April 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The April 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

The Future of Ashton Heights by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

In our March AHCA meeting, we heard Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey present on Missing Middle Housing, discussing a multi-year process where the Board has started to look at affordability, housing equity, and options in Arlington County. She stated quite rightly that “change is inevitable.” In fact, housing has changed quite a bit since Arlington’s founding. As we celebrate Ashton Height’s 100th anniversary this year, we will learn about that in more detail.

I have lived in Arlington since 1980 and moved into the house I live in now on N. Ivy Street in 1984. Arlington has changed pretty radically from a sleepy suburb into an urban suburb. In my last column, I acknowledged much of what has been done right has been due to leaders in our civic association along with our sister associations on the planning and guidelines that have been formalized and enshrined in the County planning process. The reason we have open spaces, tree canopy, pedestrian friendly walkways & bikeways, and preservation of residential neighborhoods has been in large part to this effort. These features are really what make Arlington and our area, an especially wonderful place to live.

And as we all know, these decisions impact traffic, crime and safety, affordability, schools, taxes, parks and open space, etc. At the same time, as we urbanize, land prices and housing prices rocket upward, and so we face a future of being a neighborhood of the richest rather than as being more eclectic and diverse.

Before we all take sides and move into our respective positions, I ask everyone to take a deep breath. This process started by the Arlington County Board and brought ably before us by our new AHCA Housing Committee chairs Matt Hall and Christina Schultz, is to envision and balance how Arlington evolves. There are lots of trade-off as we all know. For instance, we may form a consensus that multi-family and duplexes along thoroughfares rather than cement buildings (like CVS) may be an appropriate buffer and address housing affordability issues. And frankly, more commercial space that may stay partially vacant in the post-COVID world, may shift more tax burden to residential owners. I am not taking a position here, just offering that there are many sides to these issues.

The Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) is going to continue what we have always done with development, traffic, schools, open spaces, tree canopy and safety – build some common knowledge as our AHCA Housing Committee started, and slowly build a united consensus that we can articulate clearly to Arlington County. To do this correctly, our Housing Committee needs some volunteer time, and also needs some listserv and monthly meeting time to keep this dialogue going.

We have been able to forge a consensus and articulate our positions over many issues, which has made the Ashton Heights Civic Association well respected, and in most cases “listened to”. So as always, let’s work together to forge consensus and a vision. We are lucky to live in such as great community and have so many people willing to offer their thoughts and time, and put in some elbow grease to make this an even better place to live.

So thanks and welcome Spring 2021 to a hopefully safer and more joyful year.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 03/17/2021 via Zoom

Uncategorized

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:31 pm. asking for reports from our committees.

Jack Spilsbury of our Development Committee mentioned that he and Dave Phillips attended the latest LRPC Clarendon Sector Plan Update Meeting, where they shared concerns compiled by our civic association.  Obviously what they talked about did not square with what the developers were proposing, but it still was a good meeting.  They will attend the next meeting scheduled for April 14.  They referenced the AHCA consensus letter released to Arlington County Board and staff a week earlier.

They also attended a Lyon Village monthly meeting with the County Planner Brett Wallace presenting the Clarendon Sector Plan Update.  Lyon Village Residents had similar concerns we did primarily along the Washington Blvd side to all this redevelopment.

They are continuing to reach out to other neighborhood civic associations about this.

Gregory Morse and Caroline Rogus of our Schools Committee were not on-line.

Brent Burris our Neighborhood Conservation Rep was not on-line.

Patrick Lueb of our Transportation Committee was not on-line.

Scott mentioned that break-ins into cars are on the rise.  Please lock your car.  There is alot of road work happening on Pershing Drive and Washington Blvd.  Any concerns contact Patrick Lueb at jiffy64@me.com.  He mentioned that there has been concerns that the reconstruction of Clay Park is taking too long, can someone look into this?  Scott also thanked Martha Casey for posting the latest information about COVID vaccines in Arlington.  If you are unable to schedule an appointment, please contact her at mlcasey@oacpc.com .

Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy Committee reported that trees will be planted at Maury and Gumball Parks this Spring.  Our latest batch of tree canopy funded trees are coming in two weeks

Christina Schultz of our Safety and Security Committee introduced Officer Harley Guenther from the Arlington County Police.  She presented some options to find crime information and stats for Arlington County.  She is suggestion going to the Arlington County Police Website at police.ArlingtonVA.us.  Once you log in, there are links to the right side of the screen for Police Newsroom, Daily Crime Report and an on-line crime map, where you can see the latest criminal activity in the county.

The Missing Middle Housing Initiative – Three Presentations:

1) Presentation by Hon. Libby Garvey about the Arlington County Missing Middle Study

2) Presentation by Peter Rousselot with Arlingtonians for a Sustainable Future

3)  Third Presentation by Alice Hogan with the Alliance for Housing Solutions

Here’s the link to all three presentations:  pastedGraphic.png https://goldsteinhall-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/p/mhal EpOdFgyg7W9JhlQXeLXQkWEBg4A4Pusjz3xdKPbzeOjQ0g?e=pvURyA

And some other items mentioned:

Link to Merion Pike West Development Analysis re up zoning impacts mentioned by Libby Garvey. https://3d81d522-ce99-431c-a359-61f1ce06c557.filesusr.com/ugd/a48bae_527aa129a4ec4f19b98a743bb9ae987c.pdf

Website for Arlingtonians for our Sustainable Future https://www.asf-virginia.org/

Peter’s take: Arlington’s Missing Middle Housing is High End Housing

Alliance for Housing Solutions Webpage:  

https://www.allianceforhousingsolutions.org

Missing Middle for a Better Arlington:

https://www.allianceforhousingsolutions.org/blog/missing-middle-housing-for-a-better-arlington

The GMU study – The economic and fiscal impact of locating Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington VA:  https://sfullerinstitute.gmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/SFI_-Economic_-Fiscal_Impacts_of_Amazon-HQ2_110818.pdf

The final presentation for the meeting is part of a multi-series of AHCA meeting presentations on ACHA History by Jim Terpstra, AHCA’s Historian, as a precursor to our 100th anniversary celebration.

Ashton Heights Origin and History Book by Peter Dickson in 2007 is being updated to include more recent developments.  Hopefully will be printed and available in the Fall.

Ashton Heights Style Guide – three volunteers have identified newer housing styles in our neighborhood will be identifying what they are and will be updating the housing style guide.  They hope to do a walking tour of these homes in the Fall.

Jim also plans on adding for historical information not our website soon.

The meeting adjourned around 8:39 pm.

Respectfully submitted by Jodie Flakowicz, March 20, 2021. 

March 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The March 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Community Benefits – The “Arlington Way” by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

What makes the Ashton Heights community so amazing is its long history of participating and leading within Arlington County on development, transportation, education and other issues. In fact, much of the uniqueness of living here has been a visionary set of leaders within our community who have put their visions, along with some sweat and tears beginning in the 1960’s, into a citizen’s participatory process which we call “The Arlington Way.”

In my ten years at the helm of the Ashton Heights Civic Association, I am always amazed at the breadth and depth of our members on the key planning issues. But I am also amazed about what I will term as “County Drift,” where a few years after a multi-year collaborative process, the planning processes within the County seem to discard the prior-approved consensus so we have to gear up to weigh-in on the issues again and again.

Nothing seems more open to this than the development and parking planning now underway by County government.

In redevelopment, the County allows developers to receive certain waivers if there are clear “community benefits.” In the proposed Clarendon Sector Plan, there appears willingness to allow heights above the mandated 110 feet and higher building densities without “community benefits.” So what are the community benefits we have fought so long and hard for? (I quote from the listserv from a sample of our association leaders long involved in this area: Joan Fitzpatrick, Brooke Alexander, Julie Mangis, Ann Felker, and others.)

Greenways: The existing greenway between Irving and Ivy Streets is almost adjacent to this proposed development! It is not irrelevant. We have already experienced one attempt to penetrate this important buffer. Having the greenway form a buffer along the northern edge of our neighborhood is absolutely necessary to define our boundary. And why should we retreat from the Greenway concept, which originated here in Ashton Heights? The County actually incorporated it into the GLUP based on our recommendation.

Building height: It is important to remember that the 110′ maximum was predicated on getting community benefits in return. So far, we have not been apprised of any proffers that would justify the 110′ height, much less the 128′ height. I think AHCA has done a good job of articulating our concerns about height and density, but I might consider including language regarding FARs (floor-area-ratios).

Building setbacks: Address light and imposing structures over our residential community. Here, we were informed that building step-backs present architectural challenges, including plumbing, electrical and other infrastructure issues. It was as if developers are resisting the step-back requirements. We need to challenge the 165′ measurement from our neighborhood regarding the 1:3 taper. We need to be vigilant about the tapering, transitions, step-backs and set-backs lest they, too, get modified. We are reminded of the time when developers told us that building residential buildings wasn’t “economically feasible.” So they got away with building the Rosslyn office canyons, which we’ve been trying to fix ever since.

Open space: A hotel terrace, at whatever level, provides any benefit to those of us who live in Ashton Heights. There is no plan for open space in these proposals, with the possible exception of the linear park replacing Fairfax Drive adjacent to Northside Social and St. Charles Church. It’s not clear to me whether that area would be paid for by the county or whether developers would be expected to provide the park as their community benefit.

A similar set of issues appear to be happening regarding parking strategies that were established as the Metro came through Arlington so that neighborhoods near Metro stops (we have three in Ashton Heights: Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston) would not have commuter cars parking all day in our neighborhoods, so our residents living in these areas can park on their own street. Luckily, the Arlington County Board has held in place the program for the existing neighborhoods, good news. However, what is not good news is that developers are now allowed to put in less “inbuilding” parking for condominiums and apartment houses with the assumption that these people will not use their own vehicles, but utilize Metro. We can argue if that is true, these residents will have visiting relatives, friends, service workers and vendors that need to park as well.

I raise these points not to be whiny, but rather to illustrate that our community involvement has driven our area to be a great place to live. But that also requires the sweat and tears of an earlier time be taken on by newer and younger residents so as to keep the assets that attracted all of us to live in Ashton Heights.

We will be celebrating AHCA’s 100th Anniversary this year – where we all can learn, laud, and celebrate these achievements.

But I hope as we do, and many of you who read this newsletter and participate in the listserv, can build perspectives and join in on an outstanding legacy.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meting Minutes or 02/17/2021 via Zoom

Uncategorized

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:34 pm.  

Scott thanked Jim Richardson, for enlisting AHCA meeting speakers and  Emmi Lou Olson and Chris Armstrong for setting up the meeting ZOOM meetings, and specifically to Chris Armstrong for taking over Carmen’s position covering ads for our newsletter.  Martha Casey has stepped up to provide the latest vaccine and pandemic information on our list serve and the newsletter.  He also thanked our newsletter editor Amy Miller and the newsletter distribution team.

Doug Williams and Patrick Lueb have been focused on the county review of our residential parking situation.  Doug has attended and testified, on our behalf, at county meetings about this issue and want to ensure our current parking parameters and permit requirements remain the same on our streets.  Six civic associations in our area are focused on this issue and maintaining the current requirements.  We want to keep our finger on the pulse of how this dialogue is going.

Christina Schultz and Matt Hall of our Housing Committee are focused on the county dialogue on the loss of middle housing in our area.  At our next meeting in March, they will have three speakers for us on this issue.

