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ARLnow.com – Arlington, Va. Local News    
News, Views, Weather, Traffic and Events in Arlington, Virginia
Last updated: Tue, 20 Nov 2018 11:26:37 GMT

 ‘Miracle on 23rd Street’ — Melwood is Keeping the Tradition Alive and Better Than Ever Mon, 19 Nov 2018 22:45:14 +0000
The time-honored Arlington holiday tradition, Miracle on 23rd Street, continues this year with its festive community tree lighting, arrival of Santa Claus and seasonal celebration to benefit those in need to...

The time-honored Arlington holiday tradition, Miracle on 23rd Street, continues this year with its festive community tree lighting, arrival of Santa Claus and seasonal celebration to benefit those in need to kick off the holiday season.

Melwood, the leading nonprofit employer of people of differing abilities and wounded veterans in the Greater Washington D.C. metro area, is hosting this year’s event after recently acquiring Linden Resources, an Arlington organization of a similar mission, which previously hosted the event for more than 50 years.

“Melwood is proud to keep the tradition alive as we set up our new campus in Crystal City and make friends with our new neighbors,” said Cari DeSantis, president and CEO of Melwood. “We are excited about becoming part of this vibrant community, and we hope to make this longstanding traditional event better than ever.”

The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 30, at 750 23rd Street South in Crystal City. Admission is free and you can register at this site.

The celebration begins with the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree and the much-anticipated arrival of Santa, escorted by representatives of Arlington’s Police and Fire Departments. Photo opportunities with Saint Nick, face painting and free cookies are included in the festivities. New this year is a “virtual reality sleigh ride,” compliments of electronics pioneer, Samsung.

Melwood is one of the largest employers of people of differing abilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers — nearly 1,000 of whom are of differing abilities.

For 55 years, Melwood has offered job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Its merger with Linden Resources last year, allowed for an expansion of job opportunities, partnerships and services in a larger geographical area.

 Army Plans New Security Fence Separating Arlington National Cemetery, Ft. Myer Mon, 19 Nov 2018 21:45:34 +0000
The Army is now set to build a two-mile-long, eight-foot-high security fence along the border of the Arlington National Cemetery and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The National Capital Planning Commission,...

The Army is now set to build a two-mile-long, eight-foot-high security fence along the border of the Arlington National Cemetery and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The National Capital Planning Commission, a regional planning body focused on projects on federally owned land, unanimously signed off on designs for the new fence at a meeting last month. The project, commissioned to replace a four-foot-high fence currently separating the base from the cemetery, will also include a five-foot-wide walking trail along the perimeter of the burial ground and a new parking lot to replace some spaces to be eliminated by the construction.

The Army proposed the new fence in the first place over concerns that the existing wall is “no longer adequate to protect the employees on the installation,” according to a report prepared by the commission’s staff. The fence will include four gates to allow access between the base and the cemetery — the fence itself will be “anti-climb and the gates will be both anti-climb and anti-ram,” according to staff.

The gates were a particular point of concern for some members of the commission, who pressed the Army to to reconsider designs at the Selfridge and Memorial Chapel gates, in particular. However, the fence’s designers said they couldn’t quite manage to find a design that would simultaneously meet the Army’s design concerns and the aesthetic issues the commission identified.

“[At] Selfridge, I think we’ve proven that beauty and elegance is gone from our minds,” Commission Vice Chairman Thomas Gallas said during the Oct. 4 meeting. “And I guess I’m disappointed, because I know everybody, everybody, all the stakeholders appreciate what that gate feels like as you approach it. It really is something powerful, as we went there to see it, it moves you. And it won’t move you anymore. Nothing’s going to move there. It’s constipated, I guess you could say.”

The Army does plan to add more shrubs and landscaping at the gates to help address some of those concerns, according to the staff report.

The project will also include a trail, which “follows the path of countless runners and walkers” and “will be made from permeable pavement.” The Army also hopes to add “small seating areas with benches and detailed planting along the trail,” the report says.

The cemetery is set to see a bevy of other changes in the coming years, with plans for a massive expansion of the burial ground and a realignment of many nearby roads.

