Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Alexandria to Get Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Next Week — On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Adding a third vaccine to Alexandria’s pandemic response is significant and will ultimately mean that more vaccines are available to protect more people… Johnson & Johnson vaccines will become available in Alexandra starting later this week.” [City of Alexandria]

Beyer, Kaine Introduce ‘The Cost of Police Misconduct Act’ — “Most Americans have no idea how much cities and counties they live in spend on police misconduct because cases are often settled in secret. The Cost of Police Misconduct Act would make these costs public, which we hope and believe would help save lives.” [Twitter]

Council to Vote on 2-Hour Heavy Vehicle Parking Limit — “In response to community concerns re long-term heavy vehicle parking in commercial areas, staff is proposing a 2-hour heavy vehicle parking limit ordinance (except for loading/unloading)” [Twitter]

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Canceled — “This year would have been the 40th annual parade. In 2020, the March 7 parade was the last major event in Alexandria before COVID-19 restrictions began to be implemented.” [Patch.com]

National Park Service Predicts Peak Cherry Blossom Bloom — “The National Park Service (NPS) just released its 2021 cherry blossom peak bloom prediction for 2021: April 2 – April 5. The prediction varies year to year based on weather conditions, but it is typically between the last week in March and the first week of April, according to the NPS Bloom Watch webpage.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 59F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 37F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Walker/Pet Sitter — “Pay ranges from $350 to $650 per week, depending on the number of dogs scheduled for that week. Must have a valid driver’s license and must be able to safely transport numerous dogs in your vehicle.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Police Provide Guidance on Indecent Exposures in Del Ray — “The Police department encourages anyone who is a victim or witnessed these incidents to call 9-1-1.  If you live in the neighborhood, please review your security cameras and call police if there is suspicious activity.” [City of Alexandria]

City Hall Walk-in Payment Hours Expanded — “Beginning Monday, March 1, in-person services are now available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]

Little Theatre of Alexandria Presents ‘The Revolutionists’ — “Come watch as four sassy women lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.” [Gazette]

‘Port City Publius’ Bashes Anti-Establishment Facebook Group — “The group is a tinpot dictatorship in which comments and posts that don’t share the narrow worldview of the moderators are routinely deleted and removed, and the offending poster evicted from the membership. This authoritarian intolerance for diverse and divergent viewpoint–not to mention an outright manipulation of the discourse in the group (‘IT’S CANCEL CULTURE!!’ comes the ironic scream from the cover of the CPAC brochure most of these people probably have laying on their kitchen counter)–is pretty hypocritical for a group allegedly concerned with integrity.” [Port City Publius]

Former Delegate Krupicka Publishes Poetry Book — “”It took a while, but I fell into routine of writing poems inspired by grace and the need for grace in life. Fast forward a few years and I had a good number of poems. Enough for a collection. Well, here it is. This project took close to five years in total to write, edit and then get the nerve up to publish.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy. Periods of rain early. High 54F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%… Some clouds early will give way to generally clear conditions overnight. Low 27F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Full Time Nanny for 1 Child — “We are looking for a nanny who can watch and care for our five-month-old daughter while both parents are working from home, ideally one who can start as soon as possible. Nanny would be responsible for ensuring that the baby gets fed, has playtime, and takes naps on a reasonable schedule; takes her outside as weather permits; and helps ensure she is hitting her developmental milestones. We are taking our COVID precautions seriously, and since the nanny would effectively become part of our bubble, we would want to work with someone who is also diligent about our daughter’s safety. The nanny must also be Infant CPR certified.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Independent Investigation Clears ALX Chamber CEO of Wrongdoing — “The Chamber will be immediately scheduling workplace professionalism training for all staff and Chamber leadership and the Chamber’s Code of Conduct will be updated and clearly communicated to staff and members.” [Alexandria Living]

Beyer Votes ‘YES’ as House Passes Equality Act — “The House just passed the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in receiving health care, and more. I voted YES; this is the final vote:” [Twitter]

Council Approves Stormwater Fee Increase — “City council unanimously passed an ordinance doubling the stormwater utility fee from $140 to $280 during Saturday’s public hearing. The increased fee will add $155 million into the city’s coffers over the next 10 years and will help fund an ambitious new flood mitigation action plan, according to city staff. The plan includes various capacity and spot improvement projects meant to overhaul Alexandria’s crumbling stormwater infrastructure.” [Alex Times]

Single Complaint, Lengthy Permitting Process Jettison Classical Concert Series — “There is a noise ordinance in the city – I totally respect it – but our musicians are softer than the birds that chirp along with us, way softer than the airplanes that fly overhead, way softer than the cars and the motorcycles and all the traffic that moves around us.” [Alex Times]

