The popularity of the Charlottesville Blogs aggregator has spiked in the past few months. Here’s a graph of monthly page views since the aggregator’s inception:
Those of y’all who blog should know that a great many more people are reading your blogs than perhaps you’ve suspected. I wish I had some more useful numbers (monthly visitors, repeat traffic, etc.), but I’m using a pretty crude program to track traffic to Charlottesville Blogs, so page views is as good as it gets.
(This was prompted by Michael Strickland’s kind post on the topic today.)
There’s been some informative discussion on local blogs about the Charlottesville Planning Commission and how they interact with the public. Over at Charlottesville Tomorrow, Brian Wheeler chronicles the planning commission’s February 15 meeting (complete with podcast audio) where:
the Charlottesville Planning Commission directed staff to prepare written guidelines strongly discouraging any communications between the Commissioners and developers or citizens with a position on a matter before the Commission. A motion to eliminate those communications entirely was considered then withdrawn. If approved, the City Planning Commission would adopt a style in sharp contrast to their neighbors in Albemarle County where these informal meetings with concerned citizens and developers are common practice.
Over at the new blog “Democratic Central,” responding to Charlottesville Tomorrow’s blog entry, Lloyd Snook weighs in strongly in favor of an open process:
When I was on the Planning Commission 20 years ago, I would meet with developers and citizens and neighbors and anyone else who wanted to talk about things. I wanted the most information possible. I didn’t want to have to get only the information that the staff gave me — not because I thought they were out to mislead me, but because they might not ask the same questions that I would ask.
This is not a jury system, where the decision makers can only base their decisions on what they learn in the courtroom. Planning Commissioners are generally thought of as legislators, and there are no restrictions on how legislators can gather their information.
I was asked to serve on the Charlottesville Planning Commission some years ago (I decided against it), but gave a lot of thought to it. I’ve got to agree with Lloyd Snook’s take on this, assuming that common sense is adhered to as Peter Kleeman suggests in a comment. Balancing open government and convenient government often isn’t easy; I’m glad there’s a public discussion about it.
On his blog, Dave Norris addresses the question of whether our homeless population has migrated here to take advantage of our services. Using the results of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless’ annual census of the homeless, he’s found that the majority of the local homeless population is from the Charlottesville area, the overwhelming majority is from Virginia, and those that aren’t from Charlottesville have lived here for many years. (In fact, a much higher percentage of the non-homeless moved here than the homeless.) Quite simply, the homeless are far more likely to be locals than the non-homeless.
City Councilor Dave Norris was the first City Council candidate to maintain a blog (second, if you count me, but let’s not), and now he’s the second councilor to blog, following Mayor David Brown’s March entry into blogging. His blog just got started yesterday but it’s already shaping up nicely. Turns out he’s a deltiologist — a collector of vintage postcards — and he’s posting some of his collection of 900 that portray Charlottesville, which I think is awesome. I’m a sucker for vintage C’ville stuff.
It’s worth mentioning that one other member of council is known to blog — Kevin Lynch has contributed three blog entries to cvillenews.com over time [1, 2, 3], and is a regular commenter here.
There are a good number of local businesses wondering how to reach the thousands of people who read local blogs; here’s how to do it.
Some folks have taken to advertising here via Blogads (the image-and-text vertical rectangles often found at right), but there are now a couple of other local blogs that are newly part of the Blogads network. Sean Tubbs’ Charlottesville Podcasting Network starts at $10 for a one-week run of a full-sized Blogad, and nailgun (the excellent and popular local music blog) starts at the same rate. Also, I’m now accepting them over at Charlottesville Blogs for $15/week.
I think local businesses would do well to give ’em a whirl.