At the January 24 City Council meeting, Council reviewed rezoning request Z-53-22 which involved three sites in a floodplain where the City was proposing to build Affordable Housing. Site 2, which was tiny, was approved unanimously; Sites 1 and 3 are larger but also swampy, steeply sloped and forested. They were not approved and were referred to the February 28 Growth & Natural Resources Committee for further discussion.

District A Councilor Mary Black commented the following morning on Twitter and we are reproducing her Twitter thread here:

Last night case Z-53-22 was the topic of a lot of conversation. Let me say this to the folks that said that council has a duty to pass this rezoning. Putting affordable housing for low-income and working class predominately Black and Persons of Color adjacent to a flood zone is eco apartheid.

The lessons on this should come from the deep legacy of redlining, the use of Black/indigenous/Latinx community as sacrifice zones and the site of over pollution and over production. You would think we would know better considering that the modern environmental justice movement started right here in NC.

The narrative is that “we have the opportunity to build Affordable Housing so we must because we rarely get to.” However, I will NEVER support a rezoning like this. And if council does pass it, we should be ashamed of ourselves. I find it disturbing and disgusting to place at risk people in more risk. Moreover the floodplain maps we use are inadequate and in my professional opinion don’t provide enough forward thinking about the climate crisis juxtaposed to the development happening across the city.

Is the message that, EVERYONE deserves to live in safe, vibrant, happy, healthy, and thriving communities, unless you need public housing? Thank you to the Partners for Environmental Justice for coming to speak against this rezoning.

Fellow local climate and environmental justice advocates I could use your support on this. The case has been held open for further discussion. Personally I’ve heard enough, but I don’t know if other councilors have. I’m asking you to come speak to council In support of a just future and solidarity economy.

You can follow Councilor Black on Twitter here: Mary4DistrictA

Livable Raleigh Editorial Team

Dresden Hasala, Environmental and Land Use Attorney and Board Member of Partners for Environmental Justice (PEJ), testifies to City Council in opposition to the zoning case below:

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