Building Trust with Greater Transparency
The voice of citizens is the foundation of our democracy
Changes in state laws over the past few years have made it difficult for your voice to be heard in the political arena. Access to government, voting precinct changes, and the elimination of the Valid Statutory Protest Petition are all examples of limiting citizen input and participation. We must empower citizens to speak and act on behalf of their interests, neighborhoods, and community.
I want citizens to feel part of the process instead of outside the process. Our city is only as good as the neighborhoods and the people living in them. Without citizen input, development may shape our future in ways we may or may not like. That is why, as we consider development in our district, I include city planning staff, developers, and citizens in a fair and balanced open communication so people understand what is happening and how it will impact them, positively and negatively.
As your representative, I attend the meetings of our district’s five Citizens Advisory Councils as often as I can. It’s one way I learn what is important to you and your fellow citizens, so I can be your voice on the City Council. Participating in your CAC is one way you can engage in a two-way dialogue about our district. It is vital that the City of Raleigh better educate our citizens about the purpose of the CACs and how they are intended to function. Citizen input is critical for ensuring that our City meets the diverse needs of our community.
For example, the valid statutory protest petition (VSPP) right in North Carolina is as old as zoning itself. The right was part of the legislation passed by the General Assembly in 1923, giving cities the right to regulate land use by zoning. A protest petition right protects a neighbor’s investment in their property with reasonable expectations in the stability of the regulatory process. It protects our community from sudden, capricious, and wrongfully-motivated zoning changes.
Promoting Community-Centered Economic Development
Raleigh is the top place to live in America
Our highest priority must be quality of life for all of Raleigh’s residents. We must plan for growth and balance economic development with sensitivity to our natural environment, our neighborhoods, and our history.
- seek ways to partner with businesses to fund more private and public partnerships.
- say “yes” wherever density and workforce and affordable housing are not mutually exclusive.
- say “no”when it is necessary to protect and preserve our communities.
Preserving and Protecting the Character of Our Neighborhoods
Specific Concerns in District D:
- Development can impact established neighborhoods, in both positive and negative ways.
- We must carefully define transitional buffers between commercial development and residential. Considerations include traffic, parking, ingress/egress, lighting, vegetation, and noise.
- Small area plan and corridor studies help the City to guide economic growth in specific areas. These planning activities must recognize the needs of all stakeholders.
District D is only as strong as its neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods are the glue that bind us together and make our district such a vital part of Raleigh. We must work together to preserve and protect our neighborhoods and our quality of life.
- promote economic development throughout the district, but not at the risk of neighborhoods.
- preserve and celebrate our city’s rich history while promoting responsible growth.
- continue to support the Comprehensive Plan as a policy document to guide the city’s development.
- encourage mixed-use development that includes amenities which enhance our neighborhoods and create a sense of community.
- work for equitable solutions to development-related conflicts.
- create neighborhood centers that build connections between people, for example parks, greenways, and retail.
- always vote to ensure that all new policies provide for growth that is not at the expense of our natural environment, existing neighborhoods, and rich history.
Shaping the Urban Lifestyle in Downtown Raleigh
We need more than a “vibrant” city; we must also have
a livable and affordable downtown
To maintain the momentum in downtown Raleigh, we must consider the mix of tenants. I believe Raleigh can become the model of desirable urban living: safe, clean streets supporting a lively, sustainable, balanced neighborhood where the streets and public areas are active day and night.
As we grow, we must include housing that is affordable for longtime residents who are being priced out of this residential market, seniors on a fixed income, and young people starting their careers and families.
There is a perception, fast becoming a reality, that only high-income residents can afford to live downtown. We can change that if we plan now. Otherwise, I worry that the City Council will give hundreds of millions of dollars of new land value to downtown property owners without any opportunity to negotiate corresponding community benefits.
Rather than giving away valuable entitlements, cities like Austin, Texas, negotiate density and height bonuses that fund millions of dollars in downtown affordable and workforce housing, innovative design, and other community benefits. Our new UDO zoning rules are far superior to those we had before, but we still only require minimum standards. The way to become a great city is to demand more than the minimum for our urban core. When it comes to providing affordable, workforce housing near downtown Raleigh, the new UDO provides no standard at all.
