Community Voices on Gentrification: My Takeaways

I am feeling so grateful for the conversation on gentrification, hosted by the City of Raleigh last night. I’m grateful to Kristen Jeffers for sharing her story, for all of our wonderful panelists for sharing their truths and expertise, and for our attendees for caring so passionately about this topic and what's happening in our city (and across the nation).

I took pages and pages of notes, but here are three of my favorite takeaways:

  • From Yvette Holmes, DHIC: “Things are going to change - change is inevitable. But, people want to be included and have a voice.” “We must take care of our elders and our children.”

  • Pamela Wideman, City of Charlotte: “The problem is that people are being involuntarily displaced and they don’t have a chance to engage.”

  • Kia Baker, Southeast Raleigh Promise: “We can make positive neighborhood change instead of gentrification, we can do revitalization without displacement." Let’s “reimagine our communities together while honoring our legacy.”

Yvette Holmes also left us with this wonderful question, “How far are we willing to go to achieve equity?”

This event is not the end, rather another stop along our journey together. After the panel last night, I heard people say they want to continue having conversations and others who want action. I believe we need to do both.

As always, I'm interested in what you think so please let me know (below or by email: nicole.stewart@raleighnc.gov).

Gentrification and displacement

Gentrification and displacement. This is a topic we need to start thinking and talking about more. This morning, the New York Times published a great article on the topic: “The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White.” They used southeast Raleigh as their case study.

I appreciate how the author, Emily Badger, spent months diving into this topic with both longtime and new leaders in the community. When you read the article, I hope you’ll pay special attention to the voices of Kia Baker (Executive Director of SE Raleigh Promise), Octavia Rainey, and Lonnette WIlliams.

Much of this article harkens back to the teachings of a book a mentor recently lent me, The Color of Law. In it, author Richard Rothstein makes the case that housing segregation is the result of decades of racist housing and economic policies which prevented whites and blacks from living together - rather than our segregation being a result of personal choice. Both this New York Times article and The Color of Law are good places to start our learning and unlearning of how policies can change the value of neighborhoods and lives.

Gentrification and displacement is not an easy topic to cover - it is filled with “yes, ands.” To begin to have the conversation, we have to come to some shared understandings. I think these two resources start to get us there, and hope you’ll take the time to explore them soon.

Light Rail is Dead. So what does that mean for Raleigh?

Recently the transportation sector (cars and trucks) became the single largest source of climate-altering greenhouse gases in the US and in North Carolina - demonstrating that taking the threat of climate change seriously means taking action locally to reduce our over-reliance on cars. Improving and expanding public transportation is going to be a critical part of this strategy.

But the Triangle was dealt a serious blow recently when the Durham-Orange light rail project was discontinued after key partners failed to continue their support. Folks have been asking me what that means for Raleigh. In the long-term, it’s a bit unclear. In the short term, it doesn’t affect us at all; and here’s why.

In November 2016, Wake County voters approved a sales tax referendum to fund public transit investments that had been years in the making. While our plan was coordinated with Orange and Durham Counties’ transit plans, and included a regional commuter rail system to connect our communities, our plan focuses first on improving our bus system. While buses aren’t as shiny as light rail, it now seems like it was a smart strategy, as our Wake County plan will continue to move forward while our regional partners are forced to figure out what’s next.

To ensure a successful future for our transit system, the Wake County Transit Plan focuses on four objectives (listed below in order of implementation):

1) Expanding bus service. Earlier this year, GoRaleigh announced new bus routes in southeast and northwest Raleigh expanding access to many who didn’t have it before. This builds on increased bus service that was added in 2017 and 2018 to GoTriangle Routes 100 to RDU, Route 300 to Cary, and to GoRaleigh Route 7 that operates on S. Saunders and Wilmington St., making it the third route in the city with 15 minute service frequencies. GoRaleigh also made riding the bus free for teens and children under 18 promoting more access and equity while also encouraging lifelong riders.

2) Improving bus stops, shelters, and other transit infrastructure. This is a must to ensure everyone’s riding experience is safe, inviting, and enjoyable. We are currently in the process of nearly doubling the number of bus shelters in Raleigh.

