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Votes

This Week in Arlington

<sh>New Towing Ordinance Enacted

<bt>The County Board adopted a new ordinance establishing stricter oversight of the towing industry that will better protect residents from predatory towing practices.

In recent years hundreds of Arlington residents have complained to the county that they have been either overcharged by towing companies or had their vehicles illegally removed.

This past spring the General Assembly passed a bill granting jurisdictions the authority to set standards for the towing of vehicles from private property.

The new ordinance requires police notification prior to removal of the vehicle, and photographic evidence that the car was illegally parked.

"While most tow companies operate responsibly, citizens have complained for years that a few operators have behaved in an unscrupulous manner," County Board Member Jay Fisette said in a statement. "This ordinance is meant to put a stop to those abuses by putting in place clear regulations that all must follow."

Other measures in the plan include requiring towing companies to accept credit or debit cards, ensuring that vehicles are only towed to 24-hour facilities and mandating that those facilities be within three miles of the county line.

There will now be no fee for the first 24 hours of storage, with a maximum of a $40 fee for each additional day of storage.

While local towing companies had backed many of the changes, they were angered that the board, in a 3 to 2 decision, set the charge per tow at $100. This was $15 below the recommendation of County Manger Ron Carlee and $25 less than the suggestion of a county towing task force.

Board members rejected a proposal requiring towing operators to obtain written permission of the property owner before they remove a vehicle.

<tgl>— Seth Rosen

<sh>Arlington adds greater weekend bus service

<bt>The county has added weekend service for two popular ART bus lines, enabling more residents to reach the heart of Arlington without using their cars.

ART 41 will now run on Sundays, providing south Arlington residents with an easy way to travel to the Ballston Mall and Clarendon. The new service begins at 11:30 a.m. Sunday and runs to 5:40 p.m. ART 41 currently runs weekdays from 6:25 a.m. to 8:31 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7:11 p.m.

The Rosslyn-Courthouse Metro Shuttle, which is known as Art 61 and serves the Ft. Myer Heights, Radnor Heights, Colonial Terrace, Colonial Village and North Highland neighborhoods, will now run on Saturdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.

During the weekdays, ART 61 follows two loops, one clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, during weekday rush hours, 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. Saturday service will follow the clockwise loop.

<sh>Lawmakers Kick-Off New Blog

<bt>In an effort to connect with young voters, two Democratic lawmakers launched a blog last week that will focus on everything from political matters in Richmond to the Tour de France.

Del. Kris Amundson (D-44), of Mount Vernon, and Del. Bob Brink (D-48), of Arlington, kicked-off their new blog (www.7-west.org) on July 4. The blog's title refers to the seventh floor of the General Assembly Building, where the delegates' offices are located.

"We're the old fogies of Virginia's political blogosphere," said Amundson, who wrote a blog called "Extra Innings" with Brink during the General Assembly's budget impasse.

The two delegates enjoyed the Extra Innings experience and decided to continue their online efforts with a permanent blog.

"7-West is going to be a little more broad and will give us a chance to talk about anything we feel like," said Amundson. An upcoming post, for example, will feature a dictionary of "Richmond Speak" — an outsider's guide to the daunting acronyms employed by Virginia's political insiders.

Blogging, Amundson said, is becoming an excellent method of communicating with young voters.

"Younger people are kind of disconnected from the political process," she said. "This is proving to be a great way to connect with them."

<1b> — Brian McNeill