Livability22202 Open Space Working Group Meeting, March 2, 7-9 pm,

(Updated March 3)

Open Space: Is it important to you?

COVID has shown us how important it is to have parks, trails, and open spaces. Yet 22202 is very lacking in those amenities, except for Virginia Highlands Park and Long Bridge Park. The Livability22202 working group created an open space report in December 2020, but this is no time to rest on our laurels. There is so much more to be done. This is not a roll up your sleeves and dig the ground working group. We are looking for your ideas and input. Join the working group: email [email protected] for more details.

As demonstrated by three recent meetings, we’re starting to have an impact. See the current status here: https://livability22202.org/open-space/ But it’s soooo important to expand membership of the working group to ensure participation, not only geographically across 22202 but also demographically, with emphasis on renters in high rise multifamily buildings needing access to open space. And not just during the COVID pandemic, but year round. An Arlington County Civic Federation White paper shows residents in multifamily units have some of the least access to open space in the County.) Not a surprise to us, is it?

The March 2 Open Space meeting covered:

See the recording of the meeting on Facebook here and on YouTube here. The PowerPoint presentation for each agenda item can be viewed here.  View the Open Space final report, the Fact Sheet, and the press release.

March CCCA Newsletter is Out

(FYI, this is the first Newsletter going by email only to renewed members for 2021.) Click here to download.


So many issues, so many meetings, so little time!  We need members to become and stay engaged. 


Highlighting Upcoming Meetings:  Please attend the following and lend your ears and voice to ongoing work.  These are our most important activities right now.

March 2 Livability Open Space Working Group Meeting (discussed below)
The meeting will be mostly informational. If afterwards, you’d like to stay engaged, great!  But join us March 2 to learn what’s happening and where you could join in, if you’d like to.  We really want/need to expand the working group membership, to promote diversity (demographics, housing, opinions?).
 
March 3 VDOT Public Meeting on Route 1 Feasibility Study (discussed below)
Is this what we want for Route 1 in National Landing?  Come to the VDOT public meeting on March 3rd and find out! 
 
March 9 Sustainable Mobility for Arlington (SUSMO) meeting at 7:30 (discussed below)
Come learn what is wrong with the proposed Crystal City Bike Network.
 
March 17 CCCA Meeting
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has agreed to provide a video and PowerPoint update on all the work that is being done at National Airport and which is expected to be completed by summer 2021.  Stay tuned for more details.  The Arlington County Police Department will also present on crime statistics and car jackings.

Your President
Carol Fuller

Livability22202 Meeting with VDOT on Route 1 Feasibility Study (Summary)

Good meeting February 22 with VDOT. Although the Livability Working Group on Route 1 provided VDOT with 19 pages of comments and requests for more data on their feasibility study, they responded only to a few comments at this meeting and promised more substantive reply on data later on. We took the opportunity to review the scope of the study, community concerns, and possible alternatives or ideas on how to deal with Route 1. You can view the recorded meeting here and see the Livability slide show and VDOT slides here.

According to the VDOT project website, the study on Route 1, from approximately 12th Street to 23rd Street South, will explore an at-grade urban boulevard, but also review and compare potential improvements to the current elevated condition, and the elevated urban boulevard described in the Crystal City Sector Plan. Ultimately, the study aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City. However, from comments at the February 22 meeting, it appears that VDOT is only focusing on whether it is feasible to bring Route 1 down to grade and not on other options. This is disappointing and we will continue to advocate for a variety of alternatives and emphasize safety issues for crossing Route 1 without making it a major highway.

There will be a Task Force meeting February 25 (in which several Livability representatives participate) and a public meeting March 3. Register for the March 3 VDOT meeting here.

  • Agenda (Feb 22)
  • 1. Introduction to Livability22202 and the Route 1 Working Group role in the VDOT study
  • 2. Overview of VDOT Route 1 Multimodal Improvements Study scope and status
  • 3. Issues the Working Group identified through the L22202 survey and workshops
  • 4. Review of suggested alternatives for Route 1
  • 5. VDOT Responses to Livability22202 input
  • 5. Review of Working Group requested data & analysis (Us) (7:40-7:50)
  • 6. Scope and purpose of next VDOT public engagement March 3
  • 7. Q&A and discussion of next steps 

On January 11, 2021, the presidents of the three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City–forwarded to VDOT the Livability22202 comments on the VDOT feasibility study. These comments provide feedback to the VDOT Public Information Meeting on the Multimodal Improvements Study for Route 1 on 16 December 2020. The covering letter and the four extensive Appendices are linked here.