3) Implementing Bus Rapid Transit. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is more than a new bus route or more frequent buses; it’s a totally different type of system. BRT systems take on many different design features, but the two most critical features are dedicated bus lanes (so buses won’t be held up by other traffic), and high frequency services (meaning a bus arrives every 15 minutes or less so you don’t have to plan your day around the bus schedule). Other common features include elevated bus stops so it operates more like a light rail station, and more efficient ticketing purchased in advance, which speeds up the boarding process. While our BRT lines are still being mapped and planned, we are focusing on BRT lines coming into/out of downtown along four corridors: Capital Boulevard, New Bern Ave, Wilmington Street, and Western Boulevard. To read more, click here.

4) Building a commuter rail system. The line would run 37 miles from Garner to downtown Raleigh, N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville, and the Research Triangle Park before continuing to downtown Durham. This will be a critical investment in our region to connect our cities while reducing our region’s carbon pollution.

The Wake County Transit Plan is a 10+ year plan and will rely on public input along the entire journey to be successful. While we build out our low-carbon transportation system for the future, I’ll also be focusing my efforts on ensuring that access and equity are at the top of the agenda. And that means (to name a few issues) advocating for more and better bus shelters, fair fares for low income residents, and prioritizing safer streets and sidewalks.

I’m excited for these changes and I look forward to hearing from you and working with the community to make sure Raleigh’s transit vision is a success.

Yes, I oppose the quarry and...

I owe you an explanation. At the Council Meeting on Tuesday a resolution was introduced that would have asked the RDU Airport Authority to reconsider their vote to lease land to Wake Stone Quarry. I voted against this and would like to explain why.

If the world was black and white - quarry or no quarry - then I would chose no quarry every time. But, we know that the world is not black and white; it’s nuanced.

Presently the tract of land in question, The Odd Fellows Tract, is owned by the RDU Airport Authority. While the property is adjacent to Umstead State Park, it’s not part of it. It’s private property of the airport. I recognize that many avid cyclists spend hours exploring and maintaining the great mountain bike trails on The Odd Fellows Tract, but they do so without permission.

The RDU Airport Authority’s number one responsibility is to ensure the viability of the airport, a critical part of our community’s future. Their vote last week to approve the quarry lease caught many of us off guard. It will be years before we see the full effects of this decision and the deal they have made, which does include a plan for permanent, legal mountain bike trails.

Unfortunately, the Raleigh City Council currently has no authority over the RDU Airport Authority’s decision. As our City Attorney said, our resolution would be purely a political statement and carry no real weight. Unlike other elected bodies, Raleigh City Council has a tradition of not passing purely political resolutions. With this understanding, I voted against this resolution.

One of the things I’ve learned while being on City Council is that we must recognize and use our authority responsibly. If we overextend, there could be negative repercussions for our community. It’s a delicate balance.

The resolution brought before us this week ended up dividing our council, and worse, our community in an unnecessary way on a matter we have no authority over. Frankly, I think bringing up the resolution was a disingenuous effort.

City Council did unanimously agree to ask the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a letter clarifying whether local government approval was needed. Per this News & Observer article, the FAA stated later that afternoon that the RDU Airport Authority does not need our approval on the lease.

If the FAA decides that the Raleigh City Council (alongside our other local government partners of Wake County, Durham County, and the City of Durham) does have the authority and responsibility to weigh in on the lease, then I will be ready to do so.

I will continue to use my role on Raleigh City Council to protect our environment by pushing to reduce our climate pollution, fully funding our sewer and water infrastructure, and encouraging more sustainable transit options.

This situation is exactly why public parks, like Umstead State Park and Wake County Crabtree Park, are so vital to our community since they protect natural resources for future generations. And I will continue to fight to improve and add to the parks that fall under our authority, ensuring everyone has access to beautiful green spaces.

Now, Let’s Talk About Housing Affordability (2/2)

For a full discussion about Affordable Housing, please read our first post. As a reminder, the City of Raleigh says families qualify for subsidized Affordable Housing if they make below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is $67,450 for a family of four.

But there’s a broader issue of housing affordability that we also need to address. Those who make above 80% of the AMI are served by the private housing market. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they can afford to live here. Many people who make 80% to 120% of AMI, including some of our teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants, are still priced out of the majority of our housing options.

The lack of an abundance of diverse housing options is a challenge.

So, why is Raleigh in this position?

1) We’re growing. Raleigh is an attractive place to live with a high quality of life, which is inviting more people to our area. Overall, that’s a good thing.

2) The people who are moving here are doing so with higher incomes, so they are able to spend more on housing.

