Monday, June 30, 2008

Transit Notes June 30, 2008

1. Give them credit where credit is due. For the 10:45 A.M. lineup this morning at the Military Circle Direct Transfer Center, all buses were early. That's right: both 15s, both 20s, and the 23 were all there by 10:44.

2. Tried the hot dog cart at Cedar Grove for the first time. $2 for a Nathan's hot dog, 75 cents for a 12 ounce can of soda.

Why Kmart Is In Financial Trouble

Nothing worse than a Summer cold, and I've picked up a cough and cold at the tail end of June. That's meant buying cough-and-cold medicine.

On Saturday at Kmart, a box of 20 caplets of Sudafed severe cough-and-cold medicine cost me $6.79.

Today at Walmart, I bought the Equate generics. (Kmart's generics won't cure anything.) 24 caplets for $2.34.

Update: today (July 1) I went back to Walmart, where I priced an identical package of Sudafed. The package that cost me $6.79 at Kmart was $4.97 at Walmart

Sunday, June 29, 2008

You Prefer A Bridge Tunnel

Our latest poll is over and 52% of you voted for an expanded bridge-tunnel at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to take on the bottleneck. 28% would rather build The Third Crossing to relieve congestion, while 19% like the idea of a high bridge.

With the General Assembly set to reconvene it's Transportation special session on July 9, I poll your support for HB 6028. That's the bill by Delegate Tata and Senator Wagner to bid out light rail in Virginia Beach as a PPTA.

Will Sessoms: Banking On Residents Having Short Memories

Will Sessoms put his Mayoral announcement speech on his website, from which I've printed and downloaded it. If you lived through Sessoms tenure as Vice Mayor, parts of it are laughable.

1. "It's time to actually develop and implement an economic development plan in order to reduce the tax burden on homeowners."

During Sessoms tenure as Vice Mayor, the Department of Economic Development (DED) was drastically underfunded.

2. "There hasn't been such a plan since I left City Council."

At the 2002 City Council Retreat (less than two months after Sessoms left office), one of the two hottest debates: the need to do more for economic development that what was being done.

3. "I intend to actively participate in the meetings to bring more business to the community." you can steer the public-private partnerships to your buddies?

4. "Homeowners have been paying too much for too long."

Yeah, and as Vice Mayor, Sessoms regularly blew off those asking for Property Tax relief.

5. "With energy prices moving the way they are, it's time to revisit light rail specifically and mass transit generally."

Great policy! The hitch: in 2001, Sessoms - as Vice Mayor and a HRT Commissioner - presided over a large reduction in Virginia Beach's bus service.

6. "It's time to elect a Mayor with a history of listening to everyone, including everyone and reaching consensus to move forward."

That would disqualify Sessoms. When he was Vice Mayor, you would go into a Public Hearing knowing he already had 6 votes locked up for his position.

7. "Tonight, we are the underdog in this race."

Probably has something to do with Sessoms' atrocious track record....

8. "The pundits think that this campaign lacks the grassroots support to accomplish a wave of change in Virginia Beach."

Given that Sessoms and his allies on Council sought to marginalize the grassroots, no wonder.

9. "They doubt our understanding and sensitivity to how disenfranchised and disappointed the citizens of Virginia Beach feel towards their leaders".

I'll take Sessoms seriously on "disenfranchisement" when he comes out for a ward system. Most of what opportunities we have for resident input (i.e. Open Mic, Town Hall meetings, etc) didn't get rolling until after Sessoms left City Council.

The bottom line

This speech from a pro-resident newcomer would be very welcome. Coming from Sessoms, it's Orwellian.

Let's hope that if he does win, we get the above promises instead of his track record as Vice Mayor.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Obvious Question

I was reading today's Virginian-Pravda story on public housing in Norfolk
The obvious question: Why doesn't the NR&HA simply raise the rent?

Someone on a Section 8 voucher has rent and utility cost increases passed onto them. Why is it different for these units?

Friday, June 27, 2008

TKJ Watch Center

I've needed a new band and battery for my watch. With this morning being payday, I stopped at TKJ Watch Center in Pembroke Mall to get both.

