Arlington, VA

As the November chill setting in, Arlington County restaurants are taking steps to keep guests cozy as they eat at impromptu patios.

Outdoor dining continues to be an option for restaurants that want to seat more customers while keeping indoor occupancy low. But some Arlington restaurant owners are facing hurdles outfitting their space with heaters and extra seating while meeting local and state laws.

So far, the County has approved 21 requests for propane heaters. But some restaurants, including Medium Rare in Virginia Square, do not have enough outdoor space to keep their guests warm while meeting state fire codes.

Medium Rare’s owner, Mark Bucher, said he and other Arlington restaurant owners are being forced to choose among three bad options: close the outdoor seating space, spend thousands of dollars on electric heating, or break the law and put up propane heaters anyway.

Bucher, who has been organizing large-scale free meal deliveries during the pandemic, has started asking the County to cut the red tape that he says is making it harder to expand patio seating and subsequently, set up heaters.

“Arlington, which is normally the most business-friendly jurisdiction in the area, has been the worst on this,” said Bucher, who also operates in Bethesda and D.C. “There has been no proactive outreach.”

Arlington County spokeswoman Erika Moore said the County is taking steps to help businesses transition to winter.

“The Arlington County Fire Prevention Office is working hard to ensure businesses can remain open and operating as we move to colder weather,” she said in an email.

Part of the space issue stems back to the summer, when some Arlingtonians wanted to see streets closed so tables and chairs could spill into the street. But this never happened, due to a lack of resources and manpower, county officials said in October. A number of temporary outdoor seating areas were approved, and in some cases street parking spaces were used to help accommodate them, but bolder action was not taken.

Neighboring Fairfax County, meanwhile voted last month to relax regulations around tents and heaters.

With winter near, restaurant owners in Arlington do not just need space for outdoor seating, Bucher said, they need space to install heaters according to code. Propane heaters, for example, have to be five feet from buildings and exits, and cannot be under tents or canopies.

There’s a permit process that must be followed, which involves submitting a permit for heaters and possibly re-submitting a permit to change a restaurant’s set-up for outdoor seating. That all takes time, and restaurants are running out of time.

Out of desperation, in areas where seating is limited to sidewalks, some restaurants are putting up heaters anyway.

“People are doing it, but technically, you’re not allowed to have one,” Bucher said.

He said he tried to install a silent, diesel-powered, zero-emission heater at the Arlington Medium Rare, but was informed that also did not meet code.

Bucher said the problem is “an old fire code that is antiquated,” as well as overzealous enforcement.

“No one has said, ‘We’re going to hold off on this so that restaurants can have seating,'” he said.

Moore said Arlington County has helped create more seating for restaurant, approving 92 temporary outdoor seating areas that added more than 900 temporary outdoor tables countywide.

“Some of these have involved temporarily repurposing portions of public rights of way to increase space for restaurant seating, including in the Shirlington and Clarendon neighborhoods,” she said.

The County also has published a guide for transitioning to winter that addresses the commercial use of tents and heaters and recommends blankets, hand-warmers, cozy food and drinks and prix fixe menus. But even the warmest of drinks is unlikely to do much to boost business during the coldest of winter nights.

Bucher said Arlington should look to D.C. and Montgomery County, which are issuing grants specifically for restaurants to winterize, and have taken steps to close parts of streets for extra seating.

In D.C., 428 restaurants have received $2.6 million in funds to winterize, DCist reports, and the government still has $1.4 million to distribute. Restaurants in Montgomery County can apply for grants worth up to $10,000.

This summer, the County did award $2.8 million to nearly 400 small businesses through the Small Business Emergency GRANT Program, which “helped small businesses, including restaurants, transition as needed to operate during COVID,” Moore said.

To create more space D.C. shut down metered parking to create “streateries” in some areas, Bucher said. In Arlington, the process to expand patio seating is still beset with applications and fees, despite the extraordinary times, he added.