3) Demand is outpacing supply. There are fewer houses on the market. In January 2009, there were about 4,500 units for sale, including single family homes, townhomes, and condos. In January 2014, there were about 2,500 units. Last month, there were less than 1,300 units.

4) There are fewer housing options. City of Raleigh’s development code (like many U.S. cities) has made it harder in recent years to build housing options such as granny cottages (ADUS), duplexes, triplexes, cottage courts, and townhomes. This type of housing is now referred to as the Missing Middle.

5) The cost of building has increased. The cost of steel, land, labor, and even city-issued building permits have all increased, contributing to rising overall construction costs.

This all results in higher housing prices. In January 2009, the median home sale across all housing types was $175,000. In January 2014, it was $180,000. This past month, it was nearly $270,000.

Since the City of Raleigh can’t set a minimum or living wage for everyone (only the state can do that), I’ll focus on how Raleigh City Council can bring housing costs down.

Presently, one of the few tools the city has for preserving affordability is called an Overlay District. This tool retains the character of a neighborhood in part by preventing teardowns of modest homes to build larger homes. Teardowns have a ripple effect of increasing the tax value of the nearby homes. While this tool is effective at preventing teardowns, it does little else to help our housing affordability challenges and only helps those already owning homes in the neighborhood.

So, in short, we’ve got to get our housing supply up for both buyers and renters. And, we should be doing so by providing an abundance of diverse housing options.

Thankfully, there are proven strategies for how the City of Raleigh and our partners can do this. In fact, Wake County’s Affordable Housing Plan mentions a few.

Here are the solutions I’ve been exploring this past year:

1) Looking to add gentle density by advocating for a by-right option to build ADUs and talking to experts about how Raleigh can grow our stock of missing middle housing.

2) Increasing density in our urban core and along transit corridors, including talking with leaders in the building and development community about how they can work in more affordable units into their market-rate projects.

3) Reducing the time and cost of doing business with the city including opposing unnecessary regulations that add to the time and cost of permitting and building housing, and finding ways to provide more design flexibility for developers.

4) Increasing the number of builders and contractors in the housing labor market by working with our partners to create a pathway for those who need jobs to get the appropriate training and connect with job providers.

This work will be challenging and it will take time. If done right, in addition to creating an abundance of diverse housing options, we’ll also be able to better protect our environment, preserve neighborhood character, create jobs, and create more equitable communities.

So, What Is Raleigh Doing About Affordable Housing? (1/2)

I’ve been getting questions about affordable housing lately and I’d like to tackle this in two blog posts. The first will be focused on subsidized Affordable Housing (capitalization is intentional), the second on housing affordability.

First, let’s define what we mean when we’re talking about Affordable Housing, which is government-subsidized housing for qualifying individuals and families. The City of Raleigh defines affordable as individuals or families spending 30% or less of their total income on all housing costs, including rent or mortgage and utilities.

To qualify for Affordable Housing tax credits, applicants must prove their income falls below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Raleigh’s AMI for a family of four is $67,450. In 2015 to address the overwhelming need for subsidized Affordable Housing rental units the Raleigh City Council set a goal of building 5,700 units over the next 10 years. To help pay for this, Council increased property taxes by a penny. We are now seeing the results of this work.

Using these (and a variety of other) funds, in 2018 we approved spending $22 million to build more than 1,000 units throughout the city.

So, is Raleigh doing anything to tackle Affordable Housing? YES, and…we’ve got to do more. Over the past year, it’s been an honor to work alongside our great partners in this work, including:

1) Other governmental agencies, such as Wake County, which just approved spending $15 million on Affordable Housing initiatives.

2) Nonprofit partners, such as:

  • CASA, which is focused on building Affordable Housing for our most vulnerable populations including veterans and people living with disabilities, who are often living at 30% AMI or below.

  • Triangle Family Services, which offers emergency housing assistance, eviction prevention, foreclosure assistance, and more.

  • DHIC, a nonprofit Affordable Housing developer which builds rental housing projects such as the Prairie Building and Carlton Place in downtown Raleigh and Avonlea and Wakefield Hills in north Raleigh.

  • Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit Affordable Housing developer that builds homes for ownership.

3) Leaders in the development and building community who are researching ways the City of Raleigh can incentivize them to build Affordable Housing mixed into market-rate projects.

Our community is doing a lot to tackle this challenge from many angles. And, it’s still not enough. At this point, it’s worth noting that our shortage of Affordable Housing units isn’t the problem; it’s a consequence. Part of the problem is that wages have not kept up with our cost of living, leaving many to struggle to pay for housing, healthcare, and other basic necessities.

