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Advanced Towing lot in Ballston in 2023 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

There’s something of a war of words going on between the sponsor and a key target of a soon-to-be new towing law.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) recently signed two pieces of legislation — both backed by Arlington lawmakers — allowing Northern Virginia local governments to set tighter restrictions on tow operators. HB 959, introduced by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), allows localities in Northern Virginia to pass “second signature” ordinances requiring towing operators to get express permission from lot owners before removing individual vehicles.

It also allows these localities to regulate operators’ monitoring practices, increases penalties for bad actors and strengthens compensation for victims of unlawful tows.

That’s not sitting well with Ballston-based Advanced Towing, whose owner sent a statement to Fox 5 for reporter Sierra Fox’s story on the bill, which aired Thursday.

It’s an onerous burden and safety issue for property owners. We never tow the wrong car so what purpose does it serve? None! This is all in retribution for Delegate Lopez getting his car towed for parking illegally and going down the street for some pie!” said the company’s statement, as reported by Fox.

Lopez had previously referenced being towed in Arlington.

Fox’s story, below, also mentions the plight of a food delivery driver who was towed while picking up an order from P.F. Chang’s in Ballston. A fire lane on private property near the restaurant is marked with towing warnings.

“It’s ridiculous, they take two days pay in two seconds,” the driver said of the $155 charge to get his car back and complete the delivery. “It makes me feel like I was robbed, basically.”

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Arlington National Cemetery and Arlington House in the spring (via Arlington National Cemetery/YouTube)

Need a moment of zen during your hectic day? A YouTube video posted today by Arlington National Cemetery is delivering just that.

The video shows the cemetery’s hallowed ground in bloom and bathed in sunlight during the early spring.

In addition to the beautiful footage and peaceful vibes, the video also serves as a reminder that the general public can visit and stroll the cemetery’s 639 verdant acres.

“The cemetery is open for visitors every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” the video’s description notes. “We invite you to honor, remember and explore with us during this beautiful season.”

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Vehicle spray painted with hateful messages in the Yorktown neighborhood (via Nextdoor)

A vandalism spree earlier this week in the Yorktown neighborhood is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Graffiti was discovered Monday morning on 27th Street N. and N. Jefferson Street, a few blocks from Yorktown High School. It included a swastika painted on the sidewalk and a swastika and a racial slur spray painted on a car.

“This morning I awoke to find that my car had been vandalized with racist slogans,” the owner of the Lexus said in a post on Nextdoor. “They used spray paint on my white car and tried on my wife’s black car. Instead, on hers, they chained the drivers side wheels together. Up the street, they painted a swastika in a neighbors driveway.”

The homeowner whose driveway was spray painted spoke to WUSA 9, in a report (below) that aired last night. His Ring camera captured video of three younger suspects, possibly teenagers.

“The words that they used, the symbols that they used, they are old enough to know what it meant,” Dale Smith, a retired Arlington County Fire Department battalion chief, told the TV station.

The exact motive for the vandalism is unclear. Smith is Black, while the car owner is white.

Arlington County police say they’re investigating the graffiti as a potential hate crime.

More, below, from ACPD.

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, 2024-02190059, 5700 block of 27th Street N. At approximately 7:19 a.m. on February 19, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti. Upon arrival, it was determined the reporting party located a swastika painted on the sidewalk. Responding officers canvassed the area and located two vehicles in the 2700 block of N. Jefferson Street that had been spray painted, one of which included a swastika and racial slur. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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The driver of an SUV slammed into a building along Columbia Pike early Saturday morning.

It happened around 1:40 a.m. on the western end of the Pike in Arlington, near the massive “Pike” sculpture.

Video of the incident, posted by local public safety watcher Dave Statter, shows the SUV driving at a high speed down S. Jefferson Street before crashing into a commercial building at 5555 Columbia Pike.

No serious injuries were reported. So far, there’s no word on any charges against the driver.

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The traffic signal at the intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Highland Street in Clarendon is out after a crash.

The crash happened around 11:30 a.m. and was caught on camera.

The video, above, appears to show a driver on 10th Street running the red light and getting t-boned by a driver on Highland. So far, there’s no word on injuries, though firefighters and medics quickly arrived on scene from nearby Fire Station No. 4.

N. Highland Street is closed and the traffic light is out, according to an Arlington Alert message. The video shows the light staying on red while flashing yellow after the crash, potentially as the result of ground-level signal equipment being damaged.

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Fight near Clarendon caught on camera (courtesy Dave Statter)

An early morning fight near Clarendon was caught on camera over the weekend.

The brawl happened around 2 a.m. Saturday along the parking-lined section of Fairfax Drive at the western end of Clarendon. The video shows one person being knocked to the ground and a car ramming the side of another car, amid a fight that appears to be between two groups of people.

Police arrive on scene near the end of the video.

According to public safety watcher Dave Statter, one of the people to post a photo of the fracas on social media, it’s just the latest in a series of fights over the past month or so associated with Clarendon nightlife.

In addition to fights that take place outside, “there are also multiple police calls each weekend night for fights inside the bars in the 3100 block of Wilson and Clarendon,” Statter wrote last week.

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A Saturday morning crash in Pentagon City sent two people to the hospital after they were pulled from their overturned vehicle.

The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street and was caught on video (below) by local public safety watchdog Dave Statter.

“At approx. 8:31am the Arlington County Fire Department was dispatched for a vehicle crash with entrapment,” Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Nate Hiner. “Crews quick arrived on scene and found a two-vehicle crash, with two occupants trapped inside one of the vehicles. That vehicle was stabilized and both occupants were quickly extricated. They were transported from the scene to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.”

Video of the crash shows the overturned vehicle, a blue Honda, traveling east on Army Navy Drive and getting t-boned in the intersection by a second vehicle, traveling north on Eads. It is unclear which driver had the green light.

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Washington Nationals star Juan Soto in Arlington (via Bleacher Report/YouTube)

(Updated at 2 p.m.) Washington Nationals all-star outfielder Juan Soto says in a new video that he recently moved into a new house in Arlington.

The video, below, shows Soto visiting a mini golf course and a frame shop in the county. Specifically, the mini golf at Upton Hill Regional Park and Italo Frame in Clarendon. The video also features shots of Ballston and a visit to Caribbean Plate restaurant in Falls Church.

The video of Soto’s “day off in Arlington” was published by the sports site Bleacher Report and sponsored by Wells Fargo, which scores some product placement when Soto goes to pay for things.

Soto, one of the brightest young stars in baseball, will soon play in his second All-Star Game. The Nationals have been trying to sign him to a long-term contract extension, which would likely be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s unclear where exactly in Arlington Soto now lives. The video gives no hints of it as he visits the store to get several pictures framed for his new home.

Local real estate agent Matt Leighton, who has previously written about other athletes and their Arlington homes — including former Nats slugger Bryce Harper, who once lived in a penthouse condo in Rosslyn — says the county is particularly attractive for athletes given its proximity to the District, urban amenities and, in some cases, relative privacy.

“Arlington is very popular for D.C. athletes, especially for Caps and Nats players,” Leighton tells ARLnow. “Usually, Commanders players will live out closer to their practice facility in Ashburn while Wizards players will live closer to Capital One area in Downtown D.C. Although John Wall, Marcin Gortat and a few other Wizards have called Arlington home in recent years.”

“The luxury condo buildings in the Courthouse and Rosslyn area are prime spots for D.C. athletes to call home,” Leighton continued. “If the player gets a contract extension, they may buy a house in Arlington. Country Club Hills, Williamsburg, Lyon Park and Bellevue Forest are all popular among athletes as they are conveniently located and offer some level of privacy.”

Leighton added that he is “not sure” where Soto lives. Wherever it is, Soto presumably thought out the privacy implications of his move more so than a young, budding Capitals star a decade and a half ago.

“I guess nobody told [Alexander] Ovechkin about privacy when he bought a home in 2005 as a 20-year-old on a major cut-through street in Ballston,” Leighton said. “Ovechkin’s Arlington house, which has been rented out ever since Ovechkin moved to McLean, will be coming up for sale in the near future.”

