• For more information on Green Party membership or to contact Green Party leadership, email info@greensofarlington.org Join the Arlington Greens online on Zoom on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7 pm. For Zoom meeting ID and password, email us at info@greensofarlington.org

March 18, 2021

Greens ask county board to increase housing (rental) grants and emergency housing assistance in fy 2022

Uncategorized — @ 12:15 pm

Arlington Greens support the county manager’s proposal to increase FY 2022 spending on housing grants to $12.7 million, and also the $17.5 million proposal for emergency Covid spending that includes emergency rental assistance for unpaid rents, food assistance and related help to residents who lost income or jobs during the pandemic.   

While the good news is that widespread vaccinations will make possible reopening, many tenants are facing unpaid back rents and need help in FY 2022 to avoid eviction.
We have reservations about the $8.9 million the manager proposes to spend for AHIF to fund the building of more subsidized apartments CAFs) next fiscal year. 

There is a glut of market rate apartments and subsidized units available for rent today in Arlington, and now is a bad time for any new units to enter the market, private or nonprofit. 

Commercial realty companies report that rents in Arlington for apartments have dropped from 8 to 15 percent in the past 12 months, depending on the neighborhood, and there are at least 15% of existing apartments are now vacant.  The county housing division this month listed about 100 CAFs available for rent, and thus even CAFs are empty, and the nonprofit providers having a hard time renting existing CAFs. 


The best way to provide housing assistance right now is a housing voucher or an emergency grant to pay back unpaid rents.  There are still thousands of renter households who maintained their jobs but still pay over 50 percent of their incomes for rent (generally tenant earning under 50% of the area median income).  The county should shift all of the new AHIF funds into housing grants or emergency back rent grants so that tenants can stay in their apartments and not have a heavy housing cost burden.

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March 15, 2021

Arlington residents protest demolition of historic Febrey house and property Saturday, March 20, 10 AM

Uncategorized — @ 4:05 pm

We invite you to a silent, socially distanced protest on Saturday, March 20, at 10 am outside the Febrey house (6407 Wilson Boulevard, at Wilson and McKinley Road) to grieve the county board’s decision to allow demolition of the house and estate before the April 17 public hearing on historic preservation of the estate.   

The county board granted the demolition permit to the property owner despite our pleas and common sense to keep the house intact until after the public hearing. 

The property owner has refused to allow county historians to even visit the house and grounds–we believe there are Civil War artifacts and possible human remains of Civil War soldiers buried on the property.  Many mature trees, some a hundred years old, and shrubs will be lost in addition to the house. 

Our county government refuses to use its authority under state law and county ordinance to save this historic site and places the profits of a developer above our community’s interest in more parkland and keeping an important Civil War historic site.

Bring your camera and your own sign urging the county borad to reverse its decision and stop the bulldozers.

The county board under state law could have delayed issuing the demo permit and followed state historic preservation law.  Instead, the board really wants the estate bulldozed before its April 17 public hearing. 

The county parks and rec commission has repeatedly asked the county board for a decade to purchase the property and add it to our parkland, but the county board refuses and pleads poverty even though Arlington voters have repeatedly approved many millions of dollars for parks bonds to purchase more parkland.  

It is outrageous in a wealthy community such as Arlington with a rising population that these 9 acres of mostly open land cannot be purchased as a park for all to enjoy, and the house preserved as a historic center and community house for all residents to enjoy.   Thousands of Union soliders camped and lived on the Febrey house which also served as a hospital, and significant battles fought nearby.

Silent protest:    Wear a mask, bring your own sign if possible                           

Saturday, March 20, 10 AM  Outside the Febrey House,

6407 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA  22205

                            Please park on McKinley Road or on Madison Street.