Councilman John Chapman’s Campaign Kickoff Event is March 7 — “Excited to announce my official re-election campaign kickoff event on Sunday, March 7, at 3pm. Check out my website or FB page for more details. chapman4council.com” [Twitter]

Community Invited to Give Feedback on Colasanto Pool Redesign — “The City of Alexandria has hired LSG Landscape Architecture for the project, which will build on recommendations from a 2016 community survey and the city-sponsored 2012 Aquatic Facilities Study. Funding for the project is made possible by Alexandria’s Capital Investment Program as well as a Community Matching Fund through a partnership with the Del Ray Gateway Project.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “A mix of clouds and sun in the morning followed by cloudy skies during the afternoon. High 51F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph…. Cloudy with periods of rain. Low around 40F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Staff Member –“We are seeking dedicated professionals who are reliable, hardworking, and passionate to join our wait staff here at Il Porto Ristorante. Should have at least one year of experience working in high volume dine in restaurant. Compensation is $800-$1200 a week. We will be accepting application’s daily Starting March 1, 2021 between 2-4 p.m.” [Indeed]

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As Congress deliberates approval of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, Alexandria is trying to figure out how it will spend its share.

Alexandria is anticipating $26 million to $34 million, depending on the final plan. The $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal includes $350 billion for local governments.

“Our pleas for Washington to come to the table with some significant local government expenses have apparently nearly been answered,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at City Council’s legislative meeting on Tuesday. “

Last year, the city received $27.5 million in federal funds that were allocated to the state government. This time, the federal funds would go directly allocation to localities, and would be available in May at the earliest.

City Manager Mark Jinks presented a preliminary proposal to Council on how the funds should be spent. It resembled the city’s 2020 Coordinated Community Recovery Plan, which focused on food insecurity, rental eviction prevention and small business grants. Jinks said that the city has been waiting for federal funding since last May, when the U.S. Senate sat on Heroes Act funding after it passed through the House of Representatives.

“We want to get your feedback, let you know where we are, and we’ll come back in probably the beginning of April when we know what the appropriations are,” Jinks said. “What we don’t know is how long do we have to spend the money. If we have three or four years to spend
it, then that’d be a different spending strategy, then if like the last bill said, you had to spend it in 12 months, which we did.”

Alexandria’s consumption tax receipts, including sales, restaurant and lodging revenue generated about $65 million per year, according to Visit Alexandria CEO Patricia Washington.

“This year we’re forecasting to be down $13 million before recovering halfway back up to $58 million in FY22,” Washington said.

Kate Garvey, the director of the city’s Department of Community and Human Services, wants to continue the supporting eviction protection efforts, as well as the city’s food assistance program with ALIVE!.

“It depends a lot on the amount of money that comes to us,” City Councilwoman Del Pepper said.

Wilson said that the city should use the funds to make structural investments for lasting changes.

“Instead of funding childcare, let’s get a childcare facility,” he said, and asked that city boards and commissions fill out a survey on how they think the funds should be spent. “Let’s build capacity that is our going to outlast just recovery of this year, and help us in the future.”

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Morning Notes

Virginia Rolls Back Some Restrictions on Dining, Outdoor Gatherings — Effective Mar. 1, Virginians will be able to buy and drink alcohol at restaurants, food courts, breweries, distilleries, and wineries until they are required to close at midnight. The changes to the current executive order come amid declining rates of hospitalizations and infections and rising vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, Northam said during a press conference this morning (Wednesday).” [Reston Now]

Alexandria Black History Museum Launches Online Exhibition — “Following George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM) requested that Alexandria residents share their thoughts, artwork, and more. ABHM wanted to document the Alexandria community’s response of this tragic event and preserve it for future generations. An online exhibition featuring the items received so far launched recently on the Historic Alexandria Online portal. The items collectively are called the Black Lives Remembered Collection.” [Zebra]

Leaders Predict What Alexandria Will Look Like in the Year 2050 — “You pop into the Torpedo Factory and delve into the immersive beauty of art and technology combined, then get your caffeine fix with ease as a retinal scan captures your regular favorite brew — fair trade of course, because all coffee is these days. With a coffee in hand, you board one of the free electric trolleys that departs every 10 minutes from King Street to any of the city’s neighborhoods — Potomac Yard, Inova West, Carlyle, Arlandria, Del Ray and more.[Alexandria Living]

Council Approves Newport Village Development — “UDR Newport Village LLC, has received approval for a development special use permit to tear down two garden-style apartments and build a multifamily residential building with 383 units near Northern Virginia Community College. According to the plans, 24 units would be studios, 255 would be one-bedroom units, and 104 would be two-bedroom units. At least a dozen of the units would be affordable, and the developer is making a contribution to the affordable housing fund.” [Alexandria Living]

