Seattle Tax Could Advantage Arlington — “It wouldn’t shock us if Amazon started encouraging more of its executives to up and move their teams to HQ2, or a neighboring city in Washington state, now that the Seattle City Council has passed a progressive tax targeting the wealthiest companies in the city.” [Washington Business Journal]
Analysis of County Board Special Election — From @A_Hendel on Twitter: “Takis Karantonis received most of his share of the vote from South Arlington… In fact, almost no precincts north of I-66 cast 50% or more of their votes for Takis.” [Twitter]
Organizations Getting Big PPP Loans in Arlington — The American Diabetes Association, tech company ByteCubed, American Service Center, Bishop O’Connell High School and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington are among the Arlington-based organizations to reportedly receive $2+ million federal Paycheck Protection Act loans. [Patch]
Another Local Tech Firm Gets PPP Help — “Amazon.com Inc. may have posted record sales during the pandemic, but many third-party sellers on the platform foundered… Some of those sellers — like the Arlington-based Amify Inc. and Etailz Inc., based in Spokane, Washington — received millions of dollars worth of help from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.” [Washington Business Journal]
Water Main Repairs Today in Bluemont — “Thursday Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews will replace 3 valves in separate locations tomorrow in Bluemont area. Some 100 customers have been notified of potential service interruptions 8 a.m.-5 p.m.” [Twitter]
Letter: W-L Renaming Happened at a Good Time — “The Arlington School Board’s renaming of Washington-Lee High School was autocratic, manipulative, adversarial and punitive. In retrospect, though, they unwittingly did the W-L community a favor.” [InsideNova]
Candidates Support Stormwater Investment — “How it gets paid for (and by whom) perhaps is a question for another day, but the three candidates in the July 7 Arlington County Board special election voiced support for increased stormwater-management efforts. ‘We need to be making a generational investment,’ said Susan Cunningham, one of three candidates on the ballot seeking to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.” [InsideNova]
Analysis of N. Arlington House Numbers — “In the ZIP code 22207, serif addresses vastly outnumber sans serif addresses, 7,759 to 2,111. Many blocks feature no sans serif houses at all, or just one or two. But in isolated pockets–individual blocks or even orange and red “hot zones” spread across a couple of streets–sans serif numbers are beginning to break through.” [Slate]
How a Local Chiropractic Practice Is Doing — “Some businesses are still trying to get adjusted to the flow of business in the new normal. ‘I would say we’re about 75% close to where we were before,’ Dr. Hooman Hamidi said. Hamidi is a chiropractor in Arlington, Va. When the global pandemic shut things down, his business slowed to a crawl.” [WUSA 9]
Galaxy Hut Staying Takeout-Only, For Now — “Based on what we’ve seen, we still don’t feel it’s the safest option to allow people to hang out at our restaurants at this time. Instead, we will be expanding our pickup hours and introducing some new yums at both Galaxy Hut and Spacebar in the coming weeks.” [Facebook]
ACPD to Report More Traffic Stop Info — “The Community Policing Act, Virginia House Bill 1250, takes effect July 1, 2020. This law requires law enforcement and State Police to collect certain information from the driver during all motor vehicle (traffic) and investigatory stops and prohibits law enforcement officers and State Police from engaging in bias-based policing.” [Arlington County]
New Laws Taking Effect Today — “Marijuana will be decriminalized, local governments will have the ability to take down Confederate monuments, and Virginians will pay more in taxes for gasoline and cigarettes starting Wednesday. July 1 is the start date for most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly.” [Associated Press]
A pair of agreements on Saturday’s County Board docket could strengthen the ties between the water systems operated by Arlington and Fairfax counties.
One agreement would formalize an existing arrangement, in which each water system serves a few hundred of the other county’s customers. Arlington currently serves 369 Fairfax customers along Powhatan Street in the McLean/Falls Church area, while Fairfax serves 313 Arlington customers in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods.
An older agreement was formerly in place between Arlington and the City of Falls Church, before the latter system was acquired by Fairfax Water in 2014. The new agreement would codify the existing arrangement. A county staff report says that about $4,000 changes hands annually to adjust for differences in water usage between the cross-jurisdictional customers.
