Author Archives: Scott

OHNA Meeting Next Tuesday

From email:

Hello all

OHNA’s monthly meeting is Tuesday, January 27th at 7 pm at WBCH (William Byrd Community House).

Jack Berry, from Venture Richmond, will be at the meeting to discuss the proposed rezoning of the amphitheater below Oregon Hill to allow more events. This issue could potentially have a huge impact on the neighborhood in terms of more amplified noise, crowds, parking congestion, and public drinking. If you wish to have your voice heard on this issue, this IS the meeting to attend.

Also attending the meeting will be City Planning Director Mark Olinger, and City Councilman Parker Agelasto.

Thanks
Jennifer Hancock
OHNA

(Editor’s note: This will hopefully be a good opportunity to get questions answered. Click here for some suggestions.)

Update on Replacing The Illegally Demolished Tredegar Wall

Pine Street neighbor Bryan Green, who serves on the City’s Urban Design Committee, has made a test panel for replacing the illegally demolished Tredegar wall. Because there isn’t enough surviving brick to rebuild the wall, he has ordered hand made brick from North Carolina. The test panel is by the sign in the Belle Isle parking lot.

Bryan thinks that they will start on rebuilding the wall as soon as they get in the proper mortar and when it warms up a bit. He hopes to supply some more details soon.

Tredegar brick test panel

Fences of Contention III

An update on the Fences of Contention saga (Here are links for Part I and Part II):

Councilperson Agelasto spoke with the City Attorney about the 2nd Street Connector legal agreement and the $53,000 budget requirement for the fence. The original agreement has been completed and is now closed. The City has no further obligation to complete the fence. In order to fund the budget, this will require the City Council to approve a budget amendment.

Yesterday, the Planning Commission review was supposed to consider the authorization of the “location, character, and extent” of the fence, but due to other issues on their agenda, the meeting went on too long and the fence item was continued until the next meeting February 2nd. According to neighbors who did attend and spoke with officials after the meeting, the City administration is still trying to maintain that the fence was paid for through the authorizing ordinance (despite the City Attorney’s opinion.)

But looking back at the authorizing ordinance for the 2nd Street Connector (Brown’s Island Way), the plans were NOT included in the ordinance or the agreement attached to the ordinance.

If plans had been included, they would have been attached to the agreement as an exhibit. These are the only exhibits attached to the agreement:
Exhibit A. Description of the Property
Exhibit B. Project Area
Exhibit C. Description of City Property
Exhibit D. Project Standards
Exhibit E. [Payment Schedule]
Exhibit F. Lease Agreement
Exhibit G. Construction Plan Showing Curb Cut Overlaid on Exhibit B “Project Area”

Exhibit G is for item 2.d of the agreement:

(d) Grantor shall have the right to a curb cut within the area identified on Exhibit G as “Approximate Location of Future Curb Cut” with the precise location of the actual curb cut within that area coordinated through the City’S Department of Public Works’ Division of Transportation and Engineering to ensure that the location and construction of the curb cut complies with transportation safety standards. The curb cut shall be at the sole expense of the Grantor and Grantor shall restore the remaining curb to a condition deemed satisfactory to the City of Richmond in its reasonable discretion. Such right for the curb cut shall be evidenced by reservation by Grantor in the Grantor’s Deed.

Exhibit G has no other purpose in the agreement. The parties are not bound by anything in Exhibit G except what is described in 2.d of the agreement.

Harrison/Cumberland Intersection Likely Closed Till Monday

From VCU’s LiveSafe app:

VCU has recvd information that Richmond City has plans to repair the water main at Harrison & Cumberland tomorrow morning. The pavement restoration will probably not be completed until next Monday. Harrison Street will remain closed except for the deck patrons until then. Richmond City is working aggressively to have the street open before the Men’s Basketball Game on Tuesday night 01.27/VCU Police

Trash/Recycling Pickup Tomorrow

This Wednesday is a red Wednesday, which means trash and recycling pickup. Please make sure you pick up containers after pickup tomorrow night. They do not belong on the sidewalk after tomorrow night.

In order to take your recycling to the next level, read this: 10 ways to improve your recycling.

In local recycling news, the City has already started deploying new recycling carts to certain parts of the Northside.

In national recycling news, according to the Recycling Today website, employment increased by 8,700 in the waste and recycling industry during 2014, bringing total sector employment to a new high of 383,300, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA), Washington.

Open Letter On “Broadband Price-Fixing & Monopoly in RVA”

From email:

An open letter to Parker Agelasto, Richmond Times Dispatch, Style Weekly, and all my neighbors…

Parker,

As you may know, Verizon has recently expanded its FIOS (broadband internet) coverage into Oregon Hill. From the outside, this seems like good news, but the end result is that I’m now paying more money for less bandwidth that I had ten years ago.

Most people don’t realize that Comcast and Verizon both own significant shares of each other. This “merger without merging” happened back in 2011 when Comcast agreed not to get into the wireless business and let Verizon have that. In exchange, Verizon agreed to cease expanding its FIOS coverage in most areas, which is why Oregon Hill was ignored for so long.

The workers I spoke with, who began installing FIOS in Oregon Hill last year, said the only reason Verizon was doing this was because it had failed to live up to its agreement with the City Of Richmond to provide FIOS service to a certain percentage of the population in return for their franchise license. It was scrambling to make that happen, and was very much behind schedule. Verizon didn’t bring FIOS into Oregon Hill out of the goodness of their hearts.

With FIOS plans starting at $55 per month (plus taxes, plus fees, plus equipment rental fee, on a TWO YEAR CONTRACT) you would think that Comcast would be inclined to offer special rates to retain customers. You would be wrong.

With Verizon no longer offering DSL packages in the neighborhood (and no longer offering DSL resellers a competitive pricing structure), there is no reason for Comcast to be significantly cheaper than Verizon.
In fact, internet access offered by Comcast is pretty much on par with that offered by Verizon.

What’s wrong with that? Why should they offer me cheaper service when they don’t have to?

Because they’ve purposefully eliminated my options.

Ten years ago, I could get DSL from Verizon or any number of resellers for about $40/month, and the speeds were about 6000 down/1500 up.
In the present day, ten years later, if I want internet access, that same $40 per month will only buy me Comcast’s economy plan (which they won’t willingly tell you about), which provides speeds of 3000 down/768 up.

To put this in perspective, that same forty dollars buys me HALF of the speed it bought me ten years ago.

But what’s really corrupt about this whole thing is that up until six months ago, before FIOS was installed, Comcast was selling me internet access for $30 per month, and that bought me speeds of 25,000 down/5000 up.
It was a “six month promotion” which went on for almost two years. They had to give me that price to keep me away from all the DSL resellers, who they had to COMPETE with.

I called one of those DSL resellers today. If I wanted the same level of service Comcast was offering me for $40 per month, it was going to cost me over $70 per month. Why suddenly so much money for DSL? Because Verizon owns the copper phone lines which DSL runs on, that’s why. Verizon doesn’t want you using the copper phone lines, they want you using FIOS, which costs a minimum of $55 per month, plus fees, etc etc.

Let me summarize:
Ten years ago, DSL = $40/month = 6000 down/1500 up
Last year, Comcast = $30/month = 25,000 down/5000 up
FIOS gets installed in Oregon Hill.
This year, Comcast= $40/month = 3000 down/768 up

Technology is supposed to get faster and cheaper. This is not progress, this is collusion, price-fixing, and monopoly.

Why am I writing you about it? Because the City Of Richmond enforces this monopoly, and they need to know that they’re not providing increased or better internet access to the public in doing so.
The solution? The city either needs to roll out municipal broadband, and/or open up the licensing process so other, smaller, more local businesses can put up their own wires on the phone poles, and offer up some real competition.

Very concerned about this.

–Matt Siegel