Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kelo wasteland 9 years after eminent domain case


"The 90-acre [neighborhood] once earmarked for office buildings, luxury apartments and a new marina, remains vacant. Seven residents who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep their working-class homes in the city's Fort Trumbull section have only their memories and whatever remains of the money they were forced to accept. In the landmark 5-4 ruling,...Previously, eminent domain had been seen as limited to cases involving projects deemed as benefiting the public, but not a private economic interest."
At least Fox News acknowledges that previously (forever?) eminent domain has been "public benefit", not public use as defined in the 5th Amendment. Seizing homes, neighborhoods, businesses, industries for economic development (more tax base, more jobs, transfer of ownership to benefit private economic interest, blight, anything you can think of) has been widespread across America since the 1950s. This is our most recent lost history.

Monday, February 03, 2014

SIA redevelopment plan passes 4 to 1

Charlottesville, Va. - Newest Councilor Bob Fenwick was the only no vote. Councilor Kathy Galvin gave the most passionate arguments for the nonbinding list of suggestions and goals to redevelop a 47-year-old urban renewal project. Most informed of the history of this project was Mayor Satyendra Huja planning this project since hired in 1973 BUT Huja has no knowledge of his work experience and seemed to know it's all a charade. Fenwick warned the public to be skeptical because of the history. So Galvin's noble goals were cancelled out by Huja's dastardly deeds. After my speech, people were left doubting Council at the most basic level

My speech was the letter to the newspaper. And it resonated through the meeting. Councilor Kristin Szakos said no public land will be sold as a result of tonight's meeting and property can be developed by-right. This is only the first phase of a 30-year plan to attract $300 million for a 330-acre zone but it's really only about 60 acres in the Garrett Street urban renewal area still vacant and for sale. Sort of like a free speech zone. I thought the entire city was an investment area if everyone has the same opportunities. Neighborhood Development Services Czar Jim Tolbert confirmed the City government will "suggest" you build what the City wants.

Councilor Dede Smith corrected something I said Dec. 27 on the Schilling Show. Apparently someone wants to knock down the 1951 Standard Produce except it's 1910 and the date is on the building. Apparently there was a talk on the business history but nothing about urban renewal.

Blair Hawkins is 6th speaker in Public Comment
Charlottesville City Council video Feb. 3, 2014
http://charlottesville.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

Strategic Investment Area letter to Daily Progress

Letters@dailyprogress.com

December 31, 2013

Dear Editor:

Why would anyone invest in the Strategic Investment Area? In response to City Councilor Kathy Galvin’s letter (“SIA development plan benefits city,” Dec. 31, 2013, The Daily Progress), I would like to present a different view and constructive solutions.

It’s funny how proponents of a project can claim there’s been no pushback when people have been pushing back for years. On Dec. 27 on the Schilling Show I described the history. First there was Vinegar Hill. Then there was another Vinegar Hill three times bigger than the first. The second Vinegar Hill is called the Strategic Investment area, historically named after Alexander Garrett.

Vinegar Hill kept its name so most people know about it. The Garrett neighborhood lost its name so today most people don’t know it ever existed.

The current plan is to sell the city-owned open space that was occupied land 40 years ago. During those decades there has been redevelopment such as Friendship Court and other public housing, the Glass Building, Dittmar Condos, Luxury Gleason and Norcross Apartments, ACAC. But this urban renewal project was so big there’s still a lot of land un-redeveloped.

Why not sell the surplus land at auction? Some tax revenue would be better than the zero revenue now. But if you buy this land, you have to invest and build what the City wants, not what you want. And it appears the City wants more than was there 40 years ago, not more than the zero now. Potential investors are concerned the City might take back the land before the investment is recouped as it was taken from the previous owners.

In order to move forward, the City must do two things. City Council should affirm true private property rights by passing an ordinance to protect existing property tax revenue from government action that favors speculated future revenue increases. And the City must publish the Housing Authority archives and tell the full history.

Sincerely,
Blair Hawkins

I haven't seen the letter printed but I missed a few days. I don't see it on the website. City Council received the letter 3 weeks ago. What fact or opinion do you think is too radical to print?

Blair Hawkins on WINA Dec. 27, 2013 talking about Strategic Investment Area dead zone south of Landmark Hotel
http://wina.com/download.php?file=http%3A%2F%2Fmedia.wina.com%2Fss_122713_hour_1.mp3

City to weigh SIA for plan, Feb. 3, 2014.
http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/council-to-weigh-putting-strategic-investment-area-into-comprehensive-plan/article_2ee9f958-8c56-11e3-b012-001a4bcf6878.html

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blair to be on WINA Friday 12:30 pm

Charlottesville, Va. – I will be talking about last Sunday’s Daily Progress front page calling the $300M Strategic Investment Area a “Shadow of Vinegar Hill.” You can listen live at http://wina.com and listen later to the podcast at http://schillingshow.com .

