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Potomac Greens neighborhood (image via Google Maps)

The Potomac Greens neighborhood has voted overwhelmingly in favor of new parking restrictions aimed at keeping the residential streets from being overrun by commuters.

The proposed parking district, which would encompass the Potomac Greens neighborhood, is scheduled for review at a City Council meeting  (item 17) on Tuesday, June 14.

A new Residential Permit Parking District 14 for the Potomac Greens neighborhood is headed to the City Council after a survey of the neighborhood came back with 95% of survey respondents expressing support for new parking restrictions. The survey had a roughly 68% response rate — 155 of the 227 mailed surveys.

The staff report said the goal of the project is to protect the neighborhood from the impact of commuters looking for parking before boarding the Metro. A ballot about the parking restrictions said the district would limit on-street parking to two or three hours unless the vehicle has a residential parking permit.

“The intent of this proposed RPP District is to mitigate the impact of commuter parking in the neighborhood that may arise due to its proximity to the future Potomac Yard Metro Station, which is anticipated to open in fall 2022,” the staff report said.

The Metro station is currently scheduled to open sometime this fall.

Image via Google Maps

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Thousands of visitors strolled through Old Town on Sunday (May 22) to check out dozens of classic cars.

The third annual Old Town Festival of Speed & Style took up the 200-to-400 blocks of King Street and the 100 blocks of North Royal and North Fairfax Streets.

The event, which features some rare and unusual supercars, was sponsored by Burke & Herbert Bank.

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After the idea was floated by Mayor Justin Wilson a month ago, proposed tax relief for car owners was approved as part of the city budget last night (Wednesday).

The one-time measure is intended to keep the vehicle tax from skyrocketing after vehicle values were estimated to increase by 26% for around 87% of cars in the city. For comparison, the tax base increased by only 5% for 15% of vehicles the previous year.

The relief was included in the budget, but the City Council still has to amend the allocation of state funding from the Personal Property Tax Relief Act (PPTRA) to increase the maximum value for 100% relief from cars valued at $1,000 to cars valued at $5,000. The ordinance is scheduled for review (item 18) at the City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, May 10.

The ordinance is under review at the upcoming meeting and largely a formality to bring the ordinance in line with the proposed budget. The change is included on the consent calendar — a wrap-up of items considered uncontroversial.

A staff report on the potential relief called the dramatic increase in car values an “unprecedented situation.”

According to a release from the city:

In addition, the budget includes personal property tax relief for all vehicles by adopting an assessment tax ratio of 78.8% on the assessed value of vehicles. City Council’s action discounts a vehicle’s actual market value by 21.2% for Tax Year 2022 to reflect unprecedented value appreciation due to the pandemic. Beyond this, Council has taken additional action to further minimize the tax burden on lower-valued cars. The City receives a fixed amount from the state each year to be used to help offset personal property taxes on the first $20,000 of the assessed value of “personal use” vehicles. Due to the rising car values and the fixed amount of state funds, City Council has shifted the allocation of Personal Property Tax Relief (PPTRA) funds to lower-value cars. The threshold for vehicles that receive a 100% state car tax subsidy will be increased, from $1,000 and less to $5,000 and less. This action is estimated to eliminate the local tax burden on more than 30,000 cars.

The tax relief has additional adjustments based on the value of the car, with lower valued cars seeing higher relief.

Proposed Personal Property Tax Relief Act rates, image via City of Alexandria
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This year’s budget could include a one-time measure meant to keep the vehicle tax from skyrocketing.

In his monthly newsletter. Mayor Justin Wilson outlined a unique set of circumstances that, if left unchecked, could see Alexandrians’ vehicle personal property tax skyrocket.

“Alexandria’s second-largest General Fund revenue is the vehicle personal property tax,” Wilson said. “As a local tax assessed on vehicle owners annually, based on an assessed value, there is perhaps no tax more hated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Wilson said in Fiscal Year 2021, the city collected $36.5 million from vehicle owners to provide for a total of $60 million of total general fund revenue.

The tax on vehicle is generally fairly steady, but Wilson said changes in the vehicle market has caused that value to increase dramatically and, with it, the associated vehicle personal property tax.

According to Wilson:

Now, the City Council is grappling with a challenging aberration in this revenue source. Under normal circumstances, the valuations of vehicles do not increase. In 2018 and 2019, only about 1% of Alexandria’s registered vehicles increased in value.

