Friday, August 28, 2009

68% Want An Ambulance Fee

When asked how to pay for the CIP projects bundle, 68% wanted to impose an Ambulance Fee. Chesapeake and Norfolk already have such fees, using a Virginia Beach company to handle the billing. 17% want "Other", 9% a Property Tax increase, and 4% to Cut Elsewhere to pay for the projects.

The new question: would you buy a number 7 Philadelphia Eagles jersey?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TDCHR August 27, 2009

This afternoon the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), held it's August meeting.

HRT was forced to seek easements for Norfolk light rail. No speakers showed up for the eminent domain Public Hearing, and the Resolution to condemn unanimously passed.

The demand for paratransit in Hampton Roads continues to grow. There were 106 interviews for Handiride service in June, 130 interviews in July.

Overall ridership on HRT in FY 2009 was up 1.9%. Commuter services surged, growing 20%.

There was a slight Budget shortfall in July due to HRT operating under the previous diesel fuel contract, which was at a higher price. The new contract will correct the situation and leave HRT in the black.

Southside Operations and Maintenance will move to the former Ford plant on the weekend of October 23. That will be a temporary home while a new facility is built at 18th Street, to replace the current former streetcar base, which is over a century old and woefully inadequate.

The TDCHR's Executive Committee has drafted a Legislative Package for 2010, which will go to the full TDCHR at it's September meeting.

2009 JT Walk & Beach Party

The 2nd annual JT Walk & Beach Party will be held October 4 at 11 A.M. at the 31st Street Hilton. 50% of proceeds will go to fight ALS; 50% will go towards funding JT's Grommet Island Park. The party afterwards will have food (oysters & bbq) and live music (the bands Butter and Right On).

For details, the website is at

TPPC August 27, 2009

This morning the Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's August meeting. It was the shortest in quite awhile, only running about 45 minutes.

The TPPC was shown a PowerPoint Presentation on JT's Grommet Park, and approved the park in concept unanimously. Since the TPPC has jurisdiction over Resort Area parks, final details will need the TPPC's endorsement.

Richard Cere of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) gave a ridership summary for July. July, 2009 was up about 7% over July, 2008. More comprehensive figures were unavailable due to a software glitch at HRT.

Staff has narrowed the verbiage for new bus lane signs for Atlantic Avenue's dedicated lanes. The signs will read "HRT Buses Only" with a separate VBWave logo sign. Examples should be presented to the TPPC by it's September meeting, maybe earlier via e-mail.

Councilman John Uhrin wanted to "editorialize" on the Laskin Road Gateway project, objecting to The Virginian-Pravda's characterization of it. First, the biggest item in Phase I will be new sewage pipe, with the main beneficiary being the nearby residential neighborhoods. Second, the majority of the cost will be to cover the road punch-through for 32nd Street, which will mainly serve residents trying to skirt heavier Resort Area traffic. He wanted people to push those points at cocktail parties. (I don't do cocktail parties, but I do blog.)

Finally, Mark Schnaufer from the Planning Department gave an update on light rail.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Washington Dems Committing Political Suicide

One of the most fundamental axioms in politics is that the one group that will always go to the polls to vote is senior citizens. Even if no one else shows up, seniors will. No smart politician ticks them off.

First the Dems propose to pay for Obamacare by raiding Medicare funds to cover the costs. Now they want no COLA increase for Social Security in 2010 and probably 2011.

Mrs. Pelosi, I hope you don't have more than 15 months worth of stationary in stock....

Anyone Have An Explaination?

From time to time you will see things on Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) buses that don't make sense. I toss this one out to my fellow bus riders to see if anyone can figure it out.

At 5 P.M. today at the Military Circle Transfer Center, a man got on the Cutback Outbound 15, only to get off at the first stop, on Glenrock Road. The stop is within a couple hundred yards of the transfer center, and he wasn't carrying bags.

When he could have walked over there easily, why put up with having to do the transfer and the wait?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Virginia Beach On Facebook

With the elimination of City Page and Beach magazine in Budget cuts, the City of Virginia Beach is looking for new ways to communicate with the residents. One of them: the City now has it's own Facebook page. If you have an account, add it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Change Begins in Suffolk

I previously visited Suffolk to check out it's bus service after it was reintegrated into Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) network ("Riding HRT In Suffolk" May 11, 2009). On Monday HRT began making changes to standardize service delivery practices in Suffolk with those used in the other six cities that HRT serves. Having the day free today, I returned to Suffolk to see what was new and how it was being received.