It's a small business: one guy operating a kiosk on the Mall's main concourse. However, he sells watches, bands, batteries, etc. I went to him and explained what I needed. He took my watch, looked at it, and replied, "Come back in 10 minutes". (That's the funny part: how was I supposed to know 10 minutes when he had my watch?)

He got in done in under 10 minutes and was nice to me. Therefore, I want to give him a free plug on my blog.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

HRT Faces Steep Diesel Fuel Price Increase

The June meeting of the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) governing body, was this afternoon. I expected an uneventful meeting when The Virginian-Pravda's Debbie Messina left 25 minutes before it was to begin, but we had a few events.

The most notable news of the day was the new fuel contracts. HRT's buses use 3.2 million gallons of diesel fuel per year, 2 million of which are bought on contract. The contract to expire July 31 is at $2.21 per gallon; the new contract is at $3.13 per gallon.

The new Budget of $77 million was unanimously approved. An immediate hitch is that it's based on a diesel fuel price of $3 per gallon, so it will have to be amended later.

How do you cover? At Thursday morning's Ocean View Task Force meeting (previous post), Randy Wright spoke of a fare increase from $1.50 to $1.75. However, that would require a later Staff reccomendation and public hearing.

Speaking of Randy Wright, he was nominated to become the new TDCHR Vice Chairman. Current Vice Chair Grace Routten of Hampton was nominated to become the new Chair.

Light Rail Presentation To Ocean View Task Force

Thursday morning the Ocean View Task Force met at the Pretlow Library. The Wards Corner Task Force was also in attendance for a Light Rail Presentation by Councilman Randy Wright. Councilman Barclay Winn was also in attendance.

The highlight of the meeting was the Presentation. Wright covered the Starter Line, and touched some on possible extensions. Wright stated, "We want to go to Old Dominion University...we want to go to the Naval base." As that dovetails with the Virginia Beach position that such an extension is wanted before the Beach gets in, can we work together on a Dome site - Naval base line? This is to be the beginning of a "future visioning" process that considers what a Hampton Roads regional light rail network would look like. At some point in the future, Wright would like to see a Hampton Boulevard to Ocean View via Wards Corner line.

For a Virginia Beach resident in attendance, Norfolk handled a couple matters in a refreshing manner:

1. A businessman wanting to remodel a closed nightclub as a 1950s diner was sent to get the affected civic league's okay before the City of Norfolk would take up the proposal.

2. Wanting to form a committee to cover sand replenishment in Ocean View along the Chesapeake Bay, the City of Norfolk simply named the Presidents of each civic league along the water to form the overwhelming majority of the committee.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HB 6028 Makes The Newspaper

Do they read my blog at The Virginian-Pravda? They finally picked up on the story of HB 6028.

On Monday evening, I told HR Transit Ideas' Michael Ragsdale that I owed a hug to whomever masterminded HB 6028. It's sheer genius:

1. The rail line will probably get built quicker this way.

2. Making it a state project insulates it from the antics of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA).

My one real question is how would it be financially structured as a PPTA? On a road, you let them collect tolls; however, on a rail line, that money goes toward operating the trains. A percentage? Development rights at the stations? Parking concessions for the park-and-rides? Let's hope that whomever came up with the PPTA idea also figured how to fit it into a regional light rail network.

Monday, June 23, 2008

TPPC Meeting Cancelled

The June meeting of the Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) has been cancelled. This was due to lack of meaningful and pressing agenda items.

The TPPC will resume it's normal schedule in July. Then it is expected to have a list of "to do" items from the pending Resort Area Strategic Action Plan (SAP) that will need to be implemented.

The Best Improvement At Cedar Grove Yet

Having the day off, I went into downtown Norfolk to catch the 12:10 matinee showing of The Love Guru. Mal Vincent panned it, but I thought it was enjoyable if you could get past the tasteless genital humor.

That meant transferring buses at the Cedar Grove Transfer Center. There was a pleasant surprise: there's now a hot dog cart operating at Cedar Grove. Across from where the buses pull in, you have to go across the bus lane and a jersey barrier to get to it. It was doing a slow but steady business today, including one bus driver that I saw.

