Category Archives: Politics
What happens in public hearings affects darn near everyone.
So much happens in Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meetings that the public doesn’t find out about – and then get up in arms about, or support – until it (whatever it is) is too far along to change.
I try my best to follow what happens in these meetings as I think it’s part of my job to know more than my clients – whether buyers or sellers. I need to know what might be happening over there that might impact their quality of life, traffic congestion, shopping options, potential resale competition, growth and human settlement patterns, property taxes – you name it, it’s covered at local public meetings.
For example, the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting is chock full of stuff that will affect people’s lives and property values, and these public hearings are all over the County – Barracks Road, 29 North, Pantops, Crozet …
Public Hearings (links go to PDFs):
• ACSA-2013-0002. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc
• ZMA-2012-00003. Out of Bounds
• ZMA-2012-00004. Avon Park II
• ZMA-2013-00001. The Lofts at Meadowcreek
• ZMA-2012-0005. Hollymead Town Center (A-1)
• ZMA-2013-0007. North Pointe Amendment
• ZMA-2013-0002. Pantops Corner
• SP-2013-000015. Mahone Family
• ZTA-2013-00006. Residential and Industrial Uses in Downtown Crozet Zoning District (“DCD”)
If you’re interested in following these public meetings, two of the more prolific tweeters of public meetings are Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum and Sean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow.
To be equitable, I looked for the Charlottesville City Council’s agenda but it has not yet been posted. (actually it’s postponed, per C-Ville) Continue reading
The Albemarle County elections last night brought about a resounding change on the Albemarle County Supervisors. Gone are Rodney Thomas and Duane Snow; in are Brad Sheffield and Liz Palmer. For what it’s worth, the Democrats won and the Republicans lost.
Looking at the races through the lens of VPAP data, I saw this in a Facebook conversation:
So which Supervisors are beholden to real estate development groups? Here are some of the top donations by industry… Notice a pattern?
Duane Snow, $17,800 Real Estate/Construction
Liz Palmer, $26,043 Miscellaneous
Rodney Thomas, $12,300 Real Estate/Construction
Brad Sheffield, $17,386 Miscellaneous
It’s hard to argue with money. Seemingly more than the ballot box, money matters.
Local elections matter. The localities vote on growth management strategies, property tax rates, the ways in which the emergency services operate and cooperate (or not) and notably transportation and infrastructure improvements. And yesterday, about 13,000 people in Albemarle County helped decide the near (and long) term future of Albemarle County.
Palmer, Sheffield and McKeel ran campaigns hinged on the county’s growing transportation problems and angst over the Western Bypass of U.S. 29.
Whether the Western Bypass gets built will be an interesting (continued) debate. Will they build it? Will they shut it down? Will they study it more? Will they extend it so it’s a more logical and functional road?
The County needs infrastructure improvements … let’s see how the new Board chooses to take up that task.
Would you prefer to raise the gas tax or pay for each mile you drive? America’s infrastructure is crumbling. Literally. How might we pay for it?
Proposals for taxing vehicles’ miles traveled have been around for a long time.
A quick search on Richmond Sunlight shows that this bill “Motor fuel tax; joint subcommittee to study replacement with mileage-based fee. (HJ626)” failed to make it out of committee in 2009.
Virginia’s Department of Transportation released a study in December 2008 that addressed many of the options available for a VMT tax:
One alternative widely proposed to the fuel tax is a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) tax. Under this system, drivers pay a fee based on miles traveled rather than a tax on the amount of fuel used. The VMT tax concept can serve broader policy aims as well, by enabling policy makers to set variable fees in different network areas to reduce congestion during peak travel times, a critical and worsening issue in some metropolitan areas.
Some specific possible implications for real estate:
- Real estate agents might be less inclined to do full-day tours for incoming buyers
- I’d be tempted to encourage more drive-bys of homes and drive-throughs of areas than I do already
- We might see further hyper-local focus on areas and neighborhoods. When I was a new real estate agent in 2001, I used to go all over. As my career developed and gas prices went up, my geographical range for representation has shrunk. I tend to not go to Trevillians or Faber or Pratts very often anymore.
