VB411: Fact or Fiction?

Debunking fake news, correcting the record and combating misinformation that might be floating around Virginia Beach.

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ISSUE: The City gathers a lot of public input for the Comprehensive Plan. How is it making sure to hear from all segments of the community?

FACT: The backbone of a Comprehensive Plan is the collective voice of the people.  The City is implementing several methods to make it easier for all residents to be heard so that a Comp Plan is created that addresse​s the community’s shared challenges and goals.

ISSUE: Hotel Prices During Something in the Water Were Higher Than Normal. Surely, the City Can Do Something to Lower the Costs!

FICTION: For the most part, the City has no say over what private businesses charge for goods and services. 

QUESTION: Should Hearing Aid or Button Cell Batteries be Recycled or Thrown in the Trash?

FACT: Button cell batteries, typically found in hearing aids and watches, often contain mercury or lithium and should never be placed in with your household trash or recycling. Instead, they should be taken to a collection center where they can be disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

QUESTION: Can I Dispose of Medical Sharps in My Household Trash, or Is It Necessary to Use a Dropoff Box at a Police Station?

FACT: Medical sharps such as needles, catheters and lancets can be tossed out with your regular garbage, provided they are in a rigid container and clearly labeled as medical sharps. There is no legal requirement to use a dropoff box, however.

QUESTION: Is Economic Development a Separate Entity from the City?

ANSWER: No, Economic Development (ED) is a City department that serves the residents of Virginia Beach, just like Parks & Recreation, Libraries, Public Utilities or any other department of our municipal govern​ment.​

ISSUE: How Do Engineers Know What to Place and Where Along the City’s Stormwater Infrastructure?

​​FACT: Engineers use computer modeling to simulate the impacts of a storm throughout our city to determine how existing infrastructure can handle a storm, and how changes or upgrades will impact specific neighborhoods as well as the overall system.

ISSUE: Why Does the City Replenish the Sand on the Beaches?

​​​​FACT: The City replenishes the resort area sand every 5-7 years to​ protect the infrastructure behind it, such as pump stations, the seawall (which is also our Boardwalk), and property that would otherwise be prone to flooding along the shoreline.​

RUMOR: The Only Way to Find Missing Persons Is to Organize Search Parties

​FACT: The City has a program called Project Lifesaver, a national resource designed for individuals with cognitive disabilities to be easily located by first responders in an emergency situation.

RUMOR: Is It True the City Has Something That Went to The Moon?

​FACT: Indeed, we do! Alan Shepard, a former Virginia Beach resident and commander of the Apollo 14 mission, gave the City a mission patch and flag that flew to the moon.​

ISSUE: Why Are There So Many Rules About the Beach? I Just Want to Have a Good Time at the Oceanfront!

​FACT: There are rules pretty much everywhere, so it should come as no surprise that there are rules about behavior at our beaches, as well. The ultimate goal of any regulations around beach activities is to keep the area clean and safe while allowing everyone equal enjoyment of the beaches. 

RUMOR: The City Changed the Rules to Ban Dogs From the Oceanfront Beaches and Boardwalk This Year

​​​FICTION: The City ordinance has not been changed this year. Dogs, leashed or otherwise, have always been prohibited from being on the sand at the Oceanfront between Rudee Loop and 42nd Street, and restricted along the Boardwalk.​

ISSUE: How Can a Company Dig a Hole in My Lawn – Without My Permission – and Just Walk Away When They’re Finished?

FACT: Easements sometimes exist on a property and allow another individual or company to use someone else's land for a specific purpose, such as underground utility lines or drainage.

RUMOR: Panhandling is Illegal. Why Does the City Allow it to Continue?

​​​F​ACT: Panhandling is not a crime in Virginia Beach. In fact, courts have ruled that it's a form of free speech.

QUESTION: Why Do Some Development Projects Need City Council or Planning Commission Approval and Some Do Not?

​​​​ANSWER: Some development is considered "by right," meaning the project conforms to an area's zoned use. If someone wants to build a surf shop on property that is zoned for commercial use, it's consistent with the zoning of that property and does not require any additional approval. ​​

RUMOR: Is There Any End in Sight to the Feeder Roads on Laskin Road?