First of all, congratulations to HRT's planners for the job they did with Suffolk's routes. The twisting maze nature of the routes has been largely straightened out so they look and ride like bus routes elsewhere in Hampton Roads. Today's journey felt much shorter in that we weren't making a turn every couple blocks. The mangled nature of the previous route lines was such a mess that HRT Staff wasn't sure at first where to start untangling it.

For the most part, the changes appear to be well-received. Transitioning has created some confusion. Unable to have all new bus signs up on Day 1, current stops are a hodgepodge of newly-posted bus stops, newly-designated courtesy stops, and moved stops at some shopping centers. Suffolk is effectively playing by three different sets of rules: old, transitional, and new.

In addition, HRT Customer Service personnel spent many hours in Suffolk last week to try to prepare passengers for what was to come. The consensus today was that they made a major impact on smoothing things over.

Every bus system has it's quirks, and I discovered one in Suffolk today: both Routes 72 and 74 turn around in the same Farmer Joe's market parking lot. Route 74 goes there early during it's hour block, Route 72 later. Therefore, you can take the 74 to Farmer Joe's, make a quick shopping trip, then catch the 72 back to Suffolk Bus Plaza all within an hour despite hourly service.

Of course, the bottom line is how does Suffolk bus ridership respond to the changes? Does ridership increase due to improved service? Does ridership go down due to route changes ending what was effectively door-to-door service for some? Suffolk's ridership numbers will be very interesting to watch over the next several months.

Tops For Growing Up

Virginia Beach has been named by U.S. News And World Report as one of the Top 10 places in the United States for a child to grow up.

Let's see the usual suspects try to find something negative in that designation....

Rolling Antique Show

I previously posted on the overage Gillig Phantoms that Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has brought from the Peninsula to the Southside for service ("Transit Notes August 12, 2009"). This morning I spotted five of them in service: three on Route 20, one on Route 9, and one on Route 44.

The funny part: one of them (Bus 509) was broken down this afternoon, blocking Stage 2 at the Cedar Grove Transfer Center (busiest in Hampton Roads) at rush hour! Get that piece of junk out of the way!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

76% Want The CIP Project Bundle

76% want the CIP Project Bundle done, with 23% opposed.

That brings us to the other half of the question: how to pay for them? Property Tax increase, imposing an Ambulance Fee (as Chesapeake and Norfolk do), Cut Elsewhere to make funds available, or something else?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Vick Signs With The Eagles

As you've probably heard by now, Michael Vick has signed a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Two areas of thought:

1. The only sense it makes is Donovan McNabb's chronic injury problems. Otherwise, why blow that much salary cap space for another quarterback?

2. At the 8 stadiums the Eagles will visit this season, they're loading up on copies of the Baha Men's Who Let The Dogs Out to bombard Vick with when he comes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Community Legislative Package Meeting

This evening the City of Virginia Beach held it's annual Community Legislative Package meeting at the convention center. About 80 people were in attendance.

The three big topics of the night:

1. Transportation - everyone agrees our roads are a problem; how will we pay for better? Bob Purkey thinks that the 2011 redistricting will shift enough General Assembly seats from rural areas to Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia that we'll be able to redraw the state's funding formula.

Joe Bouchard covered why using the General Fund for Transportation has clear limits: Federal law requires that to get Federal Transportation matching funds, the state must have a dedicated revenue stream able to make the match. Since General Fund monies don't meet the legal definition, they can't be applied.

2. Public Employee Pensions - the uncovered pension liabilities by the state are 32% for teachers, 24% overall. Purkey stated that half of the states are now issuing bonds to raise the funds to cover pension liabilities.

In addition, the City of Virginia Beach's number of people on disability for job-related injuries is six times the state average.

Business leaders want Virginia to move from a defined benefit to a defined contribution system. However, Bobby Mathieson hedged. (What did I post over the weekend about him and the public employees unions?)

3. Dillon Rule - Glen Davis continued his campaign against it's restrictions. The consensus was that some of it's restrictions need relaxed, but it should largely remain in place.

A few other issues of note:

1. CCO Previous President Chandler Scarborough called for workers compensation insurance reform. As a property manager, when he has to call a contractor out for a repair, about half the price is the embedded cost of workers compensation insurance.

