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Raleigh's New Young, Queer City Council

by Leith Tauss | Oct 15th 2019

Saige Martin

Raleigh is ready for change!

Here are five things we think are likely to happen.

ADUs by right: Since the council required homeowners to petition neighbors for permission to build accessory dwelling units, none have been built. This is unlikely to last. Baldwin wants property owners to be allowed to build ADUs by right, and the council (other than Cox) has her back. Martin calls it “low-hanging fruit” and thinks it will get done within a hundred days of the new crew being sworn in on December 2. 

Revisit Airbnb rules: The current regulations, which go into effect in January, allow residents to rent up to two rooms in their home to up to two adults; they also ban whole-house rentals entirely. Expect the council to loosen the restrictions posthaste, especially with regard to whole-house rentals.

Bring back scooters: Last week, scooters hit Raleigh’s streets for the first time since they disappeared in July. But only a few hundred did, and only from one company, Gotcha. Because the new council wants Raleigh to embrace alternative transportation, it’s a safe bet that it will relax the high fees and tight restrictions and perhaps try to get Bird and Lime back out there. 

Address affordable housing: On to more complex challenges—and none are bigger than this.  It’s what they all campaigned on, and it will be their biggest test. Getting a substantial affordable housing bond referendum on the ballot in 2020 seems like a no-brainer, but it shouldn’t happen before some meaningful plans are put in place.

Whatever money the bond generates, some of the incoming council members say, should go to land banking near transit corridors and partnering with the private sector to create incentives for affordable units and multifamily housing. To that end, the city will have to streamline the process for getting development approved. 

Former mayor Charles Meeker—whose brother Richard owns the INDY—says developers have begun turning away from Raleigh because the current council made it so difficult for projects to move forward. A new team could draw new investment.

Cutting red tape may also help smaller contractors that have seen the permitting process slow down. Reexamining zoning to allow for more diverse housing choices will also be a piece of the puzzle.

“There is no silver bullet,” Martin says. “We have unique opportunities [to] really look at some of the structural reforms that are necessary.”

Take climate change seriously: This is the crisis of our time, and while Raleigh can only put so much of a dent in a global problem, it shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to lead. 

For starters, Knight believes the city should promote rooftop and commercial-grade solar projects. 

Infrastructure will be another big player in making the city greener; that includes maintaining and upgrading water and sewer lines to prevent spills. 

Likewise, the greenway system should be upgraded and maintained. Closing a section for months is unacceptable, Knight says, as people not only use the trails for recreation but also to commute to work, and promoting alternative commuter options could make the city less car-centric.

For more information visit the full article at Indy News:

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