Jo Knows: Weekly News 7.1.16

//Jo Knows: Weekly News 7.1.16

Jo Knows: Weekly News 7.1.16

The Interstate 95 merge for the southbound regular lanes and express lanes in Stafford County often creates a bottleneck. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

The Interstate 95 merge for the southbound regular lanes and express lanes in Stafford County often creates a bottleneck. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

TRANSPORTATION

More info on PRTC fare hike coming July 5
As of July 5, fares will increase an average of 5%. The one-way fare on OmniRide commuter buses will increase from $6.20 to $6.50, Metro Direct commuter buses will rise from $3.10 to $3.25, and OmniLink local buses will increase from $1.40 to $1.50. In another change, OmniRide commuter bus routes will offer fewer trips on Fridays and will no longer operate on these holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Friday, and Christmas Eve. Also: Tuesday, July 5 on buses operated by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC). PRTC updates its bus schedules twice a year to reflect changes in routing and travel times. These service changes and the fare increase were the subject of a series of public hearings held in February.

Next rounds of Metro SafeTrack work to impact Virginia commuters; PRTC plans temp changes
PRTC will implement some temporary changes for the next phases of Metro SafeTrack work to impact Virginia commuters. Potomac Mills mall announced it would add some additional temporary commuter parking during the work. We asked Potomac Mills how many more spaces drivers could expect, but they didn’t respond.  A PRTC spokeswoman also didn’t have the information. From a PRTC email:  The third and fourth phases of WMATA’s SafeTrack work are scheduled to shut down a segment of the Blue and Yellow lines in Arlington and Alexandria. Visit Metro’s SafeTrack webpage for details about train frequency and shuttle buses.

East Coast states want to tax drivers’ travel, not their gas
A group of East Coast states wants to help overhaul the way America pays for its decaying roads, and it’s starting with Monopoly money. Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Hampshire are proposing pilots to figure out how they might charge motorists a fee for the miles they travel — rather than taxing their gas, as state and federal officials do today. The I-95 Corridor Coalition, which represents transportation officials from 16 states and the District of Columbia, applied for a federal grant last month to test the idea.

McAuliffe hoping to lock in federal grant for big road, rail projects
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said Wednesday that he hopes to hear very soon that the federal government will grant as much as $200 million to the commonwealth to advance the Atlantic Gateway transportation projects. The projects include an extension of the 95 Express Lanes south to Fredericksburg, a new Interstate 95 bridge over the Rappahannock River and a fix for the aging Long Bridge over the Potomac River, as well as other rail improvements in Northern Virginia. “I think we’ll know in the next few days,” McAuliffe said during his “Ask the Governor” show on WTOP radio. McAuliffe was buoyant in describing the potential impact of this set of transportation projects, not only on travel along the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia but also on long-range travel through the southeastern United States.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

Prince William supervisors to decide on surplus funds

Prince William County government has about $29 million burning a hole in its pocket. The problem? The board of supervisors has a list of about $52.3 million in projects and programs it would like to fund with the money. They include a new memorial for public safety officers; architectural designs for a new animal shelter; land for a new east-end elementary school; and a transportation program called “Wheels to Wellness,” which had helped more than 500 chronically ill residents get to doctor’s appointments and medical treatments until it ran out of money March 31. During their meeting Tuesday, county supervisors will consider those ideas amid a long wish list of programs and projects competing for “year-end” or “carry-over” funds.

REGIONAL

Run-down Ramsey Homes to be torn down, replaced by mixed-income housing

The Alexandria City Council is telling the city’s public housing agency to replace the run-down Ramsey Homes apartment complex with a 52-unit, mixed-income building, without attempting to preserve any remnants of the segregated federal housing. The unanimous vote Tuesday night, which reversed guidance that the council members gave in February, added yet another twist to the long-running saga of the effort by the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) to raze four low-rise apartment houses along busy Patrick Street. The council was presented with two options: Build 53 new affordable apartments in two three-story buildings, or provide 52 units in a single four-story building and renovate one historic building for two new apartments.

STATE

Hundreds of new laws set to take effect today

New laws soon to be on the books in Virginia affect everything from guns and marriage to school testing, day care facilities and smoking in cars when a young child is present. There are new ethical guidelines for lawmakers and public officials, procedural requirements for handling reports of campus sexual assault, and regulations for fantasy sports gaming in Virginia. Hundreds of bills that the General Assembly passed this year and Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law take effect this Friday.

NATIONAL

U.S. homes sell at strongest pace since 2007
Americans snapped up houses in May almost as soon as properties were listed, fueling the strongest sales rate in nearly a decade. Sales of existing homes rose 1.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million, the highest level since February 2007, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. People remain intent on buying homes, despite the low inventory of properties on the market that has caused prices to rise. The elevated demand likely stems from low mortgage rates and a relatively healthy jobs picture with unemployment at 4.7 percent, even with a recent slowdown in hiring.

Why Affordable Housing Is Hard To Build

In just about every political constituency in the country, there are things you can’t say and expect to get elected. You can’t endorse gun control in Tennessee. You can’t make light of climate change in Seattle. In Arlington, Va., where I live, you have to watch what you say about affordable housing. To question the suburban county’s ambitious subsidized housing goals is to risk alienating what is perhaps the most vocal lobby in town. I know that the citizens of Arlington who advocate for expanded housing opportunity don’t think of themselves as power brokers. They don’t put big sums of money into campaigns. They’re almost always quiet and polite. But they are in possession of a sacred cow, and they know how to milk it. I don’t say this as a criticism, just an observation. There are worse things for a county to be obsessed with than providing decent shelter for working people who need it. But the uniformity of elite opinion sometimes precludes constructive debate on a subject for which the best policy choices are far from clear.

Millennials look to the suburbs, not cities, for first homes
Like any good developer, Kyle Zeppelin sensed a trend, noticed undervalued property, and made his move. A Denver developer who grew up with the family business (and currently partners with his father, Mickey), Zeppelin wasn’t blind to the demographic trends reshaping cities and urban areas across the country: families wanting to live downtown, and young adults looking for a cool, authentic urban experience. So unlike some developers pushing cookie-cutter luxury condos, the Zeppelin family began work on a development in a disused, riverside industrial park 16 years ago that has, through numerous additions, become an ideal urban village. One of the latest additions to the collection of mixed-use housing, commercial buildings, and office space known as Taxi (named after one of the buildings, a former taxi dispatch station) features affordable rental housing and townhomes meant for families.

How Housing’s New Players Spiraled Into Banks’ Old Mistakes
When the housing crisis sent the American economy to the brink of disaster in 2008, millions of people lost their homes. The banking system had failed homeowners and their families. New investors soon swept in — mainly private equity firms — promising to do better. But some of these new investors are repeating the mistakes that banks committed throughout the housing crisis, an investigation by The New York Times has found. They are quickly foreclosing on homeowners. They are losing families’ mortgage paperwork, much as the banks did. And many of these practices were enabled by the federal government, which sold tens of thousands of discounted mortgages to private equity investors, while making few demands on how they treated struggling homeowners.

Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life

In 1940, a white developer wanted to build a neighborhood in Detroit. So he asked the US Federal Housing Administration to back a loan. The FHA, which was created just six years earlier to help middle-class families buy homes, said no because the development was too close to an ‘inharmonious” racial group. Meaning black people. It wasn’t surprising. The housing administration refused to back loans to black people – and even people who lived around black people. FHA said it was too risky. So the next year, this white developer had an idea: What if he built a 6 foot tall, half mile long wall between the black neighborhood and his planned neighborhood? Is that enough separation to mitigate risk and get his loan? When he did that, the housing administration backed the loan. That was 75 years ago, but this type of racist housing policy helped create two divergent Americas.

 

Jo Gehlbach
Government Affairs Coordinator

By | 2017-03-29T17:30:31-04:00 July 1st, 2016|Jo Knows|0 Comments

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