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

Good morning, RVA: Bus to Short Pump, equity, and a poster

Good morning, RVA! It's 74 °F, and today you should expect wind and rain as the first bits of hurricane Florence begin to move through the region. You should continue to expect this throughout the weekend. As always, John Boyer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the even-handed and level-headed coverage of the storm that I’ve enjoyed all week long.

Lots of things are and continue to be canceled. Make sure you check before you head out into the wide, wide world.

Water cooler

Starting this Sunday you can take a bus to Short Pump! This, of course, is huge and major in many ways, not least of which is that it demonstrates Henrico County’s willingness to work with the City to begin creating a truly regional and functional public transportation system. Also, there are just a ton of jobs out there that are now, for the first time, accessible to folks who can’t or choose not to drive a car. You can see a long list of all the changes that begin on Sunday over on GRTC’s website, or you can just download and marvel at the new #19 West Broad Street schedule (PDF).

Mark Robinson at the RTD writes about ORD. 2018-236 (PDF), which, introduced by Councilmember Gray at this past Monday’s Council meeting, would allow homeowners to defer a portion of real estate taxes owed if their home’s value increased by more than 10% year over year 💸. If you’re stuck on the wrong side of the paywall, scroll down to the bottom of the ordinance PDF linked above for a human-readable explanation of how the new program would function. The City estimates that they’d defer about $2.7 million each year under this program—money that they’d recoup when the properties change hands. But, dang, I’m nervous about limiting, in any way, revenue from property tax, the City’s primary source of funds. I don’t know if the we have the authority to do this, but could we put a ceiling on the value of homes that qualify for this program? Why does someone with a $400,000 home need to defer real estate tax and keep that money out of City coffers at a time when we need every single dollar? The ordinance does, however, limit the program to folks who only own one home. P.S. There were a handful of housing-related ordinances submitted at Monday’s Council meeting, so expect more news on this front.

The RTD’s Michael Paul Williams is also focused on the equity of the tax incentives we give developers and property owners 💸. He quotes Brian Koziol from Housing Opportunities Made Equal, who says “I’d look at it kind of as a justice thing...If we can incentivize property owners, we can provide incentives and subsidies and financial resources for renters and lower-income residents. Right now, our local government just incentivizes the wealthy landowners.” Totally agree! I’ll admit, I’m a little confused, as MPW goes on to talk to Councilmember Gray about the tax deferral ordinance mentioned above and she says “This is only going to be those modest-income, working-poor folks who don’t qualify for any other type of help. And it’s a stopgap to be able to keep them in their home.” I’m into that, but the background text of her ordinance says “Allow participation in the real estate tax deferral program regardless of household income.” Now I’m super interested in the value of the 18,000 homes that’d would qualify for this program and in which council district they sit. Someone do the research and let me know!

I don’t know how it became a thing, but the unveiling of the Folk Festival poster is definitely a thing. Hamilton Glass designed this year’s poster, and you are probably familiar with his work from just about 1,000 murals around town.

If you live at the bottom of a valley known for historic flooding and own a car, VCU has kindly offered space in its parking decks for you to store that car through this weekend’s weather.

This morning's longread

Yes, Black People Brew Beer, Too

Richmond’s got a ton of breweries, and I wonder what’re the demographics of those brewers and owners?

We were concerned about the lack of diversity in the beer industry. We both agree that the lack of diversity is based on systemic racism, and to solve that we should tap into those issues that are found in systemic racism, which is the lack of access and education. With this beer festival, we’re trying to strike up a conversation between the beer industry and the black community, and also reach out to black brewers from around the country who are already successful at what they’re doing, to bring them together. This is a billion-dollar industry and we have [very small] representation in it. The doors are wide open for us because anytime we get into an industry, we make it a little funkier. Anytime you add diversity, that industry pops.

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Good morning, RVA: Private island, newsroom cuts, and cricket

Good morning, RVA: Florence downgrade, redistricting, and school rezoning