The Annotated City Council: Agenda for December 14th

The Council meets again tonight! Will they pass things? Will they continue more things? WHAT ON EARTH DOES IT ALL MEAN!? We will tell ya!

Photo by: Marc Tomik

You can find the full agenda here (PDF).

ORD. 2015-133

Hilbert and co. would like to designate 241 E. Ladies Miles Road as a park for the late Lieutenant Ozell Johnson, who was instrumental in helping the area get a grip during an era of rampant crime. He joined the police department in 1965, which is pretty impressive considering the unfortunate view of many Southern law enforcement agencies regarding people of color during those heated years. Interesting fact: his daughter, Richmond Police Department Chief of Staff, Major Odetta Johnson, was the first African-American woman to become a major in the RPD.

This particular ordinance has been continued, continued, and continued (and continued) since it was first introduced in June. At the “informal meeting” before each City Council meeting, they decide to continue some things until the next meeting, but there’s no information released anywhere about why.

To use this ordinance as an example, it seems curious that this inconsequential request, which requires no money from anybody’s budget, should not just be voted on without much debate either way. Surely there is a reason, but we have no way of knowing what that reason is. BRB gotta go write a larger article on the subject.

ORD. 2015-161

A possibly significant change may be made to ol’ City Code 42-11, which lays out how budgets should be submitted to City Council from departments. Basically, it will (if approved) now include per capita information, and we’ll be more like Charleston, South Carolina, who currently does their budgets this way. This way, we can see proposed fiscal impact (and even past fiscal impact, once we’ve got some years under our belt) in a way that’ll make sense for multiple populations, I guess? But surely some things scale more cheaply? Is this really a great comparison?

Charleston, give us your take! Come on, Charleston, stop gently swaying in the coastal breeze and gave us your TAKE.

ORD. 2015-191

If you violate the bits of the city code that concern unlawful dumping, unlawful accumulation, weeds and other vegetation, and unlawful nuisances, the city will send you a couple of notices. If you ignore the notices and take no action, they city will go right ahead and take action for you–then they’ll send you the bill, plus a $150 administrative fee, plus a civil fine that starts at $100 (but shall not exceed $3,000 per year)! So, yeah, cut your grass.

ORD. 2015-208

The gross porch couch ordinance returns! No longer will you be able to store your upholstered furniture (including mattresses) on your porches–or anywhere that’s visible from any public place, sidewalk, or road. Assuming the above ordinance passes, your gross porch couch will be classified as a unlawful nuisance and penalized as such.

ORD. 2015-230

Breastfeeding is pretty rad, so it’s nice that the National Association of County and City Health Officials wants to give the CAO $25,000 to “reduce disparities” in breastfeeding. This doesn’t mean when one breast produces way more milk than the others (grossed out? It’s called biology, son!); it means that the Mayor’s Breastfeeding Commission (that’s a real thing, which makes me laugh, even though it’s called biology, son) applied for this funding to “implement innovative breastfeeding initiatives” in the City of Richmond to increase awareness and give breastfeeding mothers more places to chill.

They don’t exactly give out examples of their plans, but we bet they’ll start putting out stuff when they get their money right.

ORD. 2015-234

This one’s another money acceptance–$42,000 from Duffield Family Foundation (dba “Maddie’s Fund”) to be given to the Office of Animal Care and Control for medical care and treatment of homeless animals. Maddie’s Fund is all about keeping animals safe and giving them homes.

ORD. 2015-235

Pretty straightforward: the City will be leasing a place on 1630 Chamberlayne Avenue, right next to Richmond Animal Care and Control’s snazzy facility, so that shelter dogs can get some exercise. To be clear, it’s a fenced-in area. Not a building. Or an open field. You will be safe, if you traverse that area on foot on the regular.

Dogs should be happier and healthier, which is never a bad thing. Here’s an interesting quote from the summary: “Richmond Animal Care & Control has had a long standing positive relationship with ARCET at 1630 Chamberlayne. Their management currently allows our staff and volunteers to leah walk dogs on their property daily and claims their staff gets enjoyment from seeing the dogs enjoying outside play! This lease will allow Richmond Animal Care & Control to erect, maintain and utilize a fenced in area to exercise shelter dogs.”

Oh, they CLAIM to enjoy seeing happy dogs play, do they?

…That’s something an opponent of this ordinance might say? Because the City will only pay one dollar of rent for each six-month term. That’s hard to argue with.

ORD. 2015-237

$2,150,000 will be going to general City employees for a 2% pay increase. They’ve already gotten this pay increase (beginning in July), and now they’re over budget. This increases their budgets. Problem solved?

ORD. 2015-238 – 2015-242

Ordinances 2015-238 through 2015-242 officially establishes a new city department called the Office of Community Wealth Building and centralizes funds for that offices (which are “now scattered across different departments”). This office is charged with implementations of current anti-poverty initiatives, planning and researching future initiatives, and “serving as a locus of accountability to the general public.” Thad Williamson was appointed director of the Office of Community Wealth building back in April of 2014.

ORD. 2015-244

McKinnon and Harris, the high-end garden furniture company (like, super high-end) based in Scott’s Addition, will move to another location in Scott’s Addition, pending extreme renovations and, of course, city approval.

The lot in question is 1722 Arlington Road, which will be their new headquarters, office, showroom, and workshop. The price is $1,750,000 for the space, and McKinnon & Harris plans to put $9 million total into the deal. You can read about it in their application, which, despite a very firm confidentiality thing at the top, is posted within the agenda. Sorry, McKinnon & Harris, them’s the rules if you want to get a thing approved by City Council!

ORD. 2015-251

This ordinance is the first step towards the Maggie Walker monument: closing the teensy 120-foot section of Brook Road between Adams and Broad Street. This will lead to a urban plaza with room for pedestrians, cafe tables, a nice statue. It may also eliminate The Historically Insignificant Tree. Stay tuned for plans for the site once the street closing is approved.

RES. 2013-R254

Councilman Hilbert’s eternal resolution. What does it mean? Nobody knows. Will it pass? Probably not.

RES. 2015-R053

Create a tax report for “the area of the City of Richmond known as Carytown,” says this resolution. The Area Known As Carytown will have its revenues reported separately from other areas. It rakes in more dough than the other areas do, so it gets its own analysis.

ORD. 2015-192

A location for all the dang projects! This keeps getting continued, so hopefully it’ll get passed tonight. How helpful would this be to every single person, assuming every single person worked for a media outlet who wanted to know everything about every plan!

TO SUM UP: This would be very helpful to RVANews and we sure hope it becomes real, City Council!

RES. 201-R184

Baseball! It’s the Prodigal Son of city council topics–out in the wilderness spending all of its father’s money, only to return to a triumphant legislative party! Note that the mayor’s similar ordinance, ORD. 2015-R65, has been continued until January 11th.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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