We will never be able to spend our way out of our Affordable Housing crisis. And, yet there is more we can do. For solutions, we can look to Wake County and their Affordable Housing Plan. In it they recommend land use and zoning changes to help tackle housing affordability. The INDY Week had a good article about this challenge, “Wake County Will Add Hundreds of Affordable Housing Units a Year. It Won’t Be Enough.” In the second post we’ll explore how we can create an abundance of diverse housing options.

Oxford Sidewalk

Regarding the Oxford Sidewalk proposal, which made front page news in INDY Week, I felt it was my responsibility to vote to approve the project.

I realize there are some community members opposed to seeing the sidewalk built and I hear these concerns. I also understand there are families with young children and other neighbors waiting for more than four years for this sidewalk to be built - a sidewalk that was originally requested by the residents of Oxford Road. I realize that city staff reached a solution that would minimally impact the trees in Fallon Park (where the sidewalk would go) and one that would help slow down traffic (a longtime neighborhood complaint).

Finally, as INDY Week’s article notes, “The city’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan lays out fourteen policies prioritizing the construction and updating of sidewalks throughout the city, with an overall goal of increasing pedestrian safety and access, encouraging alternative transportation, and connecting sidewalks to schools, greenways, parks, libraries, and transit stations.”

As an At-Large Council Member, representing the entire city, I feel it’s my responsibility to balance what constitutes a high quality of life for people alongside our City’s longterm strategic goals.

Homestays vs Whole House Rentals


The Raleigh City Council's Healthy Neighborhood Committees continues to work on rules for short-term home rentals (Airbnbs). Here's the latest from this week's meeting:

1. We drafted rules that would allow rentals (homestays) of up to two rooms in an owner-occupied home to as many as four guests plus children.

2. As far as whole house rentals are concerned, it's a bit confusing. Previously, we thought they were banned across the city. It turns out they're allowed in mixed-use districts (including downtown). However, they remain illegal in residential districts. You can see our zoning map here. With this in mind, the committee asked staff for a report on what allowing whole house rentals in residential districts could look like.

The (homestay) rule changes still have a long way to go, including votes by the full council and planning commission. That means more opportunities for public input. Be sure to write all your council members about what you'd like to see.

Here's the news coverage of the meeting from the News & Observer and from INDY Week.

Climate change is redefining what is mine, yours, and ours

There has been a steady bombardment of climate-related reports and news over the past few months. First it was the Paris Climate Agreement then it was Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order, followed quickly by TJ Council of Government’s Climate Assessment and then the federal government’s National Climate Assessment, which has stated unequivocally that climate change is happening now and poses huge risks for our country. Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence hit (North Carolina’s second 500-year storm in three years) which caused mass devastation and historic flooding to our downstream neighbors.

Climate change is a global crisis with widespread impacts, including ones we’re seeing in our own backyard. It’s Raleigh’s responsibility to step up and take on the challenge of cleaning up our own carbon pollution. We no longer have the luxury to sit around and just talk about setting goals for reducing climate pollution. Raleigh must pick one and move forward. 

We can pick the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 or the governor’s goal of reducing emissions by 40% by 2025. But, we’ve got to take action now.

I take heart knowing that once we do set a goal, our city will be serious about meeting it. Our work to 1) convert our fleet to electric vehicles, 2) turn methane from our waste water treatment plant into compressed natural gas that can be used in our bus fleet and 3) make our buildings more energy efficient has meant that while the rest of our community’s emissions increased by 2% from 2007 to 2014, the emissions from city-controlled assets have actually decreased by 19% during this same time period.

And yet, this is the easy part. The harder work will be changing our community’s expectations about what is mine, yours, and ours. 

Since the majority of the community’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation and buildings, getting serious about reducing our climate pollution will mean thinking about our land use and transportation choices differently. It will mean that we prioritize walkable, cozier communities over car-dependent neighborhoods and the sewer pipe-like roads required to service them that have dominated Raleigh’s growth patterns since the end of World War II. We will need to champion actions that can gently add more homes into our neighborhoods by way of granny flats, duplexes and triplexes, and other types of missing-middle housing. We should push for more places for people to live, work, and raise families in our urban core and for denser residential and mixed use buildings along new high-capacity transit corridors.

