Public Comments for 01/20/2023 Counties Cities and Towns - Subcommittee #1
HB1528 - Virginia Beach, City of; amending charter, vacancies in office of council member and mayor.
City Council members are elected officials, and off-cycle appointments should be no different. The citizens of Virginia Beach should have the right to choose who is governing the city in every vacancy situation. Please pass HB1528 which puts the power to select local government representation back in the hands of the people being represented.
Our City if Virginia Beach manager is supposed to take instruction from our City Council as a body, a body who voted in favor of HB1528. Our manager apparently took instruction from only some of our VBCC and not the group as a body when he apparently instructed our legislative liaison to follow the instruction of only a partial body vote and submit a neutral stance on this important voters rights bill. Both of these taxpayer funded executives let the public down by not following the instructions of our VBCC as a body. The voters will get them to get our elected officials to sort them out but in the meantime please don’t let a couple of apparent deviant executives acting on only a partial VBCC vote hold up the people’s business regarding this critical amendment to our City charter. In a City with a proven disparity issue (we did a taxpayer funded study) bordering on criminal it is imperative that taxpayers actually get to vote for their elected officials and not have appointed replacements contributing to more disparity which historically has sadly been the case with appointments. We are the largest City in the state and if our voters rights are not protected, don’t expect yours to be either! We are the leader of the FREE world, please do your part to keep it that way. 🇺🇸
Council members in Virginia Beach are appointed to vacant seats frequently -- often for a good portion of the term. This is a disservice to the voters of Virginia Beach. Council members MUST be elected by Virginia Beach Voters. Voters choose who represents them, NOT other council members. This bill corrects this issue.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: In the spirit of full transparency, the City Council vote for Virginia Beach Charter Change, HB 1528, was not unanimous. The previous City Council voted 6-5 to include this item in its Legislative Agenda. The newly elected, now seated Council has 5 new members and has not weighed in on this charter change. Thank you, Debra M. Bryan Legislative Affairs Director City of Virginia Beach
Last year the City Council of Virginia Beach interviewed and appointed members from a pool of voluntary applicants to serve in vacant seats. The people from the districts represented in those seats were illegally deprived of their right to vote. I support the HB 1528 bill. There should be no impediment to the passage of this bill by the General Assembly.
I ask this subcommittee to support HB1528. Virginia Beach has a history of rule by faction. A federal court found our old voting processes, filled with at-large seats, to be a violation of federal law. It was also a violation of the voters constitutional protections against rule by faction as presented by Virginia's own native son James Madison in the Federalist papers, Ch 9 & 10. The current "appointment" process to fill city council vacancies is just a knowingly furtherance of that designed process that keeps promoting faction rule. HB1528 bring democracy to Virginia Beach by insuring the people are represented by candidates of their choice. Vote yes on HB1528.
HB1532 - Rent stabilization, local; any locality may by ordinance adopt provisions.
My name is Sirly Soloman, I live in London Square Apartments in Southside Richmond as of two years ago. My job is in my home, raising my young daughter and underage niece. I chose to live in London Square apartments due to the low rent, which has allowed us to pay our bills with relative ease and have the money to feed our children. In the past few years, our landlords have risen our rent greatly, which has affected us in a huge way, as my husband’s salary is hardly enough to pay our necessities, especially now that we have been seeing mass disemployment in Richmond Virginia through our neighbors and friends of color. Everything has been going up lately- eggs are twice the price they used to be, and rent becomes harder and harder to pay as time goes on. We have been put in a situation of desperation, which is why I have come to plead that you will vote in favor of senate bill 1278 for rent stabilization. Thank you.
Hi, my name is Leidy Chimilio, I live in Southwood Apartments in Southside Richmond. I am a single mother that fights every day to be able to support her children, and my experience living in Southwood apartments has been very hard, especially considering the unreasonable way in which they have risen my rent this year. I am a mother that has to have two jobs to be able to pay my rent, and at times I don’t have the funds to provide food for my household. This bill is necessary not only for my survival, but for the hundreds of neighbors that I see going through similar situations. Thank you.
On behalf of City Council, I am submitting comments for support of this legislation. Affordable Housing is such an important but complex issue to resolve to ensure an integrated and inclusive community. Locally rents are increasing 15-25% which forces lower to moderate income households out of our community. Additional tools are key. Support and believe this must be a local choice and permissive. Studying the implementation of such a program is important to ensure the rent levels are stabilized at an effective for performance outcomes but also respects the right of the private market/economics. Thank you for your public service, Cindy Cindy Mester Deputy City Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
This bill must be passed so that people can afford to live in the city that they work in!
