The annotated City Council: Agenda for November 9th, 2015

The City Council meets tonight and, dang, they’re covering a lot of bases. Maybe they’ll continue it all and go out for dinner instead!

Tonight, although it’s not on the official agenda, the early part of City Council will focus heavily on the BRT (that’s Bus Rapid Transit, if you’re new to that phrase, we suggest you start here). When you sign up for the citizen comment period at a council meeting, you’re required to put down the subject on which you’ll comment. Here are the subjects for the eight slots for tonight’s meeting

  1. Petitioning the city to take deeper measures to address mass incarceration (6th District)
  2. Council’s approval process for boards and commissions appointments (3rd District)
  3. Mayor and City Council’s neglect of the city (3rd District)
  4. Concern that the proposed BRT project is not well-planned (2nd District)
  5. Bus Rapid Transit Proposal (2nd District)
  6. Bus Rapid Transit (2nd District)
  7. Bus Rapid Transit Proposal (2nd District)
  8. Bus Rapid Transit (2nd District)

Notice all of those folks speaking about BRT are from the 2nd District, which inlcudes most of the Fan, Scott’s Addition, Carver, and Jackson Ward. Almost the entire median-running portion of the BRT will live inside of the 2nd District. It’s a vital stretch of Broad Steet that will be served by the BRT, so it’d be nice for Council to hear from some people that are excited about the project.

If you’re the type of person who likes to show up in support of things, tonight would be a good night to do so. You can do this by wearing a “I’m On Board” BRT button (contact Ashley Mason over at GRTC to snag one). This is a great, low-anxiety way to show your support that does not involve yelling at humans or approaching a podium to give a short, locally televised speech. 

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We didn’t annotate on Genius this time around, in the interest of time, because the agenda is so massive (which you can download right here)! Here’s an incomplete of what could show up on tonight’s agenda.

ORD. 2015-102

Brings all the laws surrounding who the City can contract to for building projects into compliance with state laws. This, you may have already surmised, is designed to reduce croneyism, e.g. Bob McDonnell. The changes will redefine “small purchase” project to be those with a budget of $60,000 or less, and it’ll require those projects to “provide for competition wherever practicable.” They’ll have to do written RFPs, post them publicly with reasonable notice, but also solicit proposals directly from potential contractors. 

There’s also lots of accountability involved, with written reports of existing contracts and annual reports of “efficiencies achieved” using this process. We are not clear on how you’d measure such efficiencies, but good for them, I guess?

ORD. 2015-133

Ladies Mile Road on Northside is one of the roads we don’t hear enough about! This ordinance will turn 241 E. Ladies Mile Road, which is, as far as we can tell, the little triangle depicted below, into an official park.

Photo: Thanks, Google Street View!

The City already owns this parcel of land, and this will just be a rename. Lieutenant Ozell Johnson was one of the first African-American officers hired by the RPD and was a champion for neighborhood watches reducing drug abuse and youth violence.

ORD. 2015-161

Adds “per capita cost calculations fo each budget expenditure in the budget document.” It then goes on to specifiy how the table displaying those caculations should be created–down to the exact columns and rows. You know how it goes, if you don’t write down exactly what you want you’ll never get it!

ORD. 2015-188

The state is giving the City a grant and, along with a little bit from the City itself, a total of $26,839.90 will be given to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services for getting emergency medical supplies. 

Those supplies include: 36 body substance isolation bags, 36 oxygen bags, 24 Cyanokits (those last ones will be distributed over the fire departments of the City of Richmond, New Kent, Colonial Heights, Goochland, and Chesterfield.) The Cyanokits are what the state money’s for, and the little $4410.90 from the City covers everything else. We shall have our oxygen, our body substances isolated, and our treatment for cyanide poisoning!

ORD. 2015-198

The ongoing taxicab confusion! It’s neat to see City laws catch up with the times! This ordinance will “partially implement recommendations by the Capital Region Taxicab Advisory Board.” Taxicab vehicles now do not have to have a phone number registered with the City. They must also be younger than 12 years old (the cars, not the drivers), and if they’re between eight and 12, they better not have more than 300,000 miles. This is a change to the old law, effective January 1995, that said it could have up to 300,000 miles as long as it was just younger than 12. They just don’t make them like they used to! 

The other laws are generally to make things safer for the passenger an even more convenient. The other areas covered by the Capital Region Taxicab Advisory Board is expected to adopt these changes as well.