Something weird is going on when people refer to our lost neighborhoods as Vinegar Hill. Imagine you have a few children but only know the name of one child and you only have pictures of that one child. How do the other neighborhoods feel when they are referred to as a shadow or echo of Vinegar Hill? What motivates so many politicians to refer to Vinegar Hill in the plural?

When I point out the active suppression of local history, people react by saying the politicians are uninformed. That argument evaporates when government and news outlets are informed by speeches, letters to the editor, mailed publications, emails, comments to stories a couple times a year for a decade, and other people speaking at meetings asking for everybody’s history to be included.

Rob Schilling just did it on the radio, said I’ll be talking about Vinegar Hill. I thought I’d be talking about the Strategic Investment Area, Garrett urban renewal. “Is it Vinegar Hill all over again?” asks Rob. Does he mean: “Is it Vinegar Hill all over again all over again all over again?” When did all of our urban renewal neighborhoods become renamed Vinegar Hill?

Ask Mayor Huja, who claimed on WCHV during his campaign that urban renewal happened before he became city planner in 1973 because Vinegar Hill happened before 1973. But Joe Thomas did not ask him about Vinegar Hill. He asked about urban renewal. Why does Huja deny the urban renewal post-1973? Huja is an urban renewal expert (I kid you not) with a 1968 Master’s Degree in urban planning from Michigan State University. His thesis was the human and material effects of settling land AND resettling displaced populations. What Vinegar Hill happened after Vinegar Hill? Garrett Street urban renewal as the Daily Progress called it all through the 1970s, and then made a policy decision to only mention Vinegar Hill.

Ask former Mayor Dave Norris, who has been actively suppressing urban renewal history except Vinegar Hill since November 2005. That’s when I asked him to help get the public housing archives published so people would know the full story of urban renewal, not just one project. Norris claimed to have no knowledge of the archive issue, and therefore refused to use his connections as chairman of the urban renewal agency (Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority) to get the archives published. And for at least 8 years Norris has lied about urban renewal by claiming the first urban renewal is the only urban renewal in Charlottesville.

And a whole lot of people are repeating that false impression because all their information comes from oral history, what politicians are quoted as saying what the history is. Reporters are careful not to fact check because they would see the politicians are disconnected from the written history in newspapers, courthouse deeds, Historical Society publications, everywhere you look outside the Echo Chamber.

In 2007 city politicians, UVA historian Scot French and the Carter Woodson Institute promised to digitize and publish the Housing Authority archives. But instead they decided only to build a website about Vinegar Hill. Why did they promise to publish the archives, but then only publish a small fraction of the archives? The Woodson Institute claims they made no copies of the electronic information, indicating their true goal was something other than preservation. The scandal grows as more people suppress the full history.

So now somebody still has to go down there and scan 6,845 text documents, 1,189 photographs, 189 maps and blueprints, and GIS satellite data identifying the location of each property the Housing Authority seized. Unfortunately, City Council, Housing Authority and UVA are documented for years now as actively suppressing our local history. How can I accuse a historian of being anti-history? I saw it with my own eyes and documented the history on my blog and as comments on other sites (Daily progress, Hook, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and elsewhere).

So, with all the investigative reporting I’ve done for years, all that research published on the internet, the number of people who still maintain Vinegar Hill is the only urban renewal is shrinking. But the gap between local politicians and reality is bigger than ever.

If you support the truth, please contact City Council and ask them to publish the full public housing archives. Why do you think the years-long effort to redevelop the public housing has not moved forward? Because the community does not want more urban renewal. This year the Housing Authority’s frustration was on display. Suddenly the agency wanted to divest the housing to HUD’s RAD program and focus on the redevelopment, seizing and selling real estate.

I am doing all I can for truth and justice. I applied to be an urban renewal commissioner on Oct. 14, 2013. Clerk of Council Paige Rice said she would keep my application on file for a year. My main goal is to get the full archives published and account for lost archives stolen most likely by the politicians actively lying for so long about our history. My secondary goal is to abolish the Housing Authority on Constitutional grounds and based on the long history of unnecessary suffering. But I would be only one vote out of seven.
Urban Renewal South: The Best-known Secret in Charlottesville's History. March 5, 2002.


Links Documenting Local History

A Community in Turmoil: Charlottesville's Opposition to Public Housing. 1998 by Christopher S. Combs. Historical Society article talking about the full story of urban renewal with no effort to minimize the history as only one neighborhood.

More Urban Renewal Archives Online, Jan. 18, 2010.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2010/01/more-urban-renewal-archives-online.html
Includes the Vinegar Hill Project 2007, about 300 copies of Housing Authority archive photos, Daily Progress archives talking about Garrett urban renewal. Includes 1977 article where history is reinterpreted that people support Garrett urban renewal but have resentment toward Vinegar 17 years earlier. 36 years after 1977, the Garrett neighborhood is now called a “Shadow of Vinegar Hill”.

Garrett urban renewal makes front page Daily Progress, Dec. 22, 2013.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2013/12/garrett-urban-renewal-makes-front-page.html

Galvin’s crusade to redevelop Garrett urban renewal zone, Dec. 19, 2013.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2013/12/galvins-crusade-to-redevelop-garrett.html

Urban Renewal Application on file for a year, Dec. 15, 2013.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2013/12/urban-renewal-application-on-file-for.html

Resolution 1313: Housing Authority is city agency, Dec. 30, 2012.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2012/12/resolution-1313-housing-authority-is.html
Documents Daily Progress refusal to report that Councilors and the public wanted the Human Rights Commission to apply to the Housing Authority. At a forum Councilor Kristin Szakos claimed the state law doesn’t allow the HRC to apply to CRHA. State law says the HRC can’t protect gays but that’s in the ordinance. Why is the law for gays but not for public housing residents? Our system is truly broken.

How Eminent Domain Perverts Legal System, Mar. 17, 2012.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-eminent-domain-perverts-legal.html
Includes City Council’s quick take effort to seize a chunk of the Fry’s Spring Beach Club.

Wanted: New urban plan for Garrett urban renewal zone, Mar. 5, 2012.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2012/03/wanted-new-urban-plan-for-garrett-urban.html
Garrett neighborhood now called the “area south of the railroad tracks” as suppression of history continues.

Blighted House Demolished by Eminent Domain Ordinance, Nov. 19, 2011.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2011/11/blighted-house-demolished-by-eminent.html
The process of urban renewal on display for one house.

Council prepares fake apology for urban renewal, Oct. 18, 2011.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2011/10/council-prepares-fake-apology-for-urban.html
Summary of the issue, the history, and the archives. Ten “whereas” bullet point for Vinegar Hill but only one bullet for the Garrett project at least 3 times bigger than Vinegar Hill.

UVA’s Garrett Hall namesake suppressed by newspaper, Aug. 28, 2011.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2011/08/uvas-garrett-hall-namesake-suppressed.html
More proof that Daily Progress is actively suppressing history.

Sustainability Fair at old Lane High School, Apr. 27, 2011.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2011/04/sustainability-fair-at-old-lane-high.html
Sustainability people pass along false history claiming the first housing strategy was 1990, when Vinegar Hill was 1960 and Garrett was 1967. Later the Sustainability Director embezzles half a million dollars in plain view. The vision of the planners is the same as urban renewal, so they don’t want you to know their new plan is really an old plan.

Historical Society: Jefferson School 1865, Aug. 17, 2010.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2010/08/historical-society-jefferson-school.html
Another example of Daily Progress suppressing history.

Newspaper updates 38-year-old Levy Avenue urban renewal, July 27, 2010.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2010/07/newspaper-updates-38-year-old-levy.html
Another example of an urban renewal story completing omitting any mention of urban renewal.

Levy Avenue: All 5 owners identified, Nov. 17, 2007.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2007/11/levy-avenue-update-all-5-owners.html
Example of diversity of ownership on just one block of the Garrett neighborhood. Despite nobody saying this is urban renewal, City unable to sell it since 1972. Apparently buyers look at the deed before sealing the deal.

Perriello protest in Garrett zone, July 2, 2009.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2009/07/perriello-protest-in-garrett-zone.html
Photo essay of Garrett neighborhood 2009.

Latest Archive Request on WINA, Feb. 12, 2009.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2009/02/latest-archive-request-on-wina.html
Includes a timeline.

New Urban Renewal Director, Same Old Lies, Dec. 23, 2008.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2008/12/new-urban-renewal-director-same-old.html
Includes archive of Housing Authority assets in case the information is removed from city website.

Another Urban Renewal Director Resigns, Oct. 5, 2008.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2008/10/another-urban-renewal-director-resigns.html

Land for Vinegar Hill condo tower once owned by John West and Madam Marguiretta, Sep. 13, 2007.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2007/09/land-for-vinegar-hill-condo-tower-once.html
Another example of how tracing a deed is full of interesting history.

Democrats nominate Huja, Edwards, Brown: challengers Seaman, McKeever to remain active, June 3, 2007.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2007/06/democrats-nominate-huja-edwards-brown.html
Example of how much news media have to ignore to report the convention as if there had been no mention of lost neighborhoods, redevelopment, economic development and all the code words for seizing and selling real estate without due process. You know...urban renewal

This is not a complete list of my articles on this subject. It should be enough for an open mind to understand what I'm trying to say.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Garrett urban renewal makes front page Daily Progress


Charlottesville, Va. – The article is called “Shadows of Vinegar Hill seen in $300M city plan.” If anything, Garrett urban renewal eclipses Vinegar Hill in scale, impact, controversy and documentation in Daily Progress archives, which are not online. Both City Council and Daily Progress oppose publication of the City housing archives detailing the history of the Garrett neighborhood now called the Strategic Investment Area. Their opposition has been documented for at least a decade. Also the Court Clerk won’t put real estate records online despite promises to do so, and former clerk Paul Garrett having to return grant money after he lied three times claiming the deeds were online.

Notice how the artist's vision of the future Garrett neighborhood has no resemblance to anything historic. There's a stark difference between South and North Downtown. North Downtown is a historic district. South Downtown is where Council's stated principles don't apply.

Reporter Aaron Richardson maintains the biggest lie in local history, that Vinegar Hill is the only urban renewal in Charlottesville. This is the only part of town that has lost its name. So Richardson calls it “the area between Garrett Street and Elliott Avenue, bordered by Avon Street and Ridge Street.” The plan calls for a “central greenway, mixed income housing, shopping and jobs.” Basically to re-create the Garrett neighborhood which City government destroyed in the face of incredible opposition. Nobody opposed Vinegar Hill. That opposition arose only as an example of why you should oppose Garrett urban renewal.

City Councilor Kathy Galvin was on the Coy Barefoot Show Thursday Dec. 19 talking about her commitment to make the biggest controversy in local history become successful somehow. Today the urban renewal of the historic Garrett neighborhood can only be referred to as Vinegar Hill urban renewal. That’s how controversial the Garrett history is today. "Galvin’s crusade to redevelop Garrett urban renewal zone", Dec. 19, 2013. More detailed discussion of the history, the issues, and the archives. Includes a timeline for historical context.
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2013/12/galvins-crusade-to-redevelop-garrett.html

Comment to http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/shadows-of-vinegar-hill-seen-in-strategic-investment-area-plan/article_0379ed7c-6aba-11e3-a31b-001a4bcf6878.html

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Galvin’s crusade to redevelop Garrett urban renewal zone

1935 Charlottesville, Va.
Charlottesville, Va. – Why is the “area south of the railroad” a dead zone? Think about it for a minute. Stand at Live Arts on Water Street and look out on a sea of urban renewal. All those parking lots and open space was anti-development. We’re going back in time when landmarks like the EconoLodge on Emmet across from the JPJ arena become vacant land again. That’s happening all over town. Imagine demolition happening to an entire mixed-use neighborhood.

City Councilor Kathy Galvin refers to this region as the Strategic Investment Area. She promised to use City government to re-create every detail of this neighborhood. The problem with past efforts is that only affordable housing was addressed while industry and jobs moved out. In her “out-of-the-box, bold” vision, government may have to create all the jobs as well. Her faith in socialism is complete. She believes government can mandate the ideal neighborhood, which City government literally destroyed in this case.

Galvin doesn’t know much about the history of this neighborhood. She knew that the Ix textile factory once made parachutes. She didn’t know that the factory opened in 1929 and carried the city through the Great Depression becoming the largest employer during World War Two. She knew there was industry but didn’t know this was a residential neighborhood.

She said this is a traditionally poor area. No, this was an affluent neighborhood where poor people had moved into rundown, grand homes. Count up public housing units in this area (150 units at Friendship Court + 126 at Crescent Halls + 58 at S. First + 25 at 6th SE + ? at Midway Manor = 359+) and you have the number of units lost to urban renewal in this part of town alone. Add a church, a preschool, 30 businesses. The reasons for a dead zone start to add up.

Does the history of this neighborhood have any lessons to teach us? Absence of government leads to the ideal neighborhood, where no zoning leads to mixed-use, pedestrian friendly, human-scale, etc. Property rights lead to investment. If the previous owners of the now City-owned land can have their homes taken for private use without Due Process, why would any potential investor put money where the local government has a history of stealing real estate investments, and the same regime is in power? Crime causes poverty and other problems even if the Supreme Court says it’s good for the public. The Constitution makes it unlawful because the practice causes so many problems throughout history.

Maybe I’m wrong and there’s nothing illegal or embarrassing. This is a proud history of government intervention. Why is it called the Warehouse District? Whatever happened in the 1970s, people quit talking about it. So new people came and saw warehouses. So they misnamed it and no elder leader like Mayor Satyendra Huja corrected them because of his own involvement. Actually it was mixed-use before mixed-use was outlawed by zoning and now mandated by zoning.