With the heat last week, a couple mercenaries were out selling drinks for $2 each. When riders protested the prices, they were told they were "paying for the convenience." Now we have a professional operator in.

Now if the City of Norfolk would only put portajohns at CGTC, the place might be a nice visit.

HB 6028

Went to take another look at what Transportation bills had been filed for this special session, and found HB 6028. Delegate Bob Tata's bill declares light rail from Newtown Road to Virginia Beach's Oceanfront to be in the public interest and solicits bids for it as a PPTA.

Great news! I got excited and tried to cell phone Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications James Toscano to make sure he was aware of the bill. (Hit his voice mail; he must be busy in Richmond.) This is a fantastic way to jump start this project, which the Virginia Beach City Council has been leery of pulling the trigger on.

I await the reaction of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). They're adamantly anti-light rail, but does the private sector having point soften their stand? Stay tuned: this is going to be fun!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama Campaign Doing Voter Registration At Bus Transfer Centers

Going through Cedar Grove last Tuesday afternoon, there were young people doing voter registration. They had red forms with white trim on clipboards. I thought it suspicious that they spoke to the people around me but never came to me.

This evening at Pembroke East someone came...and identified himself. It was an Obama Campaign volunteer. He registered one lady waiting for the bus who had never voted before (bravo!), and we had a short chat.

Before someone points a finger at Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) over it, let me point out neither transfer center is HRT-owned property. They came and registered. Given bus demographics, they're probably getting more Democrats than Republicans.

Light Rail Now

During this relatively slow news period, I though I'd share with you a website that I have bookmarked.

Light Rail Now contains transit news, links, and counterpoints to misinformation being spread by mass transit critics. Currently they're featuring a story on Norfolk's Starter Line. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Transportation Special Session Open Thread

The General Assembly goes into special session on Monday to take up Transportation.

Give us your thoughts here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stay The Course At Rudee Loop

59% of you voted to stay the course at Rudee Loop, building a hotel there rather than an entertainment venue. Such had been called for in a 1998 consultant's report, with a land use plan churned out in 2001. Recently, a consultant (Sasaki) has envisioned a five star hotel there. However, some in the Resort Area want an entertainment venue instead.

I can't think of a much stupider use for that land that an entertainment venue. You can build an entertainment venue nearly anywhere, but a hotel has to be on the ocean to draw top dollar. While I grasp the argument for entertainment venues, a more sensible solution would be to plan them into the Strategic Growth Areas along the Norfolk Southern Right-of-Way, connecting them by light rail to the Resort Area and other localities in the region.

With the Transportation Special Session of the General Assembly to begin on Monday, I ask your preference on how to relieve congestion at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel: a bridge, an expanded bridge-tunnel, or building The Third Crossing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MAX On Day 2: Much Better

It was Day 2 for Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Metro Area eXpress (MAX). I again volunteered at Wards Corner in the morning (7-10 A.M.), then went riding later. Some notes:


Things were much better this morning. A couple slightly late buses, and some people who still didn't know. However, a small fraction of the problems that there were on Monday. Two major issues surfaced:

First, the lack of a MAX 30 Day ED (Seniors and Disabled) Pass. Not only had I argued for one in the March Public Hearing, but in May HRT Staff told the User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC) that there would be one...only to retract that statement the following week. It's particularly an issue at Wards Corner as you have disabled veterans passing through en route to the VA Hospital in Hampton.

Second, the schedule for the 961 might be tweaked. The HRT Staffer working with me was from the Planning Department, and she wants to change the schedule to aid transfers at Wards Corner.

Disappointment of the morning: when the driver I was looking at Monday morning came through Tuesday morning, I noticed she was wearing a ring. (All the good ones are spoken for!)


To take a look at the 962, I took it out to Chesapeake Square for dinner. It's a nice route that makes more sense in getting to Suffolk, but only operates at peak periods.

However, it got tied up in Downtown Tunnel traffic. In addition, there were two accidents on the Berkley Bridge on the outbound trip.