Really reducing our climate pollution means we prioritize sustainable and innovative transportation options such as buses, bikes, and scooters, and the infrastructure that supports them. We should be incentivizing people to use low-carbon modes in their daily commutes, while also investing in more housing options closer to jobs, schools, and parks. This kind of living embodies modern freedom - freedom from our fossil-fuel dependent private automobiles. 

Doing the hard work of reducing climate pollution is going to mean change. Not just change for our city government, but change for many of us on an individual level. The good news is, if we do this right, we will simultaneously create a Raleigh that benefits all (for generations) with an abundance of diverse, high quality, and affordable housing and transportation options.

Accessible On-Street Parking

We're piloting accessible on-street parking in downtown Raleigh! I'm thrilled that we're implementing solutions to make our city more accessible for all residents. These new spaces are at the end of metered zones, closest to curb cuts for wheelchair accessibility. The city staff reviewed the spots to make sure they have space for lifts and they'll be quick and easy for those in need.

Over the next few months, staff will continue to gather feedback and improve the program. If you have questions or comments, please direct them to transportationinfo@raleighnc.gov. As always, you can email me at nicole.stewart@raleighnc.gov with any thoughts.

For more information click here.

A huge thank you to Raleigh's Transportation staff, the Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities, the Downtown Accessibility Task Force, and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance for their collaborative work!

Making Bus Riding More Equitable

In 2016, voters in Wake County passed the Wake County Transit Referendum. This initiative and funding will help us grow our ridership and create Bus Rapid Transit (15-minute headway bus routes). While the steps we’re taking for the future are important, we also need to be looking at our current system to see how we can make riding more equitable.

Right now, individuals who ride the bus regularly and consistently can buy a monthly bus pass for $45. This reduced pass is a great way to encourage and reward regular riders to go ahead and buy a monthly pass.

But, what if you can’t pay $45.00 at one time? Then you pay the daily fare of $2.50. Which means, if you ride the bus for 31 days (the monthly pass length), you end up paying $77.50. That’s $32.50 more.

With an eye toward equity, we can quickly see how the current system isn’t fair and is not working for our bus riders who need the most help. So, I’ve been encouraging our staff to look into what’s known as “fare capping.” Fare capping would allow a rider to pay the daily fare, but once they hit the monthly pass cost ($45), they could ride for free for the rest of the month.

I’m delighted to report that our staff and partners are passionate about fare capping and making bus riding more equitable. They are working hard to get new technology that could track when a daily rider hits that monthly cap. In the meantime, staff are also working on an interim solution so we can start helping some of our most regular transit users as soon as possible.

Lessons from Hurricane Florence: Building a Resilient Raleigh


A few weeks ago, a friend texted me to say he lost everything to flooding from Hurricane Florence. His house, which is near the Cape Fear River north of Wilmington, took on nearly five feet of water -- more than Hurricane Matthew just two years earlier.

While my heart was broken for my friend, it prompted me to think about what our local government should be doing to get ready. Two 500-year storms in three years is too much to ignore.

While the NC Legislature and Governor Roy Cooper focus on rebuilding and resiliency at the state level, I've been talking with experts to determine what the City of Raleigh can do to prepare for future storms as well as mitigate our role in climate change.

Here's what I proposed Tuesday and Council approved we do: 
1) Have our Stormwater Management Advisory Commission look into what it would mean to ban new development in the 100-year floodplain. We realize there will be challenges and environmental justice matters that we will need to address. 
2) Reaffirm our commitments to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming, as well as our own goals stated in the Comprehensive Plan related to climate change. We should soon learn more about the work staff is doing on the Community Climate Action Plan and what is already in the works so that we can make sure our actions match our goals.

In addition, it's worth noting that the transportation sector is now the single largest source of pollution emissions in NC. I believe it is Council's responsibility to continue to push Raleigh to be a people-centered, not car-centered community. We should be doing all we can to embrace and champion transit, walking, biking, and yes - even scooting. There IS more we can do as a city to make our community more resilient, healthy, and sustainable. The time to act is now.

Scooters: The nuance of a draft agreement

Yesterday, was the first opportunity City Council had to take action on scooters. We had a lively conversation and directed staff to come back in two weeks with a licensing agreement that would allow scooter companies to operate (or continue operating) in Raleigh.