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February 27, 2021

Arlington Greens meet online March 3, 7 PM

Uncategorized — @ 12:50 pm

Please join us online on Zoom on Wednesday, March 3 at 7 pm (see meeting information below).
Major topics:
Eliminating gasoline  blowers in Arlington
Preservation of Lothrop Rouse historic estate on Wilson Blvd
Arlington County Board budget proposal for FY 2022–increase proposed for housing grants and tenant assistance due to Covid  (for details go to Proposed FY 2022 Budget Bridges Arlington Through the COVID-19 Pandemic – Newsroom (arlingtonva.us)

For Zoom meeting log in information, please email Info@greensofarlington.org

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January 16, 2021

Save Historic Febrey House in Arlington

Development — @ 12:09 pm

We encourage all Arlington residents to sign the petition below urging the county board to save the historic Febrey House and estate from being demolished (located on Wilson Blvd and McKinley Street).   The house was built around 1850 and was the center of Civil War battles and thousands of Union soldiers camped on or around the house which also served as a hospital for union and confederate soldiers.   John Febrey operated a public school on the estate during the war and then became Arlington’s first superintendent of schools. 

There are nine acres of open green space around the house.   We would like the house and as much of the estate as possible used as a public park and historic center.   We need more green space and parks in Arlington given our growing population.

The county board and the local historic review board are considering designating the house and estate as a local historic district which will give some legal protection from demolition for at least one year.  This will give time to do historic investigation of the property and to have the community input on what type of park or public space it could become.

Please sign the petition and circulate to any of your Arlington friends as well.  We have over 900 signers so far.


SAVE THE HISTORIC FEBREY-LOTHROP-ROUSE ESTATE! | MoveOn

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December 29, 2020

Arlington Greens meet online on Wed, Jan. 6 at 7 pm

Uncategorized — @ 11:18 am

Happy Holidays to Arlington Green members and community supporters.

Please join us online on Zoom on Wednesday, January 6, at 7 pm (see meeting information below).
Major topics:
Eliminating gasoline mowers and blowers in Arlington

Preservation of Lothrop Rouse historic estate on Wilson Blvd

Virginia Pipeline expansion

2021 county board vacancy

and election of 2021 Arlington Greens chair and treasurer

We hope to see you online.

For Zoom meeting information, email Info@greensofarlington.org

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December 7, 2020

Reduce noise and air pollution in Arlington: Ban Gas Leaf Blowers and Mowers in Arlington

Uncategorized — @ 4:04 pm

Reduce noise and air pollution in Arlington:  Ban Gas Power Blowers and Mowers and Lawn equipment

With the fall season of dropping leaves, the scourge of loud gas powered leaf blowers has returned to disturb the peace, and worsen the air quality of Arlington neighborhoods.  While many Arlington residents may accept this as just a necessary but largely harmless nuisance, research on noise and air quality indicate that gas-powered mowers and blowers pose a significant health risk to people. Many U.S. cities, and the District of Columbia (starting in 2022) ban the gas-fired equipment and require the use of quiet and clean electric models.

The development of electric blowers, mowers and other lawn equipment and reliable batteries now provides homeowners and lawn service companies with a 21st Century advance that can radically cut the harmful noise and air pollution of gas engines. The noise level of electric motors is very quiet and there is no generation of air pollution.  With climate change, eventually all gas engines will need to be eliminated in vehicles and appliances, so changing to only electric lawn equipment is a needed step for climate change mitigation and reduces harmful greenhouse gases.

About 100 U.S. cities have banned or restricted use of gas-fired blowers.[1]  According to a January 2020 article in Electrek,[2] the State of California is looking to ban all gas powered lawn equipment while 16 California and 3 Colorado cities and the District of Columbia (beginning in 2022) already ban these fossil fuel nuisances.  The advent of reliable battery-operated electric models and their modest cost and reliability make gasoline model a harmful anachronism.  Electric models are cheaper to run than gasoline fired ones.[3]

The two-stroke gasoline motor in lawn equipment is very inefficient in burning gasoline, as compared to automobile 4 stroke engines, and thus emit high levels of harmful pollutants.   One hour of operation of a gas-fired blower generates as much pollutants as a Toyota Camry driving 1,100 miles, according to the California Air Resources Board.   Gasoline itself is highly toxic and flammable, and causes many fires in homes or garages.  The EPA estimated that 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled annually just filling up lawn mowers.