Dave Phillips and Jack Spilsbury of our Development Committee just posted on our list serve a first draft response for Ashton Heights on the  current update of the 2006 Clarendon Sector Plan presented in February.  They would like input from everyone by Feb 22 to meet the deadline for county input.  Submit your comments to davidphillips1@msn.com or spilsburyj@gmail.com.

Also if you would like to review the presentations about the Clarendon Sector Plan yourself, below is the link to the Arlington LRPC/Planning Commission website, as well as a direct link to the survey they have posted for input on the Clarendon Sector Plan with a deadline of February 22 for input. Included at this site are links to two Planning Staff presentations (on Youtube) regarding key issues for the Clarendon Sector Plan review that was launched last November and will continue through fall 2021.  One presentation focus on building design and zoning requirements, while the second discusses public/green space issue in the study area (Clarendon West End including 10th St/Wilson Blvd triangle as well as the segment of Fairfax drive between Clarendon Circle and Kirkland).  

Brooke Alexander expressed concerns that we need to stick to what we agreed to in the 2006 Sector Plan.  There was talk that the fire station would be going away and replaced with a green space.  Why not keep the fire station to better support our neighborhood?  Dave Phillips mentioned that he is under the impression that the plan with the county is for the fire station to remain.  He went on to mention how there is a proposal by the county to create green space near St. Charles Catholic Church turning a parking area between the church and Northside Social Club into a park.  On one hand it is a good thing to create more green space, however, why give up this very active parking area that is needed which will not doubt contribute to our current parking problem.

Brooke also mentioned that she attending the LRPC Meeting regarding the development between Clarendon and Courthouse areas where some hight density is being proposed.  She was concerned that the area of density seems to be expanding, which could create a precedent, which will encourage high-density to continue.

Julie Mangis agreed that this is something that we need to keep an eye on. These county proposals could allow the “urban village” idea to slowly disappear.

Cole Deines has noticed that so much time and effort has been done by our community members to provide input on what our vision is to be, but over time instead of these plans being allowed to remain adhered to, he is finding that they are challenged more and more.

Jack Spilsbury mentioned the idea of Sector Plans for areas of the county not being budgeted for more recently.  Maybe this is another thing to keep an eye on.

Corporal Wallace with Arlington County Police went over recent crime statistics for Arlington County.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

2 stolen vehicles – keys left in the cars while engines still running

1 peeping tom at Life Fitness – suspect hiding above the ceiling tiles attempting to get over to the women’s locker room – he fell through to the floor.

2 car jackings in Crystal City and Pentagon City

1 rape in our area – can not share any info yet.

There have also been a series or burglaries of small businesses around the county.

Presentations

Presentation by Officer Harley Guenther with the Arlington County Police

Preventing Fraud and Identity Theft – Downloaded from the Arlington County Police Website

CYBERSAFETY TIPS – INTERNET SAFETY

  • PASSWORDS & PRIVACY Use complex passwords (upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols) that are difficult to guess and avoid sharing your password.
  • DOWNLOADS Never download files from unverified sources or senders. Verify the sources of files and third-party applications before downloading.
  • OPERATING SYSTEMS Run updates regularly to keep operating systems and installed software current and protect your devices from viruses.
  • COMMUNICATION Always have open dialogue with family members about computer use and internet safety. Ensure children recognize risky situations online and know to alert an adult.

PROTECTING YOURSELF ON SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Limit the amount of personal information you post. Do not post information that makes you vulnerable, such as your address, or information about your daily routine or schedule.
  • The Internet is a public resource. Only post what you are comfortable with anyone seeing.
  • Be wary of strangers. It is easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives on the internet. Avoid interacting with people you don’t know.
  • Be skeptical. Don’t believe everything you read online. People may post false or misleading information, and not always with malicious intent.
  • Evaluate your privacy settings. A site’s default settings may not offer the level of protection you desire and may change, so review your privacy settings regularly. Use third-party applications cautiously. Third-party applications may provide entertainment or functionality, but avoid enabling suspicious applications and limit the amount of personal information the application can access.
  • Use strong passwords. Protect your account with passwords that cannot be easily guessed. If your account is compromised, someone else may be able to access your information.
  • Read privacy policies. Some sites may share your information with other companies, which may lead to an increase in spam. Always read and understand referral policies.
  • Keep software up to date. Install software updates regularly, including updates to your web browser. This prevents attackers from taking advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. When possible, enable automatic updates.
  • Use anti-virus software. When kept up-to-date, anti-virus software protects your computer against known viruses, and can detect and remove viruses before they do damage.

PROTECTING YOUR CHILD ON SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Be involved. Consider activities you and your child can work on together. This allows you to monitor your child’s computer habits while teaching safety skills. Set rules and warn about dangers. Set boundaries for internet usage. Make sure your child understands and recognizes suspicious activity and content, including cyber bullying.
  • Keep you computer in an open area. Keeping the computer in a high traffic area allows for easy monitoring of computer activity and acts as a deterrent to children who engage in risky activities on the computer.
  • Monitor computer activity. Know what your child is doing on the computer, including what websites they visit and have a sense of who they contact and interact with online.
  • Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts. Most operating systems give you the option to create different accounts for each user. Create a separate account with controlled access and privileges for your child to use. Consider implementing parental controls. Some browsers and internet service providers allow you to block certain websites on your computer, or allow you to restrict access to those with a password.

More information about cyber safety is available on the Arlington County Police Department’s website on the Crime Prevention & Safety page (police.arlingtonva.us/prevention-safety).

