An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Monday: Community Forum on Accessory Dwelling Proposal

Check out this event on Monday:
Community Forum: Housing Commission’s Accessory Dwelling Proposal

When: 7:00 - 9:30 p.m., Monday, March 31, 2008 Where: Arlington Central Library Auditorium, 1015 North Quincy Street (nearest Metro: Ballston, very limited on-site parking) You will have the opportunity to:
  • Hear a presentation describing key elements of the proposal
  • Ask questions about the proposal or what’s legal now
  • Share your thoughts on what the County Manager should recommend to the County Board
Here are links to the Commission’s Accessory Dwelling Report which was submitted to the County Board in January. It recommends that the County Board amend the Zoning Ordinance to permit Accessory Dwellings. For more information, email Fran Lunney.

: To request assistance for persons with limited English proficiency or hearing impairments, please telephone the Arlington County Housing Division at 703.228.3760 as soon as possible (TTY 703.228.4611). Central Library is accessible to people with disabilities.
So what are accessory dwellings? The Arlington Connection explains:

"Houses can sometimes renovate their basements to turn them into a living area," [Tejada] said in an interview. "Because of the cost of land these days, this is a way of creating housing."

TEJADA’S proposal dealt with accessory dwelling units. An accessory dwelling unit is a part of a home with its own kitchen and bathroom that could be rented out to a private party. They can be located in a basement, an attic, a garage, a second floor or in a free-standing structure such as a guest house.

Currently, renting out an accessory dwelling unit is not legal in Arlington unless it is rented to a family member. In his first speech as chairman on Jan. 1, Tejada described accessory dwelling units as "a new form of affordability in Arlington" and said that the law should be changed to permit them to be rented to private parties.

A similar change to allow for this was proposed in the early 1980’s but was killed after neighborhood representatives raised concerns about crowding issues. Now, with Arlington facing inflated land prices and a housing shortage, the idea has been resurrected by local officials.

THE COUNTY’S Housing Commission has been investigating this issue for several years and recently issued a report that recommended changing the housing laws to allow for the renting of accessory dwelling units.

The report said that allowing homeowners to rent out parts of their houses would not only increase affordable housing in Arlington but would also give the county’s elders the ability to "age in place through added income or space for caregivers."

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Arlington's CRM Wins National Award

From the Sun Gazette:
The Arlington Community Role Models Program has been named the recipient of a 2008 Acts of Caring Award from the National Association of Counties.

The award, which will be presented on April 10, represents “a great honor and a tremendous accomplishment,” County Board Chairman Walter Tejada said.
Launched in 2004, the Community Role Models Program was designed to bring young adults together to make a difference in the life of the community.

Since its founding, more than 1,300 people have participated in the program, which is overseen by the Department of Human Services and the county's volunteer office.
Check out the CRM website, or better yet, plan to come meet our volunteers at the April CRM Monthly Meetup!


Uh Oh: DC's Murky Coffee Closes, Arlington Location in Trouble

With the possible exception of Java Shack, there is no better coffee shop in Arlington than Murky Coffee. Great coffee, cool staff, fun place to hang out or miss a connection.

But according to the Washington Post, Murky owes Virginia about $20,000 in sales tax and its DC location is closed and will not reopen:
Murky Coffee, according to the tax office, owes more than $427,000 in sales and franchise taxes. A lien filed against the business shows that Cho paid sales tax to the government in only three of the 24 months from November 2004 to October 2006. Officials with the tax office said Cho missed payments in 2007 and 2008 as well.
There's a lot to like about Murky's public business practices, using fair-trade beans and giving away used coffee grounds for garden fertilizer. But as for Murky's private business practices ... well, the article speaks for itself. As Small Business blogger Sharon McLoone writes, "Murky Coffee is a classic example of a well-intentioned small business that failed due to financial mismanagement - not because it lacked customers or a good product."

What would go in if Murky left? There are already eight Starbucks locations in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor alone, but none between Virginia Square and eastern Clarendon. One would think they'd target that spot in western Clarendon for number nine. There has also been talk of a major Dunkin Donuts expansion in Northern Virginia for years, but the R-B corridor remains without a single one.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Your Car's Glove Box: Not an Impenetrable Fortress

A warning from Arlington Police:
The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a significant increase in larcenies from autos. Thieves are targeting portable electronic devices left in vehicles, including GPS units and iPods, and police are urging residents to take steps to help prevent the crimes.

“I tell people, if you don’t want to lose it, don’t leave it in your car.” Says Detective Damon Washington, a member of Arlington’s Auto Theft Unit.

Portable GPS devices, in particular, are very popular with criminals these days. 150 GPS units were reported stolen in Arlington in 2007, a significant increase from 2006 when approximately 36 units were taken. Already, in just the first two months of 2008, thieves have taken more than 100 GPS units from vehicles in Arlington.
Let's be honest - putting your GPS in your glove box is like putting your wallet in your shoe when you're at the beach. It might make you feel a little better, but you're not fooling anybody.

As Det. Washington says, there's only one fail-safe way to protect your stuff, and that's to take it with you. In addition, you should use a micro fiber cloth or moist towelette to wipe away suction cup marks on the windshield. Even if your GPS isn't in the car, a potential thief could still see the marks and smash your window.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Take Back the Park and Raise That Glass

Arlington Community Role Models has two environmental events planned in the coming weeks!

First, there's Take Back the Park, an invasive plant removal planned for Saturday, March 22nd from 2-4pm at Potomac Overlook Regional Park with a happy hour to follow at King Street Blues in Courthouse. I say "planned" because it's already been postponed once due to bad weather. Stupid March, always coming in like a lion! But with any luck, it'll be going out like a lamb and we'll get a nice day for it. There are a few volunteer slots left, you can sign up at the CRM website!

Then on Tuesday, April 1st, CRM will host our Monthly Meetup at Pinzimini in Ballston (in the Westin at the corner of Glebe and Wilson). You can RSVP at the CRM website or at the Facebook event page!

One odd thing about the CRM Monthly Meetups -- girls are heavily outnumbering the guys. Right now, RSVPs at the Facebook event page for the April Meetup are running two-to-one female. Wouldn't you think the guys would tell their buddies and more men would start coming? Or is it the opposite -- guys aren't telling their buddies in hopes of keeping the ratio the same?

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