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

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

Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, already! Highs today will climb back up into the mid 90s, and we’ll all be real hot. Stay cool, and stay hydrated, y’all.

Water cooler

Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a disappointing but unsurprising article about Richmond Public Schools’ proposed redistricting titled “Fox Elementary School parents criticize potential 'pairing' with John B. Cary Elementary.” 💸 Apparently a vocal handful of current and future Fox Elementary parents are pissed about one of the proposed school redistricting options that would “pair” Fox and Cary Elementaries. It’s Elementary Option 2 on this map and would send kids living both north and south of the Downtown Expressway to Fox for K–2 and then Cary for 3–5. As you can probably guess, this pairing would go a long, long way to racially integrating these two schools. As you can also probably guess, some (and not very many, honestly) parents of Fox Elementary—a school situated an affluent and mostly White neighborhood—had Some Thoughts that you can read for yourself (PDF). The wild thing is that school pairing has been tried before in Richmond. In fact, it was a part of the 1970s attempt to integrate the region’s schools that ultimately ended up in front of the United States Supreme Court in Bradley v. Richmond School Board. I can’t get the Library of Virginia’s newspaper search to load this morning, but you can bet if we pulled up RTD articles from 1971, we’d read the exact same concerns from (White) parents about consistency in schools, adding stress to the school year, property values and taxes, and threats of moving out of the district. There is nothing new under the sun. As a result of the “great deal of feedback” from the Fox and Cary communities, RPS will schedule some community meetings to...hear even more angry feedback from a vocal minority of parents?

City Council’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee meets today with a bunch of really fascinating things on their agenda (PDF). First the committee will consider a bunch of Standard Project Agreements for cool bike and pedestrian projects—meaning theoretically uncontroversial ordinances that authorize the City take money from VDOT to build things. I guess you never know, but should be smooth sailing for: A paved path, bike lane, and an ADA ramp at Dock & 17th to provide better connections between the Capital Trail and the T. Pott Bridge; a shared-use bridge (!) and path over the Canal; a shared-use path out by Williamsburg Avenue and Government Road; a shared-use path paralleling Stony Run Road; and pedestrian safety improvements at Semmes near Patrick Henry School. Whew! That’s a lot of good stuff, and hats off to the City staff that absolutely crush getting money out of the State for projects like this. But it’s not all sunshine and bike lanes on the LUHT agenda. The committee will also consider Councilmember Gray’s resolution to prevent certain types of dense residential developments—specifically projects like the conversion of the Lee Medical Building to 60 apartments (RES. 2019-R025). You can read my full thoughts on the resolution here, but, as I said before, reducing residential density is the absolute opposite direction of where our City’s housing policy should be headed. Dense conversions are exactly what we need in more and more neighborhoods across Richmond.

Speaking of density! The City’s Planning Commission unanimously approved both the rezoning of the area around VUU and the rezoning of Monroe Ward. These changes will head to City Council for their final approval later this month. Planning Commission also did NOT get to see the Richmond 300 Parking presentation and “the new presentation date has not yet been determined.” Booooo!

Today I found an email from the Gather Coworking folks in my inbox saying that their Broad Street “City Center” location will open on July 24th. This is huge news for me personally, as a grumpy pedestrian, because they’ve had the sidewalk closed at that location, on and off, for a long dang time. It’ll be nice to have all of the construction fencing pulled away and the nice, wide sidewalks retuned to folks trying to get around. I do, however, appreciate that Gather has chosen as amenities to highlight: Proximity to the Pulse, indoor bike racks, and showers. If I wasn’t on a personal mission to lower the cultural standard of how sweaty you can be at An Official Business Meeting, those showers would have me real interested.

This morning's longread

Putin’s Rasputin

Everything this shadowy, Rasputin-like Russian guy says is bananas.

Who, then, is a closer peer or antecedent? For an answer, Dugin has to go beyond contemporary politics, beyond Russian history — and into the realm of the fantastic. “I compare myself much more to Merlin.” The great wizard Merlin, the mythical one, the son of an incubus. King Arthur’s advisor. “The image of the intellectual that is engaged in supra-human contemplation, in the secrets, that tries to clear the way for the secular ruler to create the great empire. “Merlin. The founder of King Arthur’s empire. That is my archetype, I would say.”

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Good morning, RVA: GRTC in Chesterfield, a ghost bike, and more bike share

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