Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A large group of demonstrators is blocking the outbound 14th Street Bridge between D.C. and Arlington.

Protesters were sitting down across the main southbound bridge span, according to D.C. police, but then started marching towards Arlington. The group — said to number in the hundreds — previously marched from the area around the Jefferson Memorial, according to scanner traffic.

Drivers should expect delays in the area, though the outbound HOV lanes remain open. Police are on scene monitoring the demonstration.

Arlington County fire department medics have been dispatched to the bridge at the request of Virginia State Police for a report of a protester who is dehydrated.

Public safety watchdog Dave Statter is broadcasting live video of the protest, which as of 4:35 p.m. appears to be winding down. Demonstrators, holding signs and flags, can be seen marching back toward D.C.

The protest is related to the persecution of an ethnic group in Ethiopia, according to social media posts.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

Rosslyn startup Airside Mobile is rebranding to just Airside as part of a pivot from being a travel app developer to a company focused on securing data and privacy in online interactions.

“Airside was founded shortly after the first generation iPhone was launched,” the company said in its blog. “We hopped at the opportunity to develop ultra-secure mobile technology, including the award-winning¬†Mobile Passport App. However, the ‘Airside Mobile’ label no longer applies to our broader set of capabilities and offerings that extend beyond mobile apps to SDKs, APIs, and more. Our new name maintains the continuity of our brand while also allowing more breadth and depth for our products and services.”

In an interview with the podcast State of Identity, Chief Commercial Officer Jessica Patel said that international changes brought about by COVID-19 have emphasized the need for secure online interactions.

“The world has changed so much in these last couple of months,” Patel said. “There are some industries in the short term that have gone fully virtual that people might not have expected, like technology supporting fully virtual education. Obviously virtual healthcare and the overall health-tech space has evolved and become a bigger need in these more recent weeks… There are some of these industries that were not nearly as virtual as they are today [and there is] a need for digital identity to play a major role.”

Patel said she doubted that many of the industries that had to shift to virtual interactions will ever go back to the level of in-person interaction before the pandemic.

“When I think about changes all kinds of industries will have to make there’s going to be moves to offering digital interactions instead of physical,” Patel said. “There’s going to be a real push to implement more contactless solutions. I think that’s where leveraging digital ID and biometric technologies are going to play a huge role in a lot of these verticals.”

Over the last few months, the company has offered its digital suite of products to organizations on the front lines of fighting the pandemic, free of charge.

“If your organization is on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 and you believe that a digital identity solution would support your cause, please contact us,” the company said in a press release. “We’re here to help. Airside is uniquely positioned to respond to this need because we can protect the data with best-in-class encryption, ensure a high level of privacy for the individual and the organization, and utilize our FedRAMP-certified environment to handle increased transactions for your fundamentally important cause.”

Patel said the company’s experience in verifying identities while maintaining privacy is opening doors to expanding into a variety of financial, retail, and travel interactions. The company offers products like software development kits businesses can use for their own products or document scanning and chip reading products. Some of those, Patel said, are sold as monthly or annual licenses, while others are product sales.

“As we look to grow how we’re supporting consumers, we’ve grown beyond a customs application into a broader digital identity solution,” Patel said, “whether in banking, travel, insurance, education technology… we’re seeking to a be a ubiquitous form of digital identity that continues to put the control of sensitive information in the consumer’s hands.”

It’s a message that seems to have resonated with investors, with the Washington Business Journal reporting last week that Airside has raised¬†$13.6 million in new funding.

Photo via Airside/Facebook

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Another round of severe storms packing torrential rainfall and strong winds is possible today.

The National Weather Service has issued both flash flood and severe thunderstorm watches for Arlington and parts of the D.C. region.

The Flash Flood Watch is in effect until 9 p.m., while the Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect until 11 p.m.

“Severe thunderstorms are possible this afternoon and evening with locally damaging winds and large hail being the primary threat,” the National Weather Service says. “There is also an isolated threat for flooding.”

More from NWS:

THE FLASH FLOOD WATCH CONTINUES FOR

* PORTIONS OF MARYLAND, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING AREAS, IN MARYLAND, ANNE ARUNDEL, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST HOWARD, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MONTGOMERY, NORTHERN BALTIMORE, NORTHWEST HARFORD, PRINCE GEORGES, SOUTHEAST HARFORD, AND SOUTHERN BALTIMORE. THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA, ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA.