The ordinance’s language has been amended three times (we think)–see the single, double, and triple strikethroughs and underlines for the changes…some of which are putting back into place the things struck out in the first go-round. Bureaucracy! You are weird!

ORD. 2015-201

2519 Mandy Lane has applied for permission to become a childcare establishment called Joyful Joyful Childcare. If approved, it will be able to have up to 12 children under the watchful eye of Josephine Campbell, who may or may not have been aware when applying that her name and info were going to be posted publicly. But that’s the deal, when you’re starting a business!


ORD. 2015-214

Last spring’s Ord. No. 2015-55-82, “which appropriates and provides funds for financing the school budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016,” will be resurrected and put back into place, featuring amendments that appropriate additional money from the state.

Upon approval, the City will now be able to accept additional revenue from the Commonwealth of Virginia–$382,301 extra–and give it to RPS. The reasoning for it? RPS officials re-evaluated their student ADM (average daily membership) and found an increase in the school-attending population. 

ORD. 2015-217

GRTC will create discounted unlimited use passes for seniors, valid medicare card recipients, and minors:

  • 1 Day — $1.75
  • 7 Day — $8.75
  • 30 Day — $35.00

Compare that to the non-discounted unlimited pass costs of (respectively): $3.50, $17.50, and $60.00. These new passes should roll out on November 15th. Keep in mind you’ll still have to pay in exact change with cash for these passes (that is until the new mobile pay app hits smartphones everywhere).

They’re also creating an odd “one ride plus” pass that would basically let you transfer for free. That pass costs $1.75 (which is the same price as the current fare plus a 25 cent transfer fee).

ORD. 2015-218

2405 Jefferson Avenue, the site of the East District Family Resources Center, will be re-leased to said center for $1.00 per year. 

ORD. 2015-220

Remember these two facts: 

  1. HDL has gone bankrupt.
  2. The Clean and Safe Program–which is run by Venture Richmond and provides sidewalk cleaning, landscaping, that sort of thing–had its funding reduced by $200,000 in the FY2016 budget. 

Boom! $200,000 in funding that was once directred toward HDL is now going toward keeping streets downtown clean and safe.

ORD. 2015-221

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA) will receive $200,000 from the Non-Departmental Fund, which will in turn receive it from the Department of Economic and Community Development’s general fund. This will all be used in the Creighton Court Redevelopment project, which is just about one of the biggest and controversial undertakings the City has done to fight poverty in a very long time. 

ORD. 2015-222

Groundwork RVA will benefit from this $50,000 grant! We did a piece on them a few weeks ago, and it was a real pleasure. They’ll be channeling these funds towards their Oak Grove-Bellemeade Green Team, and the rest of us will benefit from teens doing a bunch of work for our city’s green spaces.

ORD. 2015-224


Well, this all sounds very dramatic! 

The City worked with Municipal Code Corporation to draft a new 1,792-page code to replace the one that’s been in use since 2004. There was a reorganization, a renumbering of chapters and sections, editorial conventions implemented, terminology updated, emojis inserted (just kidding) (we think) (winky cat emoji), and changes “made to bring the City Code into compliance with applicable federal and state laws.”

Once the Code is produced, we will personally give you an RVA keychain if you can prove that you have read and absorbed all 1,792 pages. 

ORD. 2015-226

The City will turn over 100 W. Baker Street, a vacant property, to Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA) to use it in some sort of neighborhood-revitalizing way. In a previous ordinance, the City will accept the deed from the School Board, who actually owns it.


ORD. 2015-228

Looks like this area’s going to become condos or apartments. Just a guess.


ORD. 2015-231

Alicia Rasin, East End community advocate, will be remembered by the designation of her own residential block. The 1900 block of Princess Anne Avenue, i.e. the one facing Jefferson Park, will be given an honorary designation. 

Take that, Princess Anne!

ORD. 2015-170, ORD. 2015-171, ORD. 2015-172, & ORD. 2015-173

It appears that these four ordinances are in place to lower the real estate tax by one, two, three, or four cents. This leaves us with a couple possible real estate rates beginning in 2016.

ORD. 2015-213

To avoid the financial shenanigans in which the City currently finds itself, Councilman Baliles proposes that the City’s Chief Administrative Officer present “certain” financial reports monthly.

Sounds like a full-time job for at least one person!

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