Even with the rising spirit that Raleigh’s greatness is just over the horizon, our City Council somehow finds itself deliberating over giveaways that show no confidence in ourselves or our future.
My number one lesson learned from visiting Austin, Texas in 2015 is that without strong leadership, you don’t get a great downtown or address fundamental economic inequalities that growth brings. I do believe Raleigh deserves greatness, but to achieve it we will have to believe in ourselves enough to decide we can learn from other truly innovative cities—by negotiating valuable downtown density bonuses in exchange for valuable community benefits. Those kinds of innovations and community benefits are keys to Raleigh’s greatness for all of our citizens.
Specific Concerns in Downtown Raleigh:
- We need to define urban living; for example safety and cleanliness, affordable mix of housing, density supported by businesses that support urban living, transit and jobs.
- As the cost of living downtown rises, we must find innovative ways to include workforce housing.
- We need to incentivize and encourage a good tenant mix of services for people who choose to live downtown.
The City of Raleigh must commit to innovation in downtown by applying density bonuses to achieve our goals, which currently seems unknown in Raleigh.
Identifying Realistic, Affordable Transportation Options
Road and Bridge Improvements in District D:
Construction is coming and it’s going to be disruptive. Fortunately, our district was built in a grid system, so we have reasonable detour options. When the construction is complete, our district will have a much improved infrastructure.
District D has a terrific road network.
We must improve District D pedestrian, bicycle, motorist, and mass transit options in coordination with city, county, and national policies.
Southwest Raleigh density will continue to increase (68 people move to Raleigh every day). We must create realistic, affordable, multi-modal transportation options. As we look ahead, we must promote development near transit hubs.
- Light rail is an exciting prospect, but with no federal money available to help pay for it, light rail is currently unaffordable. Among the many costs to consider are obtaining right-of-ways from landowners along the desired routes.
- Commuter rail is the most affordable route for the foreseeable future.
- The new Union Station serves as a multi-modal transportation hub. It will also bring economic development to the warehouse district, with special event space, retail, and restaurants that will expand downtown entertainment options.
- We are currently working to define the bus transit corridors to increase ridership.
- We must improve the experience of riding a bus. To encourage a diverse ridership that includes those for whom buses are not their only option, we must ensure that our buses are reliably on time, clean, safe, wifi-enabled, and that we offer more payment options (including electronic and passes).
- We must build bus shelters along all the routes that allow passengers to wait for their bus in any weather.
Protecting Water Quality
Most of Raleigh’s water falls from the sky
Clean, safe water is a moral obligation vital to our quality of life and future. We must balance development pressure and demand on our existing reservoirs and protect our drinking water and watersheds.
- we must protect this critical resource by not developing in our watershed.
- the City of Raleigh must create a policy for reusing gray water.
Maximizing Your Tax Dollars
Raleigh faces a severe shortage of tax revenue.
We lost more than 7 million dollars in 2017 when state legislators eliminated municipal privilege taxes that businesses paid to the city of Raleigh. To maintain our standard of living, we must carefully consider how best to pay for critical services—such as police, fire protection, and solid waste.
Stats and Superlatives:
- New and expanding companies adding new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in our city.
- Our unemployment rate is 3.5%.
- We have a AAA bond rating and maintained that high standard throughout the last recession.
- Raleigh is currently ranked #1 in America and #3 in the world for Quality Of Life.
- We’ve been named among America’s most friendly environments for small business and one of our nation’s “Opportunity Cities.”
- We have an ever-increasing number of people living below the poverty line.
Affordable housing is a critical need to consider as we grow. As the city becomes more prosperous, we must anticipate the impacts on the market. Affordability is more than the price of the housing unit. It also includes the ability to have access to jobs, healthcare, and good food. Good planning is a critical component of affordability
“I look forward to a positive campaign, meeting citizens, and tackling new challenges. One of the most enjoyable parts of this job has been helping citizens connect to their city government. I will continue to work hard to facilitate effective solutions whenever possible. From my varied experiences in the private sector and local government, I have honed the “people skills” needed to bring all of our citizens together toward common goals and unity. Because in District D, y’all still means all, and always will.”