AHCA Meeting – 2.16.2022
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 6:32 PM.
After thanking everyone for attending the AHCA meeting, Denny from Bunny Hop detailed the upcoming Bunny Hop 5K on April 23rd. The run will end with a block party at the Clarendon Methodist Church parking lot. Registration is open at – www.arlingtonbunnyhop.org.
Jack Spilsbury gave an update on the Clarendon Sector plan, and Scott praised Jack’s hard work to organize AHCA sistercivic organizations on matters such as the fire house on 10th Street and attempts to ensure a park is included in the new plans.
Brooke Alexander spoke regarding Native Plants and Trees. Individuals should get in touch with her if you are interested in trees and getting a consultation on your yard and trees that would do well in it.
On general neighborhood planning, Scott spoke on the idea for a “dual track” plan that both incorporates all residents of Arlington but also gives special consideration to those who will live next to any development plan and cope with the consequences for years to come and remain in the county. He also noted CVS’s plans to build at the recently-demolished motel site at the end of Kenmore St.and expects CVS to close their Clarendon location on Wilson BLVD. On another note, the planned park which was originally to be 43,000 square feet is now being reduced due to the addition of affordable housing.
Representative Don Beyer
Represented Don Beyer joined the meeting, along with Noah Simon, his Director of Constituent Services. He highlighted the infrastructure bill that was enacted into law in 2021, which is projected to result in 17,000 new or improved bridges in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Rep. Beyer also touched on the following matters:
- Thanks to the U.S. Postal Service reform bill, service is expected to remain at 6 days a week. AHCA members mentioned experiencing as much as two weeks without service.
- The COMPETES Act, or “China bill,” is the largest investment in basic research in American history, and quadruples the budget of the National Science Foundation.
- Build Back Batter – while Congress still works to determine a path forward, the part of the bill most likely to be enacted deals with climate change through new policies incentivizing electric vehicles, as well as solar and wind power.
- Inflation – Rep. Beyer noted that the largest single part of inflation statistics have been increases in car prices, which have begun to come down.
Scott praised Congressman Beyer for have federal language inserted for the GAO study and his active leadership and involvement with the federal agencies on aircraft and helicopter noise over Arlington, VA.
- Helicopter noise in Ashton Heights – he noted that this area has a confluence of military, park police, and other Federal government helicopters, as well as county law enforcement. He has initiated a Government Accountability Office study on the matter.
- Airplane noise – he is working with the FAA on the issue of airplane noise, and ensuring no flights are over the area after 10 PM.
Arlington Police Chief Andy Penn
Arlington County Police Department’s (ACPD) new Police Chief, Andy Penn, will complete his 30th year with the Department in April. He began by saying how much he values the relationship between the community and the Department, and noted how blessed the Department is to have a committed and professional staff. As with all police departments, the ACPD has room to grow and can continue to improve. He discussed the Police Practices Group, which conducts external reviews of policies and procedures around mental health, traffic, alternative dispute resolution, and other matters. The Department has implemented many of its recommended changes, and is still working on others, out of a commitment to reflect the values and expectations of the community it serves.
ACPD is focused on four key initiatives – crime control and prevention, transportation safety, community engagement, and now, wellness and safety. The new initiative, which Chief Penn began, is focused on taking care of those who are in the police force and making sure they have the resources they need.
Chief Penn also created a new division within ACPD – Community Engagement. The new division is to ensure ACPD engages in the community at all levels, including youth outreach, business outreach, and community outreach. This work also involves a Community Police Academy and Teen Police Academy.
ACPD faces some challenges, including an officer shortage. After 50 officers left the Department last year, ACPD is currently 42 officers short. New officers currently being trained face a year delay from joining the Department to being functionally in the field.
Chief Penn also highlighted his focus on transparency and making sure that incidents, arrests, and other crime statistics are online and searchable. He noted that auto theft is currently down over last year, with the exception of the theft of catalytic converters. Auto larceny is largely related to unlocked cars.
The Business Outreach office is tracking calls regarding noise complaints, including those involving Don Tito’s, and working with Code Enforcement on the matter.
In response to questions, Chief Penn said 33% of ACPD officers live in Arlington. He would like to see more, but affordability is a challenge. He also responded to a question on jail deaths, mentioning that he could not talk about recent incidents but that ACPD, the Medical Examiner, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney are all working together on the investigations. He also responded to comments about reporting speed violations on the ACPD website, issues with scooters being left on sidewalks, and tickets related to safety inspections.
Scott thanked Chief Penn and everyone for attending. The meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM.
Respectfully submitted by Chris Armstrong, AHCA Secretary, February 17, 2022.