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Councilman Agelasto releases statement on his withdrawal of bill to go after absent landlord

Attempt to cleanup after property owners pulled back for now.

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The scene you see above is from a video that Councilman Parker C. Agelasto recently posted to his Facebook page. He had proposed Council Resolution No. 2014-R158 which would have set up “rental inspection districts and requires inspection of residential real estate dwelling units”. These inspections would’ve held property owners responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their property and prevent scenes like those captured above.

Agelasto withdrew his resolution after a lack of support from the city and fellow council members.

He issued the following statement:

Regarding: Withdrawal of Proposed Council Resolution No. 2014-R158 requesting Richmond Chief Administrative Officer to develop a program that establishes rental inspection districts and requires inspection of residential real estate dwelling units within such districts pursuant to Va. Code § 36-105.1:1 and to submit a proposed ordinance setting forth the particulars of such program to the Council for its consideration and adoption.

(Richmond, Virginia U.S.A.) – “As residents of the 5th District have repeatedly expressed concerns about rental properties and the negative impacts of absent landlords in their neighborhoods, I was disappointed that Richmond City Council and the Administration of Mayor Jones would not support looking further into a city rental inspection program.

Due to their lack of support, I have withdrawn my proposed resolution that would have sought the Administration to develop criteria for establishing an effective rental inspection program, which ultimately would have included additional public input and an Ordinance adopted by Richmond City Council.

Nonetheless, I stand committed and will continue to look at ways to further enhance Richmond laws to make building and property code enforcement more effective.

I strongly believe that property owners must take responsibility for their tenants and enforce the terms of their leases, such as those requiring tenants to properly maintain a property. For example, it is categorically unacceptable that the Richmond Department of Public Works, Richmond Department of Planning and Development Review Office of Code Enforcement, or any other city government departments is being forced to absorb cleanup costs when tenants move out.

Please help me and our community combat this issue by reporting violations to the Richmond Department of Planning and Development Review Office of Code Enforcement, at 804.646.4169. When reporting, please provide a specific property addresses and photos if you can and, if you have access to the internet, use the City’s database to research property records and include the name of the property owner and any contact information that is available.

Let’s also share all this information publicly. I highly encourage everyone to post their pictures and any other details on Facebook and/or other social media to bring even greater awareness to these individual properties.

For those who need to know how to become more responsible, Richmond Law/City Code requires that trash be placed in receptacles. Please also bag it and, if it cannot fit into the trashcan, it is best to take the larger items to one of the two Richmond dumps/landfills, which are located at 3520 N Hopkins Road, 804.232.8488(tel), and 3800 E Richmond Road, 804.646.4706 (tel).

It is not the job of City sanitation workers to clean up trash, litter and debris that is not properly placed for collection, they work hard to keep our City clean but it is impossible when others are not doing their part. Those responsible should be held accountable, tenants need to do better and certain landlords need to pay to clean up the messes left behind from vacated tenants.

Calling 311, reporting to SeeClickFix, or asking the Richmond Department of Public Works to do all the work is shifting a tenant and landlord’s cost responsibility to that of the taxpayer. Security deposits and leases are structured for this very reason and it is about time that landlords and tenants live up to their responsibilities.

Some of Richmond’s key laws regarding residential trash can be found in the Richmond Code of Laws/Ordinances: Chapter 86; Article 1 through IV, athttps://www.municode.com/ library/va/richmond/codes/ code_of_ordinances

Once again, while I have withdrawn my current rental inspection proposal, I am actively looking at alternative legislation to make Richmond building and property Code Enforcement more effective. Thank you everyone for their work and support in helping to rid our city neighborhoods of this problem.”

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Crime

Pedestrian struck in hit and run crash on Magnolia Street in Northside

The Richmond Police Department’s Special Operations Division-Traffic Crash Team is investigating a Hit & Run crash that occurred in the late evening yesterday in the City’s Northside.

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The Richmond Police Department’s Special Operations Division-Traffic Crash Team is investigating a Hit & Run crash that occurred in the late evening yesterday in the City’s Northside.

On Thursday evening, February 20, 2020, between 8:50 p.m. and 9:10 p.m., an unidentified vehicle traveling east in the 2200 block of Magnolia Street struck and seriously injured a male pedestrian wearing a yellow and white coat who was walking along Magnolia Street.

The driver of the striking vehicle fled the scene without stopping to render aid with the last known direction of travel as heading east on Magnolia Street towards Mechanicsville Turnpike.

The victim was transported to a local hospital where he is listed in life-threatening condition.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call RPD Crash Team Investigator Jarron Peterson at 804-646-1511 or contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. You may use the P3 smartphone app. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Downtown

Bills advance to expand in-state tuition regardless of citizenship status

The state Senate and the House have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.

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The state Senate and the House have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.

SB 935, introduced by Democratic Sens. Jennifer Boysko and Ghazala Hashmi, would require a student to provide proof of filed taxes to be eligible for in-state tuition. A student also must have attended high school in Virginia for at least two years, been homeschooled in the state or have passed a high school equivalency exam prior to enrolling in a college. The bill reported out of the House appropriations committee Wednesday and heads to the floor for a vote.

Submitting income tax returns would be a challenge for students straight out of high school who have not worked or filed taxes before, according to Jorge Figueredo, executive director of Edu-Futuro, a nonprofit that seeks to empower immigrant youth and their families.

