Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: Violence, tax breaks, and hurricanes

Good morning, RVA! It's 68 °F, and today we’ve got highs in the upper 80s and a small chance of storms late this afternoon. At this point, everyone’s got their eye on Hurricane Florence and the potential for sustained rain and flooding in the region—the Governor has already declared a state of emergency. In the next couple of days, follow some good weatherfolks, try and stay away from clickbait panic trash, and do a bit of prep work ahead of time.

Water cooler

On Saturday evening, Richmond police arrived at the 2000 block of Mansion Avenue on the City’s Southside and found Norbert D. Laury, 30, shot to death.

Mark Robinson reports that the Mayor’s office wants to offer some tax incentives to developers of a mixed-used situation 💸 bounded by Hull, Decatur, E. 4th, and E. 5th Streets. If you’re stuck on the wrong side of the RTD paywall, you can instead read the full ordinance which describes the incentives (PDF). I continue to be too dumb to understand how real estate and economic development financing works, but, regardless, I don’t think we need to subsidize private development in a currently exploding real estate market—especially when that development doesn’t include affordable housing and is flooded with too many parking spaces. Actually, TBD on the affordable housing piece, as the developer works to address some concerns brought up by City Council. Somehow, we gotta shift our priorities as a City so it’s clear before developers come calling that we want more affordable housing, fewer cars, and we want to spend less public money to get it. Right?

It’s been really interesting to watch the stories about East End and Evergreen Cemeteries shift over the years from “oh wow did you even know this overgrown cemetery exists?!” to “here’s how the state has expanded legislation to improve and upkeep these cemeteries.” Samantha Willis, writing for the Virginia Mercury (first time I’ve seen her byline there!), has the latest, including some details on how folks plan to thoughtfully steward the reclamation of these cemeteries.

Back from their summer break, City Council meets tonight for their regularly scheduled meeting at 6:00 PM. You can find the agenda here (PDF)—know that it can change mightily before tonight’s meeting. Of note on the regular agenda: tweaking the residency requirement for City employees and upping the amount of money Councilmembers can get reimbursed for without a corresponding resolution from $1,000 to $5,000.

Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury has a small update on the Virginia General Assembly’s progress on redistricting and a look at what a new, non-partisan map could look like. The Governor says House Republicans need to get to work ahead of the looming October 30th deadline.

This morning's longread

CityLab University: Induced Demand

Building more highways almost never makes for less traffic. Keep that in mind the next time your locality breezily earmarks hundreds of millions of dollars for a road project without a second thought.

With 26 lanes at its widest point, the Katy Freeway in the Houston metro is the Mississippi River of car infrastructure. Its current girth, which by some measures makes it the widest freeway in North America, was the result of an expansion project that took place between 2008 and 2011 at a cost of $2.8 billion. The primary reason for this mega-project was to alleviate severe traffic congestion. And yet, after the freeway was widened, congestion got worse. An analysis by Joe Cortright of City Observatory used data from Houston’s official traffic monitoring agency to find that travel times increased by 30 percent during the morning commute and 55 percent during the evening commute between 2011 and 2014. A local TV station found similar increases. The Sisyphean saga of the Katy Freeway is a textbook example of a counterintuitive urban transportation phenomenon that has vexed drivers, planners, and politicians since the dawn of the automobile age: induced demand.

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Good morning, RVA: Florence, big bike lane meeting, and Coliseum spending

Good morning, RVA: Schools stuff, Jackson Ward development, and a new ICA director