Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Planning Process for Pentagon City Underway — “Amazon.com Inc.’s vision for Pentagon City is decidedly futuristic, anchored by a helix-shaped building that looks straight out of a sci-fi novel. Arlington County’s existing plans that guide the neighborhood’s growth, meanwhile, date back to the days of disco… The open question is how much more development the tech giant will inspire.” [Washington Business Journal]

SUV Overturns on GW Parkway — From WTOP yesterday morning: “NB George Washington Pkwy before the Key Bridge, crash involves one on its side with the left lane only squeezing by.” [Twitter]

GMU to Partner with Local American Legion Post — “Realizing a need existed to help veterans and their families in similar situations, leaders at the law school established the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) in 2004…. A new partnership with American Legion Post 139, which will be standing up a new building in Arlington, will allow the clinic to further increase its impact.” [George Mason University]

New Apartment Building Opening — “AHC Inc., a leading developer of affordable housing in the Washington-Baltimore metro region, is pleased to introduce a new apartment community in Arlington, VA, called The Apex. Featuring a total of 256 apartments, the $100 million development has started to welcome its first residents and is currently accepting applications.” [Press Release]

Arlington Housing Remains Pricey — “The city of Falls Church in Virginia remains the most expensive housing market, by official jurisdiction, with a median price of $820,000 last month. But among larger jurisdictions, Virginia’s Arlington County remains the most expensive, at $600,000 last month.” [WTOP]

Instant-Runoff Voting Challenges — “Technical, legal and financial complexities likely will mean any start to ‘instant-runoff’ County Board voting in Arlington will be pushed back to 2022 at the soonest. ‘It’s not practical for this year. The earliest this could possibly be used is next year,’ said Arlington Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, summing things up during a Feb. 6 Electoral Board meeting.” [InsideNova]

Reminder: Blue Line Work Starts Tomorrow — “Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday… platform reconstruction work [is] being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station.” [ARLnow]

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Morning Notes

Columbia Pike Resident Goes Missing — “ACPD seeks the public’s assistance locating Ms. Amanda Aniston, last seen Dec. 12, 2020 in the 1200 blk of S. Courthouse Rd. She is described as a Black female, brown hair, brown eyes, approx. 5’9″, 140 lbs. She may be in need of medical services.” [ACPD]

Did False Report Lead to Police Encounter? — “The head of the Arlington NAACP, Julius D. Spain Sr… said he would seek a meeting with Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and ‘if someone needs to be charged with making a false report, so be it.’ Crutchfield said in his complaint that ‘the neighbor who called the police lied about me taking pictures of the military base nearby to trigger a police response.'” [Washington Post]

Early Voting ‘Here to Stay’ — “Arlington is likely to provide a number of satellite centers for early voting in the 2021 general election – but how many there will be, and where they will be located, remain open questions. ‘Early voting is here to stay,’ predicted county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer, briefing Electoral Board members during a Dec. 16 meeting.” [InsideNova]

County May Help With Caucuses — “Find yourself in need of holding an election? The Arlington County Electoral Board soon may be able to help. Board members voted 3-0 on Dec. 16 to move forward on a policy that would allow political parties and, potentially, other groups to rent equipment and use election-office personnel during their own elections… Those doing the renting also would have to reimburse the cost.” [InsideNova]

New Rosslyn Apartment to Be Temporary Hotel — “Penzance Cos. is bringing in a pop-up hotel startup to help fill a portion of its massive mixed-use project on the western side of Rosslyn. Kasa Living is looking to use 100 units at The Highlands at 1555 Wilson Blvd. as temporary hotel rooms, according to a new filing from Penzance with Arlington County planners. The fully furnished apartments will serve as short-term rentals offered up by Kasa for up to seven years.” [Washington Business Journal]

Christmas Eve Scare for Barcroft Residents — “Missile into occupied dwelling… 4600 block of 9th Street S. At approximately 3:56 p.m. on December 24, police were dispatched to the report of destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were inside a residence when they heard a loud noise and observed an object had been thrown at a window, causing it to break.” [ACPD]

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Morning Notes

Ranked Choice Voting Faces Hurdles — “The biggest current challenge? Election software used by the county allows for ranked-choice voting, but only in elections with three or fewer candidates. A pending software upgrade would bring that to five candidates, but ‘I don’t think legally we can limit the number of candidates that can run,’ Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

Levine Running for Lt. Gov. — “Virginia Del. Mark Levine on Monday announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor, joining a roster of nearly a dozen candidates vying for the position. Levine, a 54-year-old Democrat from Alexandria, has served in the state’s House of Delegates since 2016 and represents parts of Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the city of Alexandria.” [DCist]

