Good morning, RVA! It's 54 °F, and the return of the spring-like weather continues. Today, expect highs in the mid-70s, some clouds, and an ever-increasing chance of rain the closer we get to tomorrow.
You came, you saw, you voted in the primary—or I am extremely disappointed in you. The Department of Elections has the full results from all of last night’s election excitement, but your Democratic General Assembly primary winners from the Richmond Region are: Lindsey Dougherty, Ghanzala Hashmi, Amanda Phol, Debra Rodman, and Joe Morrissey. Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury has a recap of some of the upsets and more exciting races from around the state. At some point, I’m going to talk about Morrissey and what it means to elect a man who used his position of power to take advantage of a child. For now, though, the other candidates on that list worked hard and will need your help in beating their Republican opponents come November. I encourage you to reach out and get involved in their campaigns as soon as you can!
In other election news, City Council’s 5th District has another candidate: Nicholas Da Silva. I’ve heard rumors and rumblings about a bunch of other potential candidates, too, and will try my best to mention them in this space. The filing deadline for this race is still a ways a way, so there’s plenty of time for folks to get out there, knock on doors, collect some signatures, and get on the ballot.
A handful of folks from the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project gave public comment at this week’s City Council meeting ahead of the Richmond Police Department’s plan to upgrade their data management system. WTVR has a short recap of their concerns and a link to the report released by RTAP about RPD’s data collection policies. As a person who once made a website mapping RPD’s incident data, updating the system seems like A Good Thing. Predictive policing, though, that seems terrifying and a real easy way to end up with inequitable enforcement.
Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a quick summary of a new audit released from the City Auditor’s office. You can read the full audit report for yourself here (PDF), this one’s about “split purchases”—that’s when you pay one contractor a couple of separate payments to avoid the competitive bid process that’s required for purchases over $5,000. Not great, but, the reason given for the vast majority of these split purchases was a delay in establishing or renewing contracts. In fact, fixing the contract process is one of four recommendations given by the auditor to fix the split purchase issues. Unintended consequences, you know?
J. Elias O’Neal at Richmond BizSense says 21 townhomes could come to a surface parking lot at E. Main and Foushee Streets. Turning a dead, tax-hole parking lot into housing is good! Three-story single family homes is fine, I guess (read today’s longread to see why three floors of smaller units would be better for the region), but do they really all need a two-car parking garage? I know mine would probably fill up with bikes and old Virginia Tech T-shirts. At least give folks the option for a more affordable home if they choose to forego the garage and take advantage of being literally surrounded by high-quality transit and bike infrastructure.
This morning's longread
I don’t know enough about economics or housing policy to tell you if this longread is truth or not, but it made a lot of sense to me. tl;dr: building housing is better than not, but building market-rate and affordable housing is even better.
Yes, local governments in hot market areas must take bold action to enable more development, but it matters to voters what kind of development results and, specifically, who that development is for. Instead of (or in addition to) focusing on changes that support development in general, we should identify the policies that change who benefits from new development and we should stress that aspect when we explain these policies to the public. Changing who benefits is not easy or inexpensive. But the research on public attitudes suggests that even small changes along these lines can make a big difference.
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