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Alexandria Council Takes First Step in Eliminating Law Requiring Confederate Street Names

Ordinance also calls for lifting longstanding prohibition on "shacking up."

The Appomattox on S. Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria. (Photo credit: Drew Hansen)
The Appomattox on S. Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria. (Photo credit: Drew Hansen)

Alexandria City Council took steps Tuesday to erase some outdated and superfluous sections of the city’s code, including a rule that some new streets, “insofar as possible,” bear the names of Confederate military leaders.

An ordinance introduced Tuesday drafted by Councilman Justin Wilson also calls for striking a section of code that penalizes “any persons, not married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously” associating and cohabitating.

The ordinance will be subject to a public hearing on Jan. 25. 

“One of the consequences of a very old city is that we have a lot of very old laws,” Wilson said. “This is an opportunity to clean up some of these old laws.”

Wilson said the resolution was the first phase of a two-part process. Tuesday’s resolution calls for simply repealing lines of code that are currently irrelevant, anachronistic or even illegal. Wilson said a second phase will include identifying obsolete sections of code that need to be replaced.

“In the publicity about this in the last 24 hours, we’ve gotten emails from people with other sections people think are obsolete,” Wilson said. “There might be a second opportunity to go back and look.”

City Attorney Jim Banks said city departments were looking closely at other ordinances to identify any antiquated passages in need of repeal or update.

Wilson said he received a message Tuesday that as recently as 2003 a landlord in the city was using the prohibition on cohabitation in tenant leases. According to the existing code, a first offense is a class 3 misdemeanor, while a repeat offense and conviction is a class 2 misdemeanor.

The street-naming section dates back to the early 1950s when the city annexed the West End from Fairfax County, essentially doubling its size. Alexandria was known to fly a Confederate flag above City Hall at the time.

The existing code calls for all new streets running in a north-south direction “insofar as possible” bear the names of Confederate military leaders, while new east-west streets bear the names of persons or places prominent in American history.

Wilson’s ordinance would strike both requirements.

The proposal also calls for repealing a ban on shoeshine stands in city streets, striking city ordinances governing a no longer active transportation safety commission and repealing rules regulating rebound tumbling centers in the city.

“I think some of these are kind of funny and worth a good laugh,” Wilson said. “But we went through a legal process last year because of drafting error” relating to protest petitions. 

"Cleaning this up is good for a lot of things we do here in the city," he added.

PutCreator1st January 16, 2014 at 07:51 AM
Nope just the feds opposing states rights, just like they are today..the north had plenty if slaves and indentured servents .the treasoners were the feds.
Andy Frassetto January 16, 2014 at 10:31 AM
PutCreator1st, is your username in reference to Obama?
Rick Gamble January 16, 2014 at 08:19 PM
Let's remember, when the town was established in 1749 it was called "Belhaven", a deliberate political provocation, as the Scottish founders snubbed their noses at (then, new) English laws meant to stamp out Scottish identity by naming the town in honor of a staunch Scottish patriot, Lord Belhaven. Belhaven in 1749 was in-your-face political as if it were re-named "Leesburg" in 1869 to honor native son Robert E. Lee.
PutCreator1st January 20, 2014 at 08:07 AM
Haha Andy Frasetto,not hardly, you would think Im a Conservitive ,Tea Party, Johnny Reb, Scripture Thumper with a handle like that. http://www.wwyd.org. Wilson has nothing better to do with his time BTW.
Andy Frassetto January 20, 2014 at 09:56 AM
I was going to guess Dixiecrat.

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