​FACT: The end is near! For the feeder roads, that is. Improvements on Laskin Road are set to begin in the late spring or early summer, and will remove the feeder lanes between Republic and Oriole Roads. The combined $78 million project is shared between the City of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Department of Transportation.​​​

QUESTION: What Are the Spending Priorities in the Recommended Budget and How Can I Get Involved?

FACT: We have provided information about the City’s Operating and Capital Improvement budget proposals in several formats, from short to the complete documents. 

QUESTION: Why Does the Water Meter Reading Schedule Vary Sometimes, Which Results in an Inconsistent City Services Billing Cycle?

FACT: Inclement weather, holidays and other unforeseen circumstances can contribute to inconsistent billing cycles.

ISSUE: The Recently Adopted Short-Term Rental Ordinance

FACT: City Council passed an ordinance regulating the operations of short-term rentals that requires owners to register their properties and meet a number of criteria. A conditional use permit is required for all properties except those in Sandbridge.

QUESTION: Why Aren’t Bulky Items Picked Up With the Regular Trash?

ANSWER: Bulky items are just that, “bulky” and simply won’t fit into a regular trash truck. Instead, Waste Management uses a separate truck with a boom arm to co​llect large items.

QUESTION: Can I Throw My Batteries out with the Trash or Recyclables?

ANSWER: Yes and no. Single-Use Alkaline batteries, such as your AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt batteries can go in your household trash. Rechargeable batteries, like Lithium Ion and Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries that are used in power tools, laptops, cell phones, and cameras, should NEVER go in the trash or recycling carts but should be recycled through the City’s Resource Recovery Center, or select retailers.

ISSUE: Why Doesn’t the City Buy Enough Equipment to Plow Every Neighborhood During a Snowstorm?

​FACT: To reach all 2,500 miles of neighborhoods immediately following a winter storm, the City would need about $45 million worth of trucks.

QUESTION: Why Doesn’t the City Allow Sledding on Mount Trashmore?

FACT: City officials enacted a ban after years of sledding injuries and attempts to make the activity safer were unsuccessful.

ISSUE: Who Is Responsible for Keeping Curbs and Gutters Free of Trash and Debris?

FACT: The City and residents share responsibilities for keeping curbs and gutters clear of obstructions. A City contractor sweeps the streets six times a year, and residents are responsible for everything up to the road pavement.

QUESTION: How Does Waste Management Staff Determine Holiday Collection Schedules?

​FACT: Waste Management has people who plan routes and schedules to make sure every household receives service for household trash, recycling and yard waste collections. When holidays interrupt the schedule, staff adjusts to impact as few households as possible with collection date changes.

RUMOR: There Are Mulching Devices in the Storm Drains That Chop Up Leaves and Twigs Blown Into the Drains

FICTION: Interesting idea (calling all inventors!) but unfortunately, there are no devices inside storm drains that chop up twigs, leaves or any other debris so please don’t dump any kind of material into the storm drains. They’re solely for transporting stormwater runoff away from neighborhoods.

ISSUE: How Can Residents Report Problems That Need the City’s Attention?

​FACT: There are two easy ways: Give us a call at 311 or go to VBgov.com/reportaproblem and file a ticket.​

ISSUE: Can City Employees Accept Gifts from Residents as Thank-You’s?

FICTION: State law and the City's code of ethics prohibit employees from accepting gifts as part ​of their duties.

QUESTION: What Does the City Do for Homeless Individuals During the Winter Months?

​FACT: The City partners with the faith community and the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center (JCOC) to offer the Winter Shelter program from November through March. Homeless adults are provided warm, safe places to stay overnight at local faith organizations and are connected to resources to improve their situations.

ISSUE: How Does the City’s 911 Service Work?

FACT: The City's 911  telecommunicators ensure the necessary number and type of first responders are dispatched to a scene by collecting accurate information, while guiding callers through an emergency until help can arrive.

ISSUE: Why Do I Have to Pay For Parking at The Oceanfront? I’m a Tax-paying Resident, So It Should Be Free!

FACT: Parking is an enterprise fund, which means it is self-supporting from the fees it collects. Revenue from real estate or personal property taxes are not used to support Parking Management’s operation. Rather, Virginia Beach uses a “pay as you go” approach to parking. Parking fees apply to the municipal garages, surface lots and on-street parking in our resort area.

