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and tonight’s charlottesville city council meeting, the first of 2019, is underway.
agenda is here:
consent agenda passes unanimously
interim city manager mike murphy says there is a site plan for the needed trailer classrooms at local schools. this was mentioned at previous meetings & it is underway.
re: the requests for data from the police department’s new world, tyler technology software. the ECC has a public meeting tomorrow & this is one of topics on the agenda. (i’ll be there!)
now on to matters by the public. up first is @MPayneCville, who has recently announced his candidacy for council in this year’s election.
he has concerns about affordable housing in the draft CIP budget (there’s a joint session with planning commission & council on this tomorrow)
he urges focusing on getting $80mil for affordable housing, with an emphasis on redevelopment of public housing.
next speaker is addressing the recent daily progress article about the police. she says she attended a program in 2012 - there were 21 vacancies then! the issue isn’t new.

she reminds us of the huge disparity between efforts to find hannah graham, a rich young white woman, and those efforts to find sage smith, a young black trans woman. (hannah’s body was found & her killer caught. sage is still missing)
wes thanks mike murphy & mayor walker for their comments to the media/on social media re: chief brackney since the article came out.
wes says brackney has received much more community pushback than previous chiefs. (i would argue that it’s because she’s the first permanent chief since al thomas left after A12, NOT because she’s a black woman, but that’s an argument for later)
next speaker is talking about climate change. it will disproportionately affect poor people & people of color. they’ll be at higher risk for displacement, disease, injury, food scarcity, etc.
mary carey at the mic. starts off right away by addressing kathy galvin. they have some ONGOING BEEF.
i missed the location she’s talking about, but apparently years ago someone in transit said he couldn’t change a bus route because a speed bump would hurt the vehicles. she disputes this.
mike murphy says he’ll talk to the traffic engineer & the bike/ped people about the intersection. it will also be part of the conversation re: redevelopment of west main street.
next up is the executive director for the center for nonprofit excellence.
the city is proposing changing the funding model for nonprofits from general operations support to specific priority funding. she says there hasn’t been sufficient community input.
“whose interest is our primary focus?” asks mayor walker.
“we have to look at outcome.”
some people who’ve been funded in the past may not continue to get funding. everyone should be focused on the needs of the people who are supposed to be getting served.
sarah burke, a member of the police civilian review board is up next.
she’s addressing some of the past statements about the CRB & clearing up some misconceptions.
the people’s coalition spoke about the CRB at a december council meeting. they misstated several things, though, which caused confusion. they do not speak for the CRB.
the CRB needs the data they requested (and have not received) in order to do the things they’ve been tasked with.
“you lose legitimacy when you hide data that doesn’t need to be hidden,” she says, quoting an officer from fairfax.
nikuyah clarifies her perception of the meeting city officials had with members of the CRB in december 4. they’d requested 7yrs of police data, which they were told wasn’t possible. sarah says she felt the terms were dictated by what the police were WILLING to offer.
small town civic engagement is: groaning and rolling your eyes when you see a particular old man approach the mic, not even knowing what he’s there to talk about
he says he blames wes bellamy for ALL OF THE CONTROVERSY related to the statues.
jesus fuckin christ my dude. have a seat.
he says there’s nothing wrong with eating at hooters, except the food’s bad. he says the young women who work there are paid well & make more in tips each weekend than he makes in a year. what the fuck is happening here.
now he’s saying he’s sorry for all the abuse and harassment the police have endured, turning around to address chief brackney. he says this comes from a small percentage of the city & everyone else is grateful for their service.
next speaker says he heard bellamy has proposed changing the name of preston ave & his son has proposed an alternative. without naming the person, he describes the man as a local business man & great person who had a “warm and happy spirit.” whoever it is died in 2012.
regarding the financial impact (signage, new stationery, etc) he says he had a way of killing two birds with one stone: change it from preston ave to preston ave, after preston coiner (? not sure about spelling, never heard of him)
he then says no one he knows even knows who the street was named after & no one cares. “do not continue to create problems,” he says.
nikuyah calls him back & asked if he knows why wes proposed the change. he says “because he owned spaces.”
“did you read the article?” wes asks him.
this old white man obviously did not read the article.
he seems to believe it matters WHY the name was chosen - it’s only a problem if he was chosen as the namesake BECAUSE he owned slaves. what? what the fuck?
nikuyah is explaining this very well, very patiently. i’ll try to clip this conversation from the video later. it’s good.
“what does true healing, true reconciliation look like?”
wes tells the man colonel preston owned 29 people right here in charlottesville. the man keeps interrupting wes. wes is not. having. it.
preston ave runs through 2 primarily black neighborhoods. this was not an accident.
preston got rich off the backs of 29 people. not 3/5ths of a man or cattle. people. real human beings.