Livability22202 Meeting on County Planning and Affordable Housing

 Good meeting February 9 of the three 22202 civic associations: Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City.

7:00 pm:  Matt Mattauszek, Arlington County Master Planner, Crystal City/Pentagon City Planning Coordinator, provided a detailed overview of the county planning activities for 2021 in 22202. The year will be very busy as development ramps across our community.

7:30 pm: Kimberly Driggins, Executive Director of the Washington Housing Conservancy, explained what the WHC is, its funding by Amazon to acquire Crystal Houses for $377M, and the affordable housing parameters for Crystal Houses.  The acquisition will lead to the preservation and creation of 1,300 affordable homes.

8:00 pm: The Livability22202 Housing Working Group provided a summary and highlights of the Livability Housing report issued in December, the ongoing county Missing Middle Study and Housing Report, and the Working Group’s meetings with County Board members.

The meeting was recorded and can be viewed here when available. Currently viewable on the CCCA Facebook page.

This information is also posted on livability22202.org

February 2021 Newsletter

Click here to download

Don’t forget to renew your membership here and stay involved.  After February 1, you may not get your Newsletter or email updates if not paid.  This is the last Newsletter for those paid only in 2020.

1.  January 27 CCCA Meeting:  Read the summary of the meeting on COVID and Development and click on the links to see the full meeting and the slide presentations.

2.  Development:  Each month, a listing of all upcoming development and other major issues will be included i the Newsletter.

3. Upcoming Meetings:
February 2:  JBG Pre-Construction Meeting on 1900 Crystal Drive
February 9 Livability22202 Meeting on County Planning and Affordable Housing
February 15 virtual workshop on the Pentagon City Planning Study
February Livability22202 Meeting with VDOT on Route 1 Feasibility Study, Date TBD
March 17 CCCA Meeting with MWAA on Project Journey at the airport

Your President
Carol Fuller

CCCA Meeting January 27 Summary

During the first hour, Arlington County Health Director, Dr. Reuben Varghese, and Assistant Director of Public Health, Robert Sharpe, briefed on 1) their COVID vaccination plan (this is the updated slide presentation); 2) what they are doing to help disadvantaged during the crisis (e.g., food/evictions); and 3) the impact COVID has had on the County budget. See the slide presentation on #2 and #3 here.

During the second hour, JBG Senior VP for Development Andy VanHorn provided development updates on: 1) the recent purchase of Crystal Houses by the Washington Housing Conservancy and JBG Smith plans to manage it; 2) the ongoing public engagement about their site plan
for 2000/2001 Clark/Bell; and 3) upcoming construction at 1900 Crystal Drive. This segment ended with a review of the timeline for development and other issues over the next few years. See the slide presentations here.

You can watch the entire meeting here. Apologies for those who wanted to watch on Facebook Live since a technical glitch prevented this from happening.

Urgent Update on COVID-19

What happened? 

 On January 22 Virginia Hospital Center started canceling all first dose vaccination appointments from January 26 onwards.   Most of these were for 75+ in the 1b category.  The ensuring panic that occurred following the VHC email cancelations was addressed on Saturday by Arlington County officials, starting with the County Board meeting at 12:50 and then a virtual meeting previously scheduled at 3 pm by Rep Mark Levine, both of which hosted Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington’s Public Health Director.  The County then sent out a Special COVID notice to explain the situation and allay fears.

CCCA Meeting January 27 7-9 pm:  This makes our previously scheduled CCCA meeting this Wednesday particularly important, as Dr. Reuben Varghese and other public health officials will be there at the first hour to explain and answer questions.  This is the Zoom link to join at that time; no pre-registration needed.  You can also call in:  301-715-8592 (Meeting ID: 846 5759 5914; Passcode: 3238240).  Or watch Facebook Live on our CCCA Facebook page where it will be recorded.

Short Summary:  But in case you can’t watch the meetings or want a simple explanation, here it is.

1.  Not enough vaccine.  Virginia is only getting 105,000 doses a week and has to parse those to communities like Arlington County which has only received 5,100 doses since December and used 89.4% as of January 23.  VHC was getting 2,000 doses and is running out, but had scheduled appointments well into February. 

