RealPodVA – A Conversation with Allison Wrabel with the Daily Progress

This is one of my favorite conversations so far. Lots of links below. Allison Wrabel with Charlottesville’s Daily Progress is a remarkable asset to our community.

Listen to the podcast here.

Local journalists matter because they pay attention to and catch the little things, and connect the dots, for the things that become bigger things.

Show Notes

The transcription below has more links than most conversations on RealPodVa, as we covered a lot of ground. Listen to the podcast, but definitely check out the links.

Local News matters

Transcription

Jim:
Hey, this is Jim Duncan with Nest Realty and RealPodVA. I’m here with Allison Wrabel with the Daily Progress and she’s one of the finest reporters we have in Charlottesville. We had a great conversation talking about local growth and development, development politics, the value of local news and all manner of things related to Charlotte and the Charlotte real estate market. Allison, how about you tell us a little about who you are and what you do.

Allison:
What do I do? I’m Allison Wrabel. I’m a reporter for the Daily Progress. I cover Albemarle County government, which usually trickles into anything in Albemarle County that is semi-related to the government, local government or regional issues. For a while now I’ve been covering things like the regional transit partnership meetings, the Thomas Jefferson planning district commission stuff, which is where the MPO is, which we don’t need to get in all the acronyms, but more regional meetings.

Jim:
Sounds [inaudible 00:01:03]

Allison:
It is. I would say probably maybe 65% of what I actually sit through is nonsense. And in the long term may matter but doesn’t actually matter at that time. And or people don’t know enough yet to be relevant in what they’re saying. It’s a lot fishing through different things to find what’s actually important.

Jim:
There’s a street in Crozet on St George Avenue that I was looking through pictures for some reason a few weeks ago. And I’d ridden my bike by and I saw one of the zoning notice signs, this is five, six years ago, zoning notice or whatever. And I wrote a story on RealCrozetVA about it, just said, hey, here’s this thing, this might happen. Five years later that brick ranch is gone and there are nine houses. There’s this sort of thing that what you see today doesn’t really impact tomorrow. It will impact a thousand tomorrows. And it’s something that I try to [inaudible 00:02:07] my world of [inaudible 00:02:08] real estate, try to help my clients understand what’s going to happen and where that neighborhood or that region is going to go. But what excites you about what you do?

Allison:
I like that it does affect people’s everyday life, may not be tomorrow, but in a few weeks, months, years. If there’s not a lot of… Local government moves very slowly so there’s not a lot of massive surprises. And even things that are surprises [crosstalk 00:02:42]

Jim:
Because people don’t pay attention for 10 years and then they see building [crosstalk 00:02:44].

Allison:
Surprise, This has been in the works for 15 years and you’ve just may not have been paying attention, which is okay. And sometimes, I mean I don’t always write about stuff that’s way out in the future. There are some developments I know that are happening right now that I’m just going to wait for it to be in front of the planning commission before I write about it or wait for it to go to the community advisory committee before I write about it.

Allison:
Because at this point it could change so much based on what either County staff tells them what the planning district tells them. And even, I mean there are changes even made at the board of supervisors level. Sometimes when people see things like 500 new homes in this area, it doesn’t always happen at 500. And even if they do get a maximum of 500, there are few developments right now that are being built that aren’t going to be there maximum.

Jim:
Can you name one or two?

Allison:
Oh gosh, I don’t want to say them wrong. I think, Cascadia, it came up actually recently with the planning commission looked at the counties capacity, growth capacity study for the growth areas and it was mentioned in there a couple times. And some other people have pointed out that things may not grow to their full capacity. I think technically Old Trail might be one of them that isn’t going to be at its full capacity, full approved capacity. Whether or not people think that that land is able to hold that is maybe another capacity issue [crosstalk 00:04:15].

Jim:
But the fact that you mentioned this County analyzes growth capacity is a surprise, at least to me, because it doesn’t feel they actually do.

Allison:
And that was what a lot of the planning commissioner said that we need to be using this report more in everything. Not just we get this every two years, we still have some room it’ll be fine, let’s move on. We need to be actually using this in transportation planning, in housing planning, in redevelopment planning, and looking at these specific areas. Because, talk about an area that’s going to have a lot of changes in the next probably three to five years is North 29 area, Hollymead and a little further South and further North of Brook Hill opening. And I mean you drive past there now and there are no trees and there’s almost an entryway already done. And then North Pointe, I know they’re working on, I think the first part of that, not the commercial stuff yet, but the housing.