The final leg home should have been simple: take Route 20 in from Cedar Grove. However, with free service on the new MAX, a three bus routing struck me: 960 Cedar Grove to Silverleaf, 36 Silverleaf to Pembroke East, and then the 20 home. The funnier part is that a lady on board the 960 had the same idea.

The 960 was late to Silverleaf, getting caught first on St. Paul in downtown Norfolk, then an accident obstructed the ramp getting off of I-264. The good news: the 36 was even later, so I still caught it.

HR Transit Idea's Michael Ragsdale was at Silverleaf when I arrived, and we talked about Tuesday morning's events at Silverleaf. (See his blog.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mix And Match

This afternoon I made one of my now-familiar grocery shopping trips to Walmart. There was quite a sight on the bus coming home.

A young girl boarded wearing a Wendy's uniform. She had a soda from Hardee's and a box of chicken from Bojangles.

Pretlow Library

Kudos to the City of Norfolk on the new Pretlow Library. Today I made my first visit to the rebuilt branch.

I'd take it over any of the recently built small libraries (Bayside, Oceanfront, and Windsor Woods) in Virginia Beach.

First Morning Of The MAX

This morning was the first morning of service for Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Metro Area eXpress (MAX). I volunteered to help with riders, working the Wards Corner Direct Transfer Center 6:50-9:40 A.M. Some observations from working and riding today.


As on the first day of Cedar Grove, things were a mess, but could have been much worse. At least 40% of riders I talked to were unaware of the change. Some buses were late, destination signs malfunctioning on a few of the new 3000 series MAX buses, some drivers didn't have full and proper MAX information, etc. A consensus among three drivers talking was that the old direct radio system would have helped, allowing MAX and mainline drivers to speak to each other.

That said, a number of riders were quite happy with the change. On Route 961 (which serves Wards Corner), buses run more hours, twice as often at peak times, and the new buses are very nice.


To get to Wards Corner, I took the 961 up from Cedar Grove. The driver was stuck in his mainline local driving habits, not using some express tactics. Still we got to Wards Corner on schedule.

After finishing, I took the 961 back to Cedar Grove. We had a Peninsula driver who was unfamiliar with the downtown stops and who didn't know what mainline buses served Cedar Grove.

I then took the 960 to the Oceanfront and back. A huge improvement over taking the 20 all the way out there. However, the 960 may have too many frequencies. On the way back, another rider and I agreed the 960 could operate every thirty minutes peak and hourly off-season, off-peak. The savings could then be used for operating later into the evening. (Maybe on the 961, too.)


It's going to take 3-4 weeks for everyone to adjust, but the MAX should be a huge step forward for mass transit in Hampton Roads.

However, this morning's on-time issues only underlined the fact that express buses are only an interim measure, with a regional light rail network needed as the long-term solution.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MAX Launch Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Monday, June 16) is launch day for Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Metro Area eXpress (MAX), a new premium express bus service. There will be an official ceremony/photo op at the Silverleaf Park-and-Ride at 5 A.M.

With the new service, the major transfer centers along the routes will be staffed Monday-Friday by a mix of HRT Staff and volunteers.

HR Transit Ideas' Micheal Ragsdale plans to be at Silverleaf each morning.

I've been slated to go to the Wards Corner Direct Transfer Center. I plan to arrive around 8 A.M. after an inaugural MAX ride in from the Oceanfront. I've offered to stay all day so that I can help rush hour riders coming home.

The funny part is that the person sending me to Wards Corner will be working at Cedar Grove. (Don't want to work with me, Tamara?) Actually, I prefer working Wards Corner to Cedar Grove.

If you have trouble navigating the route network tomorrow (or any other day), call 222-6100. I expect the phone to be ringing off the hook the next couple days. For more information on the MAX, visit

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan Input

With the legally-required update of Virginia Beach's Comprehensive Plan about to begin, the Planning Department is soliciting public input for the new Plan.