 Metro Plans Lengthy Yellow Line Shutdown Starting Next Week Mon, 19 Nov 2018 20:45:47 +0000
Metro is planning a full Yellow Line shutdown starting next week, and is warning riders of hefty delays along the Blue Line the two-week-long construction work. The rail service hoping...

Metro is planning a full Yellow Line shutdown starting next week, and is warning riders of hefty delays along the Blue Line the two-week-long construction work.

The rail service hoping to complete major renovation work on the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River, prompting the closure. In all, the work will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 9.

“During rush hour, trains will run about half as frequently as usual, due to capacity limits at the Rosslyn tunnel,” Metro wrote in a release. “Customers may experience crowding.”

Blue Line trains will run every 16 minutes on weekdays through 8 p.m., then switch to 20-minute headways. Riders can also expect 16-20 minute headways on weekends.

The transit agency will offer free shuttle bus service to compensate for the shutdown, including:

  • Between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon and between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza from opening until 8 p.m.
  • Between Franconia-Springfield and L’Enfant Plaza and between Crystal City and L’Enfant Plaza, rush hour only.

Metro is urging riders to consider Virginia Railway Express service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street to L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station, or local bus options instead.

The shutdown will also coincide with a weekend shutdown of five Green Line stations from Dec. 1-2, when the Navy Yard, Waterfront and Archives stations will be closed, along with the Yellow and Green Line platforms only at Gallery Place-Chinatown and L’Enfant Plaza.

This construction is Metro’s last planned major construction work of the year, and comes on the heels of a Veteran’s Day shutdown on the Blue and Yellow lines that prompted huge traffic woes for travelers hoping to reach Reagan National Airport.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

 Arlington Startup Aims to Save Sharks with Artificial Intelligence Mon, 19 Nov 2018 20:15:01 +0000
JJ Linser and Jack Linkous have a dream. They want to save sharks, and they want to do it with artificial intelligence.

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations. 

(Updated at 4 p.m.) JJ Linser and Jack Linkous have a dream. They want to save sharks, and they want to do it with artificial intelligence.

They are the co-founders of L2Platforms, a startup in Arlington founded earlier this year, that aims to use an AI program to track boat movements and identify suspicious behavior.

“Visualize different places where this fishing is taking place as a huge map,” said Linser. “We want to figure out, based on previous illegal fishing activity, where that is currently happening. It’s all about tracking those patterns.”

Right now, Linkous says the only way to really catch illegal shark fishing is through random searches. Linkous says the aim of L2Platforms is to help direct those searches and make them a little less random.

“With limited resources, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Linser. “Right now, we’re trying to refine that.”

Using publically available data sources, L2Platforms should be able to model where illegal fishing takes places.

Linser said all of this data is fed into an AI that continually learns from these events and builds a map of suspicious activity. It’s a lot of data, there might be 100,000 suspicious events registered drawn from billions of points of data, but the AI will refine those events down to ones where it is 90 percent sure something illegal is occurring.

Because of the scale of the data being collected and processed, Linser and Linkous say they want to start small.

“We’re going to start with a place like the Galapagos islands,” said Linkous. “There’s a lot of sharks around there and a lot of nefarious fishing. We’ll start small with [tracking that] and grow from there.”

The development of the AI technology behind L2Platforms is largely drawn from Linser and Linkous’s experience working in the defense industry.

“We both have experience writing these kinds of models,” said Linkous. “I come from a defense background and you see these same types of stuff being funded at the Department of Defense. We want to use our knowledge in fields that get less love.”

The pair is currently working with Neil Hammerschlag, director of the Shark Research & Conservation Program (SRC) at The University of Miami.

“[Linser and Linkous] have been supporting my shark research with their impressive skill-set,” said Hammerschlag in an email. “It is an exciting collaboration. In addition, we have conceived an exciting collaborative research project that uses artificial intelligence to inform shark conservation efforts. We are currently seeking funding for this research project.”

Linser said L2Platforms is currently looking at working with conservation foundations for funding, then possibly looking at government grants starting in 2019. If they can secure funding, Linser says they hope to hire a small team of engineers over the next year.