Lawn mowers and blowers worsen allergies and asthma, and irritate the lungs by propelling clouds of dust, and dirt and chemical into the air.  Blowers remove beneficial soil mulch and harm living plants.  As to noise, gas powered blowers noise level are often over 100 decibels (dB).  A jet plane take off generates 100 dB of noise; any noise level above 85 dB is considered harmful to human health.  The CDC indicates that two hours of 91 dB noise for 15 minutes daily can result in permanent hearing loss.[4]

Gas blowers also have a unique and low penetrating frequency that makes them much louder than electric models even with the same rated decibel level.  Most electric blowers are rated at or below 70 decibels, and gas blowers at the operator level at 100 or more decibels.  The decibel level measure is logarithmic function rather than proportionate, and thus, a gas blower at 90 dB is 100 times noisier than an electric blower at 70 dB.   Electric lawn mowers are similarly quieter than gas fired mowers which generally operate at above 80 db. 

The Arlington noise ordinance is out of data and unenforceable

Some may say that the solution to this environmental problem is the Arlington County Noise ordinance[5] that was enacted in 2014; it provides a maximum noise level in residential neighborhoods of 90 dB.   The basic problem with the ordinance is that the 90 dB level is too harmfully high, but more importantly there is no enforcement of the ordinance today as it applies to excessive lawn equipment noise. 

An Arlington noise inspector indicated in December 2020 that no enforcement action is taken until generally 5-7 business days after a complaint is filed, and by the time the inspector arrives, the noise violation is most likely over.[6]   The county will not accept as evidence citizen-recorded noise and videos of the noise complaint.   Therefore, even if the maximum level were lowered to 70 dB, the lack of enforcement means the ordinance is useless in most cases for lawn equipment.

The only practical solution to the environmental problem of gas-fired lawn equipment is their ban.  Limiting their hours or limiting the maximum noise level is insufficient since there is no enforcement of even the current ordinance.

Replacement of current gas-powered blowers and mowers is practical and not costly

A proposed three-year phase out of current gas-powered models will allow landscaping companies and homeowners time to replace these with battery-powered models;  most gas-fired models wear out within three years and have costly maintenance.  Electric blowers and mowers have little or no maintenance cost and last years if not decades.  In addition, electric models have lower operating costs of fuel than gas models, so that the cost of an electric can be lower than today’s polluting gas models.

In Arlington, most yard maintenance is done by landscaping companies rather than homeowners.  So, most of the capital cost will be absorbed by the companies rather than homeowners.  


[1] James Fallows, “Politics:  Get of my lawn, how a small group of activists got leaf blowers banned in the nation’s capital,” the Atlantic, April 2019.

[2] Charles Benoit, “California looking to ban gas-powered lawnmower, leaf blowers,” Jan. 9, 2020,  Electrek,  https://electrek.co/2020/01/09

[3] “Myth 4,” Facts and myths about leaf blowers, Quiet DC, Dec. 4, 2020.  Facts & Myths — Quiet Clean D.C.  http://www.quietcleandc.com/factsmyths

[4] Facts and myths about leaf blowers, Quiet DC, Dec. 4, 2020.  Facts & Myths — Quiet Clean D.C.

[5] Chapter 5 of the Arlington Code,  https://building.arlingtonva.us/codes-ordinances/noise/

[6]  Phone conversation with Arlington Noise code inspector, Nov. 27, 2020.

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October 26, 2020

Arlington Residential Energy Conservation Program: Give out $1,000 grants to Arlington homeowners to weatherize, conserve, and reduce carbon emissions by up to 20 percent

environment,Uncategorized — @ 4:28 pm

Carbon emissions in Arlington averaged 9.1 metric tons (MT) per capita in 2016 or a total 2.0 million MT for Arlington.  About 23 percent of carbon emissions in Arlington came from homes, according to Arlington County.  In 2019, the Arlington County Board set the goal in the Arlington Community Energy Plan (CEP) to have a carbon neutral Arlington by 2050.

There are 28,500 were single family-detached houses, and 11,200 single family-attached houses in Arlington, most of which are owner occupied. Energy conservation (generally weatherization, insulation, and sealing air leaks) is the most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions in a house; many houses in Arlington were built decades ago, and while some have been improved to high energy efficiency, the majority have not.  

