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

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

Good morning, RVA! It's 56 °F, and today looks beautiful! With highs in the upper 70s, lots of sunshine, and almost entirely no chance of rain, your day has the potential to be awesome from the start.

Water cooler

Y’all! Today’s is the last day of the school year for Richmond Public Schools! Congratulations students, parents, teachers, and staff. It is an early-release day, and kids are bound to be a little extra, so please keep an eye out for errant and excited youth if you are driving around our city today.

Speaking of RPS, they keep texting me about this family engagement survey. If you’re part of the RPS community and you’ve yet to fill it out, today is your last chance. It won’t take long—plus, weighing in on stuff is free and often has a bigger impact than you’d think.

Triple speaking of RPS—a public schools hat trick!—Justing Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a list of the 12 new principals coming to the district. Of those 12 only four are currently RPS employees (and one of those is the interim principal at Richmond Community High School).

Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense has an update on the remediation of the Fulton Gas Works site. Due to the previous use of the property, humans literally cannot live or work there until the soil and water contamination gets cleaned up, or, in DEQ terms (DOC), “The investigation identified various inorganic, volatile organic, and semi-volatile organic compounds in soil and groundwater at levels which may present risks to human health or the environment”. Apparently, you can submit a public comment or request additional information on this process until June 15th by emailing ?

The Virginia Mercury’s Megan Rhyne writes about why filing a FOIA request with your local government can be so dang expensive. Spoiler: Email! There’s just too. much. email. As a PDF person, I’m tempted to do a FOIA several times a week, but usually don’t follow through because of the cost and the bad vibes it sends when you become FOIA Guy. I really like this quote Rhyne pulls from the Virginia FOIA Council’s Taking the Shock Out of FOIA Charges (PDF) document: “It cannot be overstated that clear communication during the process of a FOIA request can alleviate the frustration and avoid the adversarial posture that often results.”

Streets Cred has a short post up about artist Carl Patow’s WORKS WHEN installation at the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library. He’s asked a bunch of people to answer the question “My neighborhood works when...” and write it on these neat orange tiles that fit together to form the piece. You can check it out at the library until Tuesday. If you’ve got strong feelings about where you live, consider quote tweeting this from Streets Cred and letting us know what makes your neighborhood work.

This morning's longread

Why’s everyone talking about upzoning? It’s the foundation of green, equitable cities.

As Richmond’s premier zoning and rezoning daily email newsletter, I want to make sure you’re up on the regional zoning trends. Here’s a piece from Alex Baca at Greater Greater Washington about upzoning an entire city all at once (that means making it legal to build multifamily homes wherever you can now build single-family homes).

Besides the fact that “subjugating vast spaces to human will” is not a proclivity I consider healthy, the enshrining of single-family homes is increasingly at odds with the realities of 2019 and beyond. Right now, too many people can’t afford housing, and the planet is increasingly warming. Neither of these parallel crises is helped by the fact that the only thing you can usually build in most American cities is a single-family home, which is on average more expensive than a home in a multiplex, and far worse for the environment. By preventing multifamily homes outright, single-family zoning dramatically curtails the construction of more, smaller homes. Apartment living might not be for everyone, but it shouldn’t be off-limits to build the kinds of neighborhoods we say we love.

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