Not talking about it has moved into Phase 2: Withholding knowledge to allow you to talk about it. In this case it’s the public housing archives. Will Kathy Galvin crusade for more education and historic preservation of history? Will she make a motion that City Council order the Housing Authority to allow people (Blair Hawkins) to come down there sometime with a laptop and scanner, and start publishing this history. It should only take me about ten years since the text documents alone are 6,845 items.

I didn’t call the Coy Barefoot show this afternoon because I thought it would be a waste of time. Galvin has talked about her socialist dream in previous appearances. I called the Schilling Show in 2009 asking Councilor Holly Edwards for help getting the archives published. On air she promised to help. Off air she played games and said she would get back to me each time I contacted her. She wanted me to meet the 2 people blocking the history: UVA historian Scot French and Housing Authority then-director Randy Bickers. Now I have history to tell. Holly Edwards does not want people to know what’s in these archives, as documented by the broken promise made on the Schilling Show.

What is the motivation of City Council? They don’t want people to know how big urban renewal really is? They don’t want people to know that seizing and selling real estate violates the civil right of due process? Information is dangerous and the masses should know less, not more?

Or maybe they just don’t care? Nope! If they didn’t care, they would stand aside and allow volunteers to preserve the only thing left of a historic neighborhood which made so many contributions. Where's the mercy of Council? It’s only words and pictures. What could be so dangerous about that?

Timeline

1762 – Town of Charlottesville chartered. Thomas Jefferson was 19 years old.
1825 – Alexander Garrett builds his mansion on his 117-acre farm called Oak Hill removed for Garrett Square/Friendship Court 1977. Friend and financial advisor of Jefferson, Garrett witnessed Jefferson’s last breath and recorded the moment in a letter excerpted in Daily Progress Apr. 2, 1952 when the dilapidated house was torn down.
1860 – Garrett Street developed.
1865 – Private all-black Jefferson School opens on West Main.
1870 – Town’s first public school on Garrett Street.
1915 – Development of 4th SE, renamed Ware St., what’s left renamed 2nd St. in 2002. People making the decisions are disconnected from our history.
1929 – Ix factory booms. People’s bank turned a profit during the Great Depression with large base of small account holders.
1954 – Era of Urban Renewal begins with creation of Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Eminent domain to seize and sell real estate is legal for the first time.
1960 – Vinegar Hill urban renewal, now mentioned exclusively by politicians to give the impression Vinegar Hill was the only urban renewal.
1967 – Strategic Investment Area urban renewal begins. The World War Two of redevelopment.
2004 – First request to view the public housing archives and discovery that they are closed to the public (Blair Hawkins).
2006 – City Council unanimously in regular meeting refuses to allow access to the archives. No news outlet recorded that history. But the video camera recorded it..
2009 – Holly Edwards lies on the Schilling Show. “Latest Archive Request on Schilling Show”, Feb. 12, 2009. Includes a more detailed timeline and photos before and after Vinegar Hill. http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2009/02/latest-archive-request-on-wina.html
2013 – Dec. 19 Kathy Galvin’s utopian socialist dream to mandate an ideal neighborhood, aired on Coy Barefoot's Inside Charlottesville on WCHV radio FM 107.5.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Urban Renewal Application on file for a year

Charlottesville, Va. – In response to a Dec. 13 phone call for the status of my application hand-delivered Oct. 14 with an Oct. 15 deadline, Clerk of Council Paige Rice finally informed applicants if they were appointed or not. The original posting did not state which positions were up for appointment. The City website is still asking for applicants without saying which positions are open.

The only way to know that an appointment was made is to compare the previous board with the current board. You can only do this if you already know who was on the previous board. That information is not available on the website or in the announcement. Presumably the appointment was made at a City Council meeting. But you have to be watching during the exact minute when the unannounced appointment was made.

City Council is doubling down on the 9-year refusal to release the publicly-owned, historical archives documenting felony crime at the Housing Authority since 1954. The archives consist of 6,845 documents, 1,189 photos, 189 maps and blueprints, and GIS satellite data pinpointing the crime scenes.

Application for Housing Authority Board, Oct. 22, 2013.

Dear Mr. Hawkins,

It was good speaking with you this afternoon. Thank you very much for your interest in serving on the CRHA Board. The opening on the CRHA Board was for a resident position, and you must be a resident in public housing in order to hold that particular seat. As such, I regret to inform you that Council was not able to appoint you at this time.