Staff shared a proposed draft agreement for our review. While I support much of what was proposed, I have a few concerns including: 
1) That we keep the hours of operation from 6 am to 10 pm. 
2) We should allow scooters to be parked at bus stops and on streets with no sidewalks.
3) While riding on sidewalks in our urban core should be banned, riding on sidewalks where there is no bike infrastructure should be permitted. (Roads such as Six Forks between Wake Forest and North Hills).
4) We should lift the cap. There are currently 1,430 scooters operating in Raleigh. If we limit the number to 1,500 (500 per company) than there will be communities that no longer have access to this ride sharing technology. 
5) We must be thinking about how we allow ALL people access. Scooter companies should provide a multi-language platform and not require a drivers license. We should also consider dropping the age limit to 16, as Durham has done

If Raleigh is serious about our shared value of access to sustainable transit opportunities -- including mass transit, walking, and biking -- then we must embrace and create safe regulations for scooters as a non-car transportation option.

Scooters: Transit accessibility AND safety concerns

Bird scooters arrived in Raleigh in mid-July and it seems it was the only thing folks wanted to talk about for months. Just as the buzz was quieting, Lime scooters arrived.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of this transportation option. I think there are a lot of wonderful things to celebrate about scooters, including:

1) They are a form of electric powered transportation.

2) Scooters provide a great option for the last mile of a commute or short distance travel when folks may have otherwise gotten into their cars.

3) They highlighted our need for better bike (and now scooter) infrastructure - from lanes to racks.

4) They can help those who need supplemental income.

5) And, they’re super fun!

That said, I share the concerns about scooter safety and have been advocating for safe use. Per the scooter companies’ own policies, individuals should:

1) Ride on the street.

2) Wear a helmet.

3) Park them out of the right of way.

I look forward to seeing what our city staff will recommend in the coming weeks so that we can keep this fun alternative transportation AND implement better safety regulations. In fact, it’s what the vast majority of our downtown residents, workers, and visitors want too: scooters AND safety.

Making downtown more accessible for all

Did you know that Raleigh has ZERO on-street accessible parking spots? Check out this news story for the full story.

This lack of parking is one of the reasons I'm working with the Accessibility Task Force - a new group of diverse individuals that is looking holistically at the issue of accessibility in downtown.

City of Raleigh staff have done great work to pull together a draft plan to increase accessible parking spots. Now, we're seeking input from the community that will be most impacted by these changes to create the best plan possible.

If you have input or thoughts on where parking spots should go, please email me at nicole.stewart@raleighnc.gov. Also, if you have experienced or heard of other accessibility challenges and would like us to consider looking into them, please let me know.

Providing an abundance of housing opportunities

If we're going to create an equitable city with an abundance of housing opportunities, then one of the options needs to be Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), sometimes called granny flats or backyard cottages. I see this housing type as one that brings many benefits to our entire community at the expense of a few inconveniences. To be a city that truly welcomes all, we need to be willing to share our space and resources to make way for others.

ADUs can be used to house our neighbors who are being displaced by growth. ADUs can house our adult children as they come back home to start careers and families. They can house our aging parents. They can even be used for individuals to earn additional income.

Raleigh's demand for housing is sky-high. The only thing that will help temper it is to create more supply. Instead of relying on the market alone, we should be making it easier to build diverse housing types that meet the needs of more people.

Today, our Growth & Natural Resources Committee will be discussing this topic. As I've read in the article below, they will likely be proposing an overlay district. I feel this restriction will result in a process that is onerous for people who are ready and willing to build ADUs now. I also feel that an overlay will further delay the creation of any ADUs for years to come given how long the process is to approve an overlay.

While ADUs are not by themselves going to solve our affordability problem, they are one of the tools we can quickly and easily use.

If you'd like to weigh in on this issue, you can contact your Council Members here.

From the N&O: "Want a place for the in-laws in Raleigh? You might have to ask your neighbors first.

Protecting clean water now and in the future

Today, your City Council will be voting on a proposal to increase our water rates. I believe it is our responsibility to invest your money wisely to best protect our water resources for our health and future generations.

I am voting for the rate increase so we can: 
1) Continue replacing the aging water and sewer pipes that run throughout our city and avoid an increase in sewage spills;
2) Grow our water re-use program, which helps us use less drinkable water for non-drinking activities; and 
3) Continue to invest in our watershed protection program to protect our drinking water upstream.

By not increasing our current rates we would have to make cuts to these important programs. In the long-term, it would mean putting our drinking water at risk. I believe it's important to share my thinking when it comes to making decisions with your money and I know this rate increase will help us continue to preserve this critical resource.