Jim:
They are working on the residential there. And it’s something I try and tell my clients is making sure they know that, that’s happening. That 1500 units, 2000 units in the next five years, 10 years, it’s going to change that whole dynamic of that area. It’s funny from a transportation perspective, when I started practicing 18 years ago, people would say, all right, I’m not going to go anywhere North of Greene County Line. And a few years later is nowhere North of [inaudible 00:05:42] and it was 29 and then it was profit road, airport road and it was [inaudible 00:05:47] and now it’s the bypass. People don’t want to get north of that because as a growth shifts and gets focused, that 20 minute 25 minute threshold is still the same. Is on Brook Hill, are there going to be schools there too.

Allison:
They did proffer for an elementary school actually in the development. And then I need to look up this, but I think technically the land across 29 is proffered for a middle school and or high school. But I don’t think that’s going to be happening in the near future. I think that would be the next high school. I think middle school capacity wise, it’s actually okay and I say that and I know you live in the Crozet area and it’s not okay out there, but like Walton, I’m pretty sure has capacity space. And I’m not sure if Jack [inaudible 00:06:43], but I know middle schools aren’t a huge issue right now. Obviously, if elementary schools are becoming more of an issue, middle schools will be in the foreseeable future.

Allison:
But I think because they’re doing the high school center stuff first off, I don’t think they’re going to be utilizing that. And I’ve also heard, because I’ve asked about it a little bit, in some of the stuff that the terrain isn’t great to build on there, in that wooded area currently across on the other side of 29.

Jim:
The reservoir side of 29.

Allison:
Yes. It will take a lot of grading potentially and or specific site planning on that site to build schools or other uses for the potentially school division. And I think it is specifically proffered for schools.

Jim:
One of the questions I was prepping for earlier, what are two or three projects or things that people should be paying attention to that will impact them in the next three to five years?

Allison:
Oh gosh. I would say honestly, well first off, because it’s that time of year, the elections are coming up and depending on who gets elected could potentially change policies, and or change what gets approved development wise and how it gets approved. I always encourage people to not only read what I’m writing and watch other news or read other news outlets but also try to go to something where you can see the candidates, especially… and ask your own questions. Because I think seeing them interact with other people is always important too. And I will say I’ve been surprised at how many smaller things, but rooted things in the community already that people agree on. Some of the candidates that are running not unopposed are running against someone.

Allison:
But it’s a little early for me. But how many things I actually do agree on is always a little surprising but even more so recently, just thinking about some of the things I’ve been out, I’m okay. Good for you guys. I think a lot of people in the community would also agree with you. There are things that… If you do, I will say then two, if you do have one or two big issues that you really care about, I think people should also seek out hearing their candidates. Their opinions on that. So that’ll change what happens.

Jim:
On the local [inaudible 00:09:18] as the national stuff has gone, the way it’s gone. Have you seen more people interested in local elections and local news and local politics?

Allison:
Sometimes I think people get overwhelmed with the national stuff that they shut out the local stuff as well. Especially political stuff, not so much local news in general, but they don’t necessarily, and I think this community is a little different than the broader area. But I think some people would just get overwhelmed with all the national stuff and impeachment. And I’m well this thing’s coming up.

Jim:
School [inaudible 00:10:05] roads.

Allison:
Roads or nothing was too interesting last night at the board of supervisors meeting. But I’m well, this is coming up too and this development.

Jim:
And how to track this staff because you go to nine meetings a night. At least it feels [crosstalk 00:10:22] this stuff that you write in your Twitter stream and all that, how do you track and stay aware of what’s happening?

Allison:
Well, I have a planner that I hand write in every day and [crosstalk 00:10:36] organized by hour. And I write all the meetings in it every month and I check them every Monday and make sure that I didn’t miss anything. And I check the County website, the TJPDC website.

Jim:
The what?

Allison:
TJ PDC, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission because they cover a lot of the regional stuff. Which is like the MPO, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, but they do a lot of road stuff.

Jim:
We are a metropolis.