I encourage you to reapply for future openings; I will keep your application on file for a period of one year. If you are interested in applying for another board during that time period, please contact me at 970-3113 or clerk@charlottesville.org, and I will resubmit your application. Again, thank you for your interest and your willingness to serve. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best,
Paige
______________________________ 

Paige Rice
Clerk of Council
clerk@charlottesville.org
(434) 970-3113
ricep@charlottesville.org

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Limbo: City Market, Belmont Bridge, Public Housing, Louis Schultz

Charlottesville, Va. - I only watched the first hour of last night's City Council meeting. Most of the public comment was about City Market. The study report was the last item on the agenda so Mayor Huja moved it to #4 when it should have been moved to #1. Some speakers drove an hour to comment. Everyone wants City Market to stay where it is now on Water Street EXCEPT City Council. Council values future revenue more than existing revenue. So they're willing to sacrifice City Market to sell the lot for development on speculation of higher tax value to generate MORE revenue. Problem! Nobody wants to buy it as it's been on the market for years. In City Hall there is no history unless it supports your current position. Council wants to move City Market a couple blocks away to a smaller lot on Garrett Street, which nobody supports. At least they didn't say "the street south of the railroad". We can still say Garrett. Some people want City Market at the Ix textile factory 1929 to 1999.

In a normal world-class town you would expect your bridges to be repaired and maintained as routine. Only if someone else pays for it. Several speakers addressed Belmont Bridge as a physical barrier, racial barrier and psychological barrier.

But history reared its ugly head when public housing came up. Councilor Dede Smith pointed out that Friendship Court is an example of what the Housing Authority wants to do-- sell the public housing to a nonprofit (Piedmont Housing Alliance), public housing becomes Section 8 housing vouchers which Housing Authority administers, then Housing Authority orders the nonprofit to repair and maintain the housing which Housing Authority has never been able to do for some reason.  Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) president Brandon Collins argued for the status quo. He said the RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) program to make public housing into housing vouchers is the biggest change since Vinegar Hill. Collins remains in denial of all the history that followed Vinegar Hill. Why would he only know the first piece of the history? Councilor Dave Norris used history too. He said on Nov. 24, 2008 the CRHA board approved the PHAR Bill of Rights, basically guaranteeing current residents a public housing unit forever. City Council approved the covenant on Dec. 15, 2008. RAD limits occupancy to 2 years and you have to find another place. The #1 complaint is that CRHA does not follow agreements or laws, with a long history to prove it.

Louis Schultz is a long-time property rights activist, defending his own land and house near the end of Market Street in the Woolens Mills neighborhood. Schultz spoke in public comment but no councilor responded to his allegations. Schultz wants to "press charges" against the city for a long list of offenses. Problem is Schultz doesn't have many resources, other than his house. He should ask the Institute for Justice to take his case, or at the very least to archive his story with others across the country. Sometimes the police will press charges even if you don't, sometimes they press charges on your behalf, otherwise you have to sue. As property owner, Schultz has standing to sue.

The theme of government and City Council is everything's in limbo, uncertainty, just one vote and one election away from being taken away. Well not everything, just whatever is popular and will hurt the most people if taken away. "Give us more money or the teacher gets it" we hear every budget season. Is there someone more reliable than the government we can turn to? Did we turn to the government in the first place because the private sector was doing so bad? Or is there another reason? Did we lose faith in the individual? Or just certain individuals?

Also Council appointed the 11 members of the Human Rights Commission, and has already hired a director. But according to Joe Thomas on his radio show this morning, who applied to this commission, he was told the appointments would be made in November.

Also I have heard nothing since my application to be on the urban renewal commission. I don't see anything on the city's website. I guess I'm in limbo!

http://www.schillingshow.com/2013/10/21/property-wrongs-louis-schultz-confronts-charlottesville-officials-over-illegal-land-grab/
http://super-blair.blogspot.com/2013/10/application-for-housing-authority-board.html
http://charlottesville.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2
https://www.facebook.com/blair.hawkins.31


Application for Housing Authority board

Charlottesville, Va. – Here is the application for a seat on the 7-member commission appointed by City Council to govern its real estate department, the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority since 1954. The urban renewal, public housing agency is so weird and controversial that something as simple as the political hierarchy is in dispute. Is CRHA a local, state, or federal agency, independent or quasi-governmental?

Announcement to apply to the board. As of last night’s City Council meeting Oct. 21, the appointment has not been made. But the Human Rights Commission’s 11 members were appointed. WCHV’s Joe Thomas said on his radio show he applied for this commission and was told the appointments would be made in November.