“I have to pay fees in a pandemic?” he asked.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

More Snow Than Last Year? — “Winter officially starts in just two weeks (by the Dec. 1 meteorological definition), and, as such, we present our annual seasonal outlook… Overall, we expect slightly below-average snowfall, though around the median… 10 to 14 inches (compared with a 15.4-inch average, 11-inch median).” [Capital Weather Gang]

Sailor Sentenced for Child Exploitation — “A former U.S. Navy Seabee was sentenced today to 109 months in prison for transporting images of child sexual abuse. According to court documents, Martin Nieves Huizar, 37, of Arlington, was previously assigned to the U.S. Secretary of State’s overseas travel communications detail.” [U.S. Dept. of Justice]

Construction Crane Coming to Ballston — “Fans of bocce ball at a county park in Ballston will not find themselves displaced, although they soon may see a big crane swinging above their noggins. Arlington County Board members on Nov. 14 approved a request allowing the crane to operate within the government’s air rights above Glebe & Randolph Park. It will support redevelopment of the Harris Teeter site at 600 North Glebe Road.” [InsideNova]

Board Approves New Town Square Name — “The Arlington County Board today approved naming Green Valley’s Town Square for civic activist John Robinson, Jr. Robinson, often called the ‘Mayor of Green Valley,’ fought for decades against racial injustice and inequality in northern Virginia.” [Arlington County]

Shaved Ice Truck Coming to Arlington — “The pandemic did not dampen Noel and Jasmine Bourroughs’ first summer running a mobile Kona Ice truck in Fairfax and the City of Falls Church. In fact, their first season of operating the franchise was so successful they decided to expand. By next March, the couple anticipates opening two more trucks that serve Arlington and McLean.” [Tysons Reporter]

Wreath Promotion at New Pizzeria — From Nov. 27-Dec. 31, Colony Grill in Clarendon “invites guests to sponsor a veteran’s wreath to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.” [Press Release]

Plane Flying Circles Around Pentagon — A small, single-engine plane registered to a government contractor was flying circles around the Pentagon last night, at an altitude of around 5,000 feet. [@InTheSkyDC/Twitter]

Alexandria Cancels Winter Sports — Alexandria City Public Schools has canceled its winter sports season, a week after Arlington Public Schools reversed course and decided to play most winter sports. [ALXnow]

0 Comments

Arlington Public Schools will proceed with all but two winter sports, with some modifications, after talks with staff and neighboring school systems.

Swimming and diving, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, rifle and dance will proceed, but not wrestling — given the close contact that wrestlers engage in — or winter cheer, since competitive cheer can be offered outside later in the year, Superintendent Francisco Durán said in an email to families.

The decision comes after public outcry over the weekend to APS’s decision not to participate, which was announced on Thursday. People pointed to other school systems, which are allowing students to participate in winter sports.

“I have received many emails from students and families regarding my decision not to participate in Season 1 Winter athletic competition, due to current health metrics and safety concerns related to indoor sports,” Durán said.

The decision was discussed in the School Board meeting on Thursday, during which a few parents and School Board Member Tannia Talento asked him to reconsider.

Durán said he decided not to allow APS to participate in sports because it would not align with the return-to-school plan, which has been put on pause until 2021.

But with new modifications, such as a ban on in-person spectators and limited to no use of locker rooms, Durán said winter sports can move forward.

“We are exploring opportunities to livestream some competitions for spectators and will share information once arrangements have been made,” he said.

If community health conditions worsen, APS may modify or suspend athletics activities in consultation with health experts, he said.

“We will continue to monitor health metrics and work with school athletic staff and other school divisions to protect our athletes, coaches, employees, and families,” Durán said.

Tiffany McAvoy, the author of a petition to reverse APS’s decision, urged those who signed to email Durán and the School Board over the weekend.

“We want to fill up their inboxes so we can’t be ignored,” she wrote in her update to the Change.org petition.

In the first day after she created the petition, more than 1,800 people signed, she said in her update. Since then, the total has grown to 2,100 people as of Tuesday afternoon.

Student athletes and families will receive additional guidance closer to the start of the season, which begins Dec. 7.

“Our plans are evolving with the current conditions, and we will be flexible and responsive to the needs of our students whenever possible, assessing all options to safely support our students’ academic successes, mental health, and social-emotional well-being,” Durán said.