Linser and Linkous, who met while walking their dogs, are both Arlington residents. They are working from home for now, but say they are currently looking for an office somewhere along a Metro corridor in Arlington, specifically because of the technical talent in the area.

“Arlington is where we have a core group of engineers that we know,” said Linser. “There are lots of talented software engineers in this area.”

Photo courtesy Neil Hammerschlag

 Arlington Agenda: November 19-25 Mon, 19 Nov 2018 19:30:00 +0000
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form. Also, be...

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Monday, Nov. 19

Make It Mondays: Make/Fix Anything
Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 4-7 p.m.

Do you have small items around your house that are broken, or need repair? Perhaps your favorite pair of jeans needs to be patched, or an old digital camera has salvageable parts? Don’t just throw them out – let us help the library staff figure out how to fix them.

Tuesday, Nov. 20

Busboys & Poets Shirlington Presents Comedy Night
Busboys & Poets Shirlington (4251 Campbell Ave)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

A lineup of six comedians is set for the comedy night, if you’re hoping to get your ribs tickled, massage your funny bone, and slap a knee or two. Seating is first come first served. Full menu and bar will be available throughout the event.

Thursday, Nov. 22

Thanksgiving Dinner*
Quinn’s on the Corner (1776 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 12 p.m.

The restaurant’s full regular menu will be available and it will be featuring “GIANT Turkey Legs with all the fixings.” Offerings include a traditional deep fried, house-seasoned turkey breast, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Watch all scheduled football games on the eatery’s multiple big screen TVs.

Arlington Turkey Trot
Christ Church of Arlington/Lyon Park (3020 N. Pershing Drive)
Time: 8-10 a.m.

The church offers its 13th annual Thanksgiving Day 5K. Tickets are $45 for anyone age 18 and over. For anyone 6-17, tickets are $25. Over the past 12 years, the race registrants and business sponsors have raised over $600,000 to help Arlington residents who need a “hand up.”

Friday, Nov. 23

Wolfenoot Adoption Party
Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive)
Time: 12-5 p.m.

Wolfenoot is a brand new holiday being celebrated across the world. It was recently invented by a seven-year-old boy in New Zealand, who wanted to create a holiday that celebrated dogs (and all animals) and those who love them. Offerings include ‘Name Your Price’ adoption fees for all animals, a donation drive and family friendly activities.

Sunday, Nov. 25

Handel’s Messiah Sing-Along
Clarendon UMC (606 N. Irving Street)
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.

The 47th Annual Messiah’s Sing-Along at Clarendon UMC with guest conductor, Richard Giarusso. Soloist and orchestra lead Part I Handels Messiah. Scores are provided and a reception follows. Free entry.

*Denotes sponsored event

 Lebanese Restaurant Badaro Closes in Ballston Mon, 19 Nov 2018 18:45:02 +0000
The Lebanese fast-casual restaurant Badaro has closed down seven months after it opened in Ballston. The restaurant, located at 933 N. Quincy Street, has signs on both of its doors. “We are sorry...

The Lebanese fast-casual restaurant Badaro has closed down seven months after it opened in Ballston.

The restaurant, located at 933 N. Quincy Street, has signs on both of its doors. “We are sorry to inform you Badaro Restaurant has closed down. We thank you for being a part of our Badaro family — from your Badaro employees,” both of the signs read.

Readers first alerted ARLnow to the closure last week.

Badaro opened at the spot on March 23, replacing the a former NKD Pizza location. Prior to its opening, Badaro’s owner predicted he would be opening a second location in the summer of 2018 and then expanding beyond that.

Across the street, Sichuan Wok also appears to have shut down. Located at 901 N. Quincy Street, the Chinese restaurant has been closed during normal business hours since Nov. 1.

 Legal Insider: Rights for Federal Employees in Disciplinary Cases Mon, 19 Nov 2018 17:45:48 +0000
Federal employees have a number of rights in responding to proposed disciplinary actions. Today's Legal Insider provides details on what to do when facing such proposals.

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

More common types of federal agency “adverse actions” (more serious discipline) include removal, demotion, reduction in grade or suspensions of greater than 14 days. Some types of “disciplinary actions” (lessor discipline) include letters of warning, letters of reprimand, oral or written counseling or suspensions of less than 15 days.

Federal Employee Rights in Disciplinary Cases

If a federal employee is issued a proposed disciplinary action, the proposal will normally include a description of the alleged misconduct and the type of charge against the employee (e.g., insubordination, theft, conduct unbecoming, lack of performance, etc.).

Federal employees in adverse action matters (suspensions of 15 days and above, and demotion matters) and in some disciplinary actions (suspensions of any length (usually 14 days and below)) have the following rights: (1) right to an attorney; (2) right to respond to the proposal in writing or orally, and (3) the right to review all of the materials relied upon in the issuance of the Proposal.

We recommend that employees involved in proposed disciplinary or adverse action always request from the agency all of the materials that it is relying upon to propose discipline. Sometimes disciplinary actions will not be drafted properly and reviewing the materials relied upon can help in responding to the discipline.

Present Both a Written and Oral Response

We also usually recommend, in most cases, that a federal employee present both a written response and an oral response to the deciding official (the decision maker on the disciplinary action) in a proposed disciplinary or adverse action.

The oral response portion of a federal employee’s response can be extremely important and usually follows the submission of the written response.

Typically, when we assist federal employees in this regard, we obtain a full statement of facts from the federal employee involved and prepare a full written rebuttal to the allegations. We also contact the deciding official in the personnel action and request an appointment for the oral response.

In these types of cases, we respond to both the merits of the alleged conduct and argue for mitigation under the Douglas Factors. Douglas Factors typically are mitigating reasons as to why a particular disciplinary penalty should be reduced (i.e., based on years of successful performance, no prior disciplinary actions, lack of clarity about the rules at issue and other reasons why a disciplinary penalty should not be so harsh).

Conclusion

If you are in need of assistance in the federal employee discipline process please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

 Though Parking Concerns Persist, County Board Approves Plan for Four Mile Run Valley’s Future Mon, 19 Nov 2018 16:45:23 +0000
Arlington officials have, at long last, approved a new planning document to guide the Four Mile Run Valley’s future, one of the last remaining steps for the county to take...

Arlington officials have, at long last, approved a new planning document to guide the Four Mile Run Valley’s future, one of the last remaining steps for the county to take in the years-long debate over the area’s development.

The County Board unanimously signed off on new “area plan” for the Nauck valley on Saturday (Nov. 17), sketching out the county’s strategies for fostering the preservation and growth of industrial and arts-focused businesses in the area.

The plan also lays out a series of potential road and parking changes in the area, which have prompted some community consternation even as the planning process wraps up. Some Nauck leaders have previously expressed grave concerns that county officials aren’t listening to their suggestions for the area’s development, and that includes fears about the road changes on the way for S. Four Mile Run Drive.

“An important element is missing: trust,” Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark told the Board. “The county needs to work with us to repair the loss of trust… We were here before the planning process began, and we’ll be here long after.”

But Board members expressed broad satisfaction with the plan, despite those anxieties, arguing that the roughly three-year-long planning process delivered an outcome that will benefit the community for years to come.

“We’re going to all look back on this process, as occasionally challenging as it was, and see that this will be a true jewel for not only South Arlington, but the county as a whole,” said Board member John Vihstadt, the Board’s liaison to a working group convened to assemble the plan.

The Board previously adopted a broad “policy framework” guiding all manner of future changes to the area this spring. The working group and county staff then relied on that document to develop a parks master plan for the area, primarily focused on the overhaul of Jennie Dean Park, and then assembled the final area plan.

Among the document’s proposed changes are road alterations designed to make S. Four Mile Drive and some of its side streets more friendly for both cyclists and pedestrians, and free up more parking along the road. Changes will include new sections of sidewalk, a new pedestrian crossing island and curb extensions, as well as more robust parking restrictions and enforcement to encourage more turnover.

But those alterations will only be temporary, as the county examines whether they actually work. Officials could even initiate more dramatic changes going forward, like the addition of more angled spaces leading up to Jennie Dean Park and even the conversion of S. Four Mile Run Drive into a two-lane road with a dedicated middle turning lane.