Please vote against HB 1532, which would authorize rent-control ordinances. Economists oppose rent control because it makes it more difficult for people to find decent housing in the long run. In a 1992 poll, 93 percent of economists said rent control reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. Even left-leaning economists mostly think rent control is a bad idea, as exemplified by Swedish economics professor Assar Lindbeck, a left-of-center economist. He said, "rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing." In 1989, Vietnam’s socialist leaders reluctantly admitted that their policy of rent control had destroyed the housing stock of Vietnam’s capital city, which had been sturdy enough to survive years of American bombing in the Vietnam War. Vietnam’s foreign minister said, "The Americans couldn't destroy Hanoi, but we have destroyed our city by very low rents. We realized it was stupid and that we must change policy." HB 1532 would allow cities and counties to adopt rent control ordinances, under which rent increases would be limited to inflation or less. It states that such ordinances "shall prohibit any increase in the rent by such landlord of more than" the "the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index," and "may allow rent increases ... by an amount not to exceed" that inflation rate. Rent control is at odds with both the economic consensus and the consensus among both liberal and conservative newspapers. Rent control is a bad idea, according to not just conservative media, but also most Democratic-leaning newspapers. The conservative Wall Street Journal says "rent control is among the dumbest policies known to man," citing how it reduced housing construction and the availability of housing in American cities that adopted it. Similarly, the liberal Washington Post explains, "Rent-control laws can be good for some privileged beneficiaries, who are often not the people who really need help. But they are bad for many others." For example, after San Francisco imposed rent control, "landlords responded by converting their buildings into condos they could sell or business properties they could lease without rent-control restrictions — or by demolishing their old buildings and replacing them with new ones” not subject to rent control. Moreover, "landlords have less incentive to maintain their properties in a rent-controlled environment," reducing housing quality. "And since rent-stabilization policies often tend to discourage people from moving, they harm worker mobility and the economic dynamism associated with it." These observations were made by the Democratic-leaning editorial board of the Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952. See Washington Post Editorial, "The economists are right: Rent control is bad," Washington Post, Sept. 21, 2019.
HB1676 - Annexation; extension of current moratorium.
• As Virginia’s Association representing older, core cities, the Virginia First Cities Coalition is neither for or against HB 1676, though do want to take the opportunity to remind members that our cities bare the stresses of 21st century and all that goes along with it from social issues, to demands on infrastructure, to sidewalks and bike lanes and information technology corridors and high rises. We cannot grow our tax base. “Today many Virginia cities continue to have a large tax burden, more fiscal stress and less ability to develop than before the moratorium ….. The annexation moratorium is negatively affecting older cities' economic growth, …..” Sorrell and Vlk, Virginia Institute of Government/Weldon Cooper Center, University of Virginia, January 2012 • Almost 70 percent of Virginians live in communities served by police departments. The State created a program of financial assistance to local police departments (HB 599) when it imposed an annexation moratorium on cities more than 30 years ago. It has increasingly de- emphasized this funding obligation as a priority but has never compromised on the annexation moratorium. • The 16 members of the Virginia First Cities Coalition ask that funding for HB 599 conform the amount of state funding for localities with police departments to the requirements contained in the Code of Virginia. There are several submitted budget amendments in the House and the Senate that do that and we urge your support. • We also want to remind members that because of all of the above and the inability to grow, the moratorium on annexation promised aid to our city police departments (HB 599 funding) and funding for our city streets. So, now we share the HB 599 funding pot with many counties that have police departments in addition to sheriffs. And, funding for HB 59 has rarely, if ever, increased per statute. [There was an increase for the current fiscal year, but there were years where state general fund revenues were up and HB 599 funding stayed flat. Meanwhile, sheriffs and state police funding were increased.] • We work alongside our local government brethren, VML and VaCo, to always support increased funding for our local police departments, but especially our city police departments. For this was the promise made to our cities for not being able to annex and grow. We urge the members to please support increased funding for HB 599, Aid to Localities/Cities with Police Departments as well as funding for City street maintenance.
HB1798 - Comprehensive plan; healthy communities strategy.
HB1880 - Localities; record of legal settlement or judgment, disclosure of records.
HB1962 - Newport News, City of; amending charter, real estate assessment.
HB2005 - Haymarket, Town of; amending charter, municipal elections.
Dear Chair and members of the CC&T Subcomittee #1, Thank you for the opportunity to convey my support for HB 2005, patroned by Delegate Danica Roem. The amendments before you today will bring the Town of Haymarket charter into alignment with the state code, with respect to town elections being moved from May to November and also addresses related town council terms of office. Many obsolete provisions are eliminated , effectively streamlining the document for ease of reference and use, as well as updating the town’s boundaries to provide a clear distinction for use by citizens and stakeholders. The charter amendments were reviewed, revised, and unanimously approved by the town council after public discussion and a public hearing, allowing for citizen feedback and comment. I thank you for your time and attention in consideration of this bill and wish you the best for a successful session. Warm regards, Joseph R. Pasanello Councilmember - Town of Haymarket Jpasanello@townofhaymarket.org
HB1476 - Auditor of Public Accounts; civil penalty for local noncompliance.