Good morning, RVA! It's 69 °F, and there’s a chance of rain this morning, but, after that, expect cooler temperatures right around 80 °F plus drier skies.
Police are reporting that Charles L. Whittle, 58, was stabbed to death early yesterday morning on the 6700 block of W. Carnation Street. This is the 40th murder in Richmond in 2019 according to the RPD.
This week’s edition of RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras’s email has a lot of good info about the physical improvements to school facilities that went on this summer (plus a cool drone photo of one of the new schools under construction). Since the end of last school year “six schools received new roofs, six received new AC systems, and seven received new boilers.” Plus, of course, three new schools are in the process of being built and should open next school year. This is quite literally your tax dollars at work! Now, imagine what we could do with even more tax dollars if we just rolled back the Recession-era real estate tax cuts. One other schools related thing: Justin Mattingly says the RPS School Board voted 8-1 to kickoff the school renaming process. The only vote in opposition came from the 4th District’s Jonathan Young.
This fall, I’m trying to dump all of the public meeting audio about the North of Broad project that I can into the Boring Show podcast so we can all be as informed as possible. These meetings are just now kicking off, and the folks behind the proposed downtown arena project have been in front of the Planning Commission twice now to give them a two-part presentation. You can listen to those presentations here: Part 1 and Part 2. Also, here’s an enormous, 267-page PDF of the actual presentation slides (PDF).
Yesterday, I linked to an op-ed in the Free Press opposing the North of Broad project which said: “Other medium-sized cities have chosen to erect their arenas on large tracts adjacent to interstate highways, often with significant surrounding space for parking.” and then suggested looking at aerial photos of those towns. Well, I couldn’t find that list of comparable medium-sized cities (if you know where this list exist, please let me know!). I did, however, find a table of arenas that are “the competitive set for the new arena” in the Hunden Strategic Partners analysis from last year. So I pulled a bunch of images from Apple Maps, and here’s what all of those arenas—Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater, Capital One Arena, PNC Arena, and John Paul Jones Arena—look like from the air. Out of those, only Capital One Arena isn’t surrounded by a sea of parking, and it sits on top of a subway station. This doesn’t mean you can’t build a successful arena in a downtown, it just means that that none of these comparables are super comparable to what we’re planning in the size and structure of their parking or access to transit.
Here’s a terrible sentence from an otherwise benign old-person-yells-at-cloud editorial in the paper: “Rather, the most offensive curse words, like the f-bomb and the n-word, are mostly used to denigrate and disempower others.” The f-word and n-word are not, in anyway, similar in useage, and lumping them together like this normalizes and gives permission to racist speech.
City Council’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee meets today at 1:00 PM and has an absolutely massive agenda (PDF). It includes Councilmember Gray’s anti-density resolution (RES. 2019-R025, which I wrote about back in June), selling off a bunch of vacant properties, a couple of papers from Councilmember Robertson to tweak some of our real estate tax policies, looking at the impacts of setting the max speed limit in the city to 35 (still too fast), and then a ton of resolutions authorizing applications for bike and pedestrian project funding. That’s a lot of stuff to work through! Godspeed, committee.
RVA Transit Week continues today with me hosting literally the most casual event I could think of: I will be eating lunch at the City Hall Observation Deck at 12:00 PM and you should come join me! There’s no agenda or plan—other than I might spend some time looking out the windows. If, for some reason, I can’t get up into the Observation Deck, I will most likely wander over to the Capitol and hang out there. Both of these places, of course, are imminently transit accessible and are easy excuses to get on the Pulse if somehow you still have not. Come for the lunch, stay for the LUHT meeting!
Tomorrow, Chamber RVA, as part of their ChamberWomen “Real Conversations” series, will host a conversation about the Census featuring Genevieve Siegel-Hawley. It’s $50 if you register online, BUT, two things: 1) Siegel-Hawley is a research all-star and has done some excellent work around present-day segregation in Richmond’s schools and 2) it’s only $25 for students and $30 if you register as a group of three or more. If you can afford it, you’ll most likely learn a ton.
This morning's Patron longread
Submitted by Patron John. This would have been a good piece to read this spring to get you stoked on recalibrating your thermostat heading into summer.
New air-conditioner technology would be welcome, but it is perhaps “the fourth, or maybe fifth thing on the list we should do” to reduce the emissions from air conditioning, says Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, a professor of climate change and energy policy at Central European University, and a lead author on the forthcoming IPCC report. Among the higher priorities that she mentions are planting trees, retrofitting old buildings with proper ventilation, and no longer building “concrete and glass cages that can’t withstand a heatwave”. She adds: “All of these things would be cheaper too, in the long run.” But while these things are technically cheaper, they require changes in behaviour and major policy shifts – and the open secret of the climate crisis is that nobody really knows how to make these kind of changes on the systematic, global scale that the severity of the crisis demands.
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