The Virginia High School League, a statewide sports league comprising public and private high schools, approved a Championship + 1 schedule in September that would allow students to play 60% of their sport’s regular season schedule, starting in December, with modified regional and state championships.

On Oct. 29, Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that allows the proposed VHSL schedule to begin in December as scheduled. In a statement published by VHSL, Northam said the league been a partner during the pandemic and has drafted thoughtful guidelines for reinstating sports.

File photo

0 Comments

Morning Notes

This Week’s Crystal City Garage Races Postponed — “Attention garage racers and friends: Tomorrow’s Crystal City races are postponed. We are operating with an abundance of caution after an employee of a tenant in the 201 12th St. S. complex was quarantined because of COVID-19. The complex common areas were cleaned and disinfected, today, but we are holding off before racing again.” [Facebook]

Deep Clean for Rosslyn-Based News Outlet — “Politico has asked several reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine over coronavirus concerns. It’s also sanitizing/disinfecting its office.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Winter is Over, Unofficially — “Winter was barely perceptible in Washington this year, and now, we can put a fork in it. We see no more potential for enduring cold or substantial snowfall. Spring is here.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Whitlow’s Rooftop Opens — “Rooftop opens for the season tonight at 5 p.m.! How’s that for a Monday?” [Twitter]

Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 23.” [Arlington County]

Developers Pitch in to Help Housing Nonprofit — “Absent a budget from a central housing authority, APAH ‘can’t afford not to’ maintain solid relationships with developers — who donate, serve on its board and train future APAH staffers. ‘We’re blessed by their generosity,’ Janopaul says, citing Arlington builders Tim Naughton of AvalonBay Communities Inc., John Shooshan of the Shooshan Co. and Andy VanHorn at JBG Smith.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy Josh Folb

0 Comments

Over the course of a typical winter, Arlington County crews fill thousands of potholes on local roads.

The winter of 2019-2020 is not typical, however. Crews have thus far only filled 455 potholes around the county’s 26 square miles, as the unusually mild winter has resulted and far less of the thawing and refreezing that’s responsible for pothole formation.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which is responsible for road paving and maintenance, tweeted about the lack of potholes yesterday.

“Needless to say, Arlington roads are in better-than-usual shape for March because of the minimal effects of this winter,” DES spokesman Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “We still have more than two weeks to go until official spring so perhaps we’re jinxing things. Snow is obviously possible in March and storms have happened even in April.”

“To keep things in perspective, we generally mobilize for 18 to 20 snow events per season,” Golkin continued. “So far we’ve prepared for four. Definitely beats a blizzard if you have to choose. When crews don’t need to fill potholes, they can take care of other road issues ahead of long-term paving.”

Paving season in Arlington is expected to start at the end of March and run into November.

“Weather-permitting, many streets will have that new surface smell soon,” said Golkin.

0 Comments

This winter in Arlington has been an anomaly.

It’s the only winter since 1932 in which the temperature has failed to drop below 22 degrees. And it’s generally been cloudy, rainy and — well — pretty gloomy.

Snow has been (and, at least for the next week or two, will remain) hard to come by, and students have yet to have a full snow day. That’s bad for snow lovers, though parents and road crews no doubt appreciate the relief.

Meanwhile, the rain will return tonight, ahead of some cold, dry, snowless weather.

How would you rate the weather so far this winter?

0 Comments

Morning Notes

VHC to Take More Trauma Patients — “Virginia Hospital Center is preparing to become a trauma center. The Arlington hospital, now amid a major campus expansion, is taking steps to secure Level 2 trauma designation — meaning it could handle more serious cases like head injuries and complex fractures with a devoted response team, led by an in-house general surgeon.” [Washington Business Journal]

APS May Be Rethinking School Swap — “As the potentially contentious redistricting of elementary-school boundaries begins to take shape, Arlington school leaders may be tiptoeing away just slightly from somewhat radical suggestions they offered just weeks ago.” [InsideNova]

AWLA Rescues Kitten Near Pentagon –“We received a call about a car parked near the Pentagon, with a note under the windshield stating that there was a kitten up inside the engine. Using a mix of patience and really yummy cat food, our officers were able to safely remove the kitten and bring her back to the shelter.” [Facebook]