Application for seat on CRHA commission due October 15, 2013
Blair Hawkins, healingcharlottesville@yahoo.com

(1) Qualifications. Honest and knowledgeable of Housing Authority and its history. 13 years writing, researching, reporting and publishing stories about the Housing Authority and City Council. Effective communicator with many letters to the editor and appearances on local talk radio. I’m the person who recorded the 2000 to 2013 history of urban renewal in Charlottesville as it unfolded.

(2) Experience. Former resident of three local public housing complexes. My family integrated Westhaven when I was in 5th grade. Moved away 6 months later because it was too dangerous. Kids were being attacked while playing in the front yard. While in high school, we moved to Garrett Square and South First Street apartments.

(3) Primary Goal. I will advocate the publication of the full housing archives consisting of 6,845 documents, 1,189 photographs, and 189 maps and blueprints. Account for what’s missing from the archives by cross-referencing courthouse deeds.

The City has been stonewalling since my first request to view the archives on March 25, 2004. City Council refused to release the archives officially on November 20, 2006. In February 2007 the assistant city manager Rochelle Small-Toney allowed me to view a notebook of 152 pages containing 287 images after claiming I already had access to the full archives in two previous meetings where a handful of photos were presented in isolation. That same month UVA historian Scot French and the Carter G. Woodson Institute promised to publish the full archives but only created a website about Vinegar Hill.

On July 1, 2009 CRHA Chair Jason Halbert indicated that lack of “time and energy” is the reason the CRHA won’t digitize and the blog won’t house the archives. At this point there has been at least one volunteer offering to do it for 5 years. Now it’s been 9 years that CRHA and City Council have blocked local history from being published. If appointed I will advocate that Council grant funding to hire an outside firm finally to digitize and publish this history in order for CRHA to build trust with the community and move forward.

(4) Secondary Goal. I will not support the so-called redevelopment of public housing, a.k.a. expansion of urban renewal. I will advocate abolition of the Housing Authority and its board. Nobody gets kicked out of their apartment.

(A) Immediate freeze on selling or buying any real estate until the complete archives are published.
(B) Return vacant land to its legal owners.
(C) Convert public housing apartments to condominiums owned by the current tenants free and clear.
(D) Property seized and already sold can’t be undone. But its history is preserved in the archives. Garrett Square / Friendship Court is a special case.

So I will vote no to violating civil rights, no to claiming public use when it’s private use, no to seize and sell property without first finding the owner guilty of a crime.

(5) Understand minority culture. For example, when someone says a civil right has been violated, I won’t refer to courts or experts to dismiss their complaint. How can you trust a court that ruled slavery is legal, separate is equal, to seize and sell without due process is Constitutional, and other crazy decisions? In contrast I will address the issue and question authority.

If I’m appointed, that will indicate City Council is ready to tell the whole truth and stop acting perplexed that no one trusts the urban renewal agency. It will indicate Council is ready to put the archive grievance to rest while building a body of knowledge to improve the Housing Authority. But CRHA commissioners should already know this history. None of them is calling for specific reforms. So it’s an irrational fear that knowledge of a bad thing will stop the bad thing. Only action can stop a bad policy.

But I don’t really expect to be appointed. How does it make sense to appoint someone to a board he opposes? Besides I work so much overtime I might not be able to give the position my full attention. This application is really a petition to City Council to preserve and publish the full CRHA archives. If appointed or not, I’ll still be talking about public housing and urban renewal. I’ve accepted that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

In light of this new RAD discussion from HUD, my secondary goal to abolish CRHA loses steam. Basically it looks like RAD will privatize public housing and CRHA will continue as the redevelopment arm and administer the Section 8 Housing voucher program. The big difference is that CRHA won’t have to maintain the 376 units. CRHA can order the property owner maintain standards or lose the voucher. Shortly after Piedmont Housing Alliance acquired Garrett Square and renamed it Friendship Court in 2002, the 150 units were renovated.

The best course of action right now is for the Public Housing Association of Residents to form into a nonprofit corporation owned by the residents. Buy the public housing using the future ownership as collateral now, or argue that City Council grant the public housing to the PHAR nonprofit. But since public housing has never been about empowering the poor, Council will find a million reasons to say no. A PHAR nonprofit opens up other opportunities if this idea fails.

Here’s the most recent example of my ability to research and communicate information. If appointed, these ideas will actually be discussed at official meetings by at least one commissioner.

RAD converts Public Housing to Section 8 Housing, Oct. 11, 2013
( https://www.facebook.com/blair.hawkins.31 )

Has this ever happened before? Yes, Garrett Square. The plan is to convert public housing to housing vouchers. Public housing would become owned by a private nonprofit like Piedmont Housing Alliance which owns Garrett Square. The voucher would be attached to the apartment, not tenant-based as it is now, but they want to turn over the units every 1 to 2 years and give you rental assistance elsewhere. Section 8 funding is stable and less controversial. RAD turns Public Housing into Section 8 Housing. Why not grant the public housing to a corporation consisting of the tenants and see if they can possibly do any worse than CRHA. Historically public housing was advertised as "displacement housing." If you could live for 20 years on Vinegar Hill or Oak Hill, why not public housing? At-risk people need stability and to stop moving around.