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has indicated that low cost weatherization and more insulation can cut household use of electricity by 7 percent and heating by 18 percent, and save the homeowner about $300 a year.  Such energy conservation is the ‘low hanging fruit’ of addressing climate change.

To encourage Arlington homeowners to undertake energy conservation, the county government should fund a program to give out a $1,000 grant to cover the costs so every household can have an energy audit, and then do the most effective and lowest cost recommendations to cut heating and cooling.   The goal would be to reduce the energy use over 5 years in three-quarters of the 40,000 existing single-family detached and attached Arlington households by up to 20 percent. This will NOT make the house carbon neutral, but it will cut carbon emissions in homes substantially, and perhaps homeowners would take additional steps like solar panels on roof on their own.

The program would operate on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis to recruit Arlington homeowners to have a free energy audit of their home that would provide a detailed plan for energy conservation measures to cut use of electricity, water and natural gas.  The program would pay the homeowner $50 for participating, and then up to $1,000 for the highest priority energy improvements recommended in the energy audit.   This program’s goal is to have all homeowners eventually get an energy audit, and to begin to at least do the low cost changes that will reduce energy use.

Existing weatherization programs today in Arlington are targeted at low income homeowners of whom there are few in Arlington, and thus weatherization has not met its full potential.  EcoAction Arlington has had a small program of weatherization done by volunteers in low income apartments and houses.   Inertia and lack of interest by many homeowners and the hassle of getting an energy audit, and then following up with contractors or the homeowner doing the work them self, has impeded energy conservation in Arlington.

Funding for the residential energy conservation program would be obtained by raising the Arlington utility tax on electricity and the separate tax on natural gas from current $3 per household per month to $6 per month and eventually to $15 per month.  This is a carbon tax that makes electricity and natural gas more expensive.  The tax proceeds from the additional utility tax would mostly be rebated to homeowners to weatherize and reduce their utility bills by more than the additional tax would cost.

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October 12, 2020

Arlington Carbon Neutrality Goal by 2050: failure without local energy building code and tighter controls over demolition of existing houses

Development,environment — @ 3:20 pm

In 2019, the Arlington County Board approved the Community Energy Plan with a significant environmental goal that Arlington County become carbon neutral in energy use by 2050.  Nearly two-thirds of the 2.0 million metric ton carbon reduction would occur through de-carbonization of the electricity supply and changing all transportation to electric vehicles.  However, de-carbonization by itself alone cannot achieve carbon neutrality unless building energy efficiency is greatly increased and significant amount of local renewable energy production occurs (solar and geothermal energy).

The CEP set a goal that 23 percent of the 2.0 million metric tons of carbon reduction would come from local actions—11 percent from local renewable energy production and 12 percent from improving local buildings’ energy efficiency.  The county must adopt its own energy building code that requires new or renovated buildings to include state-of-the-art energy technology so that new buildings are mostly carbon neutral.  The county government should pass a restrictive energy building code, and then seek permission from the General Assembly to implement it.  The State building code is woefully inadequate and energy inefficient, as compared to most other Northeastern states.

New buildings should be required as part of the building code to add solar and geo-thermal energy.  Thus, Arlington could produce a significant amount of energy locally and not have to rely on the grid to bring in electricity produced elsewhere from solar or wind energy.   The grid cannot supply enough electricity to compensate for the loss of natural gas for heating.

Commercial buildings use 35 percent of local carbon emissions.  In the past, the county mainly encouraged energy efficiency in new commercial buildings through a subsidy program based on a bogus LEED, Energy Star or similar energy rating systems that do not significantly cut carbon emissions.  Academic research has now concluded that LEED and Energy Star and similar energy rating systems do not significantly reduce primary energy use in certified buildings. Marketing claims of 20-30 percent or more decline in carbon use in LEED buildings are bogus.

Arlington County has no data to confirm that the over 80 commercial buildings in Arlington with 37 million square feet that obtained LEED or Energy Star local subsidies used less energy than comparable non-certified buildings in the county.  The county should require as part of the CEP that all commercial property owners annually report use of water, electricity and gas or fuel for heating by building. 

