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| Listing of the Day: 1018 Railroad Avenue Wed, 16 Jan 2019 22:45:59 +0000
|Smaller house, bigger life! Railroad Cottages are the best new construction value inside the beltway that offer the conveniences of luxury condominium living in a single-family home.
Neighborhood: Falls Church City
Open: Sunday, December 20 from 2-4 p.m.
Smaller house, bigger life!
The Railroad Cottages are the best new construction value inside the beltway. These cottage homes offer a simple, beautiful and low-maintenance lifestyle through thoughtful design. These beautifully built, highly energy efficient, right-sized, age-qualified homes are in a wonderfully walkable location near public transit, shops and entertainment.
The front porches and orientation around the common area and Common House encourages conversation and neighborliness, while still providing personal privacy.
With geothermal heating, cooling systems and solar powering the community lighting and Common House, the community will have some of the highest efficiencies found in the National Capital Region. Residents will enjoy the privacy and natural light of a single-family home with all of the conveniences of luxury condominium living.
Centrally located in Falls Church City and on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, The Railroad Cottages are building a sense of community through good design.
Come see the progress! Open every Sunday from 2-4 p.m. or call Theresa today for a private tour that works with your schedule.
Theresa Sullivan Twiford
Advon Real Estate
| Amazon Breaks Out Its Checkbook, Sending Small Donations to All of Arlington’s State Lawmakers Wed, 16 Jan 2019 21:45:29 +0000
|Amazon has now chipped in campaign cash to every one of Arlington’s representatives in Richmond, kicking in the relatively small total of $3,500 to the seven state lawmakers representing the...
Amazon has now chipped in campaign cash to every one of Arlington’s representatives in Richmond, kicking in the relatively small total of $3,500 to the seven state lawmakers representing the future home of one of its new headquarters.
The tech company spread out the contributions over the course of last November and December, according to new campaign finance reports released yesterday (Tuesday), starting to wade into Virginia politics in the immediate aftermath of its big announcement that it would soon bring 25,000 workers to offices in Pentagon City and Crystal City.
All but one of Amazon’s donations to Arlington’s legislative delegation were either $250 or $500 in size, generally a pretty small sum in even the largely sleepy world of statehouse elections. For instance, none of the contributions were anything close to the largest sums county lawmakers received in the six-month period measured in the new reports, running from July through December 2018.
But the contributions do signal that the tech company is ready to start stepping up its involvement in state politics as it prepares to massively expand its presence in Virginia, particularly as the General Assembly gears up to approve an incentive package for Amazon that could send the company as much as $750 million in grants over the next two decades. Jeff Bezos’ firm has generally not chipped much money for state lawmakers in the past, but did start to ramp up some of its political giving early last year.
The tech firm was considerably more generous to Virginia’s statewide leaders. Amazon chipped in $4,000 for Gov. Ralph Northam’s political action committee last month, and sent $1,000 to Attorney General Mark Herring, who’s announced a bid for governor in 2021. The company also sent $4,000 to a PAC supporting Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is broadly rumored to be mulling his own bid for governor, and another $1,000 to House Speaker Kirk Cox’s PAC.
The cash from the company also comes as Democrats are increasingly viewing corporate donations with intense skepticism. Northam and other Democrats in the legislature are currently backing a ban on corporate cash in state elections, and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th District) went so far as to return the $1,000 check Amazon sent to his campaign to avoid any appearance of political favoritism.
That check was the largest one the company sent to any local lawmaker — Lopez represents a collection of South Arlington neighborhoods immediately surrounding Amazon’s planned “National Landing” offices.
The company sent $500 checks to state Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District), Barbara Favola (D-31st District) and Janet Howell (D-32nd District), and one to Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th District). Dels. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) and Mark Levine (D-45th District) each received $250 contributions from the company. Notably, Amazon does not appear to have given any money to any of Arlington’s five County Board members last year.
While Amazon may attract the most attention these days, it was political action committees, generally controlled by corporations, that sent Arlington’s lawmakers the most cash in the second half of 2018.
