Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/15/2020

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Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/15/2020

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

Scott thanked Amy Miller for stepping up as the new editor of the AHCA newsletter.

AHCA has a new committee, AHCA Committee on Housing Chair Matthew Hall and Vice Chair Christina Schulz.

Dave Phillips and Jack Spilsbury of the Development/Zoning Committee reported that they are reaching out to the Highland Hotel owner so they can stay abreast of issues that may arise from the new project, and following the three development projects between Wilson Blvd, Wash Blvd, & 10th St North. There will be a meeting of the County Board regarding density and heights.  If anyone has any interest, please contact them. The West Clarendon project along Wilson Blvd and 10th St. involves the development of new apartments and hotels; they want to guard against glass, concrete and set back.  The presentation we had scheduled today for part of this redevelopment was cancelled.

Greg Morse CoChair of our Schools Committee reported that there has been talk of swapping elementary schools and most recently have come to find that more seats are needed in the Rosslyn and Clarendon corridor.

Brent Burris Chair of the Playground & Parks Subcommittee reported that there has been a resolution between the Fire Department and the city planners regarding the North Oakland St. water gardens being proposed.  This is being presented to the residents right now. 

Brooke Alexander Chair of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee reported that we are still losing our tree canopy primarily because of builders knocking down small houses and building larger houses in their place.  We have been able to take advantage of the Tree Canopy Fund and have applied for 31 trees to be planted in Spring of 2020.  Applicants should hear if they have been accepted for the program soon.  This past Fall we were about to get 13 trees planted from this fund. She also looked into if the three trees that were removed on the North Monroe St. side of the building will be replaced.  They are slated to have trees planted here.  If anyone has any interest, please let her know. 

Betsey Lyon our Listserv Moderator has swapped our list serve to the Groups.io system.  There have been a number of questions about how this works, and she has been sending out guidance.

Scott mentioned that a number of our residents have received very high water utility bills this past month—some 114% higher, or more.  Betsy Taylor is leading the AHCA data effort and has collected info from 71 households so far.  If your bill was unusually high, please let her know. Scott had suggested that residents should hire a plumber to check their meters, with the water turned off, to determine if there is a leak.  So far 12 residents have done this and have reported no leak.  Two other nearby civic associations have reported this problem as well.  Some communities have put in Wifi meters at no cost to help monitor and track what they are being billed for.  

Arlington County Police Officers Keen and Ryan and Corporal Lennon came by for a visit.   98% of auto break-ins are done to unlocked cars. Suspects walk by a car and just check the door handle of a car to see if it is open.  If the car is unlocked, they take advantage. From Oct 1 thru Dec 31 only 7 car break-ins were reported in Ashton Heights and 4 in Lyon Park.  There has only been one break-in reported where a window was broken to a locked car, where a purse was left in plain view on the seat.  Rumors have been flying that equipment is being used to unlock cars, which is called “cloning”.  This is not true.  The equipment needed has never been found on any suspects and it would take too long for this process to work. The process can take 45 – 60 minutes. They are encouraging everyone to do the 9 PM Routine. Every night at 9 pm every evening, make sure your house, garage and car are secure.  Take the time to do this every night.

If you find that someone has gone through your car and taken nothing or anything, please report it on-line.  If you cannot figure out how to report it on-line, call the non emergency number and a police officer will come over to your home to show you how to do this.  They want these reports submitted so they will really know the extent of the problem.   For the 300,000 residents of Arlington County there are only 18 police officers on duty at a time.  Currently there still is a shortage of police staff.  Ideally we need 400 police officers to be fully staffed; right now we only have approximately 330 police officers working.

Matt De Ferranti the newest County Board Member came to dialogue with our residents about county board issues. He pointed out that everyone should complete the census starting on April 1, 2020. He grew up in McLean, is a lawyer, practiced in TX, and was an advocate for Native American kids and supported Feed America.  

The two issues he ran on were affordable housing and education.  A lot of people who work in Arlington cannot afford to live here and feel more should be done to support affordable housing.  Virginia law does not allow for rent control nor inclusionary zoning.  Also 29% of the students in Arlington schools are not affluent and require food assistance.  

He talked about a goal for the county of 100% renewable energy and getting our carbon footprint to 0.  The fact we opened 5 new schools this year reflects a growth factor that we need to continue to deal with. 

Since small houses in Arlington are being replaced by larger homes, not only does this drive the cost of housing up, it also is reducing the size of our county tree canopy.  The Board needs to amp up the education of the county regarding the best management practices to better support our tree canopy and our environment.  Having more trees will also help with storm water absorption, since we are now having more severe storms and flooding due to climate change. 

This year the county will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of when Arlington split from the city of Alexandria.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:58 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. 

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, January 19, 2020

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