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

Good morning, RVA: The new market, rezonings, and the City Charter

Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and today’s gonna be a hot one. Expect highs in the mid 90s and plenty of sunshine that will sparkle off of your sweaty skin.

Water cooler

What do we even call the 17th Street Farmers’ Market now that the space is not exclusively the domain of farmers? Colleen Curran at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the answer: The 17th Street Market 💸. This is good news, because what do you even do with the apostrophe in farmers/farmer’s/farmers’/farmers’s’ market? Curran also says the Market has two new managers that both come with some serious market bonafides and are looking to build the Market into a “sustainable and viable community space.” Sounds like less bacon festivals and more inviting places to just hang out with your pals—definitely the right direction. While Curran has a whole section of “outstanding issues” that need to be addressed with the market, she misses the biggest issue in my mind: Access to the space via Franklin Street under the train station. I have no idea when the (really nice) cut-through will open, but, until it does, actually getting to the Market from points west is an annoying challenge.

A small update, also from Colleen Curran: She confirms that the 2020 edition of the RVA Street Art Festival will paint on the actual Flood Wall itself! That’s awesome, and the stretch of the Flood Wall they’re considering is extremely visible, running along Dock Street facing the Capital Trail.

The City’s Planning Commission meets today, and they’ll finally get to see the results of the Richmond 300 parking study. That presentation isn’t yet up on the City’s website, but should be at some point today. I know you’ll probably spend the day refreshing the page, just like me, awaiting the PDF. This report could be a big deal, and something to point to as we work our way towards making progressive changes to our zoning across the city that include more density and fewer parking spaces.

I kind of buried the lede on the Planning Commission meeting, because they’ll also consider the planned rezonings (!) of both the VUU area and Monroe Ward. Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense has all of the delicious details. The former has been in the works for a while (PDF) and the latter is part of the Pulse Corridor Plan recommendations. Both of these rezonings, should they ultimately pass City Council, will allow for denser, radder development.

Here’s your morning dose of dumb: Paul Goldman is back at it again and says he’s got the signatures to put another change to the City Charter on the ballot. This time he’d like to interfere with the Mayor’s proposed downtown arena project by, I think, requiring that 51% of revenue generated by TIFs “be used to modernize the city’s public school facilities.” I think (remember, I continue to not be a lawyer) this applies to all future TIFs, too? Regardless of what you think of the proposed downtown arena or TIFs as a means of financing municipal projects, the City Charter is not the place for this sort of thing. Just because a ballot referendum is open for all folks to vote on, does not mean that it counts as good or even equitable public engagement and education. Unfortunately, though, this is a space that Goldman has had previous success, and I guess if a ballot referendum is the only tool you have, everything starts too look like a potential change to the City Charter. Maybe I should pull a Goldman myself and get some progressive urbanist stuff in the dang Charter? Maybe parking maximums? Bike lanes everywhere? Just the full lyrics of a GWAR song? In an election off-year with low voter turnout, anything is possible!

There’s all kinds of irony in this Sean Gorman story in the RTD covering Chesterfield County residents worried about the amount of parking Carvana plans to build on a 184 acre site. When parking endangers Civil War-era Confederate earthworks, we get all kinds of attention on the matter. When it prevents affordable housing for, you know, humans, not a whisper to be heard! Anyway, this entire article is a great example of the impacts of car culture. 45 trucks in and out per day, 80-100 test drives per day, 120 acres of impervious surfaces—and that’s all before the cars even get into the hands of drivers!

This is the article I’ve been waiting for since the General Assembly passed a law allowing restaurants to advertise their happy hour specials (HB 2073). Karri Peifer at the RTD has taken the time to compile a list of happy hours by part of town, and she promises to keep it updated, too! For an unknowable reason, this valuable resource is NOT behind the paywall! Bookmark it, and pull it up next time you and your pal are texting back and forth about where to cut out of work early and grab a drink.

This morning's patron longread

Another Dead Cyclist In The City

From Patron Brantley. Patrick Redford at Deadspin writes about Richmonder Robyn Hightman, who was killed riding their bike in NYC; the dangers people on bikes face every day; and the lack of will from elected officials to change anything to keep people safe.

You’ve seen this sort of story before. A cyclist is riding down a city street when they are struck by a driver, suffering a violent death. Sometimes it’s right there in the street; sometimes it takes days. The community mourns the sudden loss of life, organizes vigils, and memorializes them with a placard or a ghost bike, a spectral reminder that someone died here, on this corner, on a bike. The driver says they didn’t see the rider. Nothing happens to them. The police express nominal remorse, while reminding the public that the cyclist could still be alive if they had followed all the rules, if they had stayed in the bike lane, if they had protected themselves better. Sometimes, they follow that up with a brief, quixotic show of force by cracking down on all possible bicycling violations near the crash site. Better living through enforcement. Local politicians offer their condolences, and sometimes they even protect the lane where the rider died. And then another cyclist is killed by another driver and the cycle starts all over again. As shocking as their death was, Robyn Hightman will not be the last cyclist to die in the street.

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Good morning, RVA: School segregation, denser neighborhoods, and Downtown coworking

Good morning, RVA: A new Regency, more mini-golf, and quidditch