Ebbin raised the most cash of any county legislator for the six-month period, pulling nearly $119,000 in all and assembling a campaign war chest of about $101,000. Of that haul, $8,500 came courtesy of PACs.
Arlington’s other senators pulled in quite a bit more from those committees. Howell, who placed second in the cash race among county lawmakers, raised about $76,000 over the last six months and now has nearly $267,000 socked away in her campaign account.
She scored about $29,000 of that amount from PACs, including $2,000 from Dominion Energy’s political giving arm — many Democrats, including the bulk of Arlington’s delegation, have pledged to refuse money from the utility company, arguing it would be inappropriate to accept cash from one of the state’s few regulated monopolies.
Favola finished third for the cycle, raising about $58,000 and racking up a war chest of about $185,000. She accepted about $22,650 in PAC money, including $1,000 from Dominion. Advanced Towing, the company made infamous for its run-in with TV personality Britt McHenry back in 2015, also sent her a $1,000 check.
Favola is one of just two Arlington lawmakers facing a primary challenge so far this year, with local activist Nicole Merlene challenging her for the Democratic nomination. Merlene has yet to report any fundraising activity, as she declared her candidacy just a few weeks ago.
The same goes for Julius “J.D.” Spain, the head of Arlington’s chapter of the NAACP, who is challenging Lopez.
As for Lopez himself, he reported raising about $50,100 for the cycle, and has about $63,300 in the bank. He took about $9,750 in PAC money, but his biggest contributors were generally environmental groups, as he’s also refused Dominion cash.
Michael Bills, a Charlottesville investor focused on environmental issues, sent him $10,000. The group he founded dedicated to fighting Dominion’s influence in Richmond, Clean Virginia, added another $5,000.
The group also sent $2,500 to Levine, as part of his nearly $29,700 haul. He has about $13,400 in the bank, and reported accepting just $4,250 in PAC money.
Hope also earned $2,500 from the environmental advocates, adding to his total of more than $32,000. He reported having about $29,300 in his campaign account, and took about $5,900 in PAC cash.
Finally, Sullivan reported raising about $37,200 for the cycle, and now has more than $55,600 in the bank. He accepted $6,750 in PAC money.
In the county’s local races, the Democratic primary pitting Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos against former public defender Parisa Tafti is shaping up to be competitive on the cash front.
Tafti reported pulling in more than $30,500 since launching her campaign against the county’s top prosecutor, while Stamos managed just over $5,900 over the last six months. Tafti now has about $18,000 in her campaign account, compared to Stamos’ $24,300.
Neither of the two incumbent County Board members up for re-election this year — Katie Cristol and Chair Christian Dorsey — have formally announced campaigns thus far, but both did take in some campaign cash in the back of 2018.
Cristol reported raising just over $5,400, and has more than $14,000 saved up should she run for a second term. Dorsey managed to pull in just $1,600, and has only $542 left in his campaign account.
School Board Chair Reid Goldstein, the lone member of that body running for re-election this year, reported raising just $15 to support his bid for the cycle. But he still has $2,000 left in the bank.
A June 11 primary will decide the Democratic nominations in the primary races, while all 140 state lawmakers and many county officeholders will face voters this November.
| County Making Progress on Snow Removal, Though Some Icy Patches Linger Wed, 16 Jan 2019 20:45:28 +0000
|Three days out from one of the D.C. region’s biggest snowstorms in years, Arlington officials say they’ve managed to clear most streets and county-controlled sidewalks — but the frigid temperatures...
Three days out from one of the D.C. region’s biggest snowstorms in years, Arlington officials say they’ve managed to clear most streets and county-controlled sidewalks — but the frigid temperatures of the last few nights have led to some trouble spots.
Since this weekend’s big storm, county workers have been able to clear the vast majority of highly trafficked roads, and many neighborhood streets as well. But Katie O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow that snow plows are still on the road today (Wednesday) “to address areas that need additional treatment.”
