Public Housing

30 01 2009

Sooner or later, Norfolk is going to face a dilemma. I am in the process of creating a comprehensive map of Norfolk that will include potential redevelopment areas, current construction projects, and key development Points of Interest. While doing this, I confirmed a long-held notion of mine: Norfolk will have to redevelop the Downtown area public housing projects. The majority of the eastern side of Downtown (Bordered by the Elizabeth River, Virginia Beach Blvd, St. Paul’s Blvd, and Tidewater Drive) is made up of public housing. Not only do these large tracts of housing take up valuable real estate, but the sheer sentiment towards public housing repels potential developers. Nobody wants to invest their money near the public housing if they can take it elsewhere. I believe that this is why millions of dollars have been spent to the west of MacArthur Mall, but very few to the east. Having worked inside the Rotunda, I have seen the view that these residents have. The west side of the building gets great views. The east side… not so much. If you don’t believe that the public housing makes an impact, check out the Rotunda’s page on “The Views.” Every picture they have up there come from a side that does not face public housing.

Now don’t get me wrong, lower income people need a place to live too and I do not fault them (most of them) for their situation. I think that our public housing needs to be reworked though. Norfolk would not be the first nor would it be new to Norfolk. Prime example: Broad Creek. This housing development replaced outright 2 public housing developments and has been considered a success under the USHUD HOPE VI program, which is designed to move away from the ‘welfare-state’ model of management to a more effective model, in which residents are encouraged to better their situation and move up. Many cities are attempting to move towards this way of thinking, mainly because it works better. Tenants stay in the system for a shorter period of time, and conditions tend to be much nicer than in isolated housing projects. Places like New York City have even started allowing this model in high rise apartment complexes, renting market-price apartments alongside subsidized units. Something similar to this should be attempted in Downtown. I’m not talking huge complex, but I think that an affordable mix of actual apartments is needed Downtown. Currently, most housing Downtown is made up of condos. Very few rental units exist. Of those, most of them are way out of the price range of normal people. If there were at least a few biuldings with rent not exceeding an affordable rate for an average person to get a single bedroom apartment. NRHA would then subsidize up to a pre-set percentage of units (similar to Broad Creek) to make them affordable to low income persons and families.


SPSA: A Landfill of Money

29 01 2009

This is probably one of the best quotes so far of the year:

“I would lose my job running an agency like that.”
-William Harrell, Chesapeake City Manager, referring to SPSA’s debacle yesterday.

In case you hadn’t heard, SPSA unveiled a plan to allow them to maintain low tipping fees at yesterday’s meeting. Unfortunately, they did not inform anybody of this plan until the meeting itself. In fact, SPSA’s Public Information Director did not know about the plan and worked diligently to produce copies before the end of the meeting. SPSA’s Executive Director apparently knew that this plan was in the works, but decided that it was not important enough to notify anybody. The board members themselves were not even notified.

If I was in charge, this is where it would end. If I am on your Board of Directors, you answer to the Board. You will keep the Board informed or you willlose you job. That is where I stand. SPSA has been slowly driven into the ground over the past few years. Well, more like a plane crash from a high altitude. Except instead of ejecting or attempting a crash landing, the pilot in this case is going to wait until it crashes and then ask the Emergency Responders if they can help him pay for a new plane. The management of SPSA needs to be evaluated and replaced if need-be. Also, the Board of Directors should be evaluated and replaced as necessary.

Mark Yesterday on the Calendar

29 01 2009

In yesterday’s Hampton Roads Section of the Virginian Pilot, the editorial staff actually printed a staff editorial that is a call to action for the Virginia Beach City Council. Not only that, but it was a pro-LRT editorial. This is a very big step for the Pilot. They picked out all the right points and called out all the right people. That is the kind of news I want to see more of in the paper.