* UNTIL 9 PM EDT THIS EVENING

* THUNDERSTORMS WILL DEVELOP THIS AFTERNOON AND CONTINUE THIS EVENING ALONG THE I-95 CORRIDOR. SOME AREAS MAY EXPERIENCE MULTIPLE THUNDERSTORMS THROUGH THIS EVENING. RAINFALL AMOUNTS  OF 1-2 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE, WITH SOME ISOLATED AMOUNTS OVER 3  INCHES POSSIBLE. THIS AMOUNT OF RAIN OVER URBAN AREAS MAY LEAD TO INSTANCES OF FLASH FLOODING, AS WELL AS A POTENTIAL FOR CREEKS AND STREAMS TO RISE RAPIDLY IF SOME OF THE HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE REALIZED.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED.

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A North Carolina man wound up in jail after allegedly declaring independence from his trousers Saturday night.

Just before midnight on July 4, police were called to the 1200 block of S. Eads Street in Pentagon City for a report of a man exposing himself.

“Arriving officers located the suspect, who attempted to walk away from them. He then turned back and allegedly exposed himself to officers, who then took him into custody without incident,” according to a new Arlington County Police Department crime report.

A 36-year-old man from Fayetteville, North Carolina¬†“was arrested and charged with Indecent Exposure and Drunk in Public,” the report continued. “He was held on no bond.”

On the morning of the Fourth of July, a 29-year-old D.C. man was arrested on the 100 block of S. Fenwick Street, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, after another alleged indecent exposure incident.

“At approximately 7:04 a.m. on July 4, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed the male suspect allegedly touching himself inappropriately. Arriving officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident.”

The suspect was charged with Public Masturbation and held on no bond, the crime report said.

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Arlington Cares

A VIRTUAL Celebration of Volunteerism
Tuesday, July 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Making Room is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely¬†the author’s.

The McMansion is the universal punching bag for housing politics in Arlington.

It is a symbol for both pro-growth and anti-growth advocates of everything that is wrong with our land use and zoning policies.

For those who fear growth and decry upzoning, the McMansion is a threat to the suburban Arlington of yore, when a couple of middle-class public servants could afford a three-bedroom home on a tree-lined street.¬†“Greedy developers” snatch up these modest bungalows and bulldoze them to make way for a monstrosity, leveling trees in the process.

For those who embrace growth and welcome upzoning, the McMansion is a failure to accommodate our growing population, allowing access to a single, affluent family, rather than allowing 2 or more families the same opportunity. Restricting density in popular neighborhoods limits our ability to create walkable urban places that are vibrant and full of opportunity for people at all income levels.

While I harbor no ill-will toward anyone who lives in a newly-constructed, 5,000 sq. ft. million+ dollar home, the prevalence of this type of dwelling signifies a failure of our housing market to meet the demand of our residents. If we conclude that McMansions are a symptom of a problem, perhaps we can agree on a solution.

In the first “research compendium” published as part of the Missing Middle study, Arlington County staff lay out the impact that single-family redevelopment has had on our housing supply.

Much of Arlington was developed in the 1930s through 1950s, which means many of our homes are older stock, roughly 1,500 square feet with 2 or 3 bedrooms. In just the past ten years, 8% of all of Arlington’s single-family detached homes have been either been torn down and replaced or substantially renovated. The newly-constructed replacement homes average 4,750 sq. ft. and cost an average of $1.7 million dollars.

Overall, Arlington County analysis shows that “the average sales price for a detached single-family house increased 45% between 2010 to 2019.”

With the increasing price of single-family homes, middle-class Arlington families have few opportunities to buy. At an average of $1.7 million dollars, a McMansion is only affordable to a family making $485,000 per year, which is more than three times the income of the average Arlington family of four.

McMansions are also outsized for the needs of most families. Data shows that the size of a typical household is decreasing, while the size of new homes continues to rise. In the last fifty years, the average square feet of living space per person has nearly doubled.

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Address: 3401 N. Kensington Street
Neighborhood: Crescent Hills
Listed: $1,725,000

Nearly new home with four finished levels and over 6,000 square feet of well designed space. Wide front porch ushers one into a light filled foyer with a traditional living room to the right and dining room to the left.

The butler’s pantry between the dining room and the kitchen has glass display cabinets and under-the-counter cabinets for linen and dinnerware. A triple window over the kitchen sink highlights the expansive island with seating area. Just off the kitchen is a big walk in pantry and a breakfast room opening to the mudroom and oversized two car garage.

Adjoining the kitchen is a home office  with built-in and separate entry to the driveway. A coffered ceiling and stone fireplace enhance the family room which also has a door to the grilling deck and patio.

Upstairs, the principal bedroom has a Juliet balcony and space for a seating area and desk. A big walk in closet and private bathroom complete the suite. The second bedroom has a walk in closet and en suite bathroom with oversized shower. The large third and fourth bedrooms provide areas for desk and bookcases. A shared bath between the rooms has a double bowl sink and separate toilet and bathtub area. Also on this level is the laundry room with cabinets and hamper space.

