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

Good morning, RVA: A few schools updates, clean air, and some pics from the Noog


Good morning, RVA! It's 60 °F, and, from where I sit at this exact moment, it is raining. It doesn’t look like we’ll experience real, serious rain today, but it’s nice to remember that it exists. Expect way cooler temperatures today with highs in the upper 60s.

Water cooler

A bunch of Richmond Public Schools updates this morning.

First, the Commission of Architectural Review will meet for their quarterly meeting at 6:00 PM in Council Chambers. On the agenda is “George Mason Elementary School update.” Remember that CAR decided to delay demolition of the old portion of George Mason Elementary which put the status of athletic fields for the school in question. Because this is CAR’s quarterly meeting and the agenda seems to suggest they aren’t considering actual papers, I’m not sure what the possible outcomes of tonight’s meeting will be. That was a less than helpful update. Moving on!

Second, I’ve had on my todo list forever to collect the Dreams4RPS Goals and Targets PDFs for each of the strategic plan’s 10 goals and combine them into one easy to read resource. Because the RPS administration is on top of their game I didn’t even have to do this, it already exists and you can download it here (PDF). Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says that the School Board approved these goals and targets by a 5-3-1 vote. Voting against were Kenya Gibson (3rd District), Patrick Sapini (5th District), and Felicia Cosby (6th District)—with Scott Barlow (2nd District) abstaining. Mattingly says that those folks “raised issue with the specific goals, saying they don’t go far enough, as well as the lack of incorporation of board feedback into the goals, among other things.” I encourage you to read through the goals and targets PDF yourself—it’s super readable—and see what you think.

Finally, the same Justin Mattingly has an update on Twitter about the District’s rezoning process: “At 9:27 p.m., the Richmond School Board just made a key vote. The board unanimously voted to have the special rezoning committee include a recommendation that only addresses the three new schools and South Side overcrowding.” This means that in addition to the interesting “pairing” options in the Fan and on the Northside—options that actively attempt to reduce school segregation—the School Board will have a less interesting, status-quo option to consider. It doesn’t mean that’s what they’ll ultimately decide, but it does mean that it is an option. I’d love to hear the discussion that took place around this vote.

Hmmm, I read this story in Richmond BizSense by J. Elias O’Neal about a new two-story medical office building coming to Broad Street near Scott’s Addition and said “well, that’s certainly not tall enough.” O’Neal talked to the developers—who wanted more density—but “limited street parking, existing power lines, and the lot’s size and shape made it difficult to add height and width to the development.” I’d love to know more about what the City could have done to help this developer work through some of these challenges to get us more space for stuff along Broad.

The State’s Department of Environmental Quality says that the Richmond region recorded “zero unhealthy ozone air quality days this year.” This is down from 1993’s apex (nadir?) of 76 days with poor air quality. That’s great, and I’m stoked for clean air, but I don’t think I’d attribute this to “ridesharing and alternative transportation.” It’s most likely due to cleaner vehicles—which, by the way, still account for almost 30% of our region’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the number of daily vehicle miles traveled has increased from 4.7 million in 2013 to 5.1 million in 2015.

Richmond 300 will host its second forum tonight at Broad Rock Elementary (4615 Ferguson Lane) from 6:00–7:30 PM. Come for the 30-minute presentation, stay to wander around and lose yourself in fascinating maps of Richmond.

My pal Max took a trip to Chattanooga this past week, and, over on StreetsCred, he’s got some nice photos of the ways that city is improving their transportation infrastructure and public spaces. 1) I love learning from other mid-sized cities, and 2) I know from experience that family members absolutely love when you’re in a new city and force them to visit cool infrastructure as if that’s a normal part of a trip.

This morning's longread

Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That.

Here are a bunch of hard to read stories about how folks have been injured or killed by people driving cars. Most everyone I know has stories like this, too.

Most of us have stories like this — a car coming into our lives and unleashing horrendous damage on our loved ones, friends, family and even ourselves. Cars are death machines. Pedestrian fatalities in the United States have increased 41 percent since 2008; more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2018 alone. More than 4,000 American kids are killed in car crashes every year – I am thankful every day my niece wasn’t one of them. Here’s the thing: Statistics clearly don’t seem to persuade anyone of the magnitude of this problem. Not policy makers or automakers, technologists or drivers. If numbers don’t change minds, can personal experiences?

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

Good morning, RVA: A fatal crash, school district goals, and Virginia syrup

Good morning, RVA: New sidewalks, ice hockey, and artober