Donna Bailey has lived in Raleigh for over 25 years and has been a neighborhood advocate for much of that time. She served as President of the University Park Neighborhood Association and has also been Chair of the Hillsborough-Wade Citizens Advisory Council (CAC). Donna has been very active in educating the public on what is going on within the city and making sure that resident’s voices are heard. Donna is currently a member of the city’s Community Engagement Board.

Donna delivered these remarks to City Council on March 7, 2023:

Good evening Council

I want to take a minute and thank Mayor Pro-Tem Branch for last month’s public comments. It was refreshing to be able to have the full 3 minutes to speak and to be allowed to finish our thought after the time ended in a respectful manner. I appreciate that all the councilors were actively listening and that the residents felt heard by all of you. I hope this will continue.

I want to talk about the rezoning process and some areas that need improving. 

First, the neighborhood meetings that are run by the applicant or their attorneys are not working. Since the developers run the meetings, the information that is being given is often very biased and not accurate coming from the applicant or their attorney.  One attorney said in a neighborhood meeting that the Comprehensive Plan was no longer relevant. There was a city staffer there but they were silent. 

I have been to many neighborhood meetings and the city staffer is often just there to observe. I don’t really understand what their purpose is when they attend those meetings. 

A better way to run these meetings is to have a city staffer, or someone who is neutral, run the meeting and let the applicant be a part of that. 

In addition, I would like to address how the planning department considers rezonings to be “consistent” with the Comp Plan by just adding more housing. That is just a small part of the what the Comp Plan envisioned. 

The Planning Department uses the “Expanding Housing Choices” Vision Theme as a guide for consistency. But, as you will see in this Staff Report, the analysis used to claim consistency with the Vision Theme (outlined in red) has been severely edited.

The complete text of the Vision Theme “Expanding Housing Choices,” shown here, is filled with its actual intent which is the inclusion of affordable housing.

The WHOLE statement about expanding housing choices should be used to measure if it is being followed in its entirety, and not just what the developers want to build. 

Council, you were elected to govern for what the city NEEDS, not just what developers WANT.  You have the power to require that affordable housing is included in most projects. Please do not keep repeating the same mistakes that previous councils have made that continues to make our affordable housing supply WORSE. We are losing 4,000 Affordable Housing units a year. Something must change. Please implement the whole vision of the Comprehensive Plan and not just the cherry-picked items that developers support.

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