the man won’t hold wes’s gaze. he’s unhappy with the reception he’s received for his bullshit racist ignorance.
“we can address the symbolic as well as the substantive at the same time,” wes tells him. this isn’t JUST symbolic. this isn’t the only thing he’s working on.
the elderly racist had a small meltdown, yelled at a black woman in the gallery, got worked up about thomas jefferson, and then left.
this is such a quintessentially charlottesville moment. i’m having deja vu.
ms rosia, also a member of the CRB, up now. she’s visibly upset about the man who just spoke about preston ave.
“this is the 4th city council i have fought with,” and as far as police chiefs, she had issues with longo & thomas, too. these issues are not new or unique to brackney.
ms rosia is addressing chief brackney, who is standing as usual in the back, directly:
“not every officer is wrong, but not every officer is right.” there needs to be accountability.
josh bowers, another member of the CRB, up next. “impressions can be different of a given meeting by different people” re: the dec 4 meeting between members of the CRB & members of council & other city officials.
bowers is concerned about several things, one of which is that the data they were given (which isn’t much!) isn’t even raw data - it’s prepared reports. they need RAW DATA.
some empty slots on the roster tonight! mayor walker puts the call out for anyone else who wants to speak. a community member proposes a meeting between core members of the community & chief brackney to alleviate some of these misunderstandings. she offers to facilitate.
next up a woman from legal aid justice center echoing michael payne’s comments from earlier about the capital improvement plan. where are our priorities? $12mil for west main redevelopment is essentially a beautification project. we should prioritize people who are suffering.
sorry, sometimes when kathy galvin talks i black out momentarily
she’s arguing for the west main street improvements because of accessibility & transit concerns - sidewalks are narrow & damaged, there isn’t room for bus shelters, etc. utilities need to be undergrounded.
we are so far off the actual agenda. council has an optional 2 minute response to any public comment. but this is just a totally tangential, free form discussion going on 10 minutes now. kathy’s talking about stormwater runoff.
now a woman in the gallery is asking kathy about the tree roots she said are causing problems with sidewalks. the woman said she read in the paper that the city is planting more trees & wants to know why. this is ridiculous.
is this just the mike & kathy campaign hour? they’re both just airing ads for the west main street project right now. this is not the time.
neither of them has formally announced an intention to run, but both of their seats (and wes’) are up for election in november. it’s gonna be a long year.
after a 15 minute digression, back to public comment. nancy at the mic, bringing some heat. starts off which “what is wrong with y’all?”
people talk about that part of west main as an extension of the downtown mall & we already know what kind of perception the mall has in certain quarters of the community (a recent survey showed black residents do not feel welcome there)
and that concludes public comment. ten minute recess.
the rest of tonight’s agenda. gonna be a long, boring one, i suspect.
the livestream resumes here. the meeting should resume momentarily.