QUESTION: Does the City Have a Limit On the Number of Cars That Can Be Parked On a Residential Property?

FACT: No, the City does not have an ordinance limiting the number of vehicles that can be parked on a residential property.​

ISSUE: Understanding Virginia’s Know Your Zone Program

​​FACT: The Commonwealth of Virginia has identified four zones, designated A through D, in coastal areas of the state to help determine when evacuations may be necessary due to pending storms. Residents can determine their zone status anytime by visiting KnowYourZoneVA.org.​​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: It’s OK to Put Plastic Grocery Bags in my Recycling Bin

​FICTION: Plastic bags are not accepted by the City’s recycling contractor. Only plastic items, labeled one through seven, are able to be processed.

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Anyone Can Fly a Drone Wherever They Want in Virginia Beach

​FICTION: Much of Virginia Beach is considered restricted airspace where operating a drone requires special permission or is outright prohibited.​

ISSUE: What is Dredging, and Why Does the City Do It?

FACT:  Dredging is one component of a larger plan designed to maintain the City's waterways for navigation and to mitigate flooding.

ISSUE: Why Do Some Street Signs Have the City Seal on Them and Others Do Not?

FACT: The practice was discontinued in 2014 as a cost saving measure and because the Seal is difficult to see from the ground.

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Volunteering Requires a Long and Recurring Commitment of Time

FICTION: There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities ranging from “one-and-done” events for those who can’t commit to a regular schedule, to longer, repeating events for those who are able. In fiscal year 2017, hours volunteers donated totaled about 1.21 million hours worked and saved about ​​​​​$28 mil​​lion.​​​

ISSUE: The City’s Resources to Address Homelessness

​FACT: The City of Virginia Beach recently completed construction on a new Housing Resource Center to provide homeless residents the support and programs they need to get off the street and into a permanent home.​​

ISSUE: Why Are We Building Another Sports Facility? And Why Has the Cost Increased?

FACT: The recently approved Sports Center is being built to attract more of the sports tourism industry in Virginia Beach. The cost increased from $40 million to $68.1 million to account for additional parking and a larger facility than initially contemplated.​

RUMOR: The City Has an App to Bring Cardiac First Aid to Those in Distress

FACT:  When someone is having a heart attack, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. That's where Pulse Point comes in.  VBEMS recently launched this app locally to create force multipliers: registered users are directed to a person in distress so they can begin CPR until first responders arrive.

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Libraries haven't kept pace with the digital age.

​FICTION: The Virginia Beach Public Library offers technology, classes and events available to residents at no cost.​​

 

ISSUE: Golf Carts on City Streets

​FACT: Golf carts are illegal on public roads outside of three specific neighborhoods: Heron Ridge Estates; Chubb Lake, West of Pleasure House Road; and Lago-Mar.​

ISSUE: The City’s Mosquito Control Measures

​FACT: The City of Virginia Beach takes preventative measures year-round to reduce the mosquito population.

ISSUE: Why Does it Take So Long to Have a Code Violation Addressed?

​FACT: Cited property owners are given a certain amount of time, depending on the violation, to correct any issues. Depending on the nature of the infraction, that timeframe could be anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days.​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Is The City Is Responsible for All Street Lights?

​FACT: Dominion Energy owns and maintains the vast majority of the 50,000 total street light fixtures in Virginia Beach. 

ISSUE: Hurricane Preparedness

​FACT: Being prepared for hurricane season can make a world of difference for a household. Insure your belongings, have your supplies ready and “Know Your Zone” before a storm hits.

RUMOR: Is it True That You Can Adopt a Storm Drain in Virginia Beach?

​FACT: The City’s Adopt-a-Drain program lets residents register a storm drain to look after and keep clear of debris at the curb. And you can give it a name!

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Where Was the Memorial Day Parade This Year?

FICTION: The Mayor's Veterans Committee, which oversees Memorial Day planning, does not, and historically has not observed Memorial Day with a parade because it is a memorial rather than a celebration.

ISSUE: Why is it necessary to appeal the assessed value of my vehicle every year?

FACT: The appealed value is only valid for one year since the condition of a vehicle, and its resale value, typically changes between inspections.

