Staff shortages are causing the city of Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services to put a pause on building and trade inspections between May 31 and June 13.
“The department acknowledges the inconvenience this may cause and appreciates everyone’s patience and cooperation during this time,” reads a press release that went out Friday afternoon.
Nearly ten months since former Charlottesville police chief RaShall Brackney was fired by former City Manager Chip Boyles, the city is seeking a permanent replacement. On Friday, the city issued a request for proposals for a firm to conduct an executive search.
“The City is seeking a consultant to assist the City Manager through the process of hiring a new Chief of Police who embodies the principles of 21st Century Policing and has an anti-racist focus,” reads the request for proposals.
The City of Charlottesville could be pulling in more revenue from tenants who may be leasing city property at rates well below the market rate. That’s one of the takeaways from a report given to Council at their meeting on May 16.
As the City of Charlottesville government seeks to rebuild after a recent era of frequent leadership transitions, the current management is looking at aspects of the city administration that have gone unnoticed or unchecked.
Until now, there has not been one central source in city government that controls all of the various leases the city has for its properties as well as service agreements. That makes it hard to track who is responsible or where the public can get information.
“So what we’re trying to do at this moment is compile that but one of the first things we had to do was identify an individual who would have that as their job,” said Sam Sanders, the Deputy City Manager for operations.
The City of Charlottesville has promoted two employees to take over their departments, and has also filled the position of Human Resources Director.
Mary Ann Hardie will move to Charlottesville from Washington state to take the human resources position, which has been vacant since November 2020 when Michelle Vineyard left after just over a year of service. Hardie has served for the past three years as human resources director in Lacey, Washington. That’s a suburb of state capital Olympia that grew from 42,393 people to 53,526 from 2010 to 2020 according to the U.S. Census.
Hardie starts work on May 16.
At least one in ten American adults will suffer a depressive illness every year, according to information from the National Institute of Mental Health. That information was cited at City Council’s May 2, 2022 work session.
Officials with the Emergency Communications Center for Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia briefed the Council on efforts to ensure that people experiencing mental health crises are not met with deadly force by public safety officers. (view the presentation)
“We do receive around a quarter of a million calls per year here in the Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Emergency Communication Center,” said Josh Powell, the support services manager for the ECC.
The Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) is the lead agency in this region for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development’s Continuum of Care program. They cover an area including Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the other localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.
“We believe that everyone deserves a safe place to call home and we believe that is a human right,” said Anthony Haro, TJACH’s executive director. (download Haro’s presentation)
A pair of activists and a journalist have filed suit against the City of Charlottesville seeking the release of documents they claim should be made available through the Freedom of Information Act.
Attorney Jeff Fogel filed a petition Thursday in Charlottesville Circuit Court on behalf of Tanesha Hudson, Cherry Hanley of the People’s Coalition, and Dave McNair of The DTM who submitted two separate requests for information. One was on March 24, 2022. (read the petition)
“For the years 2020 and 2021, all records concerning the settlement of claims of police misconduct, or other violation of constitutional rights, by the city or any of its employees, whether or not the claim was filed in an administrative or judicial agency.”
The city of Charlottesville has responded in Charlottesville Circuit Court to a lawsuit filed in December by anonymous property owners seeking to void the Comprehensive Plan adopted by City Council last November. The plaintiffs assert the city did not follow state code resulting in a plan that is not “general in nature” and that failed to present a transportation plan to support new density allowed under the plan. (read the plaintiff’s suit)
The city filed two responses, including one requesting the Court order the identities of the plaintiffs to be revealed. The other is a demurrer which argues the plaintiffs have no right legal basis on which to have filed their case. (read the demurrer)
“Plaintiffs have no express right of action under Virginia 15.2-2223… to challenge the sufficiency of the Comprehensive Plan,” reads the first section of the demurrer.
Since 2005, The City of Charlottesville has planned and administered construction of transportation projects within city limits as part of something called the First Cities program or the Urban Construction Initiative. This includes major projects such as the Belmont Bridge replacement currently underway, and extends to the many Smart Scale projects for which the city has received dozens of millions of dollars in funding.
This week, Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders told City Council on Monday that this arrangement is under review.
“Our leadership and project management teams are completing a review of our [Virginia Department of Transportation] program ahead of a deep dive with VDOT that’s scheduled fot later this month,” Sanders said. “We anticipate some changes that we’ll be bringing to Council in regards to how we manage those projects going forward.”
When Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders joined Charlottesville’s management team last July, he more or less filled a vacancy for a lower position that had been open for a year.
“I became your housing coordinator right away, because we didn’t have one,” Sanders said at an April 4 work session on the city’s affordable housing policy. “I have been spending a lot of time observing, reviewing, questioning, complaining, evaluating, and testing all of what we do, how we do it, why we do it, and trying to figure out what else we can do to make it all run more smoothly and definitely be run better.”