12 Viewpoint: Why are Richmond porches suddenly unsafe?

By Don Richards, NBC12 Vice President and General Manager

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Several months ago, an overloaded second-floor balcony collapsed in the Fan during a party and a number of young people were hurt.

Now, Richmond has made a sudden decision to go after homeowners in the Museum District whose ground-level front porches don't have railings.

These porches suddenly have to have railings. Homeowners only have a few weeks to react or face a hefty fine of over $2,000.

The city says it is for safety's sake, but the fact is that many of these charming homes have remained unchanged and unrailed for nearly 100 years.

In all that time, through multiple owners, there was no problem. Now, it's an emergency.

Most people lack the time and the money to do the work. Of course, the city has the right to insist that new renovations meet the current building code.

But adding rails to front porches of historic homes? Surely Richmond can treat its tax-paying homeowners better than that.

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