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

Good morning, RVA: Strategic infrastructure, land use planning, and the Supreme Court

Good morning, RVA! It's 36 °F, and we’ll see temperatures top out right around 50 °F later this afternoon. You can expect warmer weather as the week progresses.

Water cooler

Budget season continues today with Council hosting their second work session from 9:00 AM–1:00 PM. I didn’t realize this until right now, but each session has it’s own cute(ish) name: last week was “21st Century Richmond,” and today is “Strategic Infrastructure.” As you might expect from the name, today we’ll hear from Public Works, Information Technology, capital improvements, and Council offices. I would guess that we’ll get some questions ranging in tone from pointed to intense during DPW’s portion of the day. Last week, a couple Councilmembers wanted to know more about the $2 million they asked be shifted into streets and sidewalk repair late last year, and the response from the administration wasn’t the clearest thing I’ve ever heard. I imagine Council will look to dig in further this morning. I haven’t done enough digging myself on this to know what’s going on, but I did find the resolution Council passed to ask the Mayor to shift that money around: RES. 2018-R098 (PDF). Anyway, I’ll get the audio up from today’s session on the The Boring Show as soon as I can.

Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a good, human-centered story about the Homeless Crisis Line 💸 (804.972.0813, put it in your phone!) and homelessness in Richmond that you should read if you’re able. This story reminded me that City Council passed ORD. 2018-241 this past December requiring the CAO to develop a Homeless Strategic Plan by October, which, of course, lines right up with when folks need to start getting their budget requests in line for next year’s budget season. Maybe we’ll see some funding go towards whatever recommendations fall out of the strategic plan?

The City’s Planning Commission meets today and will consider the Southside Community Center’s master plan (warning: massive PDF). First, I’ve got nothing against this community center or its master plan and wholeheartedly believe we need to spend serious money investing in infrastructure exactly like this on our City’s Southside. But: This spot will always be a challenge to serve with good public transit and, as such, will always be easier to access for folks who can drive or afford a car. That’s not equitable. I understand the realities of snatching up land when it becomes available, but you can definitely imagine a world where the entire site was flipped to front Midlothian Turnpike with its fields and amenities stretching back to Old Warwick instead of the opposite, harder-to-access arrangement we have today. This quote from Jarrett Walker’s book, Human Transit, nails exactly how we should go about preventing this sort of thing in the future: “The land planners do a long-range sketch of urban structure, and this goes up on the wall in the transit planner’s office, so that it guides daily thinking as well as long-range planning. The transit planner does a similar sketch of a long-range transit network, and this goes up on the wall in the land use planner’s office. That way, when developments are being approved, the short-term land use planner can check whether the location is a good or bad one for transit and can judge developments accordingly.”

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, the Commonwealth’s racial gerrymandering case. SCOTUSblog has a quick preview in their Monday round-up and a much more thorough explainer that they published last week. All of this is way above my head, but that second link is pretty readable considering the subject matter.

Sports! It is NCAA Tournament time, and you’re probably surrounded by people talking about brackets and seeds—none of which has anything to do with putting plants on a shelf. The Tournament kicks off on Tuesday with the First Four games beginning at 6:30 PM. VCU is an 8-seed and will take on the 9-seed University of Central Florida on Friday at 9:30 PM on CBS. The Rams’ path to the second weekend of games is a tough one and goes right through overall #1 Duke.

This morning's patron longread

Is This the Neighborhood New York Deserves?

Submitted by Patron Susan. This piece is “interactive,” which is cool, but dang are the words good. Even if you’ve never been to New York City and never plan to, this is worth a read.

And while those apartment buildings look to be less enormous than the supertalls that have gone up so far, stepping down toward the river, the whole site lacks any semblance of human scale. With its focus on the buildings’ shiny envelopes, on the monotony of reflective blue glass and the sheen of polished wood, brass, leather, marble and stone, Hudson Yards glorifies a kind of surface spectacle — as if the peak ambitions of city life were consuming luxury goods and enjoying a smooth, seductive, mindless materialism. It gives physical form to a crisis of city leadership, asleep at the wheel through two administrations, and to a pernicious theory of civic welfare that presumes private development is New York’s primary goal, the truest measure of urban vitality and health, with money the city’s only real currency.

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

Good morning, RVA: Las Ardillas Voladoras, a bucket of budget updates, and a monument chat

Good morning, RVA: Mitch Landrieu, four Secretaries speak, and climate change