Livable Raleigh Chair Susan Maruyama delivered the following remarks at the January 4, 2022 Raleigh City Council meeting:
Madam Mayor and City Council,
Please don’t leave a whole lot of good on the table in 2022 like you did in 2021.
In 2021, you approved 96% of the rezoning requests that came before you. This is well over 100 rezoning requests.
Despite this huge number of approved rezoning cases, there were no significant community benefits included as conditions. You left community benefits “on the table” in 2021.
Community benefits may not sound like a huge issue but when you step back from the year 2021, you need to realize that you could have brought more than 100 significant beneficial projects to the people of Raleigh and you did not.
You were so busy putting your energy into approving as many rezoning requests as possible, you overlooked your power to negotiate for the best interests of the people and city of Raleigh. Plain and simple. You were preoccupied with the wrong thing – pleasing your developer-supporters and ignoring the benefits that could have been negotiated in over 100 rezoning requests.
Community benefits that were left on the table cover a wide range of possibilities such as….
- Affordable housing for mid-to-low income workers.
- A relocation plan funded by developers for current residents who are being displaced by their proposed development.
- Infrastructure improvements such as roads, traffic management, improving mitigation for storm water drain-off, more fire stations to properly protect the new density and improvements to overall public safety.
- A developer’s plan for saving the trees and our tree canopy should be included with each rezoning request.
- Developers could establish an incremental park maintenance fund that will complement the city budget and assure full maintenance and staffing for all of Raleigh’s parks.
Here are 2 solutions for you to consider NOW so we do not leave any good on the table in 2022.
#1. Use the powerful tool of negotiation to get developers to commit to conditions that will guarantee community benefits before the rezoning request is approved. This is when you have leverage – use it for the good of the people and our city.
#2. Go back and contact each developer and associated business partner who received a rezoning approval in 2021 and ask them now to commit in writing to investing in a tangible community benefit for the impacted community or the City as a whole.
The problem with leaving good on the table is that your decisions reveal your true values. Maybe in 2022 you will put the people first instead of developer’s profits.