Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and while its not raining now, it could rain today—especially later in the afternoon. This is the price you pay for cooler temperatures in the middle of the summer!
Over the weekend, Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch had this story about the new head of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s vision for the future of our public housing neighborhoods 💸. CEO Damon Duncan wants to tear down our current old / crumbling public housing and replace it with new construction (of some sort, more on that in a minute). Remember how I keep saying we have over $1 billion of capital needs related to public housing neighborhoods? Well Robinson says that a 2009 plan found that demolishing Gilpin Court and building a new, mixed-income community in its place would cost $503 million. And that’s just one of six large public housing neighborhoods in the City! So what does Duncan want to put in Gilpin’s place after its gone? Similar to the old plan, “Duncan said he envisions a denser, mixed-income neighborhood replacing the Gilpin community, but he cautioned that all current residents wouldn’t necessarily end up there.” This is the part that concerns me. I am not a housing expert by any stretch of the imagination, but not building enough housing for current residents and promising vouchers to some folks instead seems like a fraught path. Where are the apartments that accept housing vouchers in the region? Are they near transit like the existing public housing neighborhoods? Or are we making it (perhaps unintentionally) more difficult to access to jobs, education, healthy food, and all of the other things folks need to thrive. I honestly don’t know the answer to this question, but I think such a map may exist and will put it on my list of things to look for. If you want to dig in yourself, RRHA’s draft five year plan is up on their website. Apparently, today is the last day of the public comment period on the plan (which opened on May 20th) and to do so you must submit written comments to the RRHA offices (901 Chamberlayne Parkway). Uhhh OK.
Tomorrow the General Assembly’s special session on gun violence begins! What will come of it? Who knows! Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury has the best explainer about what’s going to happen and what each side wants—Spoiler: Democrats want laws that will stop gun violence, Republicans...do not. It’s illustrative that the section listing bills Democrats want passed is at least nine items long, while the Republic section just has no items at all.
The Daily Progress has an interesting story up about the Blue Ridge Heritage Project memorial in Greene County which commemorates the families displaced by the creation of the Shenandoah National Park. This is something I’ve never thought about before, but is totally obvious when you take a second. The Blue Ridge Heritage Project aims to construct memorial chimneys inscribed with the names of all families displaced in eight counties across the Shenandoah.
Two sports things for your calendar to be aware of! First, the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Week is in town and has events scheduled over the next couple of days. Tonight is a Country Music Jam at the Richmond Raceway featuring Big & Rich. Second, the 2019 World Overall Flying Disc Championships are also in town and also have event scheduled throughout the week. Today, the disc-related happenings are out in West Creek, but things spin into town starting tomorrow.
This morning's longread
Read this piece immediately if you’ve ever been to a public meeting, watched City Council on TV, or wondered why advocates must constantly fight tooth-and-nail over every. single. progressive. project. in a city that is filled to the brim with progressives.
And yet, despite the urgency of the need and the expert consensus on solutions, individual efforts to increase density, improve transit or alleviate homelessness can spend years bogged down by local opposition. In March, neighborhood activists in Los Angeles threatened to sue the city over the installation of a 0.8-mile bike lane. Residents of Seattle’s wealthiest neighborhood demanded reserved seats on city buses and exemptions from road tolls in exchange for permitting a light-rail station. A crowd of more than 1,000 people booed a homeless man who got up to speak in support of a new shelter in Salt Lake City. Rowdy public hearings are nothing new in city politics, of course. But campaigners and elected officials told HuffPost that the nature of local opposition has changed in recent years. Where protest movements and civil disobedience were once primarily the tools of the marginalized, they have now become a weapon of privilege — a way for older, wealthier, mostly white homeowners to drown out and intimidate anyone who challenges their hegemony.
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