The second agreement would have a more tangible outcome.
It calls for construction of a nearly $3 million water main between the two water systems, under Powhatan Street in Fairfax County. Arlington would pay just over $2 million of the cost, but the new, 16-inch transmission pipe would be maintained by Fairfax County.
The new infrastructure would serve as an emergency link between the Arlington and Fairfax County water systems, which get drinking water from different treatment plants. Fairfax County has two of its own plants, which source water from the Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River. Arlington gets its water from the Washington Aqueduct, on the D.C./Maryland border, which sources its water from the Potomac.
While Arlington has several redundant transmission mains running under the Potomac and Chain Bridge from D.C., the aqueduct is its sole water source.
“The Powhatan Street Main project is budgeted in the Utilities portion of the Fiscal Year 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan,” notes the county staff report on the agreement. “Sufficient funds are available in the Utility Construction Fund to provide for the construction of this project.”
With Fairfax County funding the pipe’s maintenance, “the only future costs would be the wholesale cost of water purchased during times of emergency, which would be funded from the Utilities Fund operating budget.”
More from the staff report:
In or about 2005, a project was completed by Arlington County and the City of Falls Church that placed into service within the former City of Falls Church water distribution system approximately 2,050 feet of 16-inch water main on North Powhatan Street from North Rockingham Street to just south of Franklin Cluster Court (the “Phase I Main”). Fairfax Water and Arlington desire that Fairfax Water design and construct an extension to the existing Phase I Main (“Powhatan Street Project”). The Powhatan Street Project would consist of the construction of a 16-inch water main that would tie into the Phase I Main and extend it approximately 3,000 feet along Powhatan Street to connect to Fairfax Water’s existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road (“Powhatan Street Main” and, together with the Phase I Main, the “Powhatan Transmission Main”). Upon completion of the Powhatan Street Project, the Powhatan Transmission Main would connect the Fairfax Water System and the Arlington Water System in this location for use in emergency situations and as described in the attached agreement.
Fairfax Water will procure engineering and construction services for the design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main along Powhatan Street from the existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road to the existing 16-inch water main south of Franklin Cluster Court. The design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main will include all necessary meters, valves and other required appurtenances. Arlington will pay a percentage of the costs associated with the design and construction.
Fairfax Water will own, operate, maintain and repair the Powhatan Transmission Main at its sole expense. The Powhatan Transmission Main will be a part of the Fairfax Water System.
This project provides redundancy for Arlington County’s water supply in case of emergency. Currently, its sole water supply is from the Washington Aqueduct.
Map via Google Maps
Arlington County is still sending letters threatening to turn off the water service of delinquent utility customers, though it actually stopped the practice last month amid the coronavirus outbreak.
On March 16 the Virginia State Corporation Commission ordered utility providers to stop disconnections of electricity, gas, water and sewer utility services as a result of the public health emergency. The next day Arlington announced that it was suspending water shut offs.
“Arlington County will not shut off any customer’s water service for non-payment, effective March 17,” the county government said. “This is to ensure access to safe, clean water during the coronavirus outbreak.”
But delinquency notices sent to homeowners whose water bills have not been paid have continued to list a “turn off date” and threaten that “water service is subject to be turned off without further notice.” The county has also continued assessing late fees.
In response to questions from ARLnow, Arlington officials say that is going to change.
“We are in the process of suspending the application of late fees and charges, including the mailing of delinquency notices,” Utility Billing and Customer Service Manager Kevin Connolly told ARLnow in a statement Friday afternoon.
“This change will be effective for the upcoming billing cycle. Residents who received a delinquency notice in April and are unable to pay their County utility bill should speak with the DES Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” Connolly said. “You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees. Arlington County understands that this is a difficult time for many residents and will not shut off any customer’s water service for non-payment during the outbreak.”
An automated message on the customer service phone line informs callers that water disconnections have been suspended.
Connolly said the county will work with those who can’t pay water, sewer and trash bills, encouraging them to call the customer service line at 703-228-5000.