Credit Union Announces Donations — The staff of Arlington Community Federal Credit Union selected four local nonprofits for the credit union to support with year-end donations: Culmore Clinic, Edu-Futuro, Arlington Department of Human Services’ Secret Santa program and Bridges to Independence. [ACFCU]

Scholarship Applications Open — “The Arlington Community Foundation has a well-established Annual Scholarship Program that in 2020 awarded over $400,000 in college scholarships to 80 new students and 100 renewal students… The scholarship application for the 2021-2022 school year will be available from December 18, 2020, to February 1, 2021.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved JBG Smith’s plan to develop Crystal Gateway, a nine-story office building with ground-floor retail,  at 101 12th Street S. in Crystal City. Community benefits associated with the project include the developer conveying 54,500 sq. ft. of land for Gateway Park, which will connect Long Bridge Park to Crystal City.” [Arlington County]

Teacher Groups Banding Together — “Representatives from teacher associations in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and Manassas Park will host a news conference Monday urging a return to virtual-only learning. In a statement Sunday evening, the Fairfax Education Association said it ‘stands with our colleagues from the Northern Virginia region to ask the Governor to return the Commonwealth to a full Phase II of the reopening plan and to recommend that our schools return to a fully virtual method of instruction.'” [InsideNova]

Feedback Sought for Police Chief Search — “The County Manager has launched a search for a new leader of the Arlington County Police Department. During the first phase of the search, the County is interested in hearing from the community. ‘We value the perspective of every resident and business,’ said County Manager Mark Schwartz… You can offer feedback through December 11.” [Arlington County]

Joint Chiefs Chair’s Wife Saves the Day — “When a bystander collapsed at the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, a nurse was nearby and rushed to his aid. She happened to be the wife of the nation’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley.” [NBC News]

‘Click It or Ticket’ Starts Today — ” The Thanksgiving celebration is traditionally one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. As the holiday approaches, the Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a high visibility Click It or Ticket campaign.” [Arlington County]

State Sen. Pushing Pot Legalization — “We’re continuing to build a bipartisan coalition to #legalize responsible adult use of #marijuana in Virginia. I am working hard to ensure that ending the war on drugs is a top priority.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter, Virginia Mercury]

N. Va. Delivered State for Biden — “Updated counts from the Virginia Department of Elections show that President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump by over 520,000 votes in Northern Virginia, defined as the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park… Across the rest of Virginia, Trump, a Republican, defeated Biden by about 70,000 votes, winning 50.2% to Biden’s 47.9%.” [InsideNova]

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Despite record-setting levels of early and mail-in voting, the final 2020 general election turnout in Arlington slightly underperformed that of 2016.

Last week’s election set a local record in terms of votes cast, but a rise in population and voter registration meant that the final turnout figure was a few points below the 82% turnout from 2016.

“In all, 131,518 voters, or about 79 percent of 166,416 registered voters, cast ballots on Nov. 3,” Arlington County revealed yesterday in a press release, after all the votes were tallied. “In 2016, turnout was 82 percent (122,023 of 148,032 registered voters).”

“Absentee turnout this year was record-breaking, with more than 108,394 Arlingtonians (65.1% turnout) casting their ballots by mail, drop box, or in person before Election Day,” the press release continues. “With so many Arlingtonians voting before Nov. 3, turnout remained light throughout Election Day, with only 23,124 people voting (14% turnout).”

Mail-in voting accounted for 29% turnout — just under 50,000 votes — an unprecedented number, albeit not unexpected this year due to the pandemic. In the end, now-president-elect Joe Biden prevailed in Virginia and in Arlington, with 80.6% of the county’s vote to 17.1% for President Donald Trump.

Although the general election did not set turnout records, about 45% of registered voters cast ballots in the March presidential primary, held just before the pandemic prompted widespread lockdowns, exceeding the primary turnout from 2016. Biden received 48.3% of the Democratic primary vote in Arlington, well exceeding that of Elizabeth Warren (20.0%) and Bernie Sanders (18.8%).

County officials say there were “no reports of significant technical issues” at the polls last week, noting that more than 750 election officers and about 100 high school students helped to staff the county’s 54 voting precincts and the central absentee vote counting center.