“There are still some concerns on the road changes… but the community has accepted the ‘test first, build later’ strategy,” said Charles Monfort, chair of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group.

Yet Monfort’s leadership of the group attracted a public rebuke from one of his fellow vice chairs in a Washington Post opinion piece, as Robin Stombler argued that the public engagement process on all manner of issues was flawed — Monfort insisted Saturday that “anyone’s who wanted to speak has had many opportunities to do so.”

But Stombler and other Nauck residents charged that the parking changes are simply the latest example of the community’s concerns being cast aside. Clark pointed out staffing challenges in the Arlington police department means officers have less time to dedicate to traffic enforcement, making any pledge to step up the policing of parking violations on S. Four Mile Run Drive a hollow one.

“It makes no sense to test parking restrictions that will not be enforced and will actually increase parking turnover problems,” said Anne Inman, one of the Nauck Civic Association’s representatives on the working group.

Vihstadt also expressed some trepidation that the county is “really engaging in real time” on these issues, worrying that officials might “prioritize beauty and aesthetics over operational, on-the-ground needs for businesses and people who inhabit and do commerce in the valley.”

But county planner Richard Tucker reassured concerned neighbors, however, that the county is “going to move forward with understanding we’ll come back on this and make changes” after a year or so, if the parking plans aren’t working as intended.

“We test a little bit, we see what we learn and then maybe we expand that to other areas,” said Board member Erik Gutshall.

Beyond the parking changes, Tucker added that there are still few elements left to the planning work for the valley. In January, the county will kick off discussions on potentially adding an arts district to the area (a controversial point in its own right) and then convene a broader discussion on land use and zoning a few months later.

By and large, though, Board members hope the area plan’s adoption signals a major step forward for the county in charting out the valley’s future.

“When I walk down to Four Mile Run 25 years from now, the built environment will not look fundamentally different,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol. “And that speaks to this effort and what we all value about this area.”

 Pentagon City Mall Adds Five New Stores Ahead of Holiday Shopping Season Mon, 19 Nov 2018 15:45:51 +0000
As the busiest shopping season of the year draws near, the Pentagon City mall is adding five new stores. The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City announced Thursday (Nov. 15) that...

As the busiest shopping season of the year draws near, the Pentagon City mall is adding five new stores.

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City announced Thursday (Nov. 15) that it would be welcoming the new retailers, with some opening right away and others rolling out in the coming weeks.

Per a press release, those additions include:

  • JD Sports: The England-based sports-fashion retail company will open in a 4,700-square-foot space near the Macy’s on the third level in late November.
  • Last Stop: The chain offering clothes and accessories will open on the mall’s third level near Life in DC in a 4,500-square-foot space.
  • ME2: The store, offering “authentic African garments and accessories,” is now open in a 1,000-square-foot space on the first level, near NYX Professional Makeup.
  • On1E Fashion: The women’s athleticwear shop is now open in a 1,200-square-foot storefront located on the third level near The Athlete’s Foot.
  • Why Not Men’s Boutique: Offering men’s clothing and accessories, the shop is now open in a 500-square-foot space on the second level, next to Tumi

As part of the moves, the mall also announced that the salon and spa K & I Beauty will be relocating to a first level near Godiva Chocolatier. A new pop-up cake shop is on the way as well.

The mall is also readying for the arrival of Christmas, and is starting up its annual photos with Santa Claus. The full schedule, from the mall’s website, is as follows:

11/19/18 – 11/21/18: 11AM-8PM

11/22/18:  CLOSED

11/23/18-11/24/18: 10 AM-8PM

11/25/18: 11AM-6PM

11/26/18: 11AM-6PM

11/27/18-11/30/18: 11AM-8PM

12/1/18: 10AM-8:30PM

12/2/18: 11AM-6PM

12/3/18-12/7/18: 10AM-8PM

12/8/18: 10AM-8:30PM

12/9/18: 11AM-7PM

12/10/18-12/13/18: 10AM-8:30PM

12/14/18: 10AM-9PM

12/15/18: 9AM-9PM

12/16/18: 10AM-7PM

12/17/18-12/23/18: 9AM-9PM

12/24/18: 8AM-6PM  (The last guest to enter the Santa line will be at 4:30 p.m to allow Santa and his crew to leave at 6PM to deliver toys!)

