Notes from the 9th District Meeting

Apr 19, 2024 | by

City Council 9th District representative Nicole Jones held a 9th District meeting this past Thursday at Pop’s Bingo just off of Midlothian Turnpike.

(If you go to a meeting there, look for the small door to the right. The larger, more obvious entry is to what was a hopping sports bar on that particular night.)

There were ~35 people, mostly older, in the bingo side of Pop’s Bingo for the almost 2 hour meeting. Boxed sandwiches from Goodrich and bottles of water were provided.

This was my first time seeing Ms.Jones in person – she leads a good meeting. She framed the gathering as a call to action and as “a meeting about the information that we’re not getting” (the focus this month was housing, next month DPW will present on upcoming developments.) The atmosphere was essentially a dialogue – I’m pretty sure that everyone in the room asked a question at some point.

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The 9th District used to have 10 civic associations, now only has 2. Do you want to start an organization for your area? Contact Jones’ office at / / 804.646.2779.

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First up was Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elizabeth Linka, who spoke about the recent woes with the regional postal service. She said that this is a nation wide problem, but that the facility in Sandston one of the worst. She encouraged folks to take care of as many transactions online as possible. She also warned to not use the blue postal boxes – recent robberies of postal workers have compromised the security of the boxes.

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Next up was Acting Lt. Jerry Scarborough from Sector 312, accompanied by officers from the Second Precinct. He addressed the recent violence spate of violence in the East End, and said that there were initiatives in place to calm things down. Locally, vehicle theft is driving crime.

He then took questions from the audience, some of which he was able to provide clear answers for & some just prompted discussion.

Q: Can we do something about speeding on German School Road? (Offered to give his email, “we’ll set something up”)

Q: Are tinted windows allowed? No but they’re not a primary offence, the police don’t like them either

Q: My neighborhood has speeding and drunk driving, they crash and drive off. What can we do?

Q: I recently had an accident, y’all came out very quickly – so thank you

Q: Kids have portable basketball hoops in the street, it seems dangerous – is this ok? A: as long as it’s not impeding traffic. Urged speaker to call the precinct, gave out the number for the environmental officer

Q: Speeding on my street 24 hours a day. Can’t get a speed bump.

Q: Is there a plan for what’s going to happen with the new traffic that’s going to come from the new apartments coming to Midlo across from Kroger?

Q: The bikes lanes – have they helped slow people down? Have they led to more accidents? Yes and yes. (apparently the bike lanes were a *HOT* topic last month)(Jones: “We have the bike lanes in place, I would love to see them work”).

Somewhere in here Ms.Jones observed that the 9th District is defined by corridors (like Midlothian), but that we need to think about the neighborhoods.

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Next up were Tom Fitzpatrick, Executive Director HOME, Inc, and Joh Gehlbach from the Richmond Association of Realtors to speak about housing, the current market, and discrimination.

Mr.Fitzpatrick gave a history of the Fair Housing Act and redlining, essentially explaining decades of underinvestment in South Richmond. He also took questions.

Q: For older folks, high property taxes are a problem. There’s no sidewalk, no lights on my street, whay are they taking my money? A: There are some forms of tax relief available, but it is limited by the Virginia constitution. There are people working to change the laws to help provide relief to long term residents.

Q: The prices of new apartments feels like discrimination A: Part of the problem is that we don’t have enough housing, this leads to higher prices

Joh Gehlbach said that Richmond growing by 20 people per day, and that the new residents are generally from a more expensive area – and so have more money to spend on house. Gehlbach noted that Southside has some of the last remaining affordable homes in Richmond.

Q: I’m seeing institutional investors, next generation is going to be priced out

Q: Everything is more expensive and the homeless population is booming

Q: If I sold my house I couldn’t afford to move A: It’s a universal experience – we need more housing stock

Q: It feels like harassment to get calls about selling your property every day

Gehlbach shared that Partnership for Housing Affordability can be a great organization to help with services and to find resources.

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