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Morning Notes

Arlington, MoCo Hire Consultant — “Montgomery and Arlington counties have hired a consultant to develop alternatives to the flight paths at Reagan National Airport that have led to dramatic increases in noise complaints from residents across the region. ‘This will be a game changer,; said Ken Hartman… Montgomery County’s point person on the airplane noise issue.” [Washington Post]

Biden Breaks 100K Mark in Arlington — “It likely won’t be the highlight of his political career, but Joe Biden will go down in history as the first presidential candidate to win more than 100,000 votes in Arlington. Biden garnered 102,510 of them, according to unofficial tallies reported immediately after the election… Trump’s performance, both in total votes and in percentage of the vote, slightly outperformed his 2016 tally in Arlington.” [InsideNova]

What the School Bond Will Fund — “The $52.65 million will be used for the following projects: $24.3 million for planning and design to meet 10-year projected capacity needs at all school levels; $15.4 million for major infrastructure projects such as HVAC replacement for schools; $7.65 million for building refreshes and kitchen renovations at ATS, Key and McKinley; $5.30 million for security entrances at Taylor, Gunston, Jefferson, Williamsburg, Wakefield.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]

Firefighter Follows in Fallen Father’s Footsteps — “The son of a Washington, D.C. fallen firefighter is following in his dad’s footsteps. When Anthony Phillips Jr.’s father died in the line of duty on May 30, 1999, he never thought he would do that work that took the life of his father 21 years ago. But, never say never… Phillips just graduated from the Arlington Fire Academy Recruit Class 78.” [WJLA]

Some Fog This MorningUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — From a National Weather Service tweet last night: “Some patchy dense #fog is developing over portions of central and northern Virginia. Remain alert if traveling overnight, as visibility could quickly fall to a quarter mile or less.” A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. [Twitter, Twitter]

Nearby: Downtown D.C. in Trouble — “Now,empty streets are the norm. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the District’s once-thriving downtown area into a ghost town over the past nearly eight months… Downtown D.C.s’ economy has been crushed by the pandemic, though it has made a slight recovery since the BID issued its last report in July.” [DCist]

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(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Dozens gathered in front of Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse for a rally calling for every vote from Tuesday’s election to be counted.

The “Protect the Results” rally, which kicked off at 5 p.m., was organized and promoted by a variety of local Democratic and progressive groups. It was held as the 2020 presidential race hangs in the balance, still too close to call in a number of key states.

The rally was intended as a show of support for the continued counting of ballots, including mail-in ballots. President Trump’s campaign said earlier today that it is suing to stop ballot counts in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“This morning, the president declared victory prematurely. Neither candidate has reached the threshold of 270 electoral votes,” said Democratic organizer Matt Royer. “We have millions of voters who have not been counted yet. It’s time for us to mobilize and get ready.”

“We will stand together to make sure that every vote is counted,” Royer continued. “We will not let this election be stolen from the people. Hold the line.”

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington County Democrats enjoyed a clean sweep in their bids for County Board and School Board, with clear results in early on Tuesday night.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) was awarded four more years in office, garnering 72% of votes. Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy — endorsed by the local Democratic party in the nonpartisan School Board race — earned 43% and 36%, respectively.

NAACP Education Committee Co-Chair Symone Walker and frequent local candidate Audrey Clement had unsuccessful independent bids for the School Board and County Board, respectively. Clement garnered 29,923 27% of votes, while Walker received 19% in the three-way School Board race for two open seats.

More than 75% of active voters had cast ballots by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, including a record-setting 63% who voted early and by mail by Sunday. Since mail-in ballots have until Friday to arrive, the county elections office will not have a final turnout number until then, Arlington Director of Election Gretchen Reinemeyer said in an email.

Local Democrats said they are pleased with the local turnout, hailing a “decisive” vote for the entire Democratic ticket, even as they anxiously watched developments in the still-undecided presidential race.

Garvey said today that she will continue focusing on equity, innovation and resilience during the pandemic during her next term.

“People are tired of the virus,” she said. “This is a difficult time and I hope we can remember to treat each other kindly. We’re all under stress and doing our best. It’s important to take a deep breath and continue to stay together as a community as we work through a lot of difficult issues.”

“Arlingtonians are smart and informed,” Garvey added. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve Arlington for four more years.”

Turning to the question of reopening Arlington Public Schools classrooms for in-person instruction — which is now delayed until next year for most students — Diaz-Torres and Priddy said today that any plan must focus on safety metrics.

“We need to be careful and make sure we’re proceeding with caution, making sure we’re following the science, not the emotions of the day,” Diaz-Torres said.

With cases rising, APS needs to focus on keeping the kids with severe needs — who returned to schools today — safe, while making virtual learning as high quality as possible for others, she said.

As a School Board member, Priddy said he will be talking with other public school systems and even private schools to see what APS can learn from them.

In an email Wednesday morning, Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo thanked the candidates who ran for office in Arlington and congratulated the winners on their “resounding and well-deserved victories.”