Residential buildings.–About 23 percent of carbon emissions in the county in 2016 came from residential buildings; about half of the residential use was in detached or attached single family houses, and the other half was in multifamily housing.   There are about 28,500 detached single family houses and 11,200 attached single family houses in Arlington in 2019, according to the Arlington County Office of Planning, Housing and Development.  Many of the houses in the county were built in the 1950s and 60s or earlier and are energy inefficient. 

The county government should fund a program to give $1,000 to homeowners to weatherize and retrofit their older energy-inefficient houses.  Basic weatherization and energy refits that cost generally under $5,000 can reduce a typical house’s energy use by up to 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  With more substantial and expensive energy upgrades, such as solar panels and solar hot water heaters, the energy use in existing houses in Arlington could be cut by well over 570 percent and very close to carbon neutrality.

Tear downs of existing houses in Arlington pose a major obstacle to having carbon neutral housing.   The tear down of an existing house and the building of a completely new conventional house typically uses about 50 m tons of carbon.  A new house in Arlington is often twice or three times larger in living space than the demolished house.  Since energy use is directly proportional to square footage, the new larger house built under current building codes will use at least twice as much energy although energy efficiency in the new building can cut perhaps 30 percent use.  Nevertheless, each older house demolished and replaced raises energy use by at least one hundred percent.

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September 19, 2020

Tear downs of old homes and building McMansions raises carbon emissions, and should be halted

Development,environment — @ 2:34 pm

The rising value of land and houses in Arlington has resulted in a very unhealthy rise in carbon emissions and other environmental damage because of the demolition of older and smaller houses and the building of mansions with often two or three times the living area of the demolished house. All living vegetation and trees are demolished on site to build the new house, and more open surface area is paved which thus increases storm water runoff and raises the temperature because of loss of tree canopy.

The County Board decided in 2019 to have a carbon neutral county by 2050.  The demolition and then the construction of a new house typically raises carbon emissions by about 50 metric tons. A remodeling of an existing house typically raises carbon emissions by 15 m tons. A typical house in the U.S. generates 7.5 m. tons of carbon a year; even if the new house generated 30 percent less than the demolished house, it would take 20 years to recoup the carbon used in the new construction. However, new and larger square footage houses use more carbon in operating energy than the demolish house.

Energy use of a house is proportional to the square footage of the house. Thus a typical new 4,000 square foot house in Arlington would use nearly twice as much energy as an existing 1,400 square foot house. If the new house meets high insulation and building tightness standards (perhaps 30 percent more efficient), then the new house uses only 100 percent more energy.

The only realistic way for the Arlington County Board to halt this tear down disaster is to impose a county wide zoning called a historic district designation on all Arlington neighborhoods. A historic district zoning de facto blocks tear downs of houses, but does allow for renovations and additions.

The historic district also requires that older trees and existing green space be preserved so that there is no loss of tree canopy. There is one Arlington neighborhood Maywood that has had a historic district since the late 1970s and in the 40 years, no house has been demolished although most have been renovated and expanded.

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September 4, 2020

Greens support 5 cents bag tax

environment — @ 11:30 am

Arlington Greens endorse 5 cents per plastic bag tax in Arlington
Greens at their Sept. 2 meeting endorsed the imposition of a 5 cents per plastic bag tax for single use grocery/retail stores. Greens support EcoAction Arlington’s petition to the Arlington County Board to impose this 5-cent tax and encourage everyone to sign the online petition now at
https:/www.ecoactionarlington.org

The goal is to present the petitions to the county board their November 14 meeting. The Virginia General Assembly authorized local governments to impose this tax.

When Washington DC imposed its 5 cent bag tax over five years ago, the use of grocery plastic bags dropped by 80 percent, resulting in less floating in the rivers and Bay. Virtually no plastic bags today are recycled.

About ten years ago Arlington Greens urged the county board to BAN these plastic bags but the county board refused and it has taken nearly a decade to get the county board to act on this environmental nuisance that clogs our storm drains, rivers and oceans.

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