Arlington-Made App Highlighted by Apple — “In honor of Veterans Day, Arlington, Virginia-based Sandboxx, creator of a platform that keeps military families connected, is being featured in Apple’s app store as its App of the Day.” [Technically DC]

Arlington Co. Makes Best-for-Vets List — Ballston-based contractor CACI is on a new list of the Best Companies for Veterans. [Tysons Reporter, Monster]

Sullivan Selected as Caucus Chair — “Virginia Democrats on Saturday chose Eileen Filler-Corn to become speaker of the House of Delegates, a pick that managed to be both historic and conventional for a party that flipped both chambers of the General Assembly in elections Tuesday… Del. Charniele L. Herring (Alexandria) will be the new majority leader, becoming the first woman and the first African American to serve in that post. Del. Richard C. ‘Rip’ Sullivan Jr… will be caucus chairman.” [Washington Post, Blue Virginia]

First Flakes Today? — Some light “conversational” snow may fall today as a cold front passes through. Meanwhile, NBC 4’s Doug Kammerer expects this winter to be colder and snowier than usual. [Capital Weather Gang, NBC 4]

New Korean Chicken Eatery Near Fairlington — “Korean chicken restaurant Choong Man Chicken is coming to… Shoppes at Summit Centre (4700 King Street).” [ALXnow]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

0 Comments

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Does the Arlington market change in the winter?

Answer: November marks the start of the traditional “winter market” in Arlington that is defined by fewer homes being put up for sale and homes sitting on the market just a bit longer than they did earlier in the year. The decrease in new inventory will be obvious to anybody who has been searching for a home in 2019, but you’ll barely notice the increase in how long homes are taking to sell because the market is moving so quickly that even a slowdown will mimic spring markets in previous years.

Sharp Decrease In New Inventory

Historically, the fewest homes hit the market in Arlington from November-January, with the pace of new listings in December coming in at nearly 1/3 the rate of new listings from March-May. With inventory levels in 2019 already at historical lows, this winter will feel especially short on housing supply.

Buyer Demand Cools Off

Historically, the percentage of homes that go under contract within the first ten days decreases from November-January, with November and December (holiday season) having the most noticeable reduction in quick sales. However, with the pace of the Arlington market at all-time highs in 2019, you can expect the drop in demand in November and December to feel like peak spring demand in previous years.

Is The Winter The Right Time For You?

The winter can be a great time to buy if you’re more focused on value because demand decreases so you may pick up some negotiation leverage. However, if you’re searching for something unique and struggling to find properties that fit your criteria, the odds of the perfect place hitting the market in the winter decreases.

Given how low inventory is heading into this winter, I’m not sure buyers will find as many deals as they have in previous years. Demand is still strong from buyers who haven’t found a home yet in 2019 and low supply makes it a strong market for sellers, even during the holidays.

If you’re considering buying or selling in Arlington or the surrounding D.C. Metro communities and would like to learn more about the impact seasonality will have on your process, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

0 Comments

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Home insulation has a significantly greater impact on your home’s energy use and comfort than new windows or doors.

Believe it or not, 9 out of 10 homes in the U.S. are under-insulated. That means that you most likely live in one of them. Older Arlington homes were built when insulation was expensive and fuel was cheap. Many Arlington homes were built with no insulation and are uncomfortably hot in the summer, cold in the winter and have uneven temperatures room-to-room and floor-to-floor.

Do you have uneven temperatures throughout your home? What are you waiting for!? Join other Arlingtonians that already weatherized their homes and are enjoying the benefits of year-round comfort and lower utility bills.

In most cases, the fixes aren’t complex and the cost will likely be less than you expect. In just one day you can have your home insulated and be comfortable year after year.

Unsure where to start? Check out this list of contractors that participated in the our previously run Home Energy Rebate Program. Give an insulation contractor a call today to get an estimate. The sooner you act the more comfortable your home will be.

Tune in to our next post where we’ll post tips for renters and condo owners.