2. Former Amerigroup CEO and state Senate hopeful Jeff McWaters wants to tackle Medicaid reform, arguing that Virginia can both cut the cost and improve benefits at the same time.

3. Mac Rawls wants tax credits to aid maintenance of historic structures. Barry Knight stated he would patron such a bill if City Council endorses it in the legislative package.

The Blooper Of The Night Award goes to School Board member Brent McKenzie. Speaking on the School Board's requests, he said they want to be able to open schools prior to Labor Day "when Labor Day falls in the second week of August." (He's a Facebook friend, but I have to call a Dem on that slip.)

City Council will be be briefed on the draft package on September 1, there will then be a Public Hearing, with Council approval expected on September 22.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pembroke Area Implementation Plan Briefing

First item on the Agenda this morning for the Planning Commission was a Briefing on the draft Pembroke Area Implementation Plan.

Strategic Growth Area (SGA) 4 is about 1,200 acres, roughly the size of downtown Richmond. The Plan provides for 210-220 blocks of urban redevelopment. To put that in perspective, Town Center is only 10 blocks. At a bare minimum, the Plan would produce:

1. 6 million square feet of commercial space

2. 11 million square feet of office space

3. 12,000-15,000 housing units

4. 3,000 hotel rooms

Given how the Plan is executed, it could be more.

A couple things of note. First, the Plan puts the streets in the SGA into a classic urban grid pattern. Second, light rail would be elevated across Independence Boulevard, settling that debate on the sane side.

The Plan is slated to be voted on by the Planning Commission on September 9, then City Council on September 22. Given the way a few Commissioners were gushing, it's a safe bet that Planning approves it.

Transit Notes August 12, 2009

A couple things after riding the buses of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) today:

1. This morning I saw Bus 532 being used on Route 20. It was the Outbound 20, arriving at Pembroke East at 7:15 A.M.

For the 98% of you unfamiliar with HRT's vehicle numbering system, Bus 532 is a rolling museum piece from the Peninsula fleet. With the "Hampton Residential Service" (read: school buses) recently discontinued, is HRT sending antiques from Victoria Boulevard to serve as spares on the Southside?

Michael Ragsdale of HR Transit Ideas spotted Bus 531 on Route 12 this afternoon.

2. How many of my fellow bus riders pay that much attention to which route schedules are stocked on the buses? Am I the only one who has noticed the plethora of Portsmouth schedules on board this Summer?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Farmers Market Scores Big

The Virginia Beach Farmers Market was named in the Top 20 overall among farmers markets in the U.S. The contest was held by the American Farmland Trust.

Given the dusting we took from Forbes, it's great to have some good news.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fun At The NR&HA

The past week has brought us some interesting news on the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NR&HA).

First, three developers rented houses in Broad Creek in violation of deed covenants.

Now we learn the NR&HA is in danger of defaulting on the loan it took out for East Beach redevelopment.

Here's the kicker: R&HA advocates in Virginia Beach have pointed to East Beach as a showcase of what a R&HA can do. Beach grassroots activists are now laughing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Villaneuva Ice Cream Social

On Saturday afternoon there was an ice cream social held by Ron Villaneuva's campaign for the House of Delegates. It was at his campaign headquarters on Independence Boulevard.

The M.C. of the event was Virginia Beach City Councilman Glen Davis. The guest of honor was House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith. Griffith presented a check to Villanueva's campaign, plus a pledge to send more later.

Also in attendance were Republican Party of Virginia Beach Chairman (RPVB) Kenny Golden, Delegates Bob Tata and Sal Iaquinto, Congressional candidates Scott Riegel and Chuck Smith, state Senate hopeful Jeff McWaters, and previous 21st District Delegate John Welch. Intriguingly, neither Chris Stolle nor Rosemary Wilson was there.

Let's hope we can get Ron Villaneuva elected in November. Only the public employees unions have anything to gain by keeping Bobby Mathieson in Richmond. In fact, Mathieson's bills only have a 16% passage rate in the General Assembly. Of those, some are no-brainers like codifying the closure of the gun background check loophole.

Frontal Assault Or Lay Siege?

One of the fun topics to discuss in Virginia Beach political circles is the question "How do we destroy what's left of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA)?" The consensus is that the pivotal issue will be light rail (LRT); the question is exactly how?

One Councilman who is both pro-LRT and pro-referendum wants it on the ballot primarily as a means to finish off the VBTA. The logic is that a referendum win would be the political bullet through the heads of Robert Dean and John Moss.