Yet, the pandemic has caused chaos in the used car market place. Last year, many Alexandrians saw increases in the value of their cars. This year, this phenomenon was projected to continue, as the City Manager’s proposed budget assumed an 8.5% increase in revenues.

Wilson said the current estimates are that vehicle values would increase by an average of 26% for 87% of the vehicles in Alexandria.

“This is extraordinary,” Wilson said. “To protect taxpayers, the City Manager has brought to the Council a proposal for one-time relief for vehicle owners.”

The proposal from City Manager Jim Parajon would have the city assess only 77% of the Fair Market Value of vehicles to counter-balance the Covid related upswing in value. The proposal would provide no 2022 tax for vehicles assessed at $5,000 or less, and cars valued higher would still have a smaller amount of relief from the tax.

“This proposal provides all vehicle owners with tax relief, while reserving the greatest relief to vehicles with the lowest valuations,” Wilson said. “It is hopeful that the used car market will get back to normal next year. Council will determine their approach to this proposal later this month.”

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Thinking about going into business in the Alexandria area?

It can sometimes be easier to buy an existing business, and the latest listings on BizBuySell show all kinds of companies in and around the city.

The website aggregates numerous business sale listings, and the names and locations are generally left out.

Reasons for selling, when provided, typically do not mention economic hardship, but more often involve the owner retiring or not having time to actively run the business.

Here are some that are currently listed:

  1. Low rent bakery for sale — “Specialty bakery for sale in the heart of Alexandria. This bakery is located on a very busy road surrounded by residential and retail businesses. The current owner is looking to retire and we are looking for a new owner/operator ready to expand this current business by adding a new menu with more options than the current menu. Seating inside and outside. Bring your concept to this turn key location.”
  2. Dog boutique in Old Town — “Incredible dog boutique store in charming and wealthy Old Town Alexandria. The business has been growing since inception in 2010.The high visibility location draws in hundreds of customers each week.”
  3. Truck parts distributor — “Turn Key Truck Parts Distributor! This business has been profitable for 60+ years. Loaded with Goodwill!”
  4. Alexandria-Falls Church nail salon — “Established, nice nail salon/spa with good income available for sale in the Falls Church, Alexandria area. Good rent. Potential for growth if adding more nail techs. Nail services comprise 80% of the business, the rest is hair services. Highly visible from main road. Good reviews. Nice and well decorated. Owner can stay and work on a part time basis. Staff will stay if new owner want.”
  5. Plumbing company in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “Recent Price Adjustment a must see business. PROFITABLE, GROWING, Fully Staffed with great growth potential.”
  6. Former hair salon in Fairlington — “Formerly a hair salon by the name of Primary Colors, a hair salon that was in business for twenty years. Now the space is open, and is still built out to be a hair salon, but the space can also be altered to become a different business.”
  7. Hair salon for sale — “Great opportunity to own a small business for hairstylists who dream of owning their very own salon or a low capital investment for seasonal beauty salon owners who want to expand their business networks. The important fact to know is not about the price to buy this salon, it’s the financial ability and assets to prove to the Landlord in order to get the Landlord approval on the Leasehold of this great and unique business location.”
  8. Profitable restaurant for sale — “Great location, great visibility, long lease term, plenty of parking spaces, in a busy shopping center with many other businesses that crowded with customers on the daily basic, this restaurant is built up from the cold cell condition with new kitchen equipment, freezer, cooler, HVAC….., that’s clean and presenting a long useful life for new owner to do business in years to come without any major upgrading. This restaurant can be converting to other cuisine given there is no other restaurant of that cuisine is currently operated within the shopping center.”
  9. Highly profitable well-established restaurant for sale — “Located in the big shopping mall with a lot of traffic. Business serving dine in and high volume of carry out and perfect for any type of cuisine. Ample parking all around and lease is inexpensive. Owner is seeking a retirement.”
  10. Busy high-end Mediterranean restaurant — Sales at this location are listed at  more than $75,000 monthly, and the seller claims that the owner income is $250,000. The restaurant seats 104, has 12 trained employees and is surrounded by commercial and residential properties.
  11. Dog waste removal company — “Currently have 500 active customers and growing quickly! Fully staffed and great reviews. Owner is looking to relocate and invest in a new venture.”
  12. Full-service restaurant with outdoor seating — “Prime location full service restaurant in the heart of Alexandria. Located on a heavy traffic road surrounded by residential, retail and offices. This restaurant has 3 floors which is great to host private events, lounge area as well as the sit down restaurant portion. The menu/concept can be kept the same or converted to your own. Large kitchen area with top of the line equipment. This is a must see location for any restauranteur looking to expand or take over an established turn key location. The current owner is ABSENTEE but ready to retire and we are looking for a new hands on owner/operator to bring this location to its full potential.”
  13. Profitable fast casual restaurant — “Profitable Thai restaurant in a very busy shopping center on a high traffic road in Alexandria VA. This restaurant has been in business for almost 10 years and has a great following with excellent google reviews by serving the most authentic Thai food with the highest quality ingredients in the area. All furniture, fixtures and equipment are in excellent condition and are included in the sale of this restaurant. Can be converted to fit most concepts & menus.”
  14. Mexican restaurant in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “Fast casual dine in & carry out Mexican restaurant in a high traffic shopping center. This restaurant needs an updated menu with a hands on owner to manage daily business and take this location to the next level. The current Mexican menu can be changed to fit most concepts. Great layout for almost any type of fast food restaurant. All furniture, fixtures and equipment are in great working order.”
  15. Optometry practice — “Turnkey Optometry and Optical Business. Lease is assignable. Business is established and profitable. Optometry is considered “essential” business. Sellers will stay for transfer training. Beautiful store fully stocked with inventory, equipment, lab, exam room. 5 star location. Database, business name, website, inventory, and seller training all included. Priced below market.”
  16. Pizza restaurant — “Pizza restaurant established in 2014 for sale in Alexandria. This restaurant is located on a heavy foot traffic road surrounded by residential, retail and businesses. Great location with very low rent. Perfect starter restaurant for anyone looking to get into the restaurant business as well as a great location for restauranteurs looking to expand. This restaurant serves hand crafted pizzas, sandwiches and pasta’s as well as beer and wine. All furniture and fixtures are in excellent condition. High end kitchen equipment.”
  17. Japanese restaurant — “The restaurant is located in a busy area, and has been in the operation more than 8 years. More than 5000sf, high-class construction and decoration. The menu includes sushi, hibachi, and ramen. First generation owner since the business was founded, tons of the local customers and Japanese food fans from other places, the business can make $180k sales per month, lease can be extended definitely.”
  18. Barbecue chain with food trucks — “An American-style (Kansas City ) BBQ Restaurant with food trucks. They also have a nice catering component to the business. Decorated in a rustic decor, these units are located in great locations in easily accessible areas close to Washington DC.”
  19. Remodeling business — “After serving the community for 7 years, the current owner is ready to retire from this successful construction business. Ranked as a Top 100 Remodeling Company in the United States by Remodeling Magazine, the company provides exterior remodeling, windows, roofing, siding, gutters, doors, and attic solution services to their residential clients, tailored to fit their needs.”
  20. Auto sales and repair shop two blocks from Metro — “Auto use is grandfathered making this literally a once in a lifetime deal!”
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Nestled away in a budget presentation for the Transportation Commission, a report on ten years of crash data shows that crashes in Alexandria are overall on the decline.

The report includes data collected from 2011 to 2020, with a note that the COVID-19 pandemic likely impacted crash data from the final year of the study. But even pre-2020, the total number of car crashes in Alexandria had been fairly consistently declining year after year.

Crashes that involve kills or serious injuries (KSI) were more erratic over the years, remaining at a fairly consistent 3% of all crashes throughout the reporting period..

“Crash totals from 2011-2020 show a downward trend for all crashes, including those that involved fatal or severe injury,” the report said. “The 2016-2020 annual crash averages by all modes (vehicle-only, pedestrian, bicyclist) and crash type (all and KSI) are less than those seen during 2011-2015. Year over year, vehicle-only crashes had the highest number of KSI crashes followed by pedestrian and then bicyclist crashes.”

The report only covered crashes on city streets — not including crashes from major highways like I-395 or I-495. Vehicle-only crashes account for most of the KSI crashes each year, followed by those involving pedestrians then cyclists.

The study tracked other information on crashes, like location, time, weather, road conditions and more. The information put together a portrait of which crashes tend to be most fatal.

“During the weekday, high crash frequencies are seen during the evening commute,” the report said. “Early spring had the highest proportion of KSI crashes for bicyclists, while the late summer months were the highest for pedestrians.”

The report found that vehicle occupants who were not wearing seat belts were 20 times more likely to be killed or severely injured.