General Tips

  • Be suspicious of:
    • Strangers who are overly friendly or who offer to share “just-found money”
    • Someone claiming to be a “bank examiner” who requests your help in catching a thief — a real bank official won’t ask you to take money out of your account for any reason
    • The well-dressed “bank official” or uniformed “guard” who offers to make your bank transactions for you
    • Phony debts after the death of a loved one — check it out before paying
    • Getting something for nothing and deals that sound too good to be true
    • “Free home inspection” offers or door-to-door solicitations for home improvements
  • Stop and think before you hand anybody any cash.
  • Read and understand anything you sign, especially the fine print.
  • Report to the police any crime, attempted crime or suspicious person or activity. If you have any doubts about something, report it — you may prevent a crime.

Credit Card Skimmers

Skimming devices have become more sophisticated. In most cases, the skimmers are being placed inside machines, such as gas pumps and ATMs, and are undetectable without opening the machine. Citizens can take the following crime prevention steps to avoid skimmers at gas stations:

  • Pay inside at the gas station, rather than at the pump.
  • Always pay using a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
  • If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of putting a PIN number in. That way, the PIN number is safe.
  • Consider purchasing a refillable prepaid card to purchase gas at the pumps.
  • If you have not already switched to a chip reader on your credit card, do so.
  • Regularly check your bank statements and if you notice fraudulent activity, notify the bank so they can begin an investigation.

Credit card skimming cases are typically reported to police as credit card fraud. Since credit and debit cards are accepted at most locations, the challenge is identifying the point of compromise. Turnaround time from point of compromise to first fraudulent use varies depending on how the suspects intend to use the stolen data. Police work closely with banking institutes who notify us when there is a trend with customers cards being compromised and they identify the location all the cards have in common. Citizens are encouraged to regularly review their bank statements and report fraudulent activity. 

Charitable Solicitations

When approached by a charitable solicitor, follow these practices:

  • Demand to see the solicitor’s proper identification.
  • Donate only to familiar causes and organizations.
  • Check an organization’s reliability by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline – Handled by the Office of the Attorney General, VA toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042.
  • To find out more about the charitable organization and how much your contribution will be used for charitable purposes, call the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-786-1343. All charitable organizations must be registered with OCRP.

Consumer Fraud

  • Beware of the smooth-talking salesman who comes to your home unannounced. Also, be weary of any phone call requesting a home appointment to give you something or asking you to participate in a survey.
  • Be on the alert for the operator who poses as an inspector. If you’re approached in this way, ask for the person’s credentials and call the agency represented or the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) at 703-558-2222.
    • Watch out for bait-and-switch sales tactics. This is when a merchant advertises a product at a certain price or as possessing certain qualities, but when you attempt to buy it, you’re switched to a higher-priced or off-brand product.
  • Fight the temptation of referral selling. This scheme offers you the chance to make quick money by supplying your friends and relatives’ names as prospective customers.
  • Carefully investigate “free” or “bargain” offers. There is often a hidden trick or condition attached to the offer, which may result in you paying much more.
  • Don’t be rushed into signing any papers. Carefully read, examine and understand all conditions of any contract or agreements. Never sign a blank contract or a contract with blank spaces.
  • Don’t rely on verbal representations. Be sure that such promises can be found in the terms and conditions.
  • Ask questions. Know exactly what you’re buying and find out what the product or service will cost.
  • Know with whom you are dealing. Beware of the fly-by-night operator or the company without a local address. It’s safer to deal with a local merchant you know.
  • Don’t hesitate to shop around. You may find a better price for the same product elsewhere.

Contracts

  • When signing a contract, agree to the printed terms in the contract, not to verbal representations.
  • Always keep a copy of what you sign.
  • Have all the blanks in the contract filled in before you sign it.
  • Understand the contract before you sign it. Generally, there is no “buyer’s right to cancel” clause in contracts signed at a company’s place of business.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who won’t let you take a copy of a proposed contract or agreement to someone you trust before you sign.  Call the Consumer Protection Hotline – Handled by the Office of the Attorney General, VA toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042 for suggestions.
  • Don’t accept the seller’s word that any part of a contract doesn’t apply to you (unless that part is crossed out on all copies and initials) or that something not listed will be done unless it is written in before you sign.

Credit Cards

  • Never give your credit card number over the telephone to unsolicited callers.
  • Don’t put your account number on the outside of envelopes when making monthly payments.
  • Keep your credit card number confidential—it represents your money.
  • Report a lost or stolen credit card by calling the card issuer’s toll-free phone number. To limit your liability from unauthorized charges, follow the card issuer’s instructions explicitly.

Door-to-Door Sales

  • Be suspicious of a solicitor who says, “You’ve been selected …” or “I’m taking a survey.”
  • Ask to see the solicitor’s identification and company credentials, including a County Solicitor’s License. The County requires all door-to-door salespersons to be licensed and to show prospective customers a County-issued identification card on request.
  • Buy only if you need the item, not because you may feel sorry for the solicitor.
  • Insist on a written guarantee.
  • Take ample time to consider the purchase. Avoid any high-pressure tactics.
  • Never sign a contract unless you completely understand it and know the total cost.

Note: Virginia state law provides a buyer of most consumer goods and services with three days to cancel a home solicitation sale after a purchase. If a “Buyer’s Right to Cancel” clause is not included in the contract and the company won’t accept a written cancellation, call the Consumer Protection Hotline – Handled by the Office of the Attorney General, VA toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042.

Home Repairs

  • Shop around— get estimates from at least three contractors and check with people who had work performed by them. Call the Consumer Protection Hotline – Handled by the Office of the Attorney General, VA toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042 to determine if  there are any complaints against the contractors.
  • Before you sign the contract, make sure you understand the contract and that it includes the following information:
    • A description and total cost of the services to be performed
    • Types of materials to be used
    • Start and completion dates
    • Warranty information, if applicable
  • Be cautious of companies that require advanced payments.
  • Remember that the cheapest bid may not always be the best.
  • Learn more about the home repair/improvement permit process in Arlington by visiting the Building Arlington Website or call the Arlington County Building Inspection Division at 703-228-3800.