To comment:

1. Go to

2. Click on "2008 Comprehensive Plan Update" on the upper right

3. Click on "2008 Public Information Comment Form" to let them know what you think

Last night Tom Pauls addressed the Council of Civic Organizations (CCO), Virginia Beach's civic league federation, on the Comp Plan. He made a Presentation covering it's basic aspects, explained city policy, and took questions. The session ran about 70 minutes.

It's Official: The VBTA Hates The Poor

Most of us had already figured this out, but we now have their own online comments to back it up: the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) hates the poor.

Yesterday evening VBTA Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun commented on The Virginian-Pravda's article on Norfolk's planned redevelopment of St. Paul's Quadrant. He calls poster "coolguy81" "CoolCommie". Coolguy's offense: simply wondering if the region's working poor were going to be able to afford the types of housing we're building. In Reid's World, empathy for the poor is "communism."

Then there was VBTA Vice Chair John McMullen on The Daily Press' website,0,4278549.story McMullen throws a tirade against the poor in the comments section of this anti-mass transit editorial.

Finally, there was VBTA Director Bob O'Connor just over a month ago on Virginia News Source ("Bob O'Connor Attacks The Poor And Disabled", May 1).

A candidate facing a VBTA-backed opponent who doesn't work the lower-income neighborhoods isn't thinking.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The 2008 Dance Card Is Set

Last night was the filing deadline for Virginia Beach City Council and we had - once again - a number of last minute filings.

Mayor: Meyera Oberndorf, Will Sessoms, Scott Taylor, John Moss

Meyera has the name recognition, while Sessoms has a pile of cash.

Does Scott Taylor blossom? Can he raise enough money and/or meet enough people that voters know who he is in November? Does Taylor become the choice for suburbanites tired of Oberndorf and Sessoms, but wary of John Moss' extremist supporters?

Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Chairman John Moss should be the Ron Paul of this campaign: a group of hardcore supporters, but polling in single digits.

The wild card here is the African-American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) endorsement. As a plethora of African-American voters should be coming to the polls for Obama (plus Allen and Jackson), how do they vote for Mayor?

At-Large: Rosemary Wilson, Georgia Allen, Leona "Lee" Shuler, Keith Strausbaugh, and Lawrence Teator

Rosemary Wilson is the clear favorite, but Georgia Allen's challenge should make this contest the most fun to watch.

At the Republican 2nd District Convention, I was told Leona "Lee" Shuler was being recruited in by the VBTA.

We also have Keith Strausbaugh and Lawrence Teator, neither of who will probably break out of single digits.

Rose Hall: Glenn Davis and Reba McClanan

This is Glenn Davis' race to lose. Besides the VBTA and Bill Bailey, who wants to continue Reba's automatic "No" vote?

Kempsville: Harry Diezel, Andrew Jackson, and Joe Flores

Flores' filing is the "WTF?!?" on the ballot. The African-American leaders who have been working with Flores on Lake Edward issues have been behind Jackson for a few months now.

If both Jackson and Flores are on the ballot in November, they split and Diezel wins. If one of them withdraws, Jackson (or Flores) can potentially win in a one-on-one.

Centerville: Bob Dyer

Dyer runs unopposed as the ballot petitions that were being circulated for Don Weeks were never filed. (There's an interesting story there, but I've been asked to play it cool.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Georgia Allen Files For City Council At-Large

In a move I was told about three weeks ago, Georgia Allen has filed to run for the Virginia Beach City Council in the At-Large race. Georgia has served as President of the Virginia Beach Chapter of the NAACP since 2000, temporarily stepping down to run for the House of Delegates three years ago.

While the At-Large field is Rosemary Wilson's to lose, I welcome my good friend Georgia to the fray. Five months of Georgia going around town attacking Rosemary's record should be the most fun we've had in Virginia Beach politics in a long time. I'm sure Allen will push issues that our incumbents have tried to ignore.

Also running At-Large are Lawrence Teator and Keith Strausbaugh.

Monday, June 9, 2008

There Is A God Of Mercy And Justice

With Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) new Metro Area eXpress (MAX) premium express bus service to launch next Monday (June 16), HRT has been trying to promote it. I've volunteered to help, working at transfer centers the last three weekdays. This morning made for a trip that regular HRT riders would realize beat the odds, while it proves that existing bus service isn't as bad as the common public perception.


