Comprehensive Plan meeting recap

January 15, 2008

Tonight’s meeting at the Workforce Center was a success that none of its organizers predicted.  With at least 100 people in attendance it was clear that the citizens of the Wards Corner Partnership area are unhappy with their representation on City Council.  Various civic leaders were in attendance and many voiced their dismay with the lack of action in the Wards Corner area.  Crime is soaring, blight is damaging our neighborhoods, and the best reaction we can get from the City is that we may get new crosswalks if their is money in the budget.

The frustration level was high as there are people who have been working on the same issues that confront us today for almost a decade.  People are disappointed that the City dropped the ball on moving forward with the Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan before the General Assembly took eminent domain away and they are equally disappointed that the city refuses to move forward with the plan now.

Crime was a large part of the discussion as most in attendance felt that the redevelopment of East Beach caused much of the crime and blight to relocate to the Denby Park neighborhood.  With reports that the St. Pauls Quadrant is where the city will be spending most of its money and resources, there is a great fear that once again the crime and blight of that area will end up in the Wards Corner Partnership area.

It was pointed out that there are five elected city officials that represent the Wards Corner Partnership area and none of them are champions for the area.  It was explicitly stated that most of the Partnership Area is represented by the Ward 1 councilman and that he is ostensibly ineffective in bringing home the bacon to the Ward.

The meeting was closed with a plan to meet again at the Workforce Center on January 29, 2008 at 7:00pm at which time an action plan will be formulated.  Frustration is high among the citizens, but optimism is causing the citizens to work for change.


General Assembly Update: Payday Loans

January 15, 2008

The Virginia Payday Loan Act was first adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in 2002 and exempted the industry from the prior 36-percent interest rate cap. Virginia caps the interest rate on a one-week loan at 780 percent and 390 percent for two-week loans. As bad as the interest rate may be, the worst part is the debt trap that the borrower gets caught in. Payday loans are designed to trap the borrower into repeat loans.¹

There are currently a number of bills filed in the General Assembly attempting to “fix” the Payday Loan issues in Virginia. I have attempted to summarize them, provide links to them, and let you know where those bills are in their journey through the General Assembly.

HB12, HB249, HB1377, HB1404, SB24, SB279, SB238, and SB670 all propose limiting the annual interest rate for Payday Loans at 36%.

HB12, HB249, HB1377, HB1404: In House Commerce and Labor Committee
SB24, SB279, SB238, SB670: In Senate Commerce and Labor Committee

SB25, SB156, SB278, and HB730 propose repealing the Payday Loan Act entirely with effective dates of July 1, 2008, July 1, 2010, January 1, 2009, and July 1, 2010 respectively.

SB25, SB156, SB27: In Senate Commerce and Labor Committee
HB730: In House Commerce and Labor Committee

HB176 Requires the creation of an internet accessible statewide database of payday loans.   Lenders would be required to query the database to determine whether the borrower is eligible for the loan. The database would be paid for by a 50 cent fee added to each payday loan. HB1103, HB1352, and SB588 would create the same database as above as well as an Extended Payment Plan; they would change the minimum term of a payday loan from seven to 14 days; require a one day waiting period between the repayment of a loan and making a new loan; and other tweaks.

HB176, HB1103, HB1352: In House Commerce and Labor Committee
SB588: In Senate Commerce and Labor Committee

HB189 gives localities the power to regulate the interest rate and number of payday loans allowed within their jurisdiction.

HB189: In House Commerce and Labor Committee

Thanks to Waldo Jaquith for creating Richmond Sunlight, an invaluable tool in tracking these bills and the Virginia General Assembly.


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