- Increase in bicycle use? Right now in most European countries, bikes are outselling cars. This, I’d say, is a good thing.
- Human settlement patterns may see even more trending towards denser urbanization.
- Higher demand for public transportation.
Thanks to Charlottesville Tomorrow for their extensive voters guides. Get educated before you vote beyond whether a candidate is a “D” or and “R”.
Local elections matter immensely – they’re where our growth, land use, property taxes, police and more relevant policies are implemented. I’ll be writing about the Albemarle, Charlottesville and Greene elections more as we get nearer to the elections, but for now, three of the most important resources available for Charlottesville and Albemarle and local/state politics, respectively are:
- Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Candidate Forum Calendar. They will be posting their comprehensive Election Guide soon.
- VPAP, the Virginia Public Access Project tracks money in elections. Sadly, it appears that Albemarle and Charlottesville are the only two local localities participating.
– Albemarle – So far, $86,303 is being reported as having been raised between the three races. Duane Snow is getting killed in fundraising – Liz Palmer reporting nearly $30k versus his $8,500
– Charlottesville – So far, about $12k is being reported as having been raised. Will this be the year a non-Democrat gets elected to City Council?
Graelyn Brashear’s story in C-Ville on the Western Bypass is remarkable; its depth, range, imagery and clarity are outstanding. Take 30 minutes to read it.
Also notable is C-Ville’s presentation of the story; it’s useful and makes a subject of this breadth easier to digest. I particularly like the Medium-like commenting, which is particularly useful for a story of this length. Really, go see it and read it.
The Western Bypass debate/conversation/saga has been ongoing for so long that it’s often impossible for anyone – even long-time residents of Charlottesville (read: Charlottesville + Albemarle + Central Virginia) to fathom or comprehend the scope of both the proposed road and the political/business/transportation dynamics of the Western Bypass (and our region’s collective inability to efficiently solve transportation and planning challenges).
The C-Ville story is an outstanding summary.
I know this:
- Route 29 is a disaster. Hydraulic/29 and Rio/29
- For years, many of my clients target their home search locations as either “not North of Rio” or “not North of Hydraulic”
- The current termination of the Western Bypass is silly
… the current design of the northern terminus is flawed: Northbound traffic from the Bypass is dumped out onto Route 29 just before the light at Ashwood, where the highway narrows from three lanes to two.
I mean, really?
- I’ve told my clients for years that transportation is one of the Charlottesville-Albemarle area’s greatest detractors
- Charlottesville and Albemarle – and the entire region need to be involved in this conversation, not just “the City” or “the County”
Something has to be done, but it really needs to be done 25 years ago. The best solution? I don’t know, but I know that the flawed current proposal is severely flawed. If only our system allowed for a reasonable debate instead of politicians and interest groups fighting rather than compromising.
All this as another anti-Western Bypass group motivates.
What do you think transportation in Charlottesville – Albemarle should/will be in 2040?
The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is proud to announce the launch the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) website at www.tjpdc.org/lrtp.
By 2040, maybe the Western Bypass extension will be close to being planned. And we’ll have thought about where the next growth areas will be.
Before we know it, 27 years will have passed. Better to get involved now. Continue reading
Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that the City of Charlottesville has adopted their comprehensive plan.
The most substantial revisions were made to the city’s housing chapter. To help the city meet its goal of having 15 percent of housing units classified as “affordable” by 2025, an emphasis will be placed on rehabilitating existing housing, and partnerships will be encouraged to promote workforce housing.
Looks like I have some reading to do on how the Plan will/might affect my clients.
In good news:
Shortly before adoption, the council held a final debate about language in the plan. Smith called for a goal that said the city should “consider the effect of housing decisions when considering the proximity of existing units and the effects of unit location on schools, neighborhood demographics and associated infrastructure.”
Councilor Dave Norris made a motion to move that language to a separate goal calling for an inventory where affordable housing current exists and where future opportunities lie.
“I don’t want to have anything in our plan that enshrines the possibility of redlining affordable housing in the community,” Norris said. He added his suggested amendment would better connect low-income residents with opportunities in the rest of the city”
Good. Government really need not be in the practice of identifying who will live where. Continue reading