“We have been having a lot of issues with refreezing over the past few days on both streets and sidewalks,” O’Brien wrote in an email. The problem was even significant enough to prompt the county school system to switch from a planned two-hour delay yesterday morning (Tuesday) to a full closure.
When it comes to those troublesome sidewalks, the county puts most of the onus for clearing walkways on residents and businesses. But Arlington crews still have responsibility for sidewalks outside county facilities, like libraries and community centers.
And on that front, O’Brien says that workers have managed to clear all the sidewalks the county is responsible for maintaining. The same goes for the walkways near county parks, according to Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
“We’ve got everything cleared at this point, but will continue to monitor things due to snow melt and refreeze,” Kalish wrote in an email.
Of course, some slick spots still linger on trails within the parks themselves. Some walking paths remain iced over in parks around the county, prompting a few complaints from frustrated ARLnow readers. A quick survey of paths in both the James Hunter Dog Park in Clarendon and the Henry Clay Park in Lyon Park showed that ice still coated most of their walkways.
But Kalish says that’s largely because the county prioritizes sidewalks “around our community centers so they can safely open,” then focuses on “clearing safe routes to schools and then the heaviest used sidewalks (normally associated with Metro or busier urban areas).”
Kalish added that parks workers also are responsible for clearing “10 miles of high-volume, multi-use county trails,” and that process is just about wrapped up as well.
Notably, this was the county’s first storm since setting up a temporary salt storage facility to replace the old “Salt Dome” providing road salt for the northern half of the county — a controversial process that rankled neighbors this summer — but O’Brien says there were “no major concerns or unexpected issues” with the new facility.
She added that the county’s “staffing levels for plow operators and snow-clearing personnel have remained steady,” despite Arlington’s recent budget woes, allowing the county to operate its full fleet of 46 snow plow trucks without a hitch.
Going forward, O’Brien says that anyone who notices a street or patch of sidewalk that needs some work can report it for attention through an online form on the county’s website.
And it might be a good idea to give any remaining patches of ice some attention sooner rather than later — forecasters expect a wintry mix to roll back through the area tomorrow night (Thursday).
| Crime Report: Abduction Attempt on Wilson Blvd Wed, 16 Jan 2019 19:55:43 +0000
|A masked man tried to abduct a woman outside of her residence along Wilson Blvd this past weekend, according to Arlington County Police. The abduction attempt happened early Saturday morning...
A masked man tried to abduct a woman outside of her residence along Wilson Blvd this past weekend, according to Arlington County Police.
The abduction attempt happened early Saturday morning on Wilson near the intersection with Patrick Henry Drive. The man tried to drag the woman away but she fought back and the attacker eventually fled.
More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ABDUCTION, 2019-01120041, 6100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 3:00 a.m. on January 12, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she noticed an unknown male subject following her. As she approached the entrance to her residence, the male suspect pulled the victim’s hair from behind and wrapped his arms around her, preventing her from leaving. The suspect attempted to pull the victim away from her residence, however she resisted and the suspect eventually fled on foot when a vehicle drove by the area. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, with light-olive toned skin, possibly in his late 20’s or early 30’s, approximately 5’8″-5’11”, 150-180 lbs., wearing black pants, a black jacket, black shoes and a winter mask. The investigation is ongoing.
Also last week, police were dispatched to a store in Pentagon City for a man who exposed himself to a group of children inside a fitting room.
The incident happened Friday night, on the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street — which is address of both the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall and the Pentagon Centre shopping center.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2019-01110259, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 7:11 p.m. on January 11, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the juvenile victims were in the area of the fitting rooms inside of a business when they observed a male expose himself and touch himself inappropriately. The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern male, 25-35 years old, taller than 6’1″, approximately 190 lbs., with short black hair, brown eyes, scruff on his face, wearing a dark gray shirt, black jacket and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.
Below are the rest of the highlights from this week’s crime report, including some we’ve already reported.