The County requires all home improvement contractors to be licensed and to show prospective customers a County-issued identification card on request. This includes installers of:

  • Aluminum or other siding
  • Concrete work
  • Structural changes
  • Doors
  • Fences
  • Fire damage repairs
  • Kitchen and bathroom remodeling
  • Masonry
  • Roofing
  • Swimming pools
  • Waterproofing

Note: This licensing requirement doesn’t apply to landscapers or painters (except when the paint is to be applied to a roof or asphalt paving), or to licensed electricians, gas fitters or plumbers (who are licensed under a different provision of the Code). For more information, call the Arlington County Building Inspection Division at 703-228-3800, or the Office of the Attorney General, VA Consumer Protection Hotline toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042.

Telemarketing

  • To avoid a telemarketing scheme, tell the caller you’re not interested and/or just hang up the phone.
  • Never give a telemarketer your credit card number, bank account number or Social Security Number, or authorize bank drafts.
  • When listening to a sales pitch, remember the federal government’s Telemarketing Sales Rules:
    • You must be told the name of the company, the fact that it’s a sales call and what’s being sold.
    • If there’s a prize offering, you must be told immediately that there’s no purchase necessary to win, and you can’t be asked to pay anything for it. You can’t even be required to pay shipping charges. If it’s a sweepstakes, the caller must tell you how to enter without making a purchase.
    • You can’t be asked to pay in advance for services such as cleansing your credit record, finding you a loan or acquiring a prize you’ve supposedly won. You pay for services only if they’ve been delivered.
    • You shouldn’t be called before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If you tell telemarketers not to call again, they can’t. If they do, they’ve broken the law.
    • If you’re guaranteed a refund, the caller has to tell you all the limitations.
  • If you suspect fraud, call the National Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.

Outstanding Warrant and Jury Duty Scams

Periodically, residents have reported receiving unsolicited phone calls claiming they have failed to appear for jury duty and/or have an outstanding warrant for their arrest. The resident is provided with a phone number and instructed to call an individual the scammer claims to be a Lieutenant with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office or other local law enforcement agencies. The scammer then demands immediate payment for an alleged fine. Through threats and intimidation, they attempt to convince residents to purchase prepaid credit cards and provide the identification numbers which allows the scammers to obtain the money from the cards.

If you receive a call of this nature, immediately hang up with the caller and verify the claim by calling the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office at 703.228.4460. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.

As a reminder, the Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office will not call and ask for money over the phone.

Our second Presentation about the Virginia Hospital Center Rebuilding and Reorganization with Adrian Stanton VP/Business Development for VHC was a no show.

The meeting adjourned around 8:58 pm.

Respectfully submitted by Jodie Flakowicz, February 18, 2021. 

February 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

Our February newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

COVID, Economy and Safety – by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

The core issue on everyone’s mind is how long we are all going to endure this pandemic and when we will all be vaccinated. And I understand this being over 65 myself.

Leaving politics aside, we have four issues. Coordination with states proactively by the federal government, coordination by the state with Virginia cities and counties and Arlington County coordinating with all of us. I had issued a brief from Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz at our January 2021 AHCA meeting. And to put it bluntly, the feds were unclear with the state, and Virginia bypassed Arlington on providing first doses via CVS/Walgreens for nursing/old age homes, and Virginia Hospital Center (VHS) for healthcare workers, first responders and a third of our teachers.

Now that is changing, in part, with vaccines going to counties, not hospitals, and the counties working with their hospitals and other healthcare providers. While this resulted in cancellations for those that signed up for vaccines with VHC, I expect that as vaccines come in, those appointments will be re-set ASAP.

The fourth issue, is that vaccine supplies have been limited, putting strains all over the country. The vaccine companies are having problems scaling up supply . Hopefully soon, a third “one dose” vaccine will be available.

With all these questions, we have a volunteer Martha Casey, who will coordinate timely information both through our monthly newsletter and our listserv. Any questions and suggestions, please contact her directly. Thank you, Martha. I am also in contact with the county on these issues, so if you have suggestions that you believe I should be inputting to the county, please email me directly: solarsklar@aol.com.

On a related issue, our local businesses are hurting. I personally am making an extra effort to buy food, goods and services right here in Arlington. Most are surviving on razor-thin margins. So if possible, please buy locally. I understand not everything can come from local businesses, and there are other considerations that come into play. Do what’s best for you and your family.

And I would be remiss not to re-emphasize that wearing masks, washing hands and sanitizing is very essential. Even those vaccinated can still convey the virus with unwashed/sanitized hands or even spreading droplets from others — so as tiring as this all is, please keep your resolve.

I feel very safe here in Ashton Heights – we have a caring community. And I want to thank all AHCA members for not only stepping up to the challenge but helping others in our community. Makes me very proud. Have a safe and joyous February.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/20/2021

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Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/20/2021 via Zoom

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.  

Sklar advised AHCA that all the Committees are working at full swing. He quickly outlined AHCA Committee activities by Committee Chairs not on the ZOOM meeting.  Development Committee dealing primarily with development projects and County planning issues in the Clarendon area. Transportation Committee covering Pershing Drive plan and other traffic and vehicle/pedestrian safety issues. He then called on the present Committee Chairs for short reports.

Christina Schultz of our Safety and Security Committee mentioned that the Arlington County kick-off meeting for an affordable housing plan will be held tomorrow evening, January 21, 2021 from 6-8 pm.  There also will be a meeting about the missing middle housing problem on February 7, 2021 at 7:00 pm.  Both will be available via Zoom.  Go to the Arlington County Website to get details to join either one.

Scott Sklar mentioned that both Jim Richardson, our Vice President for Programs and Jodie Flakowicz our Secretary will, no longer be available to serve in these roles after our May meeting. Our Advertising position for our newsletter remains open as well.  If anyone has any questions about or has any interest in volunteering to serve inn any of these positions, please contact Scott at solarsklar@aol.com.

Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee mentioned that 14 trees were provided for our tree canopy by the county in December.  We have 10 more to plant, if you would like one please contact Brooke at brooke.alexander52@gmail.com.  She is also “collecting” the whereabouts of old trees that reside in our neighborhood, as part of the coming 100 Year Celebration for our community this year.  Please let her know if you have such a tree on your property, that you think should be included.  She is hoping to have a tour of these trees for our community members in the Fall.

Two Presentations:

1. COVID and Other topics – Mark Schwartz, Arlington County Manager

Scott mentioned our appreciation for the work Mark is doing on our behalf, while Mark responded that he feels we are well represented by Scott Sklar in his role as our President.

What we need to know about COVID – A lot of our county service employees are working at home, while approx 1500 are on the job in the offices and streets including our police, fire, environmental, park and library employees.  There is intense frustration regarding the availability of the vaccine.  He advised the State has contracts with CVS & Walgreens on vaccinations at nursing and old-age homes, and the County is not privvy to the number treated. He also mentioned VHC is dealing now primarily with healthcare works, first responders, and has not vaccinated a third of the teachers with their first doses.  Originally the county was asked to order amounts of vaccine for our 1a needs – Medical Professional  and Long-term Care residents & staff.  12 hours after that, the Governor announced that we should also start vaccinating the 1b needs as well.  This includes people aged 65+, people 16-64 with underlying medical conditions, people in correctional facilities and homeless shelters plus frontline essential workers.  For the first week we had requested 2000 doses and were given only 1400.  Mark Schwartz advised there is shortage of vaccine supply and notification of Arlington which makes it very hard for planning & distribution.

The budget for next year being proposed will be on 2/20/2021.  Obviously with the pandemic our revenue of funds has declined.  Hotel occupancy has been very low, except for the week of January 6th.  This will impact on the funds we will be able to spend next year.

In July 2019, the Arlington County Board adopted Vision Zero: a strategy to eliminate all transportation fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all people.

Clarendon Sector Plan

Mark was asked about what role The Virginia Hospital Center will play with the vaccines.  Mark understood they got vaccine doses to last one week.  They are set up to deliver more, but they don’t have more vaccine to administer.  The county is unaware of role of the Walgrens and CVS stores will be doing with distribution of the vaccine and how much they will distribute.  

Brooke Alexander wondered about how much influence our community has over development of areas along our borders. Specifically finding out what the plans are for the CVS opening up on the sight of the Highland Hotel.  We would like to provide input to the buffer they are proposing to protect the surrounding houses from lights and sounds from the new store.  Julie Mangis mentioned that the Neighborhood Conservation Plan for the area has included a “greenway” in this same buffer zone for at least the last 40 years.  Brooke wants to ensure we are able to provide input into the final plans.  Mark is going to look into a Point of Contact for Brooke for this project.

Concerns voiced about getting teachers vaccinated before kids are required to return to school.

Christina Schulz asked about the end of December findings of the analysis of some areas of the services that the police currently provide, that could be farmed out.  Four areas were determined that possibly could be done by someone else.  They are:

  1. mental health scenarios
  2. alternate ways to work with some kinds of disputes
  3. create a civilian review board
  4. traffic problem solvers – traffic control officers

There was also discussion of why there is so much racial disparity in traffic stops.  They hope to see this final report soon.

Mark was asked about what major areas of change does he think could happen in Arlington over the next 20 – 30 years.  Mark thinks that office buildings will not be so prevalent, so our revenue sources from properties will have to change.  He also wondered if we will be able to create the “missing middle” so not only rich people will be able to live in this area.

2) Sidewalk Inventory – Jeremy Hassan, P.E.; Chief Operating Engineer, Sewer & Streets; Arlington County Department of Environmental Services; Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau

Over the next six months, Arlington will be going under a sidewalk condition survey.  The last time there was such an analysis was back in the 1980s and it is long overdue.  This is to review all types of sidewalks – brick, asphalt and concrete to find any tripping hazards, obstructions and overgrowth of weeds.  In addition they will also be checking out all the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) ramps to ensure they are compliant and if there is a need for new ones and also the status of all our cross walks.

Scott mentioned that about 50% of the time he gets notifications from the county reps regarding any county activity in the neighborhood.  He’s appreciate that he be notified about the status of this project when it hits our neighborhood as well.

If anyone would like to report a problem with their sidewalks, pipes and snow removal one can contact his office on-line or via phone.  There also is a “Report a Problem” aspect to the the My Arlington app, that can be downloaded to your phone.  Once on your phone you can access the Report a Problem part of the My Arlington app and submitted anywhere  and anytime that you have your phone.

Also on the My Arlington Website you can go to the Projects page where there is a map of Arlington with blue highlights reflecting the status of various projects going on in the county.  This has been improved for context so it can be more easily read by residents.

Question about standards for sidewalks that cross driveways.  Jeremy confirmed that when the contractor applies for a permit, the standards are shared with contractor at that time.  If a resident would like, if they need their driveway/sidewalk repaired, the county can provide this service for them at a cost.

Question about the sidewalk survey impacting on taxes. Jeremy mentioned that his budget can run $300,000-$600,000 depending.  The contract for the sidewalk survey is running the county approximately $150,000 and will benefit the county for the next twenty years.  Once the assessment is done the county can strategize the priority areas that should get done first and over the next number of years spread out the cost and work of fixing the sidewalks throughout the county.

Scott mentioned that if there are issues that we are not addressing to please contact him at solarsklar@aol.com.  He wants to ensure that we are being vital to our residents needs.

The meeting adjourned around 8:45 pm.