“Most vehicle occupants wore their safety restraint (e.g., seat belt) during crashes,” the report said. “However, vehicle occupants who did not wear their seatbelt were approximately 20 times more likely to be killed or severely injured compared to those who did wear their seatbelt.”

The report also noted that 58% of all KSI crashes occurred at intersections, and intersections with five points or more had the highest proportion of KSI crashes though the total number of crashes at these intersections were relatively low.

There were roughly the same number of crashes for bicyclists in locations where bike infrastructure was present as areas where there wasn’t, but areas without bicycle infrastructure had a higher fatality rate.

“Out of the eight KSI bicyclist crashes,” the report said, “seven had no presence of bike infrastructure.”

The full report is available in the docket (page 31 of the pdf, page 4 of the docket) for the Transportation Commission’s March 16 meeting.

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Old Town Festival of Speed and Style, photo via Festival of Speed and Sound/Facebook

An annual celebration of fast, unique and/or bizarre cars is coming back to Alexandria this spring for its third year.

The Old Town Festival of Speed & Style, presented by Burke and Herbert Bank, is scheduled to come back on May 22.

The event takes over the 200-400 blocks of King Street and the 100 blocks of North Royal and North Fairfax streets from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“View dozens of rare and exotic cars up close, made famous by their speed, performance and elegance,” the website for the festival said. “This will be enhanced by a presentation of style, fashion and live music provided by over 40 local merchants.”

The event is free to attend, but proceeds from other activities in the festival will go to the USO and local nonprofits ALIVE! and the Campagna Center.

Photo via Festival of Speed and Sound/Facebook

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Self-driving car (photo via Alan/Flickr)

Among the changes the city is making to its mobility plan, Alexandria is starting to lay the groundwork for autonomous vehicles on city streets.

There are currently serious concerns about the safety of self-driving cars, with specific concerns about the ability of these cars to reliably avoid hitting pedestrians and cyclists. But at the technology advances, city staff are still including plans for self-driving cars on Alexandria streets as a future possibility worth planning for.

The recognition of autonomous vehicles was noted as one of the changes highlighted at a Sept. 29 joint Transportation Commission and Alexandria Mobility Plan Advisory Committee meeting. Staff said that the city needs to be prepared for that future from a policy perspective.

The city is in the middle of a broad update to the original plan from 2008. The new Alexandria Mobility Plan includes several actions to help prepare for autonomous vehicles.

  • Consider pilot projects to lay the groundwork for and evaluate the effectiveness
    of various new technologies
  • Prepare for connected vehicles by developing maintenance and infrastructure
    plans to ensure street readiness
  • Prepare for autonomous or self-driving vehicles by developing policies to manage
    potentially significant increases in miles driven and traffic volumes within the city,
    including limiting zero-passenger miles and incentivizing shared use
  • Ensure that safety is a priority when testing and implementing new technologies

Despite the current safety concerns, the Alexandria Mobility Plan said there’s potential for autonomous vehicles to be a roadway safety improvement, as well as an accessibility benefit:

Autonomous and connected vehicles have the potential to improve roadway safety, enhance mobility for persons with disabilities, and potentially reduce congestion. Vehicle technology is advancing quickly, and the City needs to be well-positioned to adapt to these changes. It is important to prepare for connected vehicle technology through strategic investments that accommodate vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, which will help travelers find parking spaces, avoid traffic and crashes, navigate hazardous conditions, and more. Proactive policy making and monitoring will be needed to address potential for increased travel and congestion associated with the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The plan’s 20-year goals include accomodating self-driving vehicles, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

In neighboring Fairfax, a self-driving shuttle started operation last year, though some drivers have been irked by the vehicle. Autonomous vehicles have also been used at Fort Meyer in Arlington. In 2017 a “driverless car” was spotted in Arlington, though it later turned out to be a car driven by a person disguised as a car seat.

Photo via Alan/Flickr

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Alexandria Police are looking for a man who bought a luxury car with a fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria.

On August 29, the suspect walked into the dealership and picked out a 2021 Lexus LS400 and provided the salesperson with an Oklahoma driver’s license, according to police. The customer also allegedly told the salesperson that he’d recently relocated from Oklahoma to Richmond.

“The customer provided insurance document(ation) issued by AAA Insurance listing his current residence in Richmond,” police said in a search warrant. “The dealership completed a credit history check using identification for (the victim) and approved the customer for financing to complete the purchase.”