“We know that they will work hard on behalf of all Arlingtonians and lead our county and country through these challenging times,” she wrote.

On social media this morning, County Board member Katie Cristol thanked election volunteers for their hard work, and Arlington voters for overwhelmingly approving the five local bonds on the ballot. Cristol also welcomed Priddy and Diaz-Torres to the School Board and thanked Walker for her advocacy

Walker, who dropped out of the Democratic endorsement caucus after her federal employment raised Hatch Act questions, said her defeat was unsurprising but she does not count it as a failure.

“I think I accomplished change by changing the narrative of the School Board race to focus on curriculum and instruction, particularly equity through literacy,” she said.

Walker was less conciliatory in tone last night, writing in a Facebook post that her defeat was attributable to the power of the Democratic endorsement.

It’s unfortunate that a majority of “low information” voters who are oblivious to the serious plight being faced by our schools are electing the school board by blindly voting straight down the ACDC sample ballot, which, ironically, was silent about the education of our students in listing why this is the most important election of our lifetime. Nevertheless, I pray that Cristina and David will rise to the challenge of turning this ship around to put our students first amidst having to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future

Nonetheless, Walker told ARLnow this morning that she and her small team — nearly all APS moms — ran a grassroots, issues-focused campaign to be proud of.

“I ran for the School Board because I thought I had the opportunity to push for change on the inside,” she said. “Since that did not work, I’m going to continue pushing APS from outside.”

Clement said her results follow the nationwide trend in polarization: Democrat-leaning counties are becoming more blue, and Republican-leaning counties more red.

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(Updated at 7:30 a.m.) To no one’s surprise, the Arlington electorate has turned out in a big way for the Democratic ticket.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris have 80.7% of the vote to 17.1% for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Arlington, with more than 120,000 votes counted and all precincts reporting.

By contrast, 75.8% of Arlington voters picked Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, to 16.6% for Trump.

The Associated Press called Virginia for Biden just over half an hour after polls closed at 7 p.m.

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, overall turnout in Arlington County was over 75%. The voter turnout in 2016 was 82%, shy of the Arlington record of 85% in the 2012 presidential race between President Barack Obama and current Senator Mitt Romney.

Among local races, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) is cruising to an easy victory, with 71.6% of the vote, compared to 26.6% of the vote for independent challenger Audrey Clement.

In the Arlington School Board race — for two open seats — Democratic endorsees Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy currently have 43.1% and 35.8% of the vote, respectively, leading independent candidate Symone Walker, who has 19.2% of the vote.

All five county bond issues will pass, with between 75-80% of the vote. That’s despite some organized opposition to the school bond.

Arlington voted against Constitutional Amendment #1, to establish a bipartisan redistricting commission in Virginia — 45% for, 55% against — though it has garnered the support of nearly two-thirds of voters statewide. Constitutional Amendment #2, providing vehicle tax relief to disabled veterans, easily passed statewide and received 81.5% of the vote in Arlington.

In the statewide race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Sen. Mark Warner (D) was declared the projected winner by the Associated Press early on.

In Virginia’s 8th Congressional district, which includes Arlington and Alexandria, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer (D) is winning handily, with 75.6% of the vote to 24.2% for Republican Jeff Jordan. The AP called the race at 8:10 p.m.

The initial returns that included early and mail-in votes were overwhelming Democratic, but with Election Day results rolling in the non-Democratic candidates have added to their totals and cut into the Democrats’ margin of victory.

Around Arlington, the pandemic has most people watching election coverage from their homes, rather than from bars. In Clarendon and Shirlington tonight, only a relative few could be seen in front of TVs inside the neighborhood’s usual watering holes.

As the election returns continue to come in, Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol said tonight that the county is “committed to ensuring every vote is counted.”

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(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) It’s been a relatively quiet day at the polls in Arlington for one of the most contentious presidential elections in modern memory.

As of 4:30 p.m., only 13% of active voters had showed up at the polls. But that’s in addition to the 63% that had already voted via early voting or mail-in ballots as of Sunday.

“Things have run pretty smoothly throughout the day,” Arlington County Director of Election Gretchen Reinemeyer told ARLnow this afternoon. “It’s been pretty quiet for a presidential [election].”

As of 1 p.m., no more than 500 voters had cast ballots at any one Arlington precinct, Reinemeyer said. No issues have been reported at the polls so far, she added, though there have been numerous provisional ballots requested — likely a result of those who requested mail-in ballots deciding to vote in-person instead.

As for what to expect tonight, Reinemeyer said the bulk of the results should be released early on, after the polls close. Some 100,000 early votes that had been counted by Sunday should be tabulated and on the state election website shortly after 7 p.m.

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