The top floor has a big loft area with window seating, fifth bedroom and bathroom. Dormered ceilings add architectural interest to this private space. What a great spot  for a home office, distance learning college student or pampered guest.

The expansive lower level rec room divides into spots for media, music, hobbies, exercise and play. The sixth bedroom, bathroom and large storage room complete this level.

Discovery, Williamsburg, Yorktown schools.

Listed by:
Betsy Twigg
McEnearney Associates
703-967-4391
[email protected]
betsytwigg.com

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Speakers¬†at an Arlington County Board meeting on the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan¬†hammered the plan’s perceived failure to live up to earlier talk of promoting equity.

The main target of most of the ire was the allegation that single-family home owners in North Arlington would receive outsized investment in stormwater protections under the plan, compared to proposed capital spending in the rest of the county.

Rather than the usual 10-year CIP cycle, County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a one-year CIP focused on pausing and focusing on what the county describes as funding the bare necessities. Given the dramatic storms that wreaked major flooding across Arlington last year, Schwartz recommended a $50.8 million stormwater bond and millions in funding for initial projects.

“This year’s CIP also begins the County’s increased investment in stormwater infrastructure,” the County said in a press release. “The $14.6 million included in the FY 2021 plan will advance several current key projects and lays the foundation of what is expected to be a $189 million investment over 10 years.”

“For the first time, there will be a bond referendum for investments ($50.8 million) in stormwater infrastructure,” the County said. “The County is undertaking a comprehensive review to mitigate flood risks and design work is underway for significant investments in watershed-scale solutions in high-risk areas prone to flooding.”

Several speakers at last week’s online hearing, however, said that the stormwater projects disproportionately aim to protect higher-income areas of the county. Speaker Benjamin Nichols particularly targeted investments made in the Spout Run and Lubber Run watersheds.

“Making huge investments in affluent, low-density areas seems like a step in the wrong direction and seems perverse, given that single-family home development is the majority contributor to the growth of impermeable surface in Arlington County,” Nichols said. “If we’re going to make large investments in these areas on the idea that flooding is unacceptable anywhere in Arlington, we should make sure the benefits should be accrued to a broad constituency beyond the privileged few that can afford to buy a single-family house in North Arlington. Perhaps a significant upzoning would be in order.”

Nichols and other Arlingtonians have argued for funding to be restored to bicycle and pedestrian improvements cut as part of scaled-back CIP.

The criticism of the stormwater investment contrasts with sentiment in the aftermath of the flooding, which caused significant damage to homes and businesses in parts of the county like Westover.

“Do not let Arlington government off hook on flooding,” was the headline of one letter to the editor in the Sun Gazette newspaper. Another letter to the editor from last July similarly called for more county action:

“After years of study and inaction about what to do about the inadequate stormwater system, board members have been spinning rather than trying to assure residents that the problems will be solved,” the letter said. “The time to wait and sit on your hands is over — it is past time to take action.”

The CIP dedicates $26.89 million of the $50.8 million bond to the Spout Run watershed — an area north of Wilson Blvd. centered around Lee Highway communities. The first major investment in the stormwater plan is $1.2 million towards “relining of a 3,000-foot section of 33-inch Spout Run sewer main, which runs under the North Highlands neighborhood.”

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The rate of new reported COVID-19 cases in Arlington has ticked up over the past few days, while new hospitalizations remain low.

The overall number of coronavirus cases rose from 2,496 on Thursday to 2,533 today, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The trailing seven-day rate of new cases is now just under 10 per day, up from a low of six per day in late May.

No new COVID-related hospitalizations were reported over the weekend. Cumulative hospitalizations in Arlington stand at 421, while the trailing seven-day total of new hospitalizations stands at three. On Sunday, the statewide number of current COVID hospitalizations reached a new low in Virginia: 792.

In Arlington, meanwhile, the cumulative number of COVID-related deaths has not increased in more than a week.

On Friday, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, when asked about concerns regarding¬†Virginia’s recent Phase 3 reopening, suggested to the Washington Post that officials were apprehensive.

“If you look at the data, we’re in pretty good shape,” Garvey told the Post. “Nobody’s enthusiastic [about the situation], but we need to figure out how to live with and be with this virus, and using the numbers seems to be the best way to do it.”

The uneasy reopening comes as Sun Belt states struggle with a surge of new virus cases that some experts say is a “second wave” of the disease. Other states that have, like Virginia, largely flattened their epidemic curve are also approaching reopening cautiously.

“Massachusetts may have flattened its coronavirus curve,” said a Boston Herald article Sunday, “but experts eyeing spikes across the Sun Belt are saying now is not the time to grow lax, warning that a second wave is ‘almost inevitable’ here and that it could have devastating health and economic impacts.”

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