Photo via Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

 With Amazon On the Way, Arlington Hopes to Attract West Coast Tech Firms Mon, 19 Nov 2018 14:45:59 +0000
Arlington and Virginia economic development officials have landed the big prize — Amazon — and now are hoping that the e-commerce and cloud computing giant’s arrival will help them lure...

Arlington and Virginia economic development officials have landed the big prize — Amazon — and now are hoping that the e-commerce and cloud computing giant’s arrival will help them lure other West Coast tech firms.

Victor Hoskins, Arlington Economic Development Director, said Friday at the DCA Live Big Growth Summit in Crystal City that he and state officials have taken trips to Silicon Valley and other West Coast locales in an effort to convince companies to consider moving or opening offices in Arlington.

But Hoskins now plans to double down on those efforts with a revamped approach. The time is ripe, said Hoskins, with Arlington enjoying the Amazon afterglow and California cities grappling with sky-high housing costs and office rents, pitched competition for talent and other problems.

“We do go out there [to the West Coast] but not in the same focused way that we’re thinking about now, which is lining up and showing them: here is the talent, here is the transportation, here is the housing, here is the opportunity that you have,” he said.

“We’re really focused on expanding companies, so fast growing tech companies,” he added.

Hoskins said that the D.C. area as a whole is “an undervalued asset” and needs to do a better job of branding itself as one of the top 5 tech cities in the country, which he argues it is. The region is rich in tech talent and provides easy access to East Coast markets and Europe, in addition to the federal government, he said.

Others who spoke at Friday morning’s event echoed Hoskin’s call to put the D.C. area in the same conversation as top tech destinations like the Bay Area, New York and Seattle.

“I think we’re a serious technology city,” said entrepreneur and venture capitalist Michael Avon. “It’s an amazing branding moment for an area that’s done a very bad job of branding itself” due to competition among regional jurisdictions.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Avon and others argued, have done a good job of fixing their biggest individual weaknesses. D.C. and Maryland are now considered more pro-growth and pro-business than just a few years ago, Avon said. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, meanwhile, touted the work he and current Gov. Ralph Northam have done to promote Virginia as a diverse, welcoming place and reverse the state’s previous anti-LGBT and “transvaginal ultrasound” reputation. That coupled with Virginia’s stable pro-business environment, he said, have allowed the Commonwealth to steal deals away from places like North Carolina.

But can Arlington and the region effectively compete with long-established tech ecosystems like the Bay Area? Yes and no, says high-profile angel investor Jason Calacanis.

Calacanis, long a proponent of startups locating in Silicon Valley, said via email that investors like himself no longer expect companies to base their entire workforce in the Bay Area. Large satellite offices, he suggested, may become the norm.

“It’s a great idea for founders to have their HQ in the Bay Area and 50%+ of their workers in a city with half the operating costs,” he told ARLnow. “Five or ten years ago I would have told founders to bite the bullet and make it work here, but costs are just bonkers and people don’t want to live in crime-filled, dirty San Francisco any more.”

“My firm, launch.co, which has 15 team members, has four [employees] based in Toronto for this very reason,” Calacanis added. “We couldn’t find growth, marketing and designers in the Bay Area.”

To Jonathan Aberman, a D.C. area tech consultant and venture investor, talent is the key to the area’s ascendancy. But it’s not the only factor.

“This is a very, very good market for talent and that is the biggest reason why companies locate other places, they locate because they need talent,” said Aberman. “If you add on top of that that there are more Fortune 500 companies — who buy technology — located this region than many people appreciate, and you add on top of that proximity to the federal government, which is a big buyer of technology, all those things come together to make this a really really good market to open an office.”

The biggest weakness in the local talent market, according to both Aberman and Avon, is a lack of experienced product builders — people who have the know-how to guide the development of a technology product. But that may be about to change.

“One of the big things Amazon will bring is product people,” said Avon.

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber