Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
City Council Gets Tough on Railroads

At last night’s meeting, the City Council voted 5-4 to make it a priority to aggressively enforce code violations by railroads. The agenda item, placed by Jim Rogers, was directed towards a failure by the City to enforce nuisance laws regarding graffiti and trash on railroad rights of way.


After the city attorney recounted that he perceived the railroads shared the City’s concerns and, based on a recent meeting between City staff and railroad representatives, were prepared to be more cooperative, a motion was made for the city attorney to provide a report with details in two weeks. Several council members, however, felt that the railroads had a long history of being uncooperative and obfuscatory and likely had no intention of changing. We have heard this before. Similarly the City Attorney’s Office has historically taken a laissez-faire approach to railroad activities, giving them a pass on violations that other local property owners would be cited or prosecuted for.


Some examples cited included:


  • Graffiti, trash and weeds within railroad rights of way.
  • Dangerous and broken grade crossings.
  • Failure to conform to the settlement agreement regarding the West Richmond Avenue grade crossing.
  • Impeding the institution of Quiet Zones and violating Quiet Zones already established.
  • Excessive time blocking grade crossings during switching operations.


My substitute motion, seconded by Rogers, directed the city attorney to aggressively enforce code violations by railroads and to report back to the City Council on progress in mid-January.