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Morning Notes

Lightning over Cherrydale last night (photo courtesy Kennedy Combs)

‘Missing Middle’ Fight Heats Up — “The topic of housing wasn’t even on the agenda for lawmakers in Arlington County, but residents streamed into one recent meeting with a sea of posters to express their dueling views on the issue… That raucous meeting offered a taste of what promises to be one of the most contentious political battles in recent memory in Arlington: a proposal to legalize ‘missing middle’ housing — from townhouses to duplexes to eight-unit buildings — that many are treating as an existential debate over the future of this affluent, deep-blue Northern Virginia suburb.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Has Priciest Local Rent — New data shows that the average rent for one-bedroom apartments in Arlington is the highest in the region, after rising 5% month over month to $2,310/mo. [Zumper]

Video: A Ride in the RainUpdated at 9:20 a.m. — “Was just past the White House on Constitution Ave heading… towards Arlington when I got pummeled by rain.” [YouTube]

Videos: Stormy Evening — Videos posted to Twitter show the strong wind and the spectacular lightning from yesterday evening’s storm. [Twitter, Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Man standing on the edge of the Route 1 overpass over 15th Street S. in Crystal City

(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) A tow truck driver helped to defuse a tense situation in Crystal City yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Police were dispatched to the area for a man standing on the edge of a Route 1 overpass. It was unclear why the man was standing there, but there was concern that he might jump to the roadway below.

Video shared with ARLnow, below, shows the shirtless man gesticulating wildly while standing above 15th Street S. A police source told ARLnow that a driver with Advanced Towing stopped and “talked this guy down.”

Reached via email, Advanced owner John O’Neill confirmed the report.

“One of my drivers… noticed a man [who] walked out on an overpass,” he said. “Ryan called 911 but approached the man and talked him into not doing anything dumb.”

Police were later able to catch up with the man and get him help. A police spokeswoman described the incident as a “mental health call for service.”

“At approximately 9:26 a.m. on June 29, an off-duty officer observed a man walking along northbound Richmond Highway,” Arlington County Police Department Public Information Officer Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Additional calls to the Emergency Communications Center stated the man was standing near the edge of the overpass in the area of 15th St. S. and S. Eads St. The individual subsequently left the area and was located by responding officers in the Crystal City Shops.”

Advanced Towing is arguably the most frequently criticized local business in Arlington, earning the ire of locals for its ruthless efficiency in towing unauthorized vehicles in private parking lots (and, occasionally — allegedly — damaging vehicles in the process). An incident with then-ESPN reporter Britt McHenry made national news and there’s even a website devoted to calling the company a “fraud.”

A lawsuit by former Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called Advanced “predatory” and accused it of “illegal” tows. O’Neill later told ARLnow that he felt “vindicated” when the case only resulted in a $750 fine, asserting that Advanced only tows vehicles that are parked illegally.

O’Neill said Wednesday’s incident shows that Advanced’s reputation does not match its true character.

“We are always cast in a negative light but if my driver had not been doing his job this man may have hurt himself,” he said. “I’m really proud of my employee for intervening.”

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Arlington Dept. of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or via text at 703-940-0888.

Wonky GPS directions and old road design are some of the factors that have led some drivers to haphazardly cross several lanes of highway traffic at an I-395 exit, leading to multiple crashes.

Videos, captured from a Crystal City high-rise apartment by former local news reporter Dave Statter, show drivers consistently and dangerously moving across four lanes of southbound I-395 traffic specifically to make the lefthand Route 1 exit (8C).

The situation is at its most perilous when a driver is coming from Boundary Channel Drive, takes the I-395 southbound on-ramp, and realizes the exit to Pentagon City, Crystal City and Alexandria is only a few hundred feet on the left. Meaning, in order to take it, the driver has to move their car over four lanes of high speed highway traffic in a very short distance.

Some of the numerous videos Statter posts look something like a real-life game of Frogger.

“Watching these people doing this crazy dance to get to the left hand exit,” Statter says. “It’s just a constant, constant thing.”

Even when we are talking, Statter spots two more drivers attempting to make the same maneuver, despite the fact that VDOT had recently put up a line of orange barrels in an attempt to prevent it.

He also seen plenty of drivers entering I-395 southbound from further down, like the onramp from the GW Parkway, but still realizing too late that they need to take exit 8C on the left.

Since Statter started training his cameras on this section of I-395 back in November, he says he has caught upwards of 18 accidents. All of which involve drivers trying to quickly take the left hand exit.

Statter says that part of the issue here is the design of the roads and the Pentagon, which was built nearly 70 years ago.

“There’s a lot of on-ramps in such a short period of time,” he says. “[It’s my impression] that’s not the standard for interstate highways of today.”

But a culprit also appears to be modern technology. At least until recently, app-based GPS directions like Google Maps and Apple Maps were telling drivers to engage in this dangerous lane-shifting.

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