The Pilot, like most news papers, are worried about declining readership and circulation. They attribute this decline to the competition from the Internet. I disagree. I think that it has more to do with the fact that you can find real stories on-line. Real people learn about events and write about them. The majority of the Pilot nowadays is A-P reprint trash. We have go to be one of the only large metropolitan areas in the country without an investigative newspaper. In Wednesday’s Front Page Section, out of 28 sizable stories, only 8 were from a Pilot reporter. The majority of those were about Virginia or Hampton Roads stories. The few about national politics were written by the Pilot’s sole reporter for DC, Dale Eisman. The capitol is a little big for one man to cover, isn’t it? I don’t expect a team of reporters there, but there is a Senate and a House. Maybe we could get two?

Together with that, the Associated Press stories are usually stale by the time the reach the Pilot. Last year, I spent a few weeks buying the Virginian-Pilot, the Washington Post, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA Today, and the Daily Press. Usually, by the time a story hit he Pilot, I had already read it multiple days earlier in at least 2 other papers. I guess if you only read the Pilot, the news seemsnew. Does that go for TiVo? If I just wait a couple of days to watch the news, will it still be news? Or history? We live so close to DC. Why do we get more New York Times articles than stories from our own paper?

Come on Pilot, you’ve made strides in the local news sector, now can we assign a team to get fresh national news? Until then, I want to see more investigative journalism pieces in the paper. Otherwise, by the time it get to us, you could read it in a History book.

Chesapeake Finally Progresses

28 01 2009

Excellent job Chesapeake! You have officially moved from the Old Age Thinking to the New Age Thinking. You no longer expect the State or Federal Government to pay for your transportation projects. You have accepted innovation and fresh ideas. That was the principal on which the original Jordan Bridge was built. A man saw a need for a bridge so he built it. He financed it himself and reaped the benefits of his foresight until he transferred it to the City. Hopefully, after 80 years, Chesapeake will take better care of this one. 😛   Seriously, though, good job!

Farm Market is NOT a Liquor Store

28 01 2009

The Five Points Community Farm Market is NOT a liquor store. I think that they SHOULD be able to sell Specialty Wine and beer. Like I said; it is not a liquor store. It is not like they want to sell 40 oz Colt . They want to sell Virginia Wine and micro-brew beer, both of which have a very good place in a farmer’s market. Alcoholic are not going to spend $25 on a bottle of wine when they could go get cheap liquor at a convenience store. The Virginian Pilot stated in thier story that, ” [Lana Pressley] and others expressed concern, however, because it would be the first establishment in the neighborhood to sell alcohol.” This may be technically true, in the fact that within the official boundaries of the neighborhood, there is not another store that sells alcohol. In reality, however, there is a 7-11 a mere 2 blocks from the Farmer’s Market (26th & Monticello) and a convenience store 1 block further at 27th & Granby. A specialty wine store does not attract crime. If anything, it would attract a MORE upscale clientele . I am not sure why the residents opposed this unless they had some sort of misinformation.


28 01 2009

Welcome to the new home to 757HamptonRoads! If you are visiting after a redirect from my old home, thanks for stopping by. If you are new here, and have never read my blog, please take a minute and review my previous posts.

HRBT, 3rd Crossing, Still Traffic?

26 01 2009
Re: Study: Extra lanes, third crossing will ease region’s traffic

Interesting. The HRMPO thinks that an HRBT expansion would not be a help to our transportation. Instead, they believe that a Third Crossing would be a cure-all for our transportation problems. The Peninsula, on the other hand, feels that the HRBT is where we should start if we do anything. Norfolk opposes this plan on the grounds that it would disrupt Ovean View too much. Apparently constantly stopped traffic and the associated pollution is not a large enough impact on OV. I support with ODU’s new study. They have decided that even if we built BOTH a 3rd Crossing and an HRBT expansion, the usage at 2030 would only be 8% less than capacity. In other words we can build BOTH and would still need another solution within a few years. I think that this is a pretty good reason to spend extra money on a regional LRT system. If we can throw nearly $7.4 BILLION at roads and STILL need more, then perhaps we don’t have a grasp on the correct solution. If we spent $7 billion on LRT we would only need the highways for incoming tourists and commercial traffic. You could build over 180 miles of light rail for $7 billion. I can only hope that our future legislatures can realize this. I say future because I think that our current legislatures have forgotten about us.