Respectfully submitted by Jodie Flakowicz, January 23, 2021 

January 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

Our January newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

Ashton Heights – 2021 Will Be An Exciting Year For Our Community by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

As with the rest of the country, dealing with COVID, it has been hard with children out of school, small businesses hurting or out-of-business and constraints on how we see family and friends. Our political leaders in Richmond and Arlington have done an admirable job, conforming with science and health guidance while balancing the economic needs of the State and County. That said, I have been very proud of how our community has behaved throughout these hard times. With the vaccines coming in this year, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel hopefully by the summer to return somewhat close to normal.

As you’ve read a few times in our AHCA Newsletter, the 100th Anniversary of the Ashton Heights Civic Association is in 2021 and we are looking for your help in digging up old newsletters, pictures and reports in the past so that we can assemble these artifacts, retell the memories, and celebrate ourselves as a community.

Seems a perfect way to reset our Ashton Heights community to energize ourselves for the future. See AHCA Historian Jim Terpstra’s January 14th Zoom meeting (7 p.m.) on page three of this newsletter.

As we enter this new year and a significant portion of us are working routinely out of our homes, you might want to consider joining our AHCA Standing Committees – the email addresses of the Committee & Subcommittee Chairs and CoChairs are on the next page – and these issues will be revved up in 2021 after the COVID lull of 2020. Even if it’s just tracking the issues in a more detailed way, it’s worth your time. Some areas to consider – Development, Housing, Open Spaces (Subc on Park & Playgrounds – Tree Canopy & Native Plants), Safety & Security, Schools, & Transportation (including Parking & Pedestrian-Street Safety).

I am also looking at some AHCA themes for 2021 to attract the interests of younger residents – so those of you in your 30’s and under – please drop me a note (solarsklar@aol.com) on issues and programs that are important to you. It is critically important that our Association covers the priorities of all groups within our membership — and am happy to hear ideas and suggestions of any type.

I want to thank everyone within the Association on your camaraderie and respect for each other during these difficult times. And also for your time in being involved in all aspects of our community to make Ashton Heights such a wonderful place to live. I wish everyone a Happy New Year 2021 and may this coming year be full of joy, peace, health, and prosperity.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 11/18/2020

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Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 11/18/2020 via Zoom

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:32 pm.  

Scott gave a shout out of thanks to Emmilou Olsen and all who helped for the Halloween Celebration in Ashton Heights.

He called the Committee Chairs (below) to make reports other than the Development Committee who is hosting the speakers at today’s meeting.

Christina Schultz of our Safety and Security Committee pointed out two police-related engagement opportunities that they are hoping some of our residents might want to get involved with.  One is the recruitment process for a new police chief, and the other is the use of cameras for collecting evidence.  If you have any questions or concerns with these two items, please contact Christina at cmschultz@yahoo.com.

Arlington Police Department Representatives Officers Harley Gunther and Corporal Wallace reported no huge change in our crime activity.  Please do your part to prevent crime – if you see something strange, please contact the police to investigate.  These tips have been helpful.

  • Since it is getting darker earlier please be vigilant maintaining awareness of your surroundings and who is around you.  Carry your keys in your hand as a weapon.
  • Package larcenies from front porches are on the rise.  Track your packages.  Have someone you trust pick up your packages and hold them until you get home.  Maybe use in-store pick up instead of delivery to your front porch if you are not home.
  • Lock your cars.  If you have packages in your car, please keep them out of sight.  The have been two arrests for larceny in autos.  Do the 9:00 pm routine to lock all your cars and doors.
  • The was an attempted rape reported nearby.  Since it is an ongoing investigation there were no specifics to report.

Brent Burris our Neighborhood Conservation Representative reported that Brooke Alexander is working with county reps making sure appropriate replacement trees are planted in Gumball Park.

Two Presentations:  

1) Overview of the Arlington Neighborhood Planning and Redevelopment Process – Bob Duffy, Planning Director, Arlington Department of Community Planning and Development

Concerns raised about the impact on our area by traffic, pedestrian safety, light and noise from these new developments, as well as tall buildings creating a “canyon effect”.  Hoping that setbacks and tapering will be incorporated in the planning to help diminish impact on our neighborhood.  Bob Duffy responded that all these concerns will be addressed.

2) Redevelopment Plans for the Clarendon Wilson Blvd/10th Street Triangle (Silver Diner and Beer lot Sites) – P. David Tarter, Esquire, Tarter Nova Law, and Tom Shooltz, TCS Realty.

Christopher Gordon the Architect with KGD Architecture gave the presentation on the different aspects of the development and answered questions posed by AHCA members.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm. 

Respectfully submitted by Jodie Flakowicz, November 19, 2020 

November 2020 Newsletter

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Our November newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

Building Consensus 2020 – Ashton Heights Civic Association by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

What makes me so proud of this Association and Community is how we slowly come to consensus on issues.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the State of Virginia Department of Health issued guidelines on Halloween. We had a resident, Emmilu Olson, step up to help coordinate a dialogue on how our community will celebrate Halloween and conform to the new guidance. Cory Capps on Jackson Street and over 30 other AHCA residents dialogued on this issue. We built a consensus to de-emphasize Jackson Street as a magnet for Halloween revelers this one year, have a parade and candy hand-out a day before Halloween to maintain the festive feeling for our children. We had some frank discussions and I am proud we were able to build a consensus, and Celia Slater helped us draft a press release which was picked up by ArlingtonNow.

Arlington County contacted us on the process to review neighborhood parking rules, and we have many views on on street parking, the role of apartment/condo residents, sharing expenses and access, and the comfort of easy access to park near where we live. Again, we have had wide ranging dialogues on the AHCA listserv and we will work to build a consensus. While there are many divergent views and priorities, I am so proud of the tenor of the discussions, respectful dialogue, and frankly, some very good points by all. I have no doubt we will forge a stance that embodies the best of Arlington & Ashton Heights.

