With the upcoming 60-day legislative session of the General Assembly in Richmond weeks away, the City Council has approved of a full slate of issues for the city to support during the session. Last week, they voted to ask Alexandria’s legislative delegation to patron seven pieces of legislation this term:
Historic Preservation: Councilman Rob Krupicka proposed a plan to amend the city’s charter with respect to determining the fair-market value of a building in a historic district. His amendment would require that the value be based on the assumption that the historic building will not be demolished rather than the value if the structure is replaced by something else. Inspired by the city’s lingering effort to preserve affordable housing at Gunston Hall Apartments, the amendment would clarify the extent of a potential buyer’s ‘good-faith’ effort to preserve historic structures.
Pedestrian Safety: For the past three years, the city has supported legislation to require drivers to stop for pedestrians. But the bill has been unpopular with Republican legislators that control Richmond. This year, Councilman Krupicka and Councilman Paul Smedberg suggested a different tactic — rewriting the entire code section to clarify the issue. The effort seeks to require drivers to stop, not yield, to pedestrians in any clearly marked crosswalk where the speed limit does not exceed 35 miles and hour.
Cultural District: Charlottesville, Falls Church, Harrisonburg, Petersburg and Winchester have all been granted authority to create arts and cultural districts by the General Assembly. Councilman Krupicka suggested that Alexandria seek authority for a similar designation in Alexandria, which could create tax incentives while providing for more flexibility in meeting regulatory demands.
Campaign Finance: Current election mandates that political candidates to follow strict financial disclosure requirements, especially in the last days of a campaign. But indirect contributions from political action committees that are made in the last 10 days before an election are often not reported until after the campaign is over. Councilman Krupicka suggested that the local delegation patron a bill that would require the political action committees to report contributions of more than $200 by 5 p.m. the next day, which is the standard that candidates must meet.
Rehabilitative Incentives: The Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities suggested that the local delegation introduce a bill that would seek increased state funding of the Rehabilitative Services Incentive Fund by $732,500. Several years ago, the fund was cut to handle a budget shortfall, so the commission is seeking that the General Assembly restore the fund to its Fiscal Year 2002 level, which was $912,500. The city uses the money for a variety of purposes, including paratransit services, housing grants, talking buses and audible pedestrian traffic signals.
Condo Conversions: The Landlord Tenet Relations Board asked that the delegation patron a bill that would help preserve affordable housing for elderly and disabled residents who find themselves in the midst of a condo conversion. Board members are seeking legislation that would give such residents the ability to assign the purchasing rights to a government agency, housing authority or nonprofit housing corporation for the purpose of leasing it back to individual.
Clean Air: Prompted by the city’s ongoing efforts to shut down the Mirant's Potomac River Generating Station, the City Council has asked the delegation to patron legislation that would make exceeding opacity limits a violation under Virginia law. Opacity is one of the factors used to measure air quality, and city officials hope to make state standards consistent with federal regulations.