City Environmental Award Nominations Open — “Know someone who is committed to protecting the environment and sustaining Alexandria’s natural resources? Nominate them for the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award by March 25.” [Twitter]

George Washington Reenactor Conducting Community Conversations — “Join George Washington every Friday in February as he discusses his life during various periods of his life and engages the audience. The first week will be about his youth, the second week will delve into the American War for Independence, the third week will cover his post-war retirement at Mount Vernon and his time presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and the last installment will cover his Presidency and final retirement years.” [Visit Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 52F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 31F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Pastry Chef/Baker — “Seeking a full time pastry and/or bread baker for high quality artisan bread and pastry company. We are looking for a creative self starter who has attention to detail and a variety of skills from cookies and brownies to cakes, ice cream, mousses, desserts and pies- laminating skills a plus but not necessary. Creativity, drive and a strong work ethic are critical. This position comes with a lot of freedom to develop new items and grow the business. You will be producing a menu of set items according to our recipes but we are looking for someone who can creatively and efficiently develop and add more items- this is a growth position.” [Indeed]

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In the latest Agenda Alexandria conversation, local business and civic leaders came together to discuss the highs and lows of the recently proposed City Manager’s budget.

The budget included a proposed tax rate reduction, but City Council candidate Bill Rosssello challenged the overly sunny narrative about the reduction.

“I look at the budget the way it’s been presented and something that always seems to concern me is when we lead with a narrative around the tax rate,” Rossello said. “The tax rate is only one part of the equation for the actual taxes that people pay… While we’re looking at a proposed 2 cent tax rate decrease, when you do the math, for the average household it comes out to be almost a 6% tax increase in real dollars and that’s what really matters to residents: how much more or how much less am I going to pay?”

Rossello was joined on the panel by Rob Krupicka, former City Council member and Delegate and owner of Elizabeth’s Counter, and Janet Blair Fleetwood, Secretary of the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee and the Mayor’s representative on Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee (BFAAC).

The group discussed the current imbalance between the residential and commercial tax bases, which has only gotten worse during the pandemic.

“Back in 2009, we used to get 30.5% of revenue from commercial, said Fleetwood. “It is now 21.3%. We have a good situation here, with Virginia Tech’s Innovation area coming in, Amazon, the Patent office, the National Science Foundation, and Landmark. We should start looking to grow businesses that will come in and bring good jobs and use commercial real estate.”

Fleetwood said there has been talk that post-pandemic, companies may not want to use commercial real estate as they did before, but Fleetwood said she has also heard from companies that they will still need physical footprints for team projects.

“I don’t think commercial footprint is going away,” Fleetwood said.

Krupicka noted that questions about the balance between residential revenue and commercial revenue may fundamentally change post-pandemic.

“The balance between residential revenues and commercial revenue… there are fundamental shifts happening right now that make that an old debate,” Krupicka said. “People are working from home now, and you’re going to see a lot of businesses that don’t go back to commercial office when COVID ends.”

Krupicka said one of the larger concerns is that small business have to compete against larger companies like Amazon and pay taxes those companies don’t.

“Small businesses are competing against Amazon and large internet companies,” Krupicka said. “There is big international competition that pays a lot less taxes than small mom and pop. Small mom and pop has to pay BPOL tax… small businesses like mine are writing checks to government, but doing it in the hole. If you broke even on COVID, you’re paying on gross receipts, not profits.”

Krupicka said Amazon pays retail taxes, which benefits the city, but in general pays less on taxes per transaction than small restaurants or retailers.

“We need to have conversation about if we want small businesses to be at a disadvantage tax wise,” Krupicka said.

On the other side, Rossello said the burden on residential taxpayers has grown considerably and is pushing people out of Alexandria.

“We’ve taxed out so many middle class folks, who can afford to pay decent mortgage or rent, but find it more affordable to leave,” Rossello said. “We’ve seen whole neighborhoods turn over from diverse middle class neighborhoods to gentrified neighborhoods where houses on very small lots are $1.5 million dollars.”

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It was a cold and snowy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on plans to redevelop the GenOn power plant in Old Town North. It looks like deconstruction of the plant will start in 2023 and developers are looking at converting it into an urban, mixed-use property with housing.

The short work week started with news that Alexandria reached 10,000 cases of COVID-19. The latest figures show that there are 10,113 cases and 104 total deaths in the city, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The city’s seven-day moving average is now 35.1 cases.

A 49-year-old homeless woman was found dead in Arlandria on Tuesday morning, and the mayor told us that homelessness is on the rise in the city. ALXnow is following up with the city on the issue.