And we are carrying all this out along with activities by the Development Committee, Transportation Committee, Housing Committee, Open Spaces and Tree Canopy Subcommittees, Safety & Security Committee, and Schools Committee – during a COVID-19 environment through limited personal meetings, zoom meetings, and listserv dialogues. Some hard work, good thinking, and in all cases moving towards building shared outlooks on all the various issues AHCA Committees and Subcommittees are dealing with every month.

And finally our AHCA 100th Anniversary planning committee led by AHCA Historian Jim Terpstra, but robustly supported by over 10 other AHCA residents, has had several dialogues and meetings to brainstorm, collect historical information. Again, please send any documents, pictures, and other memorabilia (or information on any) to Jim at terpstrajames2@gmail.com.

So as we enter this Fall 2020, probably facing another notchup of COVID cases, but always seeking ways to work with each other and help keep Ashton Heights one of the best places ever to live.

And I want to thank each and every one of you for contributing what you can, when you can. I know we are all busy, with families, work, and other obligations. But all of us within AHCA deserve some solid pats on the back – and I wanted to thank you all, and wish you a most Happy Halloween, and wonderful beginning of Autumn.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 10/21/2020

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Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:32 pm.  

Scott gave a shout out to Emmilou Olsen for her efforts to pull together a Halloween Celebration for Ashton Heights residents, following the Virginia Health Department guidelines, and Celia Slater for putting out the press release to Arlington Now.

Regarding the recent Arlington County Board focus on changing parking issues,  Scott voiced appreciation about the tenor of the discussion about this on our Ashton Heights list serve.  He thanked everyone for blending interests, concerns and respect around this issue.

Arlington Police Department Representatives Tom Rokowski with Officers Wallace and Gunther, reported out recent crime statistics for our area.  Overall crime statistics are down, however the car larcenies have increased 50% this past year and 19 people have been arrested.  Unlocked cars are still getting broken into, please lock your cars.  Do the 9:00 pm routine to lock all your house doors, as well as your cars. Please call in any suspicious activities, which is helpful to better zero in on specific problem areas.

The latest identity theft strategies are phone calls from the IRS or Social Security Offices – please just hang up on these callers.  Normally if they need to contact you, they use “snail mail” – and

  • If you are called to pay any sort of debt using an iTunes or Apple card is a scam.
  • If you get a call that a grandchild is in jail and needs bail to be paid over the phone, this is most likely a scam.
  • If you need to pay a fine for not showing up for Jury Duty, this is most likely a scam.

Jim Terpstra, the AHCA Historian and a team of residents are planning the AHCA 100th Anniversary Celebration for next year. Next year they have scheduled presentations for this celebration, over a number of monthly meetings, they want them to be live presentations.

If you have any Ashton Heights memorabilia to contribute to this effort, please let him know.

On the Ashton Heights Website there is a house style guide that was made 20 years ago.  He would like to update this to reflect newer homes that have since been built.  He estimates there might be 40-50 new buildings in our neighborhood, the styles of which he would like to be included. If anyone is interested in this newer architecture and would like to lend their expertise, please contact him at terpstrajames2@gmail.com.

Jim Feaster, AHCA Member-at-Large is serving as Arlington County committee member for a General Land Use Plan (GLUP) study.  This is for the area where Pershing Drive and Route 50 intersect for the land on which the Days Inn is located.  This study is for a proposed change to the GLUP for either an 8 story office building or a 10 story building for residences.

Development/Zoning Committee members Jack Spilsbury and David Phillips have been having an ongoing dialogue with county planning staff and appreciate the support of a half dozen community members helping them out with this effort. 

The west side of Clarendon is being totally transformed with redevelopment of the areas of the Silver Diner, Joyce Motors, Wells Fargo, St. Charles Church and the Beer Lot.  They county planning division is keeping their eyes on all of this as well as our own committee members.

At our Nov 18th meeting there will be an overview of the county planning process with Bob Duffy and there will be a presentation about the Silver Diner Site.

The CVS being proposed at North Kenmore St. should be going ahead next year.  We got the proposed plans and landscaping.  Brooke has proposed revisions to the landscaping plan with more appropriate trees.

Jack and Dave are reviewing the historical buildings in our area. The Gold’s Gym (which use to be Al’s Motors) and &Pizza are designated historical, which could impact on further development of these areas.  They may confer with Peter Baird ? (Peter Dickson?) about this.

Brooke Alexander of the AHCA Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee reported that the county has 15 new trees for Ashton Heights in December and will have more for us in the Spring.  If you would like a tree please let her know at brooke.alexander52@gmail.com.

in the 1980s Brooke mentioned that she was part of the effort of 5 civic associations involved with the development of the Rosslyn to Ballston Sector Plan.  She is now working with the county to get trees planted in Maury and Gumball Parks.

Brent Burris our Neighborhood Conservation Rep reported that renaming of Henry Clay Park was approved.

As to the recent discussion of riding bikes on the mounds in Mosaic Park, the county rep has responded that the use of wheeled vehicles (bikes/ skateboards) is not allowed and could cause damage to the surface on the mounds.  They will be posting signs about this soon.

Also do not park in the Gold’s Gym lot if you are visiting Mosaic Park.  They do tow.

Christina Schultz of our Housing Committee attended a county meeting about the missing middle priced housing.  Apparently the focus was more on the supply side and not the demand side.

Presentation about White-Tailed Deer and Forest Health in Northern Virginia – Bill Browning of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists presented a slide show (link is available to AHCA members) on how they are destroying habitat for other animals, flora. 

Presentation about the Redistricting Reform Amendment – Daela T. Tipton Deputy Executive Director of FairMapsVA on Provision One on the ballot on a bi-partisan commission on gerrymandering.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm. 

Respectfully submitted by Jodie Flakowicz, October 21, 2020