2.  Sudden VA decision to send vaccine only to local health officials (e.g., Arlington County) and not to clinics/hospitals (e.g., VHC). See the Newsroom article for details: https://newsroom.arlingtonva.us/release/vhc-hospital-vaccine-appointments-canceled/.   VHC can now only provide a second dose to those who received a first dose from them, but all further appointments will be made by the County.  (Note:  The Federal Government is following a separate process with CVS and others to vaccinate in long-term care facilities.)  

Most Urgent Bottom Lines:

  • The County is sorting through a VHC list of 3,000 canceled appointments and will follow this priority list in a slide provided by Dr. Varghese.  (Green highlight means the category is in process.)
  • If you are 75+ and your appointment at VHC was canceled, be patient. The County will contact you in the next few days to reschedule in the next few weeks as vaccine becomes available; you do not have to reregister.
  • If you are 75+ and have NOT yet scheduled a vaccination, you are encouraged to pre-register with the Arlington County Department of Public Health, and you will be notified as vaccine appointments become available.
  • If you are not 75+ but had an appointment canceled at VHC, you must now pre-register with the Arlington County Department of Public Health, and you will be notified as vaccine appointments become available.
  • If you are 65+ or in the former 1c category of 16-64 with an underlying condition, you must now pre-register with the Arlington County Department of Public Health, and you will be notified as vaccine appointments become available.
  • Give the County a few days to work this all out and don’t call the public information line right now.  They have to first reschedule about 3,000 75+ first dose appointments, as well as continue with essential workers in the 1b category.
  • This is a very useful County vaccination FAQ page to answer all (or most) of your questions.

If you know someone who does not have access to email or the Internet or is not a member of the CCCA, please share this information with them.  One of the County’s most difficult tasks is to contact people who don’t have that technology since the appointment system is Internet-based and technology-heavy.

Livability22202 Detailed Feedback to VDOT on Feasibility Study (January 11, 2021)

On January 11, 2021, the presidents of the three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City–forwarded to VDOT the Livability22202 comments on the VDOT feasibility study. These comments provide feedback to the VDOT Public Information Meeting on the Multimodal Improvements Study for Route 1 on 16 December 2020. The covering letter and the four extensive Appendices are linked here.

The Livability22202 community is vitally interested in the outcome of the study and how the principles we have enunciated in our Framework and Action Plan of November 2019 will be addressed in the final VDOT recommendations.  Providing safe, convenient, connected, comfortable east-west Route 1 crossings for people of all ages and abilities and for all modes of transportation is a Livability22202 priority and the most important goal of the Working Group. 

We are pleased that VDOT described that the feasibility study “aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City” in the VDOT Public Information Meeting No. 1, December 16, 2020. And we are also pleased that the study will include both an “analysis of existing configuration and analysis of concepts presented in the Crystal City Sector Plan,” along with exploring an at-grade urban boulevard. We are also in agreement that if the study develops an understanding “of potential costs and issues/solutions for constructability and multimodal access,” the Crystal City community and Arlington County will be able to make informed decisions about the future of Route 1.

With these goals in mind, we believe that the formulation of the alternatives for consideration, and the nature of the modeling undertaken to evaluate them will be critical to the outcomes of the study. Issues will include the selection of design concepts for Route 1 as a whole, as well as concepts for individual intersections and cross streets. Assumptions in the study regarding projections for future traffic volumes, peak hour volumes, transit use, and modal splits will also be critical. Because of the importance of the existing conditions data and planning assumptions, it is important that these be shared with the public now, during the early stages of the study formulation, rather than at the end of the study, or worse, not at all. While we are aware that sharing this background information and judgments about the future requires a little more effort from your consultant team up-front, we believe that it will save time overall and build public trust in the results of the study.

The Appendices, which address our concerns and explore some of our ideas, are divided into four broad sections:

  1.  Livability22202 Community Goals and Priorities
  2.  Missing information and Data in the “Existing Conditions” Presentation
  3.  Clarification of VDOT Study Concepts
  4.  Livability22202 Alternative Concepts

Breaking News: Crystal Houses and Housing Affordability

Great News! The Washington Housing Conservancy has bought Crystal Houses on S Eads Street with a major grant from Amazon and JBG Smith will manage it. The conservancy’s mission — and the Crystal House project — aim to create spaces for individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for government housing assistance but do not earn enough to afford high-demand real estate markets. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/06/amazon-arlington-affordable-housing/

With Amazon’s flexible capital, WHC was able to execute the purchase of Crystal House in under two months, an expedited timeline for commercial real estate transactions. WHC’s finance partner, the Washington Housing Initiative, and Impact Pool, created by developer JBG SMITH, provided commercial real estate expertise and an additional loan of $6.7 million.