“As a relief from the economic hardship that any of our customers are enduring as a result of COVID-19 events, the County has also expanded eligibility to our payment arrangement program, where customers can negotiate the payment of their bills in installments,” he said. “This program is available to any of our customers experiencing economic hardship.”
Water disconnections are suspended “until further notice,” Connolly said.
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]
Good news: you’re not going to get coronavirus from the tap water. But you could cause a big clog if you don’t watch what you flush.
That’s the message from the people who keep the water running in Arlington.
The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services is upping its public outreach to join other municipal water agencies in urging people not to flush wipes or anything else that is not “pee, poo or toilet paper.”
More from DES:
Plumbing and sewer lines – kept healthy – provide vital service to any community. Now more than ever, it’s essential to have such infrastructure flowing in Arlington.
When it comes to toilets, only three things that should ever be flushed. Two are those familiar human waste products. The other is genuine toilet paper.
Flushing down anything else threatens your home’s plumbing and, farther into the line, Arlington’s sanitary sewer system.
Disposable cleaning wipes, dental floss, cigarette butts, cat litter and more should always be thrown away. Those supposedly “flushable” hygiene wipes should also never be flushed. They fail to break down and can cause massive clogs.
Even paper towels and facial tissue can create jams because of their particular composition. Throw them away. Don’t flush them.
County spokesman Peter Golkin says no major clogs have been reported in Arlington so far, but the danger remains as people continue to use wipes amid a toilet paper shortage. And that’s not to mention disinfectant wipes that are unadvisedly disposed of in the toilet.
DES is also reminding residents to avoid sending fats, oils and grease down the sink, which coats and clogs pipes.
“Folks just need to take some simple steps to protect their own plumbing and the county’s,” said Golkin. “Put a trash can in the bathroom if you don’t have one and keep an empty metal can beside the stove for fats, oils and grease. Let it cool. Throw it in the trash.”
Separately, officials are assuring residents that Arlington’s tap water is safe, even during the outbreak.
There is no risk of virus transmission through the region’s public water systems. Disinfectants used in the region’s water treatment, like chlorine, neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19. Conventional water treatment methods also use filtration.
The region’s drinking water continues to meet all safety standards established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Virginia Department of Health.
Also, a reminder: the annual spring water disinfectant switch will be happening next week as scheduled. From DES:
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.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct performs the temporary disinfectant switch from chloramine to chlorine to help clean the pipes and maintain system flow. Washington Aqueduct continues to add a corrosion inhibitor during the process to reduce the potential release of lead in system pipes throughout the region.
During the cleaning, local water authorities will continually monitor the drinking water for safe chlorine levels as well as conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. Concurrently, staff will start systematically flushing fire hydrants. This process is repeated nearly every spring, in the region and across the nation. Crews operating hydrants are a normal part of this routine.
This temporary cleaning often brings with it a new smell to tap water. If customers opt, they can run the cold water tap for about two minutes, use a water filter or let water sit in a container in the refrigerator to remove chlorine taste and odor.
Customers who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water should continue such methods during the temporary switch to chlorine. As always, those with special concerns should consult their health care provider.
The Washington Aqueduct is the wholesale water supplier for the District of Columbia, Arlington and northeastern Fairfax County.
Good news: those who generate your electricity, treat your water and collect your trash are still working, even as many Arlington residents — with the notable exception of healthcare workers, public safety personnel and grocery store employees, among others — stay at home.
There are plans for keeping these unsung heroes safe and on the job, officials say.
Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which is responsible for waste collection, water service, road maintenance and other critical infrastructure, says it is implementing plans drawn up for disaster situations.
“We have implemented a continuity of operational services plan (COOP) to ensure operations and critical services continue, and are practicing social distancing to protect staff, including staggering start times to avoid large groups,” DES spokeswoman Katie O’Brien tells ARLnow. “Crews are also being encouraged to follow CDC guidelines like washing hands for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based sanitizer when water isn’t available.”
Waste collection workers are keeping their distance from one another, when possible, and wearing more protective gear, O’Brien said.
“Residential trash, recycling and yard waste curbside collection is expected to continue,” she noted. “Currently, our hauler has suspended bulk curbside collection for residential customers until further notice. This includes furniture, mattresses and any appliances larger than a standard microwave.”