Allison:
Yeah. I don’t know. Is that what it is? As I think about it and saying it a loud but they do a lot of transportation stuff and transportation planning and that’s the kind of thing where it’s not always important to be at those meetings but knowing when they’re happening and just checking the agendas, is what I always try to do with all this stuff. Then we have… Which isn’t a huge issue now, but may become an issue sooner rather than later when they do start building a water pipeline not a natural gas pipeline but a water pipeline.

Jim:
From where to where?

Allison:
From the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to Ragged Mountain Reservoir. I’ve written about it a little, not super recently because they’re just trying to get the easements for it right now. But it was mildly controversial a couple of years ago because it’s water usage in this [inaudible 00:11:54] is actually going down slash leveling off because there are so many low flow toilets and other changes that people have made that have helped it stabilize and people are a little more conscious I think sometimes.

Jim:
Well I remember when we had the drought, I guess my daughter who’s 25, I guess she was nine or 10. So a long time ago. And I remember then we all conserved [inaudible 00:12:17] and our water use has dropped. And then I remember it was, great that you’re not using as much water, but we are making less revenue because we need you to use water to make… And it was that counterintuitive solution if you will.

Allison:
That’s why the city has gone to… The city I think used to charge a flat fee on top of your usage fee and then they have gone to a meter sized fee. I think UVA technically has the largest meter size. And they pay the most now in the city because actually UVA, that’s a whole another animal. But they technically are the grounds are in the County, the hospitals in the city. But even I think parts of grounds use city water. I mean it’s all actually the same water, right. But pay their utilities through the city instead of the [inaudible 00:13:10] Brown County service authority.

Allison:
Which is [crosstalk 00:13:13] because I think it’s all hooked into one. They have one or two big meters. I think they actually did close off one recently. But because it’s all fed into or fed through one or two big meters, I think it’s more tied to the hospital than it is grounds. But, anyways that’s how the city has done that and I think that surfaced authority has had that fee structure for a while now. I mean, at least as long as I’ve been here or not. Which isn’t that long.

Jim:
So how long have you been here?

Allison:
It’ll be… It’s over four years now. Its four years on August 10th.

Jim:
So actually taking on that, I mean, one of the questions that a friend of ours, Bart, asked me to ask is, how did you get up to speed as rapidly as it seems that you have? And with the turnover in local newsrooms, how do these kids come on and rapidly get competent because what you write about requires so much background and knowledge and nuance. How does that transition happen?

Allison:
I would say some of it came from me. When I got here initially I was covering business, which is a little tricky in this community. And a little tricky, I mean overall in a smaller community because business people don’t have to talk to you. So people don’t have to return your calls at all. No, don’t have to return your emails. So you’re, kind of floundering around out there. And I think that was a lot harder to get into than the local government was only because, there are obviously the chamber for example, and there are groups you can go to that can help you either find people or just like a way to meet business people. But it’s still a lot more difficult to form those relationships because you’re not going to the same things these people are going to all the time or whatever. And County staff have to talk to me, so they have to respond within five business days. So…

Jim:
Really?

Allison:
I mean technically any question can be construed as a freedom of information act request and they have to respond. And I will say I have never really had a problem with them getting back to me. I mean sometimes obviously things get lost and if it’s really important I’ll bother you again.

Jim:
It’s not malicious, it’s just they’re overworked?

Allison:
Yes. But going back to, how I got up to speed so quickly. I don’t necessarily feel like it was that quickly, which is nice to hear that people think it was quick. So I started covering the County government in around early 2017. And I think just, I could probably honestly go to fewer meetings now and still get some of the same things I’ve gotten in the past. But I know a lot of like bigger local newspapers are pushing away from going to local government meetings. In favor of bigger stories, which is what people want. But going to these meetings at least initially for a period of time is, is how you meet people, learn things, get people who will tell you stuff before it happens.

Jim:
I think that’s the big [inaudible 00:16:30]. I’m cringing here as, as you’re saying newspapers are pushing away from smaller local stories. When I do CCAC, the Crozet community advisory thing, and I go to those as often as I can, you know, it’s hard to cover from afar sometimes when I’ve, actually hired somebody to do these sometimes and, but I don’t get to read the body language and you don’t see the side conversations between who or it sounds bad, but who were making the alliances to, to sort of, you know, forge on one particular path. So it’s, there’s a lot that can be done from afar, but I think that being there, it is not all of the meetings, but all of the meetings is critical. And so thank you on that for sacrificing.

