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

Good morning, RVA: City Council, the Land Trust, and Westhampton School

Good morning, RVA! It's 64 °F and looks like we’ve got plenty of clouds and potentially some rain in our future. Highs will top out around the mid 70s.

Water cooler

City Council will meet tonight at 6:00 PM for their regularly scheduled meeting, and you can find the agenda here (PDF)—as always, be aware that it can and will change at the councilmembers’ whims between now and then. Some important highlights: ORD. 2018-194, the ordinance banning bike lanes on Brook Road, has been continued until November 13th; ORD. 2018-153 which reinstates a southbound left turn from Belvidere onto Broad (thereby screwing up the timing of the Pulse) has been continued until December 10th; Councilmember Jones’s resolution asking the state for local control of our Confederate monuments has been continued until October 8th; almost every interesting housing ordinance has also been continued; and there are a ton of ordinances accepting funding from VDOT to build and improve sidewalks throughout the City. It looks like Council will adopt a resolution in support of an off-track betting facility in the 9th District with up to 700 “historical racing terminals (PDF)”—read more about that from Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Also, the Mayor will probably introduce his scooter ordinance tonight which means we should get a peek at the specifics tomorrow.

In affordable housing news, the Community Foundation has awarded the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust a $1 million grant. The Trust is an important piece of our region’s affordable housing strategy (in as much as we have a stated strategy as a region), and this grant will allow them to add 40 properties to their portfolio. Remember, this should be just one tool in our affordable housing toolkit! The Trust deals in single family homes and makes those available to folks who earn up to 80% of the Area Median Income (or 115% depending on the program). Richmond needs more multi-family residential homes and they need to be affordable to people making much less than 80% AMI. You can read more about the Trust and how they keep homes permanently affordable over on their website.

Delegates VanValkenburg, Bourne, and Mullin, have a co-authored editorial in the RTD about their recommendations to the school safety committee, which the state set up after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Their approach would focus on students rather than institutions, giving more resources to administrators and counselors and less to things like bulletproof dry erase boards (a real thing, apparently, that makes me want to vomit). I’m going to do a tiny bit of research and see how regular folks can get involved in this process and let the legislators on the committee hear their thoughts and feelings.

This Richmond Magazine piece about RVA’s efforts to help with the ongoing work to rebuild Puerto Rico is way too kind to the member of the General Assembly that did not know that Puerto Rico is part of America. Frustrating and embarrassing.

Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has the proposed plans for the redevelopment of the Westhmpton School site. It looks like they’re keeping the old school building, including a bunch of apartments, and wrapping the parking structure in a combination of retail and residential. Also, here’s an interesting detail I was unaware of: “Bon Secours has waived its tax-exempt status on the property and pays the city about $111,000 per year in property taxes for the Westhampton School parcel. The health system projects that after the land is redeveloped, it will pay $636,000 in annual property taxes to the city.“

ALERT: We’re getting a Benny’s in Richmond! J. Elias O’Neal, also at Richmond BizSense, says you can get pizza as big as your face (well, that’s what my family calls it at least) this coming winter or spring.

This morning's patron longread

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong

From Patron Arden comes this article about how we’ve really screwed up the way we think about obesity in this country.

For more than a decade now, researchers have found that the quality of our food affects disease risk independently of its effect on weight. Fructose, for example, appears to damage insulin sensitivity and liver function more than other sweeteners with the same number of calories. People who eat nuts four times a week have 12 percent lower diabetes incidence and a 13 percent lower mortality rate regardless of their weight. All of our biological systems for regulating energy, hunger and satiety get thrown off by eating foods that are high in sugar, low in fiber and injected with additives. And which now, shockingly, make up 60 percent of the calories we eat. Draining this poison from our trillion-dollar food system is not going to happen quickly or easily. Every link in the chain, from factory farms to school lunches, is dominated by a Mars or a Monsanto or a McDonald’s, each working tirelessly to lower its costs and raise its profits. But that’s still no reason to despair. There’s a lot we can do right now to improve fat people’s lives—to shift our focus for the first time from weight to health and from shame to support.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: Public art, new apartments, and Bob Woodward

Good morning, RVA: Park(ing) Day, and a bunch of other stories I make relate to transportation