BURGLARY, 2019-01110053, 3200 block of N. Tacoma Street. At approximately 3:37 a.m. on January 11, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted burglary just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his residence when he was alerted to the sound of an exterior door opening. The victim approached the door, heard it slam shut, and subsequently observed two suspects flee from the porch and leave the scene in a dark colored minivan. The suspects are described as two black males wearing large winter coats. The investigation is ongoing.
PEEPING, 2019-01100275, 600 block of N. Nelson Street. At approximately 9:37 p.m. on January 10, police were dispatched to the report of a peeping. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were inside their residence when they observed an unknown male suspect inside their backyard looking into the residence through a door. The victims screamed and the suspect fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’10”-6’0″, 180-210 lbs., wearing a black hoodie and black pants. The investigation is ongoing.
RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2019-01090226, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on January 9, police were alerted to a License Plate Reader hit on a vehicle previously reported stolen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The vehicle was located in a parking garage and officers later made contact with two suspects as they returned to the vehicle. During the course of the investigation, the passenger was determined to be wanted out of Fairfax County for separate charges and taken into custody. The second suspect, the driver of the vehicle, Dae Shawn Jamison, 26, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.
RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2019-01090231, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 6:47 p.m. on January 9, while investigating a separate case, police were alerted to a License Plate Reader Hit on a vehicle previously reported stolen out of Alexandria, Va. The parked vehicle was located in a garage and recovered. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.
| Arlington’s ‘Habitual Drunkards:’ Prosecutors Enforce a Controversial Law Impacting the Homeless Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:45:23 +0000
|Over the last few years, Arlington police and prosecutors have been enforcing a law to deal with people who are frequently drunk in public — but some say the law...
Over the last few years, Arlington police and prosecutors have been enforcing a law to deal with people who are frequently drunk in public — but some say the law puts incarceration over rehabilitation.
The unusual process, known as “interdiction,” allows county prosecutors to ask a judge to declare someone a “habitual drunkard” if they’ve committed several alcohol-related offenses. That designation means these “drunkards” can be charged with a misdemeanor and jailed for up to a year if they’re found so much as buying or drinking alcohol again.
Virginia and Utah are the only states in the entire country with this sort of law on the books; the commonwealth’s statute passed just before the turn of the 20th century.
Accordingly, interdictions are far from commonplace in the county — prosecutors estimate that they’ve only interdicted 12 people dating back to September 2015, and that just 50 people around Arlington are currently deemed “drunkards.”
But the latter figure is the third highest for any locality across the entire state, according to statistics compiled by the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center. Only Virginia Beach and Roanoke have more interdicted people, with 616 and 140 respectively.
And Arlington’s place on that list disturbs attorneys and advocates alike, given the brewing controversy over interdictions.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, the county’s top prosecutor, dubs interdiction a “tool of last resort,” helping officers force people who are constantly drunk to finally get help. Yet critics believe it has a massively disproportionate impact on the homeless, and that police use it as a cudgel against people living on the streets who are struggling with substance abuse issues.
Others still argue that it robs interdicted people of due process — prosecutors request the “drunkard” designation in a civil hearing rather than a criminal one, meaning that even indigent defendants aren’t entitled to have an attorney present for the proceedings.
A legal challenge to the law on those grounds is currently working its way through federal court, while an Arlington public defender-turned-state lawmaker is working to repeal the statute in this year’s General Assembly session.
Yet, as those efforts proceed, some legal observers can’t understand why county police and prosecutors still pursue interdictions at all, given their stated commitment to other kinds of criminal justice reform.
“It’s inappropriate, unfair, and it doesn’t work,” Brad Haywood, Arlington’s chief public defender, told ARLnow. “In over 15 years as an attorney, I’ve served as a public defender in two of the few jurisdictions that still actively enforce this law. While I can think of many who owe their sobriety to residential alcohol treatment, intensive outpatient services and the expertise and compassion of mental health professionals, I can’t think of anyone who owes their sobriety to interdiction. Not a single person.”
Criminalizing the homeless, or a ‘last resort’ for addicts?