Allison:
Sometimes I enjoy it and it’s, a lot of that, that little stuff or the side comments that you wouldn’t necessarily hear. I mean at every level of meeting, that can turn into bigger things. And even just showing these people that, you’re going to be there and, there have been things, this is a not super exciting example. But I found it very exciting that when they changed the, Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau group. They wanted to put elected officials back on the board, which had been, 20 years ago, set up that way. They, had met for about a year outside of the public eye with like two board of supervisors members in to city counselors to try to figure out how they were going to do this. And then at one meeting one night, they we’re going to send that letter to the CACVB.

Allison:
Are you all okay with it? Just like offhandedly right before the meeting was over. And they’re all yeah. And I thought that’s weird. And I was writing something else about, Them getting a new contract with a new advertising group. And I was, I should ask about what this letter is. So I asked the County clerk for the letter and it was a letter that was, we want to change your whole structure. And I at that point had not heard anything about this. And I knew that some, elected officials didn’t really like what the organization was doing. But I…

Jim:
Why does this matter?

Allison:
Because, people make a big deal about Transient Occupancy Tax, which is technically what people are paying when they stay in a hotel.

Jim:
Is Airbnb a conversation?

Allison:
Yes, Airbnb is too. But it’s, not super well enforced in Airbnb’s at this point in this area. Obviously the County just changed their policy for that. And, the city has had a policy in place for a while that Airbnb’s are supposed to be paying Transient Occupancy Tax. But, I mean actually, I would assume they are, but I, think there are some that get through the cracks a little. And so that money, a percentage of it is going towards the Convention of Visitors Bureau, which is doing tourism for the area, which did the original, Civility Campaign this past a year and I was now doing more to see, with that apostrophe after the C. So it, things, government moves slowly. So, that was all at the end of 2017 when that letter was sent. And the board structure didn’t officially change until June. And I don’t think people really cared until those advertising campaigns came out, which wouldn’t have been as public had they not, changed the organization of the group. But…

Jim:
So what I’m hearing you say is that local journalists matter because you catch the little things that become bigger things that no one else is paying attention to?

Allison:
Correct. I mean, I would advocate that, yes, that is why I’m important.

Jim:
It is something that you know, all my Twitter and wherever, whenever they have the opportunity to talk about how important local journalism is. Cause I don’t have the time to care frankly, to go to the 43 meetings a week that you go to. How many meetings do you go to a week? Instead of me hyperbolizing.

Allison:
Let’s see, so this week I will have gone to, I think four, I would say…

Jim:
That’s not much.

Allison:
No. I mean, but in the grand scheme of things, how many local government meetings have you gone to this week? Well, you went to kind of one, I guess.

Jim:
Kind of one. But that’s because it, you know, it’s, it was in the scheme of things that was a meeting that I think is probably in a lot of ways, worthless. But the relationships that are built and forged there in 18 months when they do something, those people who were there last week or this week, we’ll have more of a voice than those who weren’t?

Allison:
Correct.

Jim:
You know so I think it’s, I mean going to these meetings is, God, it’s awful and it’s boring and monotonous and dry, but it matters on a daily basis. The decisions and those, things that happen. I mean I, was in Crozet, the baseball, the lighted fields to the baseball.

Allison:
I’ve seen all your tweets.

Jim:
It just bugs me to no end but it’s going to be fixed and whatever. But I went to that meeting and I ran into to Ann Mallek and I ran into somebody else on the board of pizzeria, and it was just being there was more effective. Then I do the tweets cause it’s fun. I like those sort of poke once in a while. But it’s that five minute conversation I had with Ann Malik and with the pizzeria boards had more of an impact then nine tweets, you know, so it’s easy. You know, we see this, you know, it’s easy to like something on Facebook or tweet or whatever, but actually going and looking someone in the eye and having that amicable relationship, you know, is far more important than anything you do online I think. On that, how social media changed journalism?

Allison:
I will say. So we have a saying, and everyone will be really happy that I’m saying this and my newsroom because I get a little riled up sometimes about what people say on Twitter, but we have been saying Twitter is not real life because Twitter does not drive as much traffic for us as other social media does. And as our newsletters do and as our website does. And I think, I mean, part of it is because, so I have, what, 25, almost 2,600 followers and some of those are people that I went to high school and college with.