HB 1547, introduced by Del. Alfonso Lopez, applies the same provisions as SB 935, except the requirement to file proof of filed taxes. The bill is currently in the Senate Health and Education committee.

Immigrant rights advocates have openly supported these two bills. Figueredo said he is “thrilled” to see the bill advance.

“This is something that makes a lot of sense. It’s something where we don’t want to have a group of people to get to a point that they cannot reach their highest potential,” Figueredo said.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced in 2014 that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students would be eligible for in-state tuition. He said Maryland saw an increase in graduation rates after allowing students without documentation to access in-state tuition rates. Maryland officials believe this led less students to drop out of high school because they saw realistic options for continuing education, according to Herring.

There is uncertainty about the future of the DACA program. A study by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis stated that uncertainty creates a risk for students enrolled in Virginia colleges and universities, who fear they could lose DACA status and access to in-state tuition rates. The institute, which studies issues affecting low-to-moderate income residents, recommended that lawmakers could mitigate the potential impact of that loss by expanding in-state tuition access to Virginia residents regardless of immigration status. The institute said that by doing so the state would also provide more affordable access to colleges for residents whose immigration status does not otherwise fall into the categories currently required for in-state tuition.

Figueredo said that allowing these students to apply for in-state tuition would create more opportunities for undocumented students to become professionals, something that would benefit all of Virginia.

High school graduates in Virginia earn about $35,000 on average compared to people with a bachelor’s degree who earn about $65,000 a year, according to The Commonwealth Institute.

“A person that has a higher level of education in comparison to a person that has only a high school diploma, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars that are not captured in the form of taxes, so that’s a direct benefit right there,” Figueredo said.

Katherine Amaya is a freshman at Northern Virginia Community College. Her family emigrated from El Salvador when she was 8 years old. Amaya said she pays out-of-state tuition rates as an undocumented student, about $6,000 per semester, compared to classmates who pay about $2,000 for in-state tuition per semester.

Amaya said she was on the honor roll throughout high school and her first semester in college. She said she was able to apply for scholarships for undocumented students but it was a competitive process. She was awarded a few scholarships and said she was able to use that money for her first semester of college but is afraid she won’t get as much help in the future.

Amaya said she had many friends in high school that were also having a hard time paying for college or university because they were also undocumented and did not qualify for in-state tuition.

“A lot of them, they couldn’t even afford going to community college, so they just dropped out and started working,” Amaya said. “It’s sad, you know, that they don’t have the money or the help to keep going to school.”

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Government

Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard holds town hall in Richmond

Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard greeted an audience of hundreds Tuesday at the Hofheimer Building on West Broad Street with her signature “aloha” before a brief speech and an audience question and answer session.

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By Zach Armstrong

Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard greeted an audience of hundreds Tuesday at the Hofheimer Building on West Broad Street with her signature “aloha” before a brief speech and an audience question and answer session.

“The clock is running out as we are heading very quickly toward Super Tuesday,” Gabbard said. “There’s nothing I love more than to be here in rooms like this with people like you because this is why I fight.”

Gabbard is the first female combat veteran to run for U.S. president. She also is the first Hindu and one of two female combat veterans to serve in Congress. Elected to the U.S. House in 2012, Gabbard has served on the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.

Gabbard is campaigning on policies that include a green economy based on renewable energy, a single-payer health care system and ending American warfare where foreign regimes are removed by force.

Audience members asked the candidate questions about school choice, the Second Amendment and term limits, among others. In response to Hanover County resident Dalton Luffey’s question about her top priorities, Gabbard said she believes nuclear war is the biggest threat to the world. Gabbard, who said she joined the Army National Guard after 9/11, campaigns on ending the arms race.

“I like Tulsi because she’s willing to have civil discourse and reach across the aisle,” said Whittney Hooks, a middle school teacher from Montross. “A lot of Democrats want a candidate who reflects the country but most of the frontrunners are old white men.”

Gabbard is seen as a divisive figure within the Democratic Party. After Hillary Clinton allegedly suggested that Gabbard is a “favorite of the Russians,” the Hawaii congresswoman filed a lawsuit against Clinton for defamation. Gabbard resigned as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee so that she could endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for president.

Gabbard’s campaign hasn’t fared well in the early Democratic primaries. The candidate received less than 1% of total votes in the Iowa caucuses while she received 3.3% of total votes in the New Hampshire primary. Gabbard has not received any delegates.

Richmond resident Tim Gabbard, who supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, said he attended the town hall after becoming aware of Tulsi Gabbard’s podcasts.

“I love her service to the country. She’s honorable; she fights; she doesn’t back down and she didn’t give into the DNC,” said Tim Gabbard. “She reminds me of Trump, although I wish Trump would speak as eloquently as she does, but at the end of the day they both put our country first.”

Before Virginia Democrats cast their ballot on March 3 to help determine Trump’s opponent in the 2020 general election, the Nevada caucus will be held on Feb. 22 and the South Carolina primary will take place Feb. 29.

During the town hall, Tulsi Gabbard asked by a show of hands how many audience members were Democrats, Republicans or neither with a seemingly even amount of respondents for each choice.

“Look around,” said Tulsi Gabbard. “This is the representation of America.”

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