Tuesday morning also brought news that Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein abandoned his run for mayor and will not seek reelection to council. Seifeldein was hired as a trial lawyer by the U.S. Department of Labor in Jan. 2020, and while he can finish out his term on council, he can not run unless he files as an independent candidate.

In other election news, the race for city council is starting to get crowded, as Bill Rossello, a co-founder of the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook Group, just threw his hat into the ring.

On the vaccine front, the waiting list has surpassed 45,000 and it may be until late summer that the vaccine is widely available in the city. On Thursday, Mayor Justin Wilson also asked the governor to open vaccine eligibility for restaurant, personal care and retail workers.

More than 200 people responded to this week’s poll on power outages. There have been a number of outages over tha last year, and 73% of respondents reported experiencing an outage, while 26% report that their homes haven’t been impacted.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Developers Lay Out Multi-Year Timeline for GenOn Plant Redevelopment
  2. BREAKING: Homeless Woman Found Dead on Mount Vernon Avenue
  3. Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
  4. Seifeldein Not Running for Mayor, Leaving Alexandria City Council
  5. ALXnow’s Top Stories this Week in Alexandria
  6. Director of Finance: Alexandria’s Real Estate Assessments Are a ‘Tale of Two Markets’
  7. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  8. Torpedo Factory Overhaul Heads to City Council Next Month
  9. Snow: Up to 6 Inches of Snow and Ice Expected in Alexandria
  10. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Investigate Second Car Stolen While Owner Pumps Gas
  11. Local Facebook Watchdog Group Founder Bill Rossello Announces Run for City Council

Have a safe weekend!

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The owner of a hookah lounge has filed a special use permit to operate a hookah lounge and restaurant in the West End.

Diko Bar and Lounge would take over at the former home of the all-vegan Chez Hareg Cafe at 5245 Duke Street. The 1,200-square-foot location is next door to Shooter McGee’s, across the street from the Canterbury Square Condominiums and near the Alexandria Fire Station 208.

The location can accommodate 47 people inside, 18 people outside and has a 145-space parking lot. The SUP was requested for a new use at the space, which is the former home to Sangeet Alexandria Halal Meat and Grocery and Chez Hareg Cafe.

Owner Diko Woldehawariate could not be reached for comment, and details are scarce. The business has no website or social media. Woldehawariate wants to run it from noon to 2 a.m. seven days a week, according to the application. The menu includes beef and chicken shwarma, kabobs, Ethiopian dishes and desserts.

Public comments on the application are open until March 4, 2021, after which the application goes before the Planning Commission and then City Council for final approval.

Photo via Google Maps

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It might take until the summer until the COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in Alexandria, according to Mayor Justin Wilson.

With just 2,000 vaccine doses expected to be received weekly in the city and more than 36,000 residents on the waiting list, Wilson asked for patience over the weekend on Facebook. He also said that CVS pharmacies are being given a small supply of the vaccine.

As of last weekend, the Alexandria Health Department received 18,550 first doses from the state. Of that, 11,141 first doses and nearly 3,000 doses have been administered.

Wilson said that President Joe Biden’s recent comments on vaccine equity were hopeful, but that that the vaccine will not be widely available until later this summer.

VDH recently launched a statewide COVID vaccination registration system, but that won’t make the process any faster. The names on the list have just been transferred to one repository.

Statewide, 1.1 million Virginians have received the first dose of the vaccine and 366,058 have been fully vaccinated.

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Morning Notes

Virginia Launching Statewide Vaccine Pre-Registration System — “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will launch a statewide system to help citizens pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. The new system will supersede the Alexandria Health Department’s own pre-registration form. It will be operational on Tuesday, Feb 16 at 8 a.m.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Firefighters Oppose Collective Bargaining Agreement — “Employees and labor unions within the City of #Alexandiava attempted to sit down with the City Manager to come up with fair Collective Bargaining agreement. He ignored the employee’s voices and made a management friendly agreement.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Budget Public Hearing on Thursday — “Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks invites the public to a virtual presentation of his proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program on Thursday, February 18, at 7 p.m.” [Twitter]

Homesense Opens Franconia Store — “Fans of the store Homesense now have a shorter trip to get their home goods fix. The popular home store opened its first location in the Alexandria area at 7005 Manchester Blvd. in the Festival at Manchester Lakes shopping center on Thursday.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). Slight chance of a rain shower. High 54F. W winds at 5 to 10 mph, increasing to 15 to 25 mph… Clear (in the evening). Low 24F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Entry Level Personal Fitness Trainer — “We are looking for coachable, enthusiastic, and dependable people who want to enter the field of personal training. No prior fitness experience or fitness education required! We will hire and teach you everything you need to know to become a Certified Personal Trainer with The Perfect Workout!” [Indeed]

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