According to the original game plan, HRT was to be at 19th Street & Pacific Avenue (Virginia Beach) on Monday morning. I was sent an e-mail at 2:20 A.M., which I read at 5:55 A.M., telling me it would be the Newport News Transportation Center (NNTC) instead. That sent me scrambling to shower, get dressed, and make it to the bus stop within thirty minutes. Even then, the odds were stacked against me actually making it to NNTC by 9 A.M.

20 Inbound

Getting to the bus stop about 6:15 A.M, I was told the 6 A.M. Cutback had just come past. That would mean I would need the regular 20 Inbound, which would leave me no room for error.

The 20 arrived about six minutes late, having had to pick up someone in a wheelchair. The driver pushed it, making it to the Military Circle Direct Transfer Center (DTC) a couple minutes early.

15 Outbound

I then needed the 15 from Military Circle to Wards Corner, a bus that is chronically late at rush hour. We pulled out slightly late, yet made it to Evelyn Butts a couple minutes early. Despite
having to stop at five consecutive bus stops on Military Highway, we still reached Wards Corner on time.

Route 61

The soon-to-be-discontinued 61 was five minutes late arriving at Wards Corner. Surprisingly, there were only 11 passengers going to the Peninsula. (I've seen twice that many at midday.) Paula Miller, with her House of Delegates tags, passed us on Willoughby Spit.

We arrived in Newport News about seven minutes late.


Bus regulars could tell you I shouldn't have been able to do the above. There were too many things that could have gone wrong that didn't. Then, that shows that our transit system can actually work.

I go to Hampton Tuesday morning. I'll leave a one bus cushion, not risking getting lucky again.

Section 8 Problems In Hampton Roads

Monday's Virginian-Pravda reports problems finding housing that will take Section 8 vouchers in Norfolk and Portsmouth. As I have a Section 8 voucher myself (due to disability), I have some insight on this one.

First of all, note the numbers: Norfolk issues more vouchers despite having about half the population of Virginia Beach, while Portsmouth issues about 65% despite having about 25% of the population. Virginia Beach should have a much larger voucher program than it does. If it did, the problems finding an unit would be infinitely greater. As is, only one-third of the landlords on the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation's (DHNP) "affordable housing" list will accept Section 8 vouchers.

Second, it raises another question: Where will the region's poor live? Our businesses require blue-collar labor, and that labor needs housing.

Then, I have a simple solution for some young lady trying to find housing that is Section 8 subsidized: marry me. I have a voucher and a two bedroom apartment that is in the program.
All she'd have to do is go down to DHNP and complete the requisite paperwork.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Look At International Student Workers

Today's Virginian-Pravda takes a look at the international student workers in Virginia Beach.

Having formerly lived (1989-1992) and worked (1984, 1987-1991) in Ocean City, MD, I can tell you Ocean City's Tourism sector would have imploded entering the 1990s without them. It was simply impossible to staff the myriad of businesses with homegrown talent.

The real upside for Virginia Beach in taking them is that they leave at the end of the Summer. We don't have the army of unemployed seasonal workers we would have without them and the associated problems. However, their care does bring a few problems that we have been slow to address, especially seasonal housing.

Can the nativism and welcome them to Virginia Beach!

Tidewater Hotels & Resorts Unloads

Tidewater Hotels & Resorts sold it's hotels in Virginia Beach. It held over one-third of the rooms at the Oceanfront.

My huge concern here is how well can Barcelo Crestline compete with Professional Hospitality Resources (PHR)? For a free market to work there has to be effective competition. To it's credit, PHR has been upgrading the overall product in the Resort Area. Can Barcelo Crestline keep pace?

The hospital monopoly has brought a decline in health care quality to Virginia Beach. May the same thing not happen with the top drawer hotel rooms at the Oceanfront.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Loud Shot Across Reba's Bow

In the poll that just closed, 92% of you favor Glenn Davis in the Rose Hall District race for Virginia Beach City Council. Only 8% voted for incumbent Reba McClanan.

