approval of the project for its destruction of the trees at a debate this past Monday  (Sept. 9). Many of the trees are larger, like a silver maple tree 4.5 feet wide.

At the meeting next Monday, the presentation says neighbors will be invited to discuss the removal with an arborist and county staff.

But any moving of the remaining trees will have to occur quickly: construction of the new school is scheduled to start by the end of September.

The Westover neighborhood suffered extensive damage from flooding this summer, but school officials said the new school will include updated stormwater protections.

“Stormwater structures and basins are much enhanced from what exists on-site now as per current state stormwater requirements,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

Map via Arlington Public Schools

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Arlington residents can now register to receive a free tree for their homes, thanks to Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s annual giveaway of 400 native trees.

The available trees are termed “whips” and come in two-gallon containers ranging from 2-4 feet in size, according to the organizer’s website. Registration for the annual program opened Tuesday.

“This annual program is very popular and has yielded many beautiful trees and benefited our community,” organizers wrote.

There will be two tree distribution days this year, led by county landscaping staff and members of the Arlington/Alexandria Tree Stewards organization.

The first tree pickup will take place on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Barcroft Baseball Field parking lot (4208 S. Four Mile Run Drive).

The second pickup will be on Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 4-6 p.m. at the Reed-Westover Baseball Field parking lot (5829 18th Street N.)

One tree is allowed per residential property. Those who live in a multi-family property, like an apartment complex, are asked to email the Tree Stewards for more information on obtaining trees.

Photo via TreeStewards/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Woman Arrested for Burning Flag Near W-L High — “A woman was arrested for burning an American flag on an overpass over I-66 in Arlington, police say. Kayla Caniff, 22, was charged with property destruction after police say she burned a flag attached to a chain link fence on the N. Stafford Street overpass, north of the Ballston area, at about 11:55 p.m. Thursday.” [NBC Washington]

County Website Goes Down — The Arlington County website was down for an extended period of time over Labor Day weekend. [Twitter]

Lucky Dog Takes in Pups from Hurricane’s Path — “While Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas — thousands of miles away in Arlington, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue plotted a rescue mission… The Carolinas are projected to be in the storm’s path and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is partnered with a shelter in South Carolina. So the organization’s volunteers met an animal control officer part of the way there to take 19 of the shelter’s dogs.” [WJLA]

APS to Review Westover Tree Plan — “Facing community unrest in Westover, Arlington Public Schools plans to take another look at the potential of saving more trees during construction of a new elementary school on North McKinley Road near Washington Boulevard. Following an Aug. 29 meeting with residents, the school system has directed that ‘before the trees are removed, we have the contractor stake out the site and renumber the trees.'” [InsideNova]

Energy Plan Concerns: Feds and Trees — Arlington County’s impending update to its Community Energy Plan, which sets a net zero carbon emissions goal, is an important step in fighting climate change, some advocates say, though additional action is still needed on the state and federal level. Others, despite supporting the goal, are concerned that achieving it may come at the cost of the area’s tree canopy. [Washington Post, Arlington County]

Arlington’s Many Advocacy Orgs — “My viewing [of the Netflix documentary ‘The Family’] got me thinking of the many newsmaking organizations — of all political stripes — that have long populated our suburb so close to the action of the nation’s capital. Wilson Blvd. and Crystal City alone are home to enough colorful groups to generate a slew of political and public policy contretemps.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Reminder: Be Careful on the Roads Today — It’s the first day of school, kids will be walking to school and there are new traffic patterns around some schools. Arlington County Police are conducting “a high-visibility traffic enforcement campaign in and around school zones and bus stops” today. [ARLnow, Arlington County]

Photo courtesy David Johnson

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