HJR 432

Commission on the Condition and Future of Virginia's Cities

October 13, 1998, Charlottesville

As called for in HJR 432, the commission organized a statewide summit to discuss the condition and needs of Virginia's cities. The purpose of the summit, which included over 200 local government, business and community leaders, was to establish a common base of understanding among participants regarding current and past conditions of Virginia's cities, educate and engage participants in the problems faced by cities by focusing on the causes rather than the symptoms, and bring attention to the work of the commission. While the focus of the summit was on the problems faced by Virginia's cities, the commission is planning to hold a second summit next year to focus on possible solutions to those problems.

The keynote speaker, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, emphasized the attributes of cities, including the cities' role as a hub or crossroads, a telecommunications center, and a place for people to gather and interact. He stressed the cities' role in providing essential services to the suburbs and noted that suburbs are healthier when the central city is healthy, whereas the problems of a city cannot be contained and will eventually creep to the suburbs.

Two panel sessions focused on financial issues and issues related to city services and governing structures. Among the assertions made by the panelists:

The summit concluded with small group roundtable discussions, a report from each roundtable group, and concluding remarks and instructions from Speaker Moss. In his remarks, the Speaker focused on the issues most often raised during the summit, including the need to examine tax restructuring, the increased funding of public safety under 599, examination of barriers to regional cooperation, and new means to address the problem of abandoned housing in urban neighborhoods.

Future Meetings

The next meeting of the commission will be in Danville on November 5, 1998, at 1:00 p.m. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for December 2, 1998, in Alexandria, and January 5, 1999, in Richmond.

The Honorable Thomas W. Moss, Jr., Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Jeffrey F. Sharp