the recess was supposed to end 8 minutes ago but kathy galvin still hasn’t come back. i vote we carry on without her - it’s an improvement.
now a public hearing on a stormwater easement. the city accepted this easement in 1985. a city staffer says releasing it is beneficial. no questions from council. no one in the gallery wants to speak on it. public hearing closed. no further discussion. no vote - 1st of 2 readings
now a public hearing on a utility easement. also the 1st of 2 readings.
staff supports releasing the easement, dominion will pay to underground the utilities. no one wants to make a public comment, public hearing closed. no further discussion, no vote tonight. will be on a future consent agenda.
zoning text amendment time. this agenda item will redefine “amusement center.” planning commission voted to approve the change at a december meeting that i missed.
nikuyah asks if the bullet point about 4+ calls for police service at the property is normal for this type of thing. (after 4 calls in 2mo, the business would lose the right to operate as an amusement center for a period of time)
city staffer says this was copied from another section governing music halls. unclear if that item is new with the revision or was preexisting in the section.
nikuyah asks if this has been enforced in the past - mike murphy cites one incident with a music hall.
now on to the zoning text amendment on street destinations in mixed use zones.
(these are all 1st of 2 readings, no votes on these amendments tonight)
hillsdale rd, which is new since the code was written, was designated as a primary road. no other significant changes. planning commission voted to approve.
now the third zoning text amendment, to modify the definition of “dwelling unit.”
missy creasy from NDS says the existing code doesn’t clearly define dwelling unit, for example a fraternity house isn’t clearly a dwelling unit currently.
currently, the dwelling unit definition involves, in part, that the building be for exclusive use by the occupants. that makes things like fraternity houses suspect.
the weird guy from earlier who talked a lot about hooters is up now for the public hearing. he wants to know if a fraternity house WILL or WON’T be a dwelling unit. missy: it currently isn’t. this amendment would clarify the definition so that it IS. same with boarding houses.
attorney for the owner of the pi kappa alpha fraternity house now. they’ve owned (& paid taxes on) it for 100 years, she says. says their interpretation of the zoning ordinance is that it is “quasi-residential” & should be regulated by special use permit.
she says she feels this zoning text amendment is “intentionally designed to prevent our client from benefiting from that decision” by the board of zoning appeals.
if council adopts the amendment, she asks them to include an exemption for her client.
heather asks for clarification from missy about how this change affects that particular person.
missy says they want to add 5 units, but would only be able to add 4 if the frat house is a dwelling unit.
kathy asks city attorney john blair for input, asks about grandfathering.
blair: ordinance could be crafted in a way to not affect this property.

issues with definition have been noted for years - he cites his predecessor’s code audit which noted this as a problem.
john blair: “i don’t like to use the word grandfather because that has a very specific meaning”

yes, kathy, it does:

this will go on a future consent agenda. on to the next item: the 2019 meeting schedule! 1st & 3rd mondays of each month at 6:30pm. 3 of these this year are on recognized holidays (mlk, presidents’ day, and labor day) & those meetings will be on the tuesday of that week.
heather hill has proposed moving the annual break from early august to july.

mike signer says that because several councilors have children, every other meeting should be during the day (the county does this)
wes says that would present problems for constituents. “we have a much more involved constituency” than most cities — this is true! most people i know who come to these meetings HAVE DAY JOBS. including our mayor.
i think what they’re trying to arrive at is having regularly scheduled WORK SESSIONS during the day. but any public hearing and all public comment should stay where it is.
this proposal came out of nowhere & was not part of the planned discussion for this agenda item. mike putting this forward without any notice seems inappropriate.
wes says holding the meetings in the day will prevent some people from even running. people with day jobs know they won’t be able to get two days off a month to attend a long daytime meeting.
nikuyah redirects us back to the actual agenda item. she says she’s hesitant to make the vacation week in july because of what we may face again this august. she thinks september may be a better time.
heather says she’s thinking about scheduling it for when kids are out of school & wes suddenly remembers his wife feels the same way & agrees.
the 2019 meeting schedule (with a break in july) passes unanimously.
almost there
the agency budget review team concluded that a body must be convened to make recommendations to council on the nonprofit funding recommendations. it’s committees all the way down.
we’ll still talking about the idea of forming a “priority setting commission” for the nonprofit funding process. mike seems resistant but i can’t figure out why. we’re talking in circles.
the last agenda item is a quarterly report, but it was given to council in written form & won’t be presented 🙏
the frat house owner’s lawyer is back up during closing matters by the public. missy creasy from NDS says the site plan was submitted just days AFTER the planning commission’s vote in the zoning text amendment but the lawyer says they’d been working on it for a year.
and the meeting is adjourned... at 9:30pm! it’s a minor miracle. headed home now to resume my recap of daniel borden’s sentencing hearing.
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