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

Good morning, RVA: Pedestrian death, a bronze ranking, and RVA Street Art Festival returns

Good morning, RVA! It's 68 °F, and highs today will hit 90 °F. Stay cool and stay hydrated.

Water cooler

WTVR is reporting that a driver hit four people near the 17th Street Market on the 1700 block of E. Main Street, killing one and sending at least one other to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. There are almost no more details on this incident at this moment.

Yesterday, the ITDP, the international group that scores and ranks BRTs, gave the Pulse a bronze ranking! This is pretty big news among those of us who spend their time reading transit-oriented PDFs—no American system has a gold ranking, and just two have a silver. So who cares and what does this mean? It means that, when building the Pulse, we did a good job following international best practices and we ended up with a great piece of transit infrastructure. And, at $8.5 million per mile, its cost is “among the lowest in the country.” You can see ITDP’s full ranking of BRTs worldwide here and gloat about how Richmond scores higher than Las Vegas, Eugene, and Pittsburgh. You can also read all about what sort of bells and whistles you need to include for your BRT to score as well as the Pulse does.

It’s been a minute, but the RVA Street Art Festival will return on April 16, 2020! This fifth edition will focus on the filling the floodwall along Dock Street with rad art. First, I’m surprised they got permission to put actual paint on the actual floodwall. Second, and this is interesting, “Because the floodwall is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers but maintained by the City, the artists who participate will present their proposed work and ideas for murals to the City’s Public Art Commission beginning in November. To maintain/refresh the murals for future years, the Street Art Festival Board will enter into a maintenance agreement with DPU.” I imagine that’s part of the reason for the early announcement. So artists, take advantage of the lead time and get your proposals ready!

As promised, here’s the full text of the Mayor’s proposed ordinance to ban guns in city-owned parks and buildings (ORD. 2019-165): “No person shall carry any firearm within any City-owned building, park, or recreation or community facility. This prohibition shall not apply to any duly authorized (i) military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, (ii) law enforcement officer, or (iii) security guard contracted or employed by the City. This ordinance shall be in force and effect as of the date on which a statue enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia to authorize the City to adopt the prohibition set for in section 1 of this ordinance takes effect.” Pretty straightforward! Now we wait until July 9th to see what—if anything—the GA plans on doing about gun violence in Virginia.

Owning a small business and figuring out what the heck to do about health insurance for you and your employees is heckin’ complicated. Ashley Hawkins from Studio Two Three, writing for Style’s Back Page, is asking for “input, advice, resources and suggestions for partnerships to help create a mechanism for collectively providing business training, career support, and education on health insurance options for our growing community of artists right here in Richmond.” This seems like a solid idea. Also, though, let’s vote for whichever candidate at whichever level will get us the closest to free health care for all.

Sean Gorman at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has some details on a TIF-adjacent project at the Stonebridge site in Chesterfield. Local hotel empire Shamin wants to build a hotel and conference center out that way as part of a larger plan. The County would then collect tax revenue—sales, occupancy, and property—from the new development, and then pay it back to the developer “for 20 years or until Shamin recovers its costs for building the hotel and conference center and builds up a reserve fund for future renovations and maintenance of the property, according to the agreement.” My brain gets cloudy when I try to think through municipal finance and large real estate tax situations, but getting to use your own tax dollars for improving your own investments seems like a sweet deal.

It’s Wednesday and that means tonight the Partnership for Housing Affordability will host their penultimate housing strategies meeting. This one takes place in Ashland at John M. Gandy Elementary (201 Archie Cannon Drive) from 6:30 PM–8:30 PM. As with all community engagement opportunities, you can fill out a survey if you can’t make this or any of the meetings.

This morning's longread

Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing

This kind of thing (and car culture) are definite liberal blind spots. I know that it sounds boring and too practical to really matter, but if we want better transit, less segregation, and more sustainable climate policy, we need to update our city’s zoning to allow duplexes and triplexes citywide.

An investigation by the Connecticut Mirror and ProPublica has found that more than three dozen Connecticut towns have blocked construction of any privately developed duplexes and apartments within their borders for the last two decades, often through exclusionary zoning requirements. In 18 of those towns, it’s been at least 28 years. In Westport — where gated residences overlook the Long Island Sound and voters solidly backed Democrats in the most recent state and presidential elections — private developers have been allowed to open just 65 affordable housing units over the last three decades.

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Good morning, RVA: New police chief, FOIA’d documents, and a chance to do something

Good morning, RVA: Arthur Ashe Boulevard, happy birthday Pulse!, and affordable housing meetings