To keep water infrastructure — everything from water mains to sewer lines to the county’s water treatment plant — running at a time when everyone is being encouraged to wash their hands frequently, planned maintenance involving water outages are being avoided.
DES has “limited or postponed planned water shutdowns to minimize service impacts on customers and focus our resources on maintaining our systems,” O’Brien said.
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) March 19, 2020
Other mitigation steps in place include modified schedules and rear boarding for ART buses, and reduced staff and schedules — but continued operations — for traffic signal maintenance and repairs, sign fabrication and repairs, markings, and meter repairs.
Dominion Energy, meanwhile, says it is prepared for situations like this.
Customers “can expect continued, reliable service,” said spokeswoman Peggy Fox. “Our crews are standing by to respond to any customer-service issues.”
That includes outages, like the one the Ballston area experienced earlier today.
From a Dominion spokeswoman: A power crew was "doing planned maintenance when an unexpected outage happened. Most customers are back up now, but a few are still out while we investigate the issue." https://t.co/oZyB0Ydd8A
— Arlington Now (@ARLnowDOTcom) March 24, 2020
“Our line workers will still be responding to service interruptions,” Fox said. “If you experience a power outage, the best way to report it is online or through our mobile app.”
On the electricity generation side, power plants are still humming and Dominion says procedures are in place to ensure employee safety and continuity.
“We are staffing our power stations to ensure we continue to provide our customers with reliable energy 24/7 [and] have adjusted our staffing plans so employees who perform the same roles are spread across different shifts or days of the week,” she said. “For employees who cannot work remotely, we are sanitizing our facilities at the end of each shift and encouraging safe hygiene practices. To limit exposure, we have restricted access to our facilities.”
As for Dominion workers who become ill with the virus, Fox said that they will be told to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“Other employees will step in to ensure essential work gets done, just as they do when a colleague goes on vacation,” she said.
Man Arrested After Door Incident at DCA — “A passenger on a flight operated by Frontier Airlines was taken into custody at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after allegedly using the emergency slide to exit the airplane, officials said.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Metrobus Rides Are Free, For Now — “To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Metrobus riders will be required to board using the rear doors and will not have to tap their fare cards, according to a letter sent to employees Sunday.
The change, which begins Tuesday, means rides essentially are free.” [Washington Post]
County Trying to Help Small Businesses — “To mitigate some of the challenges and hardships experienced by small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related closures and modifications, Arlington County is finding new ways to reach out to business owners with counsel, resources and other options.” [Arlington County]
County Offers Help with Utility Bills — “If you are struggling to pay a County utility bill (water/sewer/refuse) at this time, please call the DES Customer Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees.” [Twitter]
Coronavirus Fraud Task Force Formed — “In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.” [Press Release]
Marymount Mulls Commencement Alternatives — “This Wednesday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the online-only class period that started this week will be extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. It was also decided that the traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2020 would be canceled.” [Press Release]
Overnight Lane Closures in Rosslyn — “N Lynn St, SB Lee Hwy and the ramps to and from I-66 in Rosslyn will see overnight work requiring lane closures or full closures Mon night 3/23 – Thu night 3/26 in relation to the Lynn St Esplanade project.” [VDOT, Twitter]
Emails sent to parents and staff report occasional but recurring water pressure problems that affect second and third floor bathrooms in particular. We’re told the issues cropped up again earlier this week.
As a result, school officials say they’ve propped open bathroom doors — so users don’t have to touch handles — and put hand sanitizer in place. The school is also awaiting delivery and installation of a “booster pump” to help solve the issue.
Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia suggested it’s an issue with water pressure from county pipes.
“We have identified the problem and are working on a solution,” Bellavia told ARLnow. “The problem is occurring because Wakefield sits at a high point at the end the line.”
Wakefield Principal Chris Willmore sent the following email to parents last night.
Good Evening Wakefield families,
I wanted to share with you recent steps we have taken to protect against the coronavirus.
