Good morning, RVA! It's 77 °F, and we are under an active heat advisory until 8:00 PM this evening. Expect highs in the mid to upper 90s and a heat index above 100 °F. I know I always tell you to stay cool and stay hydrated, but today’s heat is dangerous, and you should seriously do both of those things!
C. Suarez Rojas at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has some details on the first new proposed bus route into Chesterfield County 💸 in, I don’t know, forever. First, the good news: The planned bus line down Route 1 will run every 30 minutes on weekdays and maybe Saturdays. The bad news is that the County is still thinking about creating their own special route, with their own special “brand.” Instead of just extending existing GRTC service on Route 1 further down the road (the #3B bus), they want to make their own separate thing and presumably force folks to transfer into the “regular” system once they reach the City line? Whyyyyyyy?? Chesterfield is not a special snowflake and should just have the same bus service as the rest of the region. Honestly, I’m exhausted by how difficult the County keeps making this extremely simple thing.
Justin Mattingly, also at the RTD, has an interesting story about Richmond Public Schools failing to count some students who speak English as a second language 💸. This is a big deal because there’s a pot of money from the State available for helping teach students who are still learning English, and, due to the miscount, RPS missed out on its fair share of cash. With correct numbers in hand, the school system now has access to more money for more teachers (Mattingly says 12 more), and that’s great news.
David Streever, writing for Style Weekly, has a nice tribute to Robyn Hightman, who was killed riding their bike in New York City. Last week, friends and coworkers installed a ghost bike at the intersection of 27th and Marshall in their memory.
Streets Cred says there’s a new RVA Bike Share station coming to the Main Library. I’m skeptical about the long term success of docked bike share in Richmond, especially when we have so few stations, but it is nice to see a huge gap in the bike share network finally filled.
I stumbled across the website for Jer’Mykeal McCoy, one of the candidates running for the 5th District City Council seat, and thought you should know about it.
Today is the Virginia Mercury’s first birthday! Robert Zullo, head of the Mercury, has put together a one-year retrospective of the work he’s proud of and thinks is reflective of the news site’s mission.
What a cool collaboration: Local record label Spacebomb and local amazing festival The Folk Festival will release a 10-song live compilation album called All Together Now on October 11th. You can preorder the record and check out a single over on the Spacebomb website.
Tonight, you’ve got two opportunities to get involved in the City’s planning process. First, at the Patrick Henry school (3411 Semmes Avenue) from 6:00–7:30 PM, you can join the Friends of the James River Park for a look at and a discussion of the draft of the James River Park Master Plan. Folks have been working on this plan for a while now, and I’m pretty excited to get my hands on a copy of the PDF (if you have a copy, please send it my way!). Second, the Shockoe Alliance will host Public Meeting Number 2 tonight at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School (1000 Mosby Street) from 6:00–8:00 PM. If you’ve got thoughts, feelings, or questions about the future of Shockoe, this is the meeting for you. Eventually this process will produce a Small Area Plan for the neighborhood, and, depending on what that means, it could be adopted into the City’s Master Plan. This sort of thing has a real impact: Just look at the VUU/Chamberlayne Plan which had its recommended zoning changes approved by the City’s Planning Commission just this week.
This morning's longread
Lots of this handwringing about “neighborhood character” was on display at yesterday’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee meeting. Residents of Monument Avenue came out to support Councilmember Gray’s RES. 2019-R025 which would prevent dense, multifamily housing in certain situations across the City—but really this resolution was written to stop the specific conversion of the Lee Medical Building into about 60 apartments. You can listen to the audio from the meeting (it’s near the end) to hear what concern over neighborhood character sounds like coming from some of our City’s wealthiest (and Whitest) residents.
The fact that anyone considered this a victory – or indeed that the leaders of Canada’s biggest city thought it was worth discussing – is telling. The idea of “neighbourhood character” pops up everywhere in discussions about city planning. And the concept is, for all that, surprisingly vague. When it gets defined, it usually turns out to be a euphemism for something ugly. On the surface, it speaks about architecture and aesthetic concerns, but its substance is about who gets to live where and who, especially today, gets shut out.
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