To Haywood, who has strongly criticized Stamos in the past, interdiction effectively criminalizes homelessness. After all, he points out that the law “only targets people who possess or drink alcohol while visible to others,” which essentially leaves just the homeless, many of whom turn to alcohol to make it through the day or are gripped by addiction.
“They live their entire lives in public,” Haywood said. “If they have alcohol, drink it, or are drunk, they will be seen, and under this statute, they will be arrested.”
Of course, he believes there are other “problem drinkers” around the county. As he puts it: “I read ARLnow, I know what happens on the Wilson Boulevard corridor on weekends.”
But he argues police have embraced a completely different strategy for those cases, choosing to work with popular bars to encourage stronger partnerships and prevent arrests, even though the circumstances are similar.
“If the goal of interdiction is to curb problem drinking generally, and to be equitable about it, then I’d think the Arlington bar scene would receive some attention,” Haywood said. “It hasn’t, obviously, and I’m not suggesting it should, but if it had, you’d have certainly have heard about it by now. ”
However, law enforcement officials note that they’re not using interdictions indiscriminately, or targeting all homeless people. County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage says officers ask for interdictions “only in the most significant cases, where public safety resources are utilized for the same individual on a [recurring] basis.”
She adds that police take into consideration whether people are committing “criminal violations while intoxicated” as well as “concerns for the safety of the individual or those around them” in making such a decision.
“The goal is not to wantonly incarcerate people,” Stamos said. “A lot of these people are not mindful of their surroundings and can be victimized… and it’s a safety concern. We see pedestrian accidents every single day, and in some cases it’s because people are wandering into the street.”
Stamos says that, in many cases, her office only interdicts people after family and friends urge some sort of drastic step to force them to get help.
For instance, Stamos says prosecutors have interdicted four people since July 2017 — and those people had an average of 19 prosecutions each for alcohol-related offenses before being declared a “drunkard.” Prosecutors pursued a high of 37 cases against one person; the person with the smallest total had been prosecuted four times, and even then they’d been drunk during 35 different encounters with county medics over a two-year period.
“This is absolutely a last resort to hook them up with services,” Stamos said. “It’s a deprivation of liberty, but it’s done with the purpose of getting these people in jail, and getting them sober.”
It may not be a perfect solution, but county officials say they work hard to find people with substance abuse issues once they’re in jail, then get them help.
Kelly Nieman, who works on the county’s forensic jail diversion team, says Arlington has been a leader across the state in finding ways to treat inmates’ mental health issues or substance abuse problems, which are often interconnected. She hopes that helps stop people from “revolving in and out of the system.”
“We have a model to intercept individuals at junctions when they butt up against the legal system,” Nieman said. “We screen people for services and develop a release plan to get them back into the community.”
Stamos says she’d love to have another way to “induce compliance” with a treatment program for homeless addicts, but she just doesn’t see one available to her prosecutors.
“Give us another tool, and we’ll use it,” Stamos said. “If you do away with this statute, give us more money for treatment services.”
While he acknowledges that the county does good work in this area, Haywood pushes back against the notion that workers at the county jail should be “front-line caretakers for the chronically mentally ill, which is what most interdicted people actually are.” He’d rather police connect the homeless to dedicated treatment services, rather than simply sending them to jail.
“That’s a job for mental health professionals, in settings appropriate to the treatment of addiction and serious mental illness,” Haywood said. “If what we want is to help the most destitute, vulnerable people in our community, we should ensure they have access to intensive mental health and substance abuse treatment services, and stop pretending we’re making the situation better by locking sick people away so the public can’t see them.”
Challenging the process
Elaine Poon, the managing attorney for the Legal Aid Justice Center, also believes that the very manner in which the statute is written makes the process punitive, not rehabilitative. Her group is leading a legal challenge to the law, arguing that interdictions create a vicious cycle for people declared “drunkards.”
Poon notes that police can — and do — pursue all manner of charges against people who are drunk in public. What sets interdictions apart is that people designated as “drunkards” can be prosecuted for simply drinking alcohol or having it in their possession, which she believes help police wrack up charge after charge against the same people.