The new poll asks what should be built at Rudee Loop. The City of Virginia Beach owns virtually all the land there, and for at least a decade has envisioned a four star hotel on the property. A 1998 consultant's report recommended one, while a 2001 public process drew up a land use plan that included one. The draft Resort Area Strategic Action Plan puts a five star hotel at Rudee Loop. However, some Resort interests are lobbying for an entertainment venue (like proposed at the Dome site) instead. Have your say!

One Regional Authority Is Tyranny...But Six Regional Commissions Are Okay?

That's what you have to believe to take seriously the Transportation Plan from the Tidewater Libertarian Party (TLP). Or is that the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA)? While the TLP has gone around calling it their Plan, the copy I got at Governor Kaine's Transportation Town Hall Meeting labels it as VBTA, even listing the VBTA Board of Directors at the bottom. (Okay, what's the real difference between the TLP and VBTA?)

I read it on the bus to today's RAC meeting. Some obvious holes:

1. While calling for the abolition of the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority (HRTA), it would set up six regional commissions. (So regional government is bad...unless the VBTA proposes it?)

2. "Each Transportation project over $1B in costs requires an individual regional referendum for voter approval." Since Virginia Beach light rail would be less than half that, the VBTA should support building it without a referendum. (Oh, they've already asked City Council for one, haven't they?)

3. We get Reid Greenmun's "The Third Crossing and 460 are all about the port" argument again. (Yawn)

4. The Plan calls for "a new 'citizen-friendly' process and new project selection criteria", while never starting to specify what those should be.

In short, the "Plan" can't be taken seriously.

RAC June 5, 2008

This afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met for it's monthly meeting.

Commissioners were given a Briefing on the Old Beach Framers Market, now operating in a parking lot of Croc's restaurant on Saturday mornings.

There was an overview of the Tourism Growth Investment Fund (TGIF). The good news is that within a couple years, debt being retired will give the TGIF the capacity to service new projects.

The Planning Department's Stephen White covered the Resort Area Strategic Action Plan (SAP), as some Commissioners were unable to attend Monday's Charrette. Commissioners were asked to suggest, via e-mail, possible tweaks to the SAP. Planning/Design Review Committee Chairman emphasized the implementation actions, so this doesn't become another dusty doorstop. The RAC unanimously endorsed asking for a City position specifically for someone to work on implementation.

The Oceanfront Enhancement Committee (OEC) reported on behavioral problems impacting the neighborhoods around 16th Street. As colorful as some of the behavior is, more entertaining may be the solutions being drafted to deal with it.

Back to the SAP, it is now slated to go to the Planning Commission in August, and probably not to City Council until after the November election.

Don Weeks Drops From Mayor's Race, Will Run In Centerville Against Bob Dyer

I received phone calls from two sitting City Councilman this afternoon telling me that Don Weeks has dropped his Mayoral bid in order to challenge Bob Dyer for the Centerville District seat on the Virginia Beach City Council.

Weeks served on City Council from 1998 to 2000. Running for reelection he got only 26% of the vote against Bob Mandigo.

He had no chance for Mayor; he has only a mathematical chance for Council.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kaine's Virginia Beach Transportation Town Hall Meeting

The Virginian-Pravda beat me up with the story Then, the reporter didn't have to take Route 20 across town afterwards to get home.

Sitting in the second row on the left side were Eileen Levandoski of, Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun, HR Transit Ideas Michael Ragsdale, and I. (Ragsdale met Mike Barrett on Monday, then Greenmun on Tuesday.)

Statistic Of The Night: Transportation Spending As A Percentage Of Personal Income. Nationwide the average is 1.29%, but Virginia is only 1.10%.

In was the third Town Hall Meeting I've attended held by Governor Kaine, but he has yet to call on me at question time. I wanted to ask him why the Northern Virginia Package has Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and Metro money, but the Hampton Roads Package has zero mass transit money.