Amazon announced its Housing Equity Fund, a more than $2 billion initiative to preserve and create more than 20,000 affordable housing units in the Puget Sound region in Washington State, Arlington, Virginia region, and Nashville, Tennessee—three communities Amazon calls home. The first investments include $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and create up to 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House property on S. Eads Street. Over the next five years, rent prices for 75 percent of the units at Crystal House will drop to help residents who are making less than 80 percent of the area’s mean income of $126,000. Read the Amazon announcement here: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/community/amazon-launches-2-billion-housing-equity-fund-to-preserve-and-create-over-20-000-affordable-homes

CCCA January 2021 Newsletter

Looking forward to a better year than 2020! We’re moving to bimonthly virtual meetings live streamed to Facebook, starting January 27.  Let us know if you have suggestions for topics you would like to be covered. Also, we’ve added a timeline of development/construction issues to the Newsletter and each CCCA meeting which explains why we’re all so exhausted.  And lots more inside the Newsletter–download it here.

Above all, don’t forget to 
renew your membership here and stay involved.

1.  SAVE THE DATE:  January 27 CCCA Meeting
Our first meeting of the year is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, from 7-9 pm.  We’ve invited Arlington County health officials to talk about their COVID vaccination plan, what they are doing to help disadvantaged during the crisis (e.g., food/evictions), and the impact COVID has had on the County budget.  We may also ask JBG to give a brief update on the ongoing public engagement about their site plan for 2000/2001 Clark/Bell and upcoming construction at 1900 Crystal Drive. Stay tuned for the details.

2.  Responses Needed :  Note that the next 3 items are calling for public feedback by January 11:

Pubic Engagement:  2000/2001 Clark/Bell Site Plan
This is Block M, AKA Crystal Plaza Square that has been through 2 Long Range Planning Committee sessions. This is your last chance to weigh in publicly on any concerns you might have about the site plan for these 2 buildings on 20th Street:  e.g., Clark/Bell extension, open space, Underground. Be sure to make your voice heard before the SPRCs in February and March. The comment period has been extended to January 11.  See everything on the project page:  https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/2001-clark-st/
 
The VDOT Route 1 Multimodal Feasibility Study
VDOT held the first Public Engagement Meeting December 16 for the public to review existing conditions; hear about public survey responses; and ask questions and provide input.  The purpose of this feasibility study is to identify enhanced multimodal connectivity and accommodations along Route 1 (between 12th Street to 23rd Streets) to meet the changing transportation needs of the Crystal City and Pentagon City communities. As this area’s commercial and residential densities continue to increase, transportation plans will need to address the wide-ranging needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, motorists, and other users while maximizing the safety, convenience, and sustainability of the system for decades to come. At this time, no construction funding has been allocated, so this study will not set design or construction dates. 
The timeline includes a second public meeting in March for more analysis; presentation of a draft report to the public in May and a final report in June. Access the online comment form and view details on providing feedback through January 11 here.
Note:  Participants in the December 16 meeting were surprised that VDOT is missing a lot of essential data and seems to see its charge is to determine if and how Route 1 can be brought down to grade.  The Livability22202 working group on Route 1 is providing input.  See the Study webpage here.
 
Here’s your chance to design the new park at South Eads Street and Army Navy Drive
 Share Your Feedback on Three Draft Design Concepts that resulted from the first public engagement for the area at South Eads Street  With the guidance of the Crystal City Sector Plan and the Public Spaces Master Plan, it was decided that this new park will help meet the county’s goals of increasing public space opportunities.  This past fall, community comments shared information about how people currently use the space and what they envision for the future. Those comments helped shape the three draft concepts that the design team present in the video below—The Meander, The Canal Walk, and The Central Hub. We want to know what you think. What are your favorite elements of each concept? What do you feel is missing? Your feedback by January 11 will help inform the design of the Park Master Plan and Design Guidelines for this new public space.  Share your feedback here.

Your President
Carol Fuller