Good morning, RVA! It's 67 °F, and hot and humid weather returns today. Temperatures start to cool down as the week progresses, though. True Fall will be here before you know it!
Richmond Police are reporting that Jacobs S. Jones, 34, was shot and killed early yesterday morning on Richmond’s Southside.
The RPS School Board meets tonight with an interesting agenda that includes a proposed process for renaming schools (PDF). It’s a five(ish) step process; to summarize: 1) Officially announce the intention to rename a school, 2) Create a renaming team at the school, 3A) Solicit new names from the public, 3B) Hold some public hearings, 4) The renaming team forwards three names to the RPS Administration, and 5) The Administration recommends one of those three names to the School Board. We’ll theoretically get to test this process immediately as the Administration wants to, tonight, kick off the renaming of George Mason Elementary, Greene Elementary, Amelia Street School, and the new middle school on Hull Street. No one asked me, but I think I’d rather just have numbered schools—boring, I know. Unrelated but also interesting, here’s another spreadsheet of community comments on the proposed school rezonings. I haven’t read through them all, but I’m fascinated by the blend of strong responses both for and against school pairing.
Last I wrote about where the 5th District City Council candidates stood on the proposed North of Broad Development I didn’t know Candidate Stephanie Lynch’s position. Thanks to Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch 💸, we now know that she joins the list of maybes. Here’s her position on the project: “‘I hope we can get to yes because the potential to have a good impact might be there, but if it were to come to me today, it would be no,’ said Lynch, who, like others, said the she believed the council needed more information to make a sound decision on the matter. For example, Lynch said she wanted to know what the potential benefit to the city would be if it simply sold the property outright, instead of to NH District Corp.”
The Rev. Ben Campbell and Dr. John Moeser are back with another op-ed about the proposed downtown arena, this one in the Richmond Free Press. I kind of love this piece and how much it talks about what an incredibly bad idea it is to use our extremely limited downtown real estate for parking lots, parking decks, and, of course, arenas. Also, this is a great idea, and maybe I’ll put a grid of images together for tomorrow: “Other medium-sized cities have chosen to erect their arenas on large tracts adjacent to interstate highways, often with significant surrounding space for parking. (See aerial photos of all of the cities listed as comparable to Richmond by the Navy Hill Consultants.)”
This story in the RTD by Karri Peifer about Airbnbs 💸 is absolutely wild. Folks are out here operating illegal short-term rentals and they’re willing to go get quoted in the paper about it? I’m not against Airbnbs in Richmond, but, dang, this is the picture of priveldge. On Twitter, @ChelseaWiseRVA points out the stark contrast between the City’s response to reports of fare evasion on the Pulse and their laissez-faire attitude on illegal short-term rentals. You can catch up on the City’s multi-year process to draft and pass a short-term rental ordinance here.
Look at the state of these crosswalks out by Thomas Jefferson High School! Unacceptable! However, rather than pruning trees or installing new School Zone signs as suggested in the article, why not install some paint-and-post bumpouts to narrow the width of Malvern and actually slow drivers as they pass through the area.
RVA Transit Week kicks off today with Bus to Work Day! If you should find yourself on the bus, snap a selfie, answer the question “Why does public transportation matter?”, and share it on your online platform of choice. There are more transit-related events lined up, which you can read about (and add to your calendar) over on the RVA Rapid Transit website.
Speaking of weeks for things, this week is also James River Week (PDF). Download the aforelinked PDF, and check out what the James River Advisory Council has planned to celebrate the incredible river that runs straight through our downtown. It’s this amazing thing that’s just there all the time!
This morning's longread
Expanding highways is the exact opposite of progress. We should be incredibly skeptical of the need for any highway widening in our region—especially near the city center.
Well documented by study after study, the “fundamental law” of highway congestion tells us that when you expand congested freeways, they quickly become re-congested with a greater volume of traffic. The phenomenon is called “induced demand.” Because the principal constraint to driving is congestion, removing that congestion induces more people to drive during rush hour, generating yet more traffic. The data tell us that every new mile of roadway that you build will typically be 40 percent filled up with new drivers immediately, and 100 percent full within four years. In city after city, congestion is the constant. In one 30-year study, the Texas Transportation Institute found that those cities that invested heavily in new roads experienced no less congestion than those that did not.
If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.