Governor Kaine gave two reasons for using a Sales Tax increase for Transportation rather than the Gasoline Tax. One, gas prices are already high. Two, many legislators oppose using the Gasoline Tax, so depending on it could kill the entire plan.

Humorous moments of the night:

1. When the slide came up for the three components of the Plan, pictured was Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Bus 921. The hitch is that it's an Orion, the oldest of the forty-foot models in HRT's Southside fleet. (Rustbucket!)

2. After all his whining online the past few days, I offered Reid a box of Kleenex after the meeting was over. (He grinned and turned them down.)

Personally, I could support Governor Kaine's Plan if a regional Gasoline Tax replaced the regional Sales Tax in the Hampton Roads Package.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Coffee With Scott Taylor

Before going to the convention center today, I had coffee (actually, two diet root beers) with Scott Taylor at Bad Ass Coffee. Scott has filed to run for Mayor of Virginia Beach in November's election.

He came across as a good, sincere guy. What really impressed me was the amount of homework he's doing: went to the Department of Economic Development (DED) to learn from them, went to Norfolk Southern to learn rail transit, etc. He should be able to make some sharp points on the stump.

Okay, "He's a longshot!" you say. He's working on a number of small donors, and a grassroots organization. If Weeks and/or Moss withdraws, Taylor could give Oberndorf and Sessoms a run for it. (Alright, Dean won't let Moss withdraw.)

Scott Taylor's website is at

Resort Area Strategic Action Plan Unveiling

The consulting team from Sasaki brought their plan to the convention center this afternoon. There was a huge crowd, nearly filling Meeting Room 5 at 2 P.M. on a Monday afternoon.

The Plan brings light rail all the way to the Dome site. Medium-density redevelopment along 19th Street. The Oceanfront redevelopment focuses on the block between Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. The streetcar for Pacific Avenue was dropped, with buses going one direction each on Atlantic and Pacific.

The SAP will be tweaked before going to the Planning Commission. Items brought up: needs to be more bicycle-friendly, more green space along 19th Street, and more youth areas.

Humorous moment: Reba McClanan showed up. Think she's sweating?

The SAP should soon be on the City's website for download.

The VBTA's Litany Of Lies On Light Rail

Over the weekend Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun gave us a circus on light rail. You can read his comments here

Among his lies:

1. Why toll the Downtown Tunnel over Midtown Tunnel improvements?

It's the law, which he later admits he knew all along.

2. Approved light rail goes nowhere near the Midtown Tunnel.

It goes within a few hundred yards of it.

3. The port is the main beneficiary of expanding the Midtown Tunnel.

Yeah, it must have nothing to do with the thousands of cars that back up there daily.

4. He claims three tubes would be built at the Midtown Tunnel, costing "hundreds of millions of dollars."

No, the Portsmouth City Council has requested light rail accomodations through the second tube, not a third tube.

5. His first post is Messneresque, with smears by innuendo.

It reads like a Talknet post by the "Official Spokesperson". Fittingly, Greenmun was formerly the pencil-pusher for Messner.

Also, notice how Reid Greenmun simply ignores the law when it doesn't fit his extremist political agenda:

1. He wants to separate the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels for tolling, a violation of state law.

2. He wants to place a surcharge on bus riders to pay for light rail, a violation of Federal law.

The bottom line: the VBTA is going to lie about anything and everything to try to stop construction of a regional light rail network, yet alone extending it into Virginia Beach.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Adam Race And The Restraining Order

This story is very interesting: parents of a disruptive youth in Bertha. MN have been hit with a Restraining Order to prevent them from bringing their severely autistic son to Mass As a devout Catholic who is legally disabled, I wish to give my two cents worth.

I have no problem with Mr. & Mrs. Race coming to Mass, so long as they don't bring their disruptive son. Mass is supposed to be a time of quiet contemplation, and anything that distracts from that shouldn't be put up with. If a baby starts crying during Mass, parents know to take it outside until it calms down. Given that, why do the Races think their son should be any different?

If Adam Race (the autistic son) wishes to receive Eucharist, The Church does allow for an Eucharistic minister for the sick (or - yes - a priest) to bring him Eucharist outside the Mass.