0 Comments

Update at 10:30 a.m. — Arlington Public Schools are closed today due to wintry weather. While grassy areas were snow-covered this morning, streets and sidewalks were mostly wet, with some slippery spots.

Earlier: Arlington and much of the region is under a Winter Weather Advisory tonight and Friday morning.

Snow and sleet is in the forecast overnight, though how much accumulates, and whether it disrupts the morning commute, remains uncertain. Still, Arlington Public Schools made the call to open on a two hour delay Friday.

From the National Weather Service:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 AM EST FRIDAY… * WHAT…SNOW AND SLEET EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 3 INCHES EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND AND NORTHERN AND NORTHWEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 AM EST FRIDAY. A BRIEF PERIOD OF MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW MAY OCCUR BETWEEN 2 AM AND 6 AM. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING COMMUTE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW, SLEET OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. EXPECT SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES, AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. WHEN VENTURING OUTSIDE, WATCH YOUR FIRST FEW STEPS TAKEN ON STEPS, SIDEWALKS, AND DRIVEWAYS, WHICH COULD BE ICY AND SLIPPERY, INCREASING YOUR RISK OF A FALL AND INJURY. &&

Both VDOT and Arlington County have been pre-treating roads ahead of the storm, but VDOT cautions that roads may be slick Friday.

“VDOT asks that drivers be alert for up to several inches of snow and sleet that will impact roads tonight through Friday morning,” the agency said. “Drivers are asked to prepare now for impacts to the morning rush hour. Crews will begin staging along roads tonight.”

More via social media:

0 Comments

(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools will be closed Wednesday due to expected snow and ice.

The school system made the call at 5 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after a similar announcement from Fairfax County Public Schools.

Arlington’s Marymount University will also be closed.

Arlington and the region is under a Winter Storm Warning for Wednesday, with 3-6 inches of snow expected. From the National Weather Service:

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 7 PM EST WEDNESDAY… * WHAT…HEAVY MIXED PRECIPITATION EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO ONE TENTH OF AN INCH EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND AND CENTRAL AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 1 AM TO 7 PM EST WEDNESDAY. SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE AREA EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING AND MIX WITH AND CHANGE TO SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN DURING THE LATE MORNING AND EARLY AFTERNOON HOURS WEDNESDAY. PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO PLAIN RAIN WEDNESDAY EVENING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS LIKELY WEDNESDAY MORNING. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING OR EVENING COMMUTE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW, SLEET AND ICE WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE. WHEN VENTURING OUTSIDE, WATCH YOUR FIRST FEW STEPS TAKEN ON STEPS, SIDEWALKS, AND DRIVEWAYS, WHICH COULD BE ICY AND SLIPPERY, INCREASING YOUR RISK OF A FALL AND INJURY. &&

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says it has been pretreating roads and expects to have its “full response team” on the road shortly after midnight, before the first of the flakes starts falling.

The wintry weather is expected to prompt delays and cancellations at local airports, including Reagan National Airport, which is advising flyers to “check with their airline to confirm the status of their flight prior to coming to the airport.”

VDOT’s Northern Virginia office, meanwhile, is encouraging drivers to stay off the roads if at all possible.

VDOT asks that drivers plan travel around a winter storm bringing accumulating snow and a mix of frozen precipitation to the region throughout the day Wednesday. Avoid travel during the storm for safety, as well as after until road conditions improve.

Crews pretreated interstates and major routes throughout northern Virginia yesterday and today.

Tonight, trucks will stage along roadways, ready to plow and treat roads as needed when the storm begins.

VDOT Asks Drivers and Residents To:

  • Plan now to avoid driving through the day Wednesday and after the storm until conditions have improved. Give crews time to plow and treat roads.
  • Park in driveways or on the same side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • Continue to closely monitor weather, as forecasts can improve or worsen quickly.
  • If you absolutely must drive, know the conditions, drive for the conditions and give plows plenty of room. Ensure enough gas, wiper fluid, proper tires, medication, and an emergency car kit. Check road conditions along your route at www.511virginia.org, on the free mobile app, or call 511 from any phone in Virginia.
0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list