ISSUE: What to Do When You’re in Traffic With an Emergency Vehicle

​​​FACT: As safely as you can, make way for a first responder’s vehicle by either yielding the right-of-way when traveling, or moving to another lane or slowing down for a vehicle at a stop.​

QUESTION: Does Virginia Beach Collect Unwanted Medications as Part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day?

​ANSWER: Virginia Beach has four permanent collection sites at each VBPD precinct station available year-round to collect medications and medical sharps.

ISSUE: The In’s and Out’s of Mowing City Property

FACT: Mowing of City roadways throughout Virginia Beach occurs in cycles: a 30-day cycle for the rural roads, like Pungo Ferry Road, which covers the road shoulders, and an 18-day cycle for the urban areas, such as Virginia Beach Boulevard, for the medians.

ISSUE: Stormwater Infrastructure Improvements Are Progressing through Neighborhoods as Part of a 15-Year Plan

FACT: Virginia Beach leadership is committed to addressing the increasing threats of recurrent flooding and sea level rise by completing a number of projects that are in various stages of development and construction.​​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: On April 25, a Twitter User Posted a Thread about Virginia Beach Police and Sheriff’s Office Staff Allegedly Detaining a Man for Giving Money to a Homeless Man

​​FICTIO​N: VBPD and the Sheriff’s Office found no record of a traffic stop matching the description in the tweets. Additional investigation into the alleged incident by neighboring jurisdictions and State Police also yielded no record matching the one depicted in the tweets.​

ISSUE: The Agricultural Reserve Program

​​FACT: The ARP conserves natural resources, and preserves the character and heritage of southern Virginia Beach.​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: You Can Park a Tiny Home Anywhere in Virginia Beach

​FICTION: McMansion or tiny, a house can only be placed in an area zoned for a house.​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Virginia Beach has billions of dollars of unfunded pension liabilities.

FICTION: The City has a pension obligation of about $4.6 billion to cover its pension needs for city AND school employees. Currently, there is about $3.5 billion in assets in the pension fund. The shortfall is about $1.1 billion – $370 million for the City and $700 million for the schools. ​

RUMOR: The City doesn’t send its recyclables to be recycled, they just stuff it under Mount Trashmore.

FICTION: Recyclables collected by the City's contractor are taken to a Tidewater Fibre Corporation center for processing.​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: Ambulance rides are expensive, and it’s no different in Virginia Beach.

FICTION: The Emergency Medical Service in Virginia Beach does not charge patients for services.​

RUMOR: Violent crime in Virginia Beach is at an all-time high

​​FICTION: Actually, the violent crime rate in Virginia Beach has been steadily declining over the last 50 years and, according to the most recent crime report, is at about the same level it was in the mid 1960s.

ISSUE: Waste collection guidelines

​FACT: ​If you put your garbage out for pickup, but the truck left it, it might not be because they missed your house but because your trash wasn't properly bundled for collection. Not sure what that means? Please, read on.

ISSUE: Tourism spending and how it benefits residents

​FACT: Tourism provides more than 13,000 jobs, pays for major public projects and contributes about $56.4 million back to the City's General Fund. This equates to about 10 cents of savings on the Virginia Beach property tax rate.

RUMOR: There will be no more holiday lights at the boardwalk

​FICTION: Rumor has it the holiday lights at the beach have been cancelled because City Council will not approve the funds to update the electrical systems. This is not true. The Holiday Lights Merry Mile was presented on the Boardwalk la​st year, between 8th and 22nd Streets and featured more than 50 of the most popular light exhibits from previous years. ​​​And, the 2018 display is slated to be even better.​​​​

RUMOR: City Hall is being relocated to Town Center

​FICTION: For a time, city leaders considered constructing a new City Hall at Town Center as one of several options for replacing the aging building. However, in October of 2017, City Council unanimously approved a resolution to proceed with the design of a new three-story structure adjacent to the current City Hall, between Buildings 1 and 2 at the municipal center.  The current building is old and full of asbestos, old pipes, old HVAC and old electrical wiring all of which make a rennovation impossible while the building is occupied. ​

CORRECTING THE RECORD: These can't be photos taken in Virginia Beach, can they?

​FACT: They can. Several folks questioned the provenance or authenticity of photos that the City Photographer has taken and have been posted to the City's Facebook page​, but they are, in fact, real and they are, in fact, scenes from around the City.​