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Alexandria City Council took steps Tuesday to erase some outdated and superfluous sections of the city’s code, including a rule that some new streets, “insofar as possible,” bear the names of Confederate military leaders.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 15, 2014 at 08:11 AM
Patrick Smith January 15, 2014 at 08:18 AM
This is awesome!
Andy Frassetto January 15, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Can we sneak through a street for this guy before it's too late? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushrod_Johnson
Jeff Yutzler January 15, 2014 at 10:29 AM
What is a "rebound tumbling center"?
Sunny O'Malley January 15, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Justin Wilson needs to focus on real city business. When he is not moving election dates for personal gain, raising our taxes or seizing private property he is now disrespecting Alexandria’s history.
Scooby's Doo January 15, 2014 at 12:16 PM
I think it is historically appropriate and convenient to have one's shoes shined on the street while conducting business in our fair city. I support the repeal of the shoeshine ban.
RG January 15, 2014 at 03:08 PM
"Wilson also calls for striking a section of code that penalizes “any persons, not married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously” associating and cohabitating. " Humm, as long as he don't try make VA a common law marriage state.
Scooby's Doo January 15, 2014 at 03:38 PM
I had to look it up... A rebound tumbling center is basically a place where you jump on trampolines. Apparently this was a big fad once. And the city fathers must have though, oh goodness! can't have any of that newfangled modernity from up north!
mmurphysp January 15, 2014 at 04:22 PM
I think it is appropriate that Alexandria take steps to rejoin the Union and join the 20th, if not the 21st century. Repealing a law that pushes naming streets after individuals who opposed giving basic human rights for an entire group and actively made war on the duly elected government of the United States seems like a step in the right direction.
Patrick Smith January 16, 2014 at 06:36 AM
"...he is now disrespecting Alexandria’s history." Apparently "Alexandria's history" is now only that short stretch where some fools committed treason in defense of slavery.
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.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »