In 2017, ‘The Color of Law’ landed like a bombshell in progressive housing policy circles. In Raleigh, powerful development interests saw the opportunity to adopt — some would say co-opt — Richard Rothstein’s anti-segregation message by promoting pro-density zoning rules that not only lifted exclusionary zoning rules, but went much further. By 2020, a new alliance of developer money, self-righteous Council aspirants and their white privileged adherents provided the lubrication to fast track pro-density zoning proposals. Novice Councilors were assured that pesky public input needn’t impede this sweet deal to meld profits and equity.
Let’s stipulate a couple of points up front. Missing Middle, done well, is a good thing. But….What the previous Council produced is MM done deviously, and sloppily. Much of it, in fact, undermines the whole premise of MM, which is to offer an increased number of affordable-housing options than would exist without it.
Last week we explained why you know in your heart that the Shaw rezoning application should not be approved. Now we will explain how in your head you can understand the proposal is not in line with the policies of Raleigh’s Comprehensive Plan.
Years of Jim Crow segregation and neglect have given way to a new era of gentrification. Unimpeded, it will soon sweep away any sense that freed African-Americans were here, emerged from slavery here, lifted themselves up by their bootstraps here, created communities here, and mattered greatly to the Raleigh we became and the Raleigh we hope to be. Unimpeded, it’s entirely possible that Shaw will be swept away too, or moved to a distant place not central to the city to make room for “higher value” development.
Every month Councilor Jonathan Melton publishes a newsletter summarizing the actions of City Concil for that month. In his April report, he included a bonus from the May 2nd meeting which was an explanation for his vote on the zoning case Z-54-22, Peace & West Streets. It’s filled with misinformation.
Should the 30-story zoning case at Peace and West (Z-54-22) be approved by city council? Is it needed? Is it good for the surrounding residents of an historic residential neighborhood? Is it good policy for the city and its residents? The simple and most straight-forward answer is, no. It is not reasonable and it is not in the public interest. City council should vote to deny Z-54-22.
Contrary to comments by planning staff, the Comprehensive plan is the guide today, regardless of whether it gets amended in the future. The same is true for the Future Land Use map but, if this application is approved, the area zoning will be changed to accommodate the new building heights for anything being proposed in the future. As a local land use attorney has said, “you have the facts to come to a proper decision on this case without waiting for the details on a future Development Agreement that, in itself, will be controversial and an anchor on the City Budget for the next ten years.
With the implementation of the new comprehensive plan and UDO, Phil believed there was a real opportunity for a more predictable and efficient process. Today, unfortunately, rather than following approved plans, everything seems negotiable. This undermines the whole idea of predictability and erodes the trust in the review processes