Allison:
So I mean, the whole community isn’t following us and isn’t reading everything. And I think, I don’t know how many followers the Daily Progress Twitter account has, but, not a ton, a decent amount, I would guess. But for us, Twitter is not real life. And I will say it honestly, I don’t, know how people did this job without the internet. In general, Twitter I think it’s nice because you do kind of see some people’s feelings. It’s, it’s an easy way to, to gauge a certain population of, okay, what do you feel about this? And, do people actually care about this or not? And in a sense, in a very broad, over, if you’re just throwing out there, obviously people, most people on Twitter that follow me, I doubt care about what happens in like Evansville or honestly, I actually, I do have people who are in Scottsville and a lot of people in Scottsville are very passionate about Scottsville, but I mean, the average person in Albemarle County doesn’t really care about Scottsville. So if I was going to…

Jim:
They care about the four corners of their house. In their neighborhood maybe.

Allison:
And what happens in the trees behind them.

Jim:
And what you know, my question the other night in Crozet was these people are advocating for affordable housing. My question is, would you want it next door and would you advocate it for being next door? I didn’t ask that question because it was not the forum to poke, but the answer is no. The answer is no, we don’t want affordable housing next door. No, we don’t want to pay more taxes. No, we don’t want to do anything other than have our lives happy and pretty. So the Daily Progress have 35,000 followers. Which is Pretty damn good.

Allison:
That’s great. That’s almost the whole city.

Jim:
I try to, you know, on Twitter I have a Charlottesville media feed that is, or it’s a list that I create. That is a good way to listen. And just if I hear a, you know, if I see a fire somewhere or actually I was on, Pantops last week and I saw that they’d closed 20, I looked real quick, my system was driving so I didn’t drive and tweet. But I looked and saw there was, I saw on my social media feed, there was a gas leak. Like that’s just sort of thing that like listening to what’s happening in breaking news is good, but actually having dialogue dear God, no.

Allison:
And it gets, and I will say it’s hard also over social media especially to convey feelings. And I’ve, and this is another reason we say Twitter is not real life because you can’t get a real point addressed on Twitter.

Allison:
Especially if it’s more lengthy or nuanced then however many characters we get now. But I will say to your point to that honestly has been very helpful in terms of, okay, NBC 29 has this, or Oh look, CBS 19 has a story about this. Should we do something on this? Should we wait? What’s going on? If it’s something we don’t have, we are news partners with NBC 29.

Jim:
Really?

Allison:
So yeah. And it’s just, we kind of share information sometimes. We had done it with CBS 19 for a little bit when I first got here.

Jim:
They’re the same now?

Allison:
Well, no, technically not. They’re switching technically. So the owners of 29 have sold them to the former current tech. So it still hasn’t all gone through yet, which is why it’s confusing. So at the end of the day, the former 29 owners have sold 29 to the former owners of CBS 19 who had been bought by someone else. So it’s all kind of just bumping along.

Jim:
I need a white board and magic markers. So anyway, y’all share information with news partners?

Allison:
Yes. And, obviously we used to be partners with, Charlottesville Tomorrow. Which was helpful. I mean, I talk about this probably too much sometimes. I, of course I miss Sean Tubbs covering new stuff because we would split board of supervisors meetings. So he would cover one thing and I would cover something else and I didn’t have to write about topics forever. And or into the night or into the weekend, because he would split it up, which was great. And then that’s not what their board wanted them to do anymore. And so they aren’t, which is fine. Things change. And, we could probably use, I wish I could do more long form journalism, but I just don’t have a ton of time to do that. I like to sleep and eat and…

Jim:
Play with the cat?

Allison:
Yeah, play with the cat, go running, go visit my friends. I like to do other things besides journalism sometimes. So I don’t, get why they want to do that. And I think it’s helpful to the community and to have a cohesive thing that you can, okay. How did this get to this point without having to read through 17 stories?

Jim:
When I’m writing, when I’m tweeting the Crozet things, I found it, I think you do it well. I’m not a journalist, but y’all do it. And I’ll include me for this one topic. When I’m tweeting the meeting, I’ll quickly Google my site or your whatever to throw context and of here’s the thing that they’re talking about.

Jim:
Here are two stories that Alison wrote three years ago to give context for those following along. Because people do follow these, stories in real time because they can’t go. And watching it, at least for me, watching a, you know, Eastnor near, the city council used to be more fun to watch on channel 10. But I would watch that and it would just sort of drone on. Whereas if I’m checking it on Twitter saying, here’s a thing, here’s a highlight real quick, it makes it, it makes it more accessible I think.