I disagree with that strategy for a few reasons. First, you have to consider destroying the VBTA much more important than LRT. In fact, you're willing to risk LRT going down the tubes in order to take out Dean and Moss. Second, it ignores recent history: while Deaniacs have had some referenda success in the past 11 years, no Deaniac has won a City Council seat in the 21st Century. Third, for such a strategy to work, light rail would need to win in a landslide. The VBTA could actually gain from a close loss.

Personally, I would lay siege and grind them down. The VBTA should be clinically dead by 2013 if you play your cards smart.

2010 - the last opportunity for the VBTA to make even a half-assed stab for City Council seats. They radically overplay the LRT issue. Couple that with their habitual rhetoric on taxes and they'll sound hopelessly angry on the stump. VBTA Council candidates lose everywhere big.

2012- the Obama reelection ballot. That means a heavy minority turnout, and the VBTA has no traction in the minority communities. No VBTA Council candidate breaks out of single digits. It's over for them.

Back to LRT - in late 2013 or 2014 we have the FFGA Signing Ceremony. Reid Greenmun is the lone picketer outside. After all, the VBTA is clinically dead and has nothing to throw at a done deal.


Let me count the ways:

1. Extremist Agenda - they are so far to the fringe right that they couldn't find the mainstream with the Hubble telescope. Voters want realistic, constructive solutions. Not conspiracy theories.

2. No Resources - they have no money and few volunteers to throw into City Council campaigns. Last year they put virtually everything they had into trying to get John Moss elected Mayor, and couldn't even get 16% of the vote.

Winning Council seats under Virginia Beach's at-large electoral system requires a pile of money or an army of volunteers. The VBTA has neither and no realistic chance of getting them.

3. Frontbench - Reid Greenmun is the youngster - at age 59. By the time LRT goes operational, many will be in the retirement home or dead.

4. Demographics - the VBTA's only real appeal is among middle class White ultraconservatives. As they shrink as a proportion of Virginia Beach's population, there goes the VBTA's voter base.

Simply keep LRT off the ballot and grind them down. The VBTA will be destroyed with few casualties to sane forces and without risking much in the process.

Friday, August 7, 2009

China Garden Closes

In the latest of the merry-go-round at Pembroke Mall, the China Garden restaurant has closed. It was the Chinese restaurant at the very front of the mall with a buffet.

Sometimes you need a scorecard to know who's at the mall, who's not, and where they are.

Not Very Hopeful

55% of you are pessimistic about the chances of the Minority Roundtable have a good impact. 27% were neutral, while 16% were optimistic.

The new poll question will be about the issue coming out of this week's Virginia Beach City Council Retreat: Do you support the CIP project package? Have fun!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Check The Film, VBPD!

On the way to today's RAC meeting, the bus I was on ran a red light. We were heading eastbound on Virginia Beach Boulevard, pushing through the light at Independence Boulevard. Yes, that light has one of those Photo Red cameras up. Does VBPD now send a Summons to HRT?

FYI, HRT policy requires that the Operator of the bus pay any fines out of her pocket. No agency funds will be used.

RAC August 6, 2009

The August meeting of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) was held this afternoon.

There was a Presentation on JT's Grommet Park by Bruce Thompson and Billy Almond. The park would be a wheelchair-capable playground on the beach at Rudee Loop. The RAC endorsed the project in concept unanimously (who was going to vote "No"?!?), and it now goes to two committees (PDRC and TPPC) to iron out the details. The park's components would be portable so it could be moved - if necessary - for future Rudee Loop redevelopment. Please note, VBTA: the park's construction would be funded through private donations, not tax dollars.

The Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) covered two projects of note. First, Phase I of the Laskin Gateway will begin on September 10. Constant updates on the project will be posted at Second, the Wendy's at Pacific Avenue and 22nd Street (haven't most locals been there?) is looking to do a major renovation. The PDRC was pleased with the building plan, but requested an improved landscaping plan.

The Gift Of Tourism website has been upgraded. First, there is now a "Contact Us" function available for you to send in your questions and comments on Virginia Beach Tourism. Second, updated economic impact information (from ODU's Report on the 2008 season) is included.

Finally, approval was given for the proposed pilot program of an outdoor ice skating rink in the 31st Street Park from Thanksgiving to February 28. As the planned Dome site entertainment venue would have an indoor ice skating rink, the 31st Street rink will probably be only an interim amenity until that facility opens.