Police added, “The customer purchased the vehicle and drove the vehicle off the dealership’s parking lot.”

The next day, August 30, an Oklahoma man called the dealership asking about a credit check that was made the day before in his name. The man said he didn’t buy a car at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria and sent along a photo of his driver’s license. The photos didn’t match, as the victim is an older white male and the suspect is a Black male.

The vehicle was later recovered in Henrico, Virginia, and returned to the dealership.

The suspect has not been arrested.

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This coming Monday, September 6, is Labor Day and a number of city government offices and facilities will be closed.

The biggest event of the three-day weekend will be the day before Labor Day — Sunday, September 5. The annual Old Town Festival of Speed & Style will bring crowds to marvel at classic and beautiful rides along King Street.

City services will shift to a holiday schedule the next day. Trash collection will move to Tuesday, parking enforcement at metered spaces will be lifted, and it will be your last chance to enjoy public pools.

The city has listed the following closures and other changes planned for the week of September 6.

Resource Recovery: Residential refuse and recycling will not be collected September 6. Collection services will be delayed by one day during the week of September 6: Monday’s collection will be on Tuesday; Tuesday’s collection, on Wednesday; Wednesday’s collection, on Thursday; and Thursday’s collection, on Friday. Visit Resource Recovery for more information. The Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection Center (3224 Colvin St.) will be closed Monday, September 6.

Animal Shelter: The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (4101 Eisenhower Ave.) will be open weekend hours by appointment on September 6. To make an appointment, visit AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment or call 703.746.4774. For an animal emergency, call 703.746.4444.

Health Facilities: The Alexandria Health Department (4480 King St.), the Flora Krause Casey Health Center (1200 N. Howard St.) and the Teen Wellness Center at Alexandria City High School (3329 King St.) will be closed September 6.

Historic Alexandria: On September 6, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax St.) will be open regular hours, from 1 to 5 p.m. All other City museums will be closed. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/Historic and follow Historic Alexandria on social media or call 703.746.4554.

Hotlines: All emergency hotlines operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including the child protective services hotline at 703.746.5800; the domestic violence hotline at 703.746.4911; the emergency services for mental health or substance abuse crisis hotline at 703.746.3401; the adult protective services hotline at 703.746.5778; and the sexual assault hotline at 703.683.7273.

Libraries: All Alexandria Library branches and the Alexandria Law Library (520 King St.) will be closed September 6. Visit the Alexandria Library website for more information.

Parking: On September 6, the Alexandria Police Department will suspend enforcement of parking restrictions at metered spaces, residential permit parking districts and other areas with posted parking time limits. This suspension of enforcement applies only to the restrictions at legal parking spaces and does not permit parking in any location normally prohibited (for example, no-parking zones, loading zones or spaces for persons with disabilities). Temporary no-parking signs will be enforced September 6.

Impound Lot: The City’s Impound Facility (5249 Eisenhower Ave.) will be closed September 6. The Impound Facility is closed every Saturday and Sunday and on all observed City holidays. Fees will continue to accrue on Saturdays and Sundays but not on holidays.

Recreation and Arts Centers: On September 6, the Charles Houston (901 Wythe Street) and Patrick Henry (4653 Taney Ave.) recreation centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union St.) will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Chinquapin Park Recreation Center & Aquatics Facility (3210 King St.) and all other facilities will be closed. Visit alexandriava.gov/Recreation for more information.

Outdoor Pools: Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St.) and Warwick Pool (3301 Landover St.) will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. September 6. Visit alexandriav.gov/Aquatics for more information.

Schools: All Alexandria City Public Schools and administrative offices will be closed Friday, September 3 and Monday, September 6.

Courts: On September 6, the Alexandria Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Alexandria Circuit Court, Alexandria General District Court, Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and Court Service Unit (520 King St.) will be closed.

Department of Motor Vehicles: All Virginia DMV locations in Northern Virginia (including 2681 Mill Rd.) are open by appointment only. Many DMV services are available either online or by visiting dmvNOW.com/appt to schedule an appointment. Walk-in services are not available at this time.

Transit:  On September 6, the Alexandria Transit Company’s fare-free DASH bus service will operate on a Sunday schedule. The free King Street Trolley will operate from King Street Metro to Alexandria City Hall/Market Square, with service every 15 minutes, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit dashbus.com for more information.

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