Allison:
And I think, sharing that stuff is important. That’s what I always kind of try to do, especially if there’s a thing that has been going on for so long and it’s finally getting to the board of supervisors. I think it’s important that people realize that, this didn’t just come out of nowhere. Or here, here’s a great example of something that lasted I think a little longer than people thought it would when we kind of hit on this before Airbnb in Albemarle County, I think I wrote about 15 stories about it, over a three year period. And, people still at the last board of supervisors meeting or the second last meeting had commented on stories and we’re, what is the County doing? Why are they doing this? Why didn’t they get community input? They spent two and a half years on this when they were supposed to spend not that long.

Jim:
About six months.

Allison:
And they, got a lot of community input. And I think, I don’t know if it was all listened to. But, I also don’t know what emails they get or what private conversations they have. And I know a lot of people who don’t live at homeowners associations were very concerned about, their houses or neighbors houses being turned into regular Airbnb.

Jim:
There sounds a new movement that’s forming and Crozet specifically about against these Airbnb regulations because I think it’s gonna destroy tourism and Crozet.

Allison:
Because you don’t have any hotels out there.

Jim:
Right. So, I think that there’s, but it’s also one of the things that the conversation was started in had over the last three years and it’s, hard for me because I do try to pay attention to stuff and at least I usually know there is something happening. But I think it takes effort and work, and I’ve wrote a story years ago that being a citizen takes sacrifice because you have to pay attention to this stuff. It’s encumbered upon all of us to, to really at least try to know what’s happening on a day to day, monthly basis.

Allison:
Or I mean weekly. I mean our website isn’t, the greatest at like looking back at things.

Jim:
No, it’s awful. It is the worst website in the world. It’s so painful. It is awful to run. I, I miss RSS. God knows RSS or at least an email. I mean, do you, I’m going to take a tangent. Do you all have a good email newsletter?

Allison:
There well so, I need to get my newsletter going. A bunch of the other reporters have newsletters and I don’t, because I, I’ve been talking about it since February and I have the whole thing like laid out what I want to do. I just haven’t set it up yet. But we do have, I don’t know if there is a weekly one, that just highlights every, not everything but the top 10 stories from the week or whatever. But I know like Nolan has one for the city. Catherine has one for the schools. Ruth has one for UVA. There is…

Jim:
I have no idea.

Allison:
That’s where a lot of like our traffic comes from is. And then there’s, one that comes out in the morning, there’s one that comes out in like the afternoon, around 4:30 or five. And then sometimes I don’t always agree with when we send breaking news emails because it’s sometimes it’s, stories that I don’t like.

Allison:
Even my stories personally, I don’t think are breaking news sometimes that they’ll push through, but I think it’s, cause we do get people who will click on those a lot, which is great too. And if that is how you’re getting your news, and you like it and you’re clicking on it, great. I subscribed to all of our newsletters and I delete a lot of them because I’ve already read the stories and, or I wrote this one, I don’t need to read the email. But, there are a lot of newsletters. You should subscribe.

Jim:
I think I will. I do subscribe to Daily Progress because, and I’ve said this publicly, I mean it because I value you and the work that, your colleagues do. It’s, you know, it’s 10 bucks a month for the online.

Allison:
And I think it’s, sure little less than that, it is between 5 and 10.

Jim:
But whatever it is, it’s cheap for the, return on investment that I get. But I’ll close with two questions. One is going to be what are, what are two or three things that you wish people knew about the community? And two, is it hard to keep your opinions out of what you write?

Allison:
We’ll answer the second one first. I don’t think it’s that hard. I think sometimes I personally have a hard time grasping some of the community’s concerns about things. And I don’t know if it’s just because I’m usually, I mean I live in the city, so I cover a lot of the County stuff, so I’m not, it’s not happening next door to me. And I don’t know if I would feel differently about that. And I think because I cover things and I hear kind of the same thing a couple of times at a couple of different levels, I feel more comfortable with it then other people do or, I know it’s coming more. In terms of people being against some developments. And then I on the other side, I put myself in the shoes of, okay, if I didn’t think anything was ever coming here in my life and it shows up one day, you’re, what the heck is this?

