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

Good morning, RVA: Regional affordable housing, new development, and big elk

Good morning, RVA! It's 64 °F, and rain is here now but on its way out. Today you can expect highs near 80 °F and maybe some more rain later this afternoon—maybe. At this point, though, weekend weather looks excellent.

Water cooler

Whoa, look at this unexpected news in the Richmond Times-Dispatch from C. Suarez Rojas: Henrico County will give the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust $580,000 💸. That means that the Trust will have the resources to buy up to 10 properties in the County and make them permanently affordable. With Henrico getting in on the action, I think this officially makes the Trust a regional affordable housing group. That’s big! Of course the region needs to do more, more, more on the affordable housing front, but this is a good step in the right direction.

Last week in this space, I complained that the proposed development going in near the Whole Food and adjacent to the Allison Street Pulse Station had way, way too much parking—a 790-space parking deck! Yesterday, Streets Cred ran this post by Nicholas Smith which really lays out the case for why it’s bad for cities to build hundreds and hundreds of parking spaces in bikeable, walkable, and transit-accessible neighborhoods. I’m not sure there’s much to be done about this specific development mistake, but, moving forward, we can push our City Council to update our zoning laws to lower the minimum number of required parking spaces. When we get that done we can talk about creating a maximum number of allowed spaces for developments like this. Actually, a piece about parking minimums and maximums sounds like a good future Streets Cred post...

J. Elias O’Neal at Richmond BizSense—who absolutely crushes this beat—has the word on a planned development just north of Rocketts Landing. Some things to note: At the moment, walking from the Rocketts Landing Pulse station, under the train trestle, to this property sucks. But! The developer says, “Right now, the trestle is pretty creepy-looking...We’re going to address that during this first phase by adding some new lighting and sidewalks that will connect our project to the Capital Trail and the bus rapid transit station.” Yes! They also plan on building a five-story office building and 68 parking spaces—and “part of the 68 spaces would be dedicated as free parking for patrons of the Capital Trail and Pulse BRT.” 68 <<< data-preserve-html-node="true" 790. I’m sure there is more parking hidden away in the latter phases of this project, but 68 shared spots seems like a decent place to start. One ominous note: Several properties, both in Richmond and in Henrico, need to be rezoned to allow for commercial and residential uses. The developer says “We’ve been told that if it doesn’t get rezoned, it will be held as rail shipper property.“ Certainly don’t love that.

Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a look at how folks feel about Richmond Public Schools’ new gender-neutral cap and gown policy 💸. Caps off to Superintendent Kamras for getting this done, because everyone sounds stoked about it. Well, almost everyone: “Jonathan Young, who represents the city’s 4th District, said he still doesn’t approve of the switch. ‘We should be celebrating all of our uniqueness including gender, faith, ethnicity, etc. — not dismissing it.’” This is the second time in recent memory that Young hasn’t supported an RPS policy that makes life more comfortable for all students, but especially for LGBTQ students. I don’t know what’s up with that, but 4th District residents should take note. Single-color cap and gowns are not this incredibly progressive idea—in fact, it’s already policy in Chesterfield and Henrico is considering changing their policy as soon as next year.

Elk are real big, y’all, and now Maymont has three of them! The aforelinked press release, which is a pretty interesting read on its own, tells me that Elk are the fourth largest mammal in North America after bison, moose, and polar bears.

This morning's longread

The Tricky Business of Making Ride-Hail Work for Kids

I did not even know “ride-hail for kids” was a thing! I frequently think about when my son will be old enough to bike across the neighborhood by himself or catch a bus downtown with just his friends. Kids should have just as many options to move around their city as adults (I’m looking at you scooters), and if we build a city that’s easy and safe enough for kids to navigate, it’ll be easy and safe for the rest of us.

Before Kari Samayoa, a HopSkipDrive “CareDriver,” started work, she needed five years of childcare experience (she’s a mother of three), a car no more than 10 years old, and a vehicle inspection. For pickups, she usually meets the teacher (or dance instructor, or Spanish tutor, or Quidditch coach) to find her passenger. Children often don’t have their own phones, so they, along with their parents, agree on a code word. Once the parent enters that word into the app, it’s shared with the assigned driver, allowing the child to confirm that the right person is picking them up. Every week, Samayoa also receives a driving “success card,” The company works with Zendrive, a service that uses phone location data to track speeding, braking, and whether a driver is texting at the wheel.

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Good morning, RVA: RPS hat trick, FOIA requests, and neighborhood magic

Good morning, RVA: Election results, 5th District candidate, and downtown townhomes