We are aware of the urgent issue related to low and inconsistent water pressure on the second and third floors and are working closely with Facilities to address it as quickly as possible. Please note that this issue related to water pressure does occur on the first floor occasionally as well, but not as often as the upper floors. While there are no problems with the water pressure on many days, there are days in which it will disappear for 5-20 minute periods of time. This fall and winter, APS Facilities staff repaired or replaced all broken sinks, faucets, and dead batteries and looked closer into the water pressure situation. Facilities is expediting the purchase of a “pump booster” that will supplement the pressure when there is not enough when water enters the building from the county lines. We do not have an estimated delivery or installation date yet and will keep you informed.
In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the Facilities department to identify interim solutions to ensure students can practice good hand-washing hygiene while we await the installation of the booster pump. As an immediate first step, we have secured bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that we will place outside the administrative offices on the second and third floors and at the welcome table in the Town Hall. If there is no water pressure, staff and students can go get hand sanitizer. While it is not convenient, since many times there is water pressure on the first floor, coming down to a bathroom is also an option.
We have also ordered additional door stops for all student bathrooms so that students will not need to touch door handles as they enter or exit.
I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this challenging time. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Elite Yorktown Swimmer Has Bright Future — “So far during her three-year high-school swimming career, Victoria Huske has never lost an individual race. Included in Huske’s victories for the Yorktown Patriots’ standout are six individual state championships in various strokes and she has been a member of five winning relays with one close second.” [InsideNova]
Fairlington Bus Stop Getting a Roof — “Arlington County anticipates beginning work on enhancement of the bus stop at the corner of S. Buchanan Street and 30th Street S., which include installation of a weather shelter, the week of March 9th.” [Twitter]
New Tech Helps County Explore Pipes — “With no interruption to service, our new high-tech pal PipeDiver today explored key Arlington water supply pipes, gathering a wealth of unprecedented data to assess conditions now and for long-term planning.” [Twitter]
Whitlow’s to Serve Beer with Your Face on It — “Ever wanted to drink your face? Well join us [Thursday] night from 6:30pm-8:30pm! @guinness will take your [photo], and in less time than it takes to pour a perfect pint, the 3D Malt Printer puts your face in your beer.” [Instagram]
Amazon Buys Pentagon City Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has quietly purchased the 6.2-acre Pentagon City site where its first pair of HQ2 towers will be built. Acorn Development LLC, an Amazon subsidiary that is often listed when the company files for permits or makes land acquisitions, purchased the Metropolitan Park site on Jan. 15 from JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) for $154.95 million, according to Arlington County records.” [Washington Business Journal]
Waverly Hills is Hot — “‘Hot’ is a subjective term in any context, including real estate. While it’s possible to measure the number of sales, price increases and how quickly homes sell, what draws one buyer doesn’t always appeal to other buyers.
According to Redfin real estate brokerage, Willowsford in Ashburn, Va., and Waverly Hills in Arlington are the No. 1 and No. 5 hottest neighborhoods in the country.” [Washington Post]
Next Step for GMU Expansion — “University officials released a request for proposals Tuesday, looking for developers interested in teaming up with Mason to build a new home for the Institute of Digital Innovation on its Virginia Square property. The building is set to include a mix of uses across its 460,000 square feet, with room for classes and research labs alongside space for companies big and small looking to partner with the university.” [Washington Business Journal]
High Water Bill Saga Continues — Residents are still seeking answers to the recent spate of high water bills, even though it appears that the drought — and outdoor irrigation — during that time period is to blame. The COO of Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services “said about 3,900 people, 11 percent of the county’s residential customers, had their bills double. He said during the 2016 drought that number was about 2,000 to 2,500 people.” [WUSA 9]
Macy’s to Close Stores — Facing major retail headwinds, Macy’s is planning to close 125 of its stores, nearly a fifth of all of its current stores, over the next three years. So far the exact location of most of the closures have not been announced. There are two Macy’s stores in Arlington, at mall in Pentagon City and Ballston. [Wall Street Journal]
Va. Lawmakers Considering Stronger SLAPP Law — “Many states have enacted tough laws making it harder to get away with so-called SLAPP suits: nuisance litigation designed to bury its targets in paperwork and fees. Virginia, however, is considered friendlier to those kinds of filings, and some experts and advocates say that has become a problem.” [Washingtonian]