Allison:
But, I don’t think it’s that hard. I think what I get more frustrated with is when people get up and say things that aren’t factual, at all. And try to use that to sway the board of supervisors opinion or their community members opinions. And that’s when I’m, okay, you’re wrong. And I can explain why I’m not disagreeing with you, you’re just wrong. And I think sometimes that’s harder for me to, grapple with, then than my actual personal opinions about things. Because honestly, a lot of it doesn’t really affect me in, in the greater scheme of my life. Obviously I live here. It does affect me. For example, I drive down railroad every day. So traffic on railroad mildly affects me every day. But then when I come back at 8:30 PM at night and there’s no one out there, I’m okay, this is great. So, it’s not that hard. And then…

Jim:
Two things.

Allison:
Two things.

Jim:
Anything on the radar that get a vote that’s coming up to the board should, besides the elections?

Allison:
Well, this is something, I’ll talk about this cause I don’t think anyone else is gonna do anything drastic with this at this time. But Albemarle County is changing their, building policy and they’ve kind of done it slowly, where they changed the parking lot. So after hours, if somebody wants to park in Albemarle County’s parking lot, they can’t park in the higher lot or the middle lot

Jim:
That’s the one on McIntire?

Allison:
Yeah. So they have the three lots. The largest one is where employees parked during the day. And that’s open to the public at night and on the weekends, not overnight but in the evening. And some of it’s security changes. Some of it’s people like to protest in front of the County Office building. And they park in the upper lot. Like when there’s meetings going on and stuff and people can’t find parking and then they get upset that they can’t find parking and go to meetings for their local government. And it’s all a tizzy.

Jim:
It’s a thing.

Allison:
It is a thing. But they are making additional changes to kind of that stuff. And the building policy and who can kick people out of the building and what area is open to the public for first amendment things and what areas are not. And I think that’s important because that green space is one of the few green spaces that is in a very public place in the area. It’s technically, obviously in the city, but in a place where people from the County and, or the city can come and protest things, whether it’s this government or a different government. Or a higher level government.

Jim:
North Korea?

Allison:
Not a different country’s government, but state or national government stuff. And, they’ve told people that you cannot be on this grass. And I don’t fully understand that. Even still. So that’s, I think coming up at, the next October meeting, if I’m correct, in remembering or I would say I would guess in November. If it doesn’t come up then, but, that is interesting if you care about…

Jim:
Freedom?

Allison:
Yeah. And, free speech. And, it is interesting to think about how, taxpayer dollars or how Albemarle County has that building and to say, you can’t be on this grass. I still, those are questions I have about, what is the legality of that? And, so that’s coming up, that I really care about. And people should mild the care about at least. What else is coming up that’s going to be big? Obviously, I mean a lot of growth in their development stuff.

Allison:
There’s tons of applications, there’s tons of stuff that doesn’t even need to go to the board of supervisors or planning commission that people probably should…

Jim:
Where can people read about that? What you write in your analysis, but is there a place on the County site that they can say, here are all the planning applications.

Allison:
So there is, and it’s not a great listing. But the County recently, they only update this twice a year. But it has been updated fairly recently is their development dashboards. And it’s literally, if you go to Albemarle.org/development dashboards, I think it’s with an S or it might be just no S development dashboard or boards. They have a chart that you can kind of walk through and see what’s what’s coming by right. Without legislative approval and what’s coming through the legislative approval stuff.

Allison:
And there also have maps so you can see, okay. Someone has applied for a site plan here, which is down the street from me or this, businesses is, wants to rezone this land kind of a thing. And I think though it’s not updated daily or anything, if, you are just getting into some of that stuff or you do want to pay more attention, that is a good place to kind of just generally look.

Jim:
A highest level view?

Allison:
Yeah. And, and I think the maps are cool and interesting and you can kind of see where stuff is happening. And…

Jim:
It’s cool. Growth and politics. Well, I’m going to say Allison, my last question is, so which board member do you like the most? Which ones do you like the least? We’re not recording, I promise.

Allison:
They are all human.

Jim:
Allison Wrabel with Daily Progress. Thank you so very much. Every time I talked to you, I learn 19 things. And I’ll put it in the show notes how to follow you, how to get your newsletter. You’re going to start doing…

Allison:
You need to do that tomorrow.

Jim:
But thank you so much, Allison. Really, appreciate it.

Allison:
Thanks for having me Jim.

Jim:
Thanks.

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