VBTA To The RPVB Again

At Saturday morning's Republican Party of Virginia Beach (RPVB) Breakfast, the scheduled Program is one of Reid Greenmun's conspiracy-filled rants against light rail. This follows Beth Allen speaking about a month ago on her hit piece against Town Center.

First, both Allen's "White Paper" on Town Center and Greenmun's May Presentation to the VBTA on light rail have been factually refuted. They were full of inaccuracies.

Second, why is the RPVB letting itself be duped? This is the same game the VBTA used to try to play with the CCO: having zero credibility itself, the VBTA will try to get on the agenda of a second group with credibility to push it's extremist agenda. The CCO caught on to how the VBTA was trying to use it and cut off VBTA Presentations. The RPVB would be well-advised to do the same.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stick To The Plan!

During their Retreat on Tuesday, all members of the Virginia Beach City Council agreed to sign a letter to Walgreens asking them to preserve the former post office building at Atlantic Avenue and 24th Street. Walgreens has bought it, planning to demolish it for a new pharmacy. I have a couple serious problems here:

First, the City made moves to preserve the Pepper's building, then the Roland Court Theater, and now the old post office. Council had previously passed the Resort Area Strategic Action Plan (RASAP), which maps out urban redevelopment of the Resort Area. To point out the obvious, urban redevelopment isn't going to happen if the City repeatedly tries to preserve decidedly unurban buildings.

Second, having been active in the public participation drawing up the RASAP, I'm well-aware that Sasaki (i.e. the consultant) identified the block between Atlantic and Pacific Avenues as the key to inducing redevelopment. All three of the structures Council wants to maintain fall in the target area.

If Council wants to execute the RASAP, they need to stop doing things which defeat the purpose of the Plan!

2009 Individual Council Priorities

At the City Council Retreat, each member was asked to name their Top 3 priorities for the coming year. Some went more than 3; some fewer. The following are their priorities, from the official list distributed this morning:

Bob Dyer

1. Lynnhaven Parkway Phase XI (i.e. punch-through to Chesapeake)

2. Centerville Turnpike expansion (Indian River Road to Lynnhaven Parkway)

3. SGA #2

Jim Wood

1. EIS/AA/Community Conversation: Light Rail and Public Transit

2. Animal Shelter

Ron Villaneuva

1. SGA #2

2. West Bayside Recreation Center

3. Dome site

Glen Davis

1. Major Projects and Funding

2. City Revenues Diversification

3. Transit Solution: EIS/Next Steps

4. Aged Properties/Commercial Areas

John Uhrin

1. SGA Process and Infrastructure Changes

2. Retool DED around Tourism, Military, Energy, Health care, and Agriculture business

3. Rudee Walk

4. Dome site

5. convention center headquarters hotel

Barbara Henley

1. Comprehensive Plan: Adoption, link to CIP, and Strategic Plan

2. Agriculture Business Growth

3. Public Transit: EIS/AA/Public Information & Engagement

4. Open Space: Funding Mechanism

Rosemary Wilson

1. Revitalization of Commercial Centers

2. Animal Shelter

3. 17th Street Corridor

4. Transportation

Louis Jones

1. Western Bayside Recreation Center

2. Community Resource Center

3. Water/Sewer Infrastructure: Wesleyan Drive - Burton Station

4. Dome site

5. Lesner Bridge

6. Packaged Projects with dedicated tax

Harry Diezel

1. Transportation: Road Maintenance Funding and Projects

2. Neighborhood Revitalization

3. Infrastructure Maintenance Program

4. Fiscal Stability

Bill DeSteph

1. More Job Growth and Expansion

2. Transportation Projects

3. Offshore Energy (Wind & Natural Gas)

4. Animal Shelter

Will Sessoms

1. Funding Mechanism for Packaged Projects

2. Open Space: Funding

3. Something for Employees

The list was hand-written by Facilitator Lyle Sumek. I dropped descriptions on a few for brevity. In addition, a couple were listed with one word only (one priority each of Bob Dyer and Rosemary Wilson), and I couldn't figure out what was meant even after looking at my own notes.

2009 Virginia Beach City Council Retreat - Day 2

Council reconvened this morning for Day 2 of their annual Retreat. As scheduled, Economic Development, Transportation, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Tourism were covered. Governance matters were skimmed over as everyone was ready to adjourn after nearly 14 1/2 hours.

Intriguing matters today:

1. Animal shelter - Mayor Sessoms repeated his goal of wanting groundbreaking on a new facility no later than July 1. 2010.

On Monday Councilman Ron Villaneuva related casual discussions he had with Farm Fresh about possibly converting a closed grocery store in Centerville District to serve the need.

2. Transportation - wanting public buy-in on light rail, Council is looking at even broader Transportation discussions with the public. As the Hampton Roads Center for Civic Engagement (HRCCE) has already been planning to hold stakeholder meetings on the issue, the City may partner with the HRCCE.


In today's Virginian-Pravda, Aaron Applegate reported on a proposal to bundle a number of projects and couple them with a dedicated funding mechanism to jump-start them. While Applegate's story specifically mentioned a Property Tax increase, the source of the funds was never mentioned by name during the meeting on either day of the Retreat.

This afternoon Mayor Sessoms threw out a draft list of initiatives for consideration in such a measure: West Bayside Recreation Center, Lynnhaven Parkway Phase XI (i.e. the punch-through to Chesapeake), two replacement fire stations (Chesapeake Beach and Blackwater), a fund to lure Research and Development entities, additional Open Space money, Burton Station redevelopment, a new Animal Shelter, and bike trails.


The following items Council wants to tackle on a regional basis:

1. Higher Speed Rail

2. Alternative/Renewable Energy

3. Road funds

4. Light rail

5. 3rd Crossing/U.S. 460 upgrade

6. Gangs

7. Homelessness


This is what Council put on their state agenda:

1. VRS/Defined contribution (for City employees' retirement)

2. Higher Speed Rail

3. A new outlying field for Oceana

4. Roads Funding

5. Lynnhaven Parkway Phase XI

6. Third Crossing/U.S. 460 upgrade

7. Dillon Rule


Council decided to have a Community Summit in September. The following are the items for it's agenda:

1. Sustainable City

2. Public Transit/Light Rail

3. Community Engagement

4. Project Package & Funding Mechanism

5. City Achievements of the past year

6. City Partnership Opportunities

Council will listen to the public on these first, then hold an additional meeting to vote out their priorities for the coming year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 Virginia Beach City Council Retreat - Day 1

Today was the first day of the annual Virginia Beach City Council Retreat, held in the convention center's Meeting Room 2B.

The morning had three main features. First, a look back at the 2004 Priorities, to see what had been accomplished. Second, a listing of achievements during the past year. Third, a discussion of sustainability in municipal policy and what it meant in Virginia Beach.

In the afternoon, Fiscal Policy was covered, and Economic Development begun.

There were two nuggets today:

1. A proposal was floated to create a package of CIP projects with a funding mechanism. The rationale is that, with construction prices low and Obama Administration spending policies likely to trigger double-digit inflation, bidding out a package ASAP could save the City millions of dollars in costs.

2. A Community Summit may be held on a September evening to discuss a half-dozen issues with residents. Council is expected to make a decision tomorrow.

Tuesday morning Council will reconvene and finish Economic Development. That will be followed by Transportation, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Tourism. Finally, Governance matters will be covered.

Today's session was more lightly attended than some in the past. I knew everyone there expect one woman who left at lunchtime.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

More VBTA Light Rail Follies

I thought you'd want to join in on the laughs. There's fun at the Wally's World blog at Virginia News Source.

1. Wally Erb put up a post noting a run on land adjacent to Norfolk's planned Military Highway Station.

Uh...Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun has been running around telling everyone that Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) can't happen here due to the financial markets. Erb reports it is happening, nuking Greenmun's argument.

2. Erb unveiled the VBTA's Plan B: if you can't beat LRT at referendum, sue over the "inadequacy" of the SEIS.

One problem: neither the TDCHR, the City of Virginia Beach, nor HDR (the consultant) is legally liable for the content of Federal law and regulations. As long as we follow the rules, no basis for a suit.

On one level, I hope they do sue. After winning the countersuit for the delay caused by the frivolous original suit, we can place liens on the VBTA leaders' homes and sell them off to cover the increased cost.

3. Al Saferstein repeats his tired charge about a No Build Alternative. If Al knew a thing about NEPA policy, the first thing looked at in any EIS is the No Build Alternative. That's to make the case that there is a need to do something. So Saferstein lets it slip that he doesn't know a thing about what he's blathering about.

However, we should thank him for admitting VBTA Transportation policy is to do nothing.