According to Stamos’ own statistics, the 12 people her office have interdicted since 2015 have subsequently been prosecuted an average of three times each for possessing alcohol or appearing drunk in public. Poon believes this shows how interdicting someone can simply compound the time they spend in jail, criminalizing people “just for being who they are: a homeless person on the street.”
Poon feels this is all the more disturbing because many people who are declared “drunkards” don’t understand the process, and don’t have legal representation at the hearing deciding whether they’ll be interdicted in the first place. Most homeless people rely on the service of court-appointed public defenders, as they can’t afford their own lawyers, but the civil nature of the interdiction proceedings means that a judge is not required to assign them counsel.
Stamos says her prosecutors go to great lengths to find people set for an interdiction hearing, and get them to a sign paperwork acknowledging they’re aware of when they can come to court.
But Poon points out that many of her clients easily lose any forms they’ve been given by police — they don’t have homes, after all — and don’t attend the hearings, or are too mentally ill to understand a complex legal matter.
Jennifer Carroll Foy, a former public defender in Arlington, says she’s often come to court and made such arguments to a judge about her interdicted clients. But her protests are commonly dismissed as a “collateral attack” on a civil case — even though that case has a direct impact on the charges her clients are facing.
“It may be a civil process, but there are criminal ramifications,” Foy said. “If there’s a possibility you’ll go to jail, I absolutely believe an attorney should be there.”
Stamos says her hands are tied by the statute in this case, arguing that public defenders “have no role” under the law in these interdiction cases.
“Their frustration shouldn’t be with my office, it should be with the system,” Stamos said.
Changing the law
Foy is in a unique position to address such displeasure with the law; she doubles as a state delegate representing parts of Prince William and Stafford counties, and has introduced legislation to repeal the “habitual drunkard” statute this year for a second time in a row.
Her bill died quickly in a subcommittee last year, but she’s more optimistic this time around, now that she’s worked to raise awareness about the issue.
“The most difficult part is educating people about it, because they don’t even know this law exists,” said Foy, a Democrat representing the House of Delegates’ 2nd District. “I hope it picks up a lot more traction this time.”
Though Democrats have a bit more clout in Richmond after a wave election in 2017, the party is still in the minority in both chambers of the General Assembly. That means Foy will face an uphill battle in getting anything passed, at least for now.
Poon is hopeful that the courts could provide some relief instead. A three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the case last August, but Poon’s organization is appealing the ruling to the full court, which could have the final say on the law’s constitutionality.
However, she says it’s “a mystery” when, or if, the court will agree to take the case.
In the meantime, interdictions in Arlington continue. County police referred two more people to Stamos’ prosecutors to be designated as “drunkards” just last fall.
“We have to do better when it comes to how we help the most vulnerable class of citizen in this state,” Foy said. “We’re not doing a very good job right now.”
| Arlington Pet of the Week: Milly Wed, 16 Jan 2019 17:45:37 +0000
|This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Milly, a cat who loves a good treat and a good snuggle. Here’s what her owner, Gina, had to say: Milly came...
This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Milly, a cat who loves a good treat and a good snuggle.
Here’s what her owner, Gina, had to say:
Milly came from a local animal shelter last year where she was promptly diagnosed with terminal mammary cancer at age 6. Her parents were looking for a hospice cat and knew they needed to meet her. It was love at first sight, but, to be fair, Milly absolutely loves everyone she meets right away. No loyalty with this girl, she’ll snuggle the vet as she’s getting shots and complete strangers alike.
Maybe her affectionate nature earned her a lot of human treats as a stray because Milly loves a decadent snack; pizza crust, Chinese food (fried rice!), avocado, and all baked goods. She keeps her trim figure by full speed sprinting around her apartment and playing like a kitten – including knocking over her toy bucket on a weekly basis to display her favorites throughout the apartment. After a long day she loves to curl up on the couch or cozy up under the covers. Though her time is limited, Milly is spending it doted on and adored in Arlington!
Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!
Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care is the winner of six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.
Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.
| Small Biz Focus: Looking Beyond Amazon… The New Way Forward Wed, 16 Jan 2019 16:45:01 +0000
|It's been two months since Amazon announced its plan to bring its major new headquarters to Arlington. What's next for Arlington's economic landscape?
This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
By Victor Hoskins, Director at AED.
It has been two months since Amazon announced its plan to bring its major new headquarters to Arlington.
In that time we have been busily planning and answering Arlingtonians’ many questions about the project. However, here at Arlington Economic Development, we are already looking ahead.
What’s next for Arlington’s economic landscape?
The Amazon effect, as it is being called, has been a game-changer for Arlington’s business community. Not only does Amazon’s decision really cement Arlington as a technology leader on the East Coast, the revenue generated from this company in the coming years will go a long way toward restoring stability to Arlington’s office environment, which has suffered from years of high vacancies.
Amazon will gradually reduce the eight million square feet that currently stands vacant in Arlington. Each one percent of vacant office space that we fill yields $3.4 million annually in new local tax revenues– revenues that help to provide resources and amenities valued by our community.
In a time when we all have faced difficult decisions regarding the County budget, this needed revenue comes at the perfect time.
But by no means is this a time to sit on our laurels. It just changes the conversation a little. In addition to putting a dent in Arlington’s office vacancy rate, what Amazon has truly done is put us on the map as a desired location to do business. That is where the real work begins.
The AED team is always working to find the next innovative company that is considering making Arlington its home. We are focusing on diversifying our economic base. We have come a long way in the last four years, but there is still work to be done to ensure Arlington’s place as a leader in the innovation economy.
The Amazon deal did something else that will also help to propel us into the future. That deal set truly unprecedented levels of partnership between jurisdictions and the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure success, and that partnership around the region is something we only see growing. It is truly a regional economy now, and we need to think that way moving forward.
I look forward to working closely with my colleagues at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership as well as the counties throughout Northern Virginia. In addition, D.C. and Maryland Counties across the river are colleagues I have come to value not just as coworkers, but also as friends.
We have all discovered that by working together, the entire region benefits, and I believe that is the true Way Forward formula that will bring economic success to Arlington.
| As Amazon Looms, Lopez Pushes for More State Money to Fund Affordable Housing Development Wed, 16 Jan 2019 15:45:57 +0000
|(Updated at 3 p.m.) With Amazon gearing up to move into his neck of the woods, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th District) is angling to substantially beef up state spending on...
(Updated at 3 p.m.) With Amazon gearing up to move into his neck of the woods, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th District) is angling to substantially beef up state spending on affordable housing development.
Lopez, who represents a variety of South Arlington neighborhoods surrounding the tech company’s planned headquarters in Crystal City and Pentagon City, is eyeing a two-pronged approach to the issue in this year’s General Assembly session.
Both of his legislative efforts involve the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, a pot of money Lopez helped create back in 2016 to offer low-interest loans for developers hoping to build reasonably priced housing. Though state lawmakers have only allocated a few million dollars to the fund for the last few years, Lopez hopes to simultaneously ramp up appropriations for the program and find a more stable source of funding for it going forward.
Leaders in Arlington and Alexandria have both committed to send more resources to local programs targeting housing affordability in the wake of Amazon’s big announcement, but those efforts will only be designed to target the communities surrounding the tech giant’s new office space. And with most prognosticators predicting that the 25,000 Amazon employees set to descend on the area will choose to live all over the Northern Virginia region, Lopez sees a clear need for a state-level solution.
“This is a statewide problem,” Lopez told ARLnow. “And I believe affordable housing is a quality of life issue in Virginia, and it’s something we should be funding in the same breath as transit, transportation, environmental protection and education.”
Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has already proposed sending $19 million to the housing fund over the next two years as part of his latest budget proposal. That change would make $20 million available for the current fiscal year, and another $10 million available the year after that.
But Lopez is envisioning an even larger amount heading to the fund, and he’s planning on proposing a one-time, $50-million influx to make a difference right away.
The amount might seem small compared to the state’s mammoth budget, but Lopez expects it could make a big difference — he points out that the fund has already helped kick start two projects along Columbia Pike in just the last few years alone.
Michelle Winters, the executive director of the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions, notes that the trust is “currently a small source of funding that is spread fairly thin across the state.” That means even Northam’s proposal, to say nothing of Lopez’s more ambitious ask, would be a “quantum leap” forward for the state, according to Michelle Krocker, the executive director of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance.
“Federal housing dollars are really diminishing, so it’s increasingly up to state and local governments to fund this stuff,” Krocker said. “Arlington has been a leader on this…but the state of Virginia is being fairly negligent, to put it mildly, in providing resources through the trust fund.”
Accordingly, Winters expects even a modest increase would prove to be meaningful, in Arlington and elsewhere.
“Even though it is small, any source of funding to help fill the gap in an affordable housing project’s budget is very valuable and can help make some more projects feasible,” Winters wrote in an email.
Yet Lopez also sees a clear need to make affordable housing funding a bit more predictable going forward.
Currently, Lopez laments that he has to go “hat in hand” to appropriators on General Assembly committees, urging them each year to set aside money for the trust fund. He’d much rather see lawmakers set up a dedicated funding stream to ensure regular, stable contributions to the loan program each year.
Accordingly, Lopez is backing a bill to establish such a funding mechanism — in essence, the legislation would pull away an annual percentage of surplus revenue from state “recordation” taxes, or levies on home transactions.
He’s proposed such legislation in the past, and acknowledge that it could face an uphill battle this time around — lawmakers with power over the state’s purse strings may be loathe to give up any budgetary discretion, after all.
Even the one-time cash infusion could prove difficult for Lopez to achieve, considering that Republicans have already declared Northam’s budget proposals “dead on arrival,” as a fight over tax revenues brews in the General Assembly.
“We’re all very concerned that with Republicans being so opposed to the governor’s amendments… that we’ll really have to wait and see whether the governor’s housing trust fund plans survives these deliberations,” Krocker said.
It doesn’t help matters either that some key lawmakers (and even some Northam administration officials) shied away from including more affordable housing money in the state’s proposal to Amazon, arguing localities and developers are better suited to fund this kind of development.
But Lopez is “hopeful” that the grave concerns raised about the housing market in the wake of Amazon’s announcement could help change minds on the issue, and he’ll certainly have allies among Arlington’s legislative delegation.
“Housing will be an issue here for at least a decade or more,” said Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District). “Amazon coming in won’t change all that dramatically, but it does increase the urgency for affordable housing and putting funding behind this.”
| Toy Store, Massage Therapist Set to Return to Ballston Quarter Wed, 16 Jan 2019 14:45:11 +0000
|A pair of stores that once called the old Ballston Common mall home will soon re-open in the development’s new reincarnation, Ballston Quarter. Curious Kids Toys and Refresh Therapeutic Massage...
A pair of stores that once called the old Ballston Common mall home will soon re-open in the development’s new reincarnation, Ballston Quarter.
Curious Kids Toys and Refresh Therapeutic Massage have both posted signs announcing plans to return to storefronts on the development’s ground floor.
Both stores were forced to close when Ballston Common, located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, shut down in 2016. Developer Forest City has since been hard at work refreshing the mall, luring a host of new restaurants and businesses to the development.
But some shops from the old mall are gradually returning to the location — Chick-fil-A just opened in a brand new space a few weeks back, after the restaurant was long one of the most popular dining options in Ballston Common.
Curious Kids offers a selection of “board games, dolls, trucks, electronic games and more,” according to Ballston Quarter’s website. The store also operates a location in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
Refresh will “help you de-stress, unwind, or work out a tight spot,” the development’s website says. The new location appears to be the only one in Arlington.
A variety of shops in Ballston Quarter have begun opening to customers over the last few months, though much of the development remains a work in progress. A newly revamped food court still seems set to open sometime next month, according to signs posted around the mall.