Deadline to apply for RAD is December 31. Next RAD meetings:
October 14, 2013 South First Street 5:30 p.m.
October 16, 2013 Crescent Halls 1:00 p.m.

http://www.nbc29.com/story/23663680/crha-public-housing-residents-meet-on-proposed-program
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=%2FRAD
http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/Charlottesville-Redevelopment-and-Housing-Authority--227334121.html


Blair Hawkins, healingcharlottesville@yahoo.com
Application for seat on CRHA commission due October 15, 2013

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Activist Hawkins Applies to Urban Renewal Commission

The most compelling application to a government board you will likely ever read.

Charlottesville, Va. – This is a rough draft of my application to become one of seven commissioners that govern the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The commissioners are appointed by City Council. CRHA is a political subdivision of the City of Charlottesville since 1954.

Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority commission info. The page claims that CRHA is an “independent political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia.” But on Dec. 20, 2012 the board passed Resolution 1313 that CRHA is a local department of the City. The vote was unanimous. But we still have some City Councilors and CRHA commissioners claiming CRHA is an independent rogue agency. Where is the written proof one way or the other?

Full list of Boards and commissions seeking applicants. Deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

Attached Page to CRHA Application (Rough Draft) one week before deadline.

(1) Qualifications. Honest and knowledgeable of Housing Authority and its history. 13 years writing, researching, reporting and publishing stories about the Housing Authority and City Council. Effective communicator with many letters to the editor and appearances on local talk radio. I’m the person who recorded the 2000 to 2013 history of urban renewal in Charlottesville as that history unfolded.

(2) Experience. Former resident of three local public housing complexes. My family integrated Westhaven when I was in 5th grade. Moved away 6 months later because it was too dangerous. Kids were being attacked while playing in the front yard. While in high school, we moved to Garrett Square and South First Street apartments.

(3) Primary Goal. I will advocate the publication of the full housing archives consisting of 6,845 documents, 1,189 photographs, and 189 maps and blueprints. Account for what’s missing from the archives by cross-referencing courthouse deeds.

The City has been stonewalling since my first request to view the archives on March 25, 2004. City Council refused to release the archives officially on November 20, 2006. In February 2007 the assistant city manager Rochelle Small-Toney allowed me to view a notebook of 152 pages containing 287 images after claiming I already had access to the full archives in two previous meetings where a handful of photos were presented in isolation. That same month UVA historian Scot French and the Carter G. Woodson Institute promised to publish the full archives but only created a website about Vinegar Hill.

On July 1, 2009 CRHA Chair Jason Halbert indicated that lack of “time and energy” is the only reason the CRHA won’t digitize and the blog won’t house the archives. At this point there has been at least one volunteer offering to do it for 5 years. Now it’s been 9 years that CRHA and City Council have blocked local history from being published. If appointed I will advocate that Council grant funding to hire an outside firm finally to digitize and publish this history in order for CRHA to build trust with the community and move forward..

(4) Secondary Goal. I will not support the so-called redevelopment of public housing, a.k.a. expansion of urban renewal. I will advocate abolition of the Housing Authority and its board. Nobody gets kicked out of their apartment.

(A) Immediate freeze on selling or buying any real estate until the complete archives are published.
(B) Return vacant land to its legal owners.
(C) Convert public housing apartments to condominiums owned by the current tenants free and clear.
(D) Property seized and already sold can’t be undone. But its history is preserved in the archives. Garrett Square / Friendship Court is a special case.

So I will vote no to violating civil rights, no to claiming public use when it’s private use, no to seize and sell property without first finding the owner guilty of a crime.

(5) Understand and respect minority culture. For example, when someone says a civil right has been violated, I won’t refer to courts or experts to dismiss their complaint. How can you trust a court that ruled slavery is legal, separate is equal, to seize and sell without due process is Constitutional, and other crazy decisions? In contrast I will address the issue and question authority.

If I’m appointed, that will indicate City Council is ready to tell the whole truth and stop acting perplexed that no one trusts the urban renewal agency. It will indicate Council is ready to put the archive grievance to rest while building a body of knowledge to improve the Housing Authority. But CRHA commissioners should already know this history. None of them is calling for specific reforms. So it’s an irrational fear that knowledge of a bad thing will stop the bad thing. Only action can stop a bad policy.

Attached Page to CRHA Application (Rough Draft) one week before deadline.