City Council Agenda Highlights: May 23rd, 2016

Speed limit changes, parking in bike lanes, adverse childhood experiences, reducing incarceration, and more.

By Susan Howson & Ross Catrow

Highlights from tonight’s City Council agenda–these are the ones to watch!

Don’t forget, this all could be changed in whatever magic process they do just before the meeting starts that changes what the agenda is.

— ∮∮∮ —

ORD. 2016-097 aka “The Slow Down, but Not Too Much Ordinance”

To reduce the speed limit on Semmes Avenue between West 22nd Street and Forest Hill Avenue from 35 miles per hour to [25] 30 miles per hour.

Semmes is a big, giant road that cuts through a residential neighborhood and is in desperate need of a diet. Until we can come up with a long term plan to tame the street, this ordinance cuts the speed limit from 35 to 30 miles per hour.

There was some good discussion at one of the meetings (who can remember which one!) about why the new speed limit shouldn’t be dropped all the way to 25 miles per hour. The argument, no joke, was that folks already go 45 on Semmes, and with a new speed limit of 25 police would be forced to hand out reckless driving tickets.

Related is this traffic calming study for the Semmes Avenue and Forest Hill Avenue intersection.

ORD. 2016-125 aka “The Don’t Park in Places You Obviously Shouldn’t Park Ordinance”

To amend City Code §§ 27-197, concerning prohibitions on parking in specified places, and 27- 219, concerning fines for parking violations, for the purpose of prohibiting parking on curbs[,] and on medians[, and in bicycle lanes].

This ordinance amends our existing parking rules to prohibit parking on curbs and medians. Seems fairly straightforward, but this ordinance was continued at the last City Council meeting so they could remove proposed language prohibiting parking in a bike lane. What the what!? Why would Council want to allow folks to park in a bike lane?

After reading some PDFs and listening to the audio from both the Public Safety Standing Committee and the informal City Council meeting, I have discovered the answer, which is twofold and confusing. First, parking in travel lanes–including bike lane (remember, bikes = tiny cars)–is already prohibited. Second, some bike lanes in the Northside allow parking (!?). Second and a half, certain neighborhoods were promised that proposed bike lanes wouldn’t come with “No Parking” signs. Confusing, but there it is.

Basically, don’t park in a bike lane. It’s a jerk thing to do, regardless of whether or not there’s a sign prohibiting it. Also, mind your speed, to avoid then calling the Fort Lauderdale speeding offense lawyer.

ORD. 2016-130 aka “The 2016 Adverse Childhood Experiences and Community Resilience Summit Ordinance”

To authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to accept funds in the amount of $10,000 from the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg and to appropriate the increase to the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Special Fund Budget by increasing estimated revenues and the amount appropriated to the Department of Social Services by $10,000 for the purpose of providing funding for the 2016 Adverse Childhood Experiences and Community Resilience Summit to be held Aug. 3 through Aug. 4, 2016.

United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg is paying the City money to host a summit this August. The topic: Adverse Childhood Experiences, or “ACES,” which is a big United Way focus. Things that happen to children while their brains are still developing are at the root of many later issues, including violent tendencies. The United Way of East Central Iowa has a good ACES/Resiliency site (“community resiliency” is learned behavior that basically cancels out ACES).

Anyway, this summit will have “learning tracks” for youth ages 13-17 and adult professionals.

Want to know more about ACES? Here’s a handy website.

ORD. 2016-137 aka “The It’s An Idea To Fund Schools, OK? Ordinance”

To amend ch. 12, art. II of the City Code by adding therein a new section 12-37, concerning the disposition of revenues from the City’s meals tax, for the purpose of funding the operation of public schools in the city.

Sponsored by Councilman Baliles, this ordinance would give 100% of the City’s prepared foods tax to the operating budget of Richmond Public Schools. That’s $33,491,077 in the FY 2017 budget, or about 23% of RPS’s operating budget.

Swing for the fences, ordinance!

PS: Remember when the meals tax used to be 5%, but then we needed to give CenterStage an extra percent which was then supposed to eventually expire? Read about it in ORD. 2003-268-239 aka “The Aw Man that Tax Still Exists Ordinance.”

RES. 2016-R034 aka “The Cephas vs. City of Richmond Settlement Resolution”

To approve, on behalf of the City of Richmond, the proposed resolution of the Cephas v. City of Richmond case by mutual agreement, to authorize the City’s counsel for the Cephas case to endorse or execute all documentation necessary to effectuate the terms of the proposed resolution of the Cephas case by mutual agreement, and to request that the Mayor recommend any further legislation necessary to fully implement this proposed resolution of the Cephas case.

Last year, a number of City employees filed a class action lawsuit against the City with the U.S. District Court. Their complaint was that they weren’t paid overtime according to the Fair Labor Standards Act and Va. Code §§ 9.1-701 through 9.1-703. Those sections of the code pertain to fire and law enforcement, whereas Cephas et al. work/worked for Family Services and Social Work departments, so I can’t say I truly understand the case. I’d be happy to read some of the case documents but they’re all kept under virtual lock and key right now, so this is all we’ve got.

But! It’s interesting that the City has decided to settle this–and that’s what this resolution is agreeing to do. A confidential sum will be put into the budget for the settling of this case. Maybe some documents will be released afterwards–who can tell with these things? Probably a lawyer.

RES. 2016-R035 aka “The Fewer Inmates Resolution”

To encourage the development of strategies designed to significantly reduce the jail population in the city of Richmond by proactively decreasing reliance on incarceration through changes in sentencing policy, jail policy, social policy and law enforcement policy to end “mass incarceration.”

Michelle Mosby, declared mayoral candidate, puts this one through, and its goals are ambitious indeed–to reduce the number of jailed individuals from sea to shining sea. We…can’t actually control the rest of the country, but we will do our piece right here in Richmond.

Seriously, the language starts out like this:

WHEREAS, the United States has the largest prison population in the world with approximately 2.2 million adults incarcerated in its prisons and jails according to a count in 2014 by the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, a phenomenon known as “mass incarceration”;

and then drills that down to Virginia and the City of Richmond and says the Council generally supports initiatives taken to provide alternatives to incarceration, beef up mental health treatment, and get rid of racist law enforcement practices.

What does that mean in practical terms?

This resolution will ask the City’s CAO to do the following:

  1. Get a team together to work on this
  2. Collect a bunch of baseline data on incarcerated folks
  3. Figure out which programs have the space to treat more people
  4. Identify funding and policy barriers
  5. Come up with some sort of plan based on items 2 – 4.
  6. Help out programs and measures that give at-risk citizens and people just getting out of prison some ways to become economically sustainable.
  7. Collect a bunch of data from law enforcement about community engagement, crime reduction, and procedural fairness.
  8. Report on all of the above by September 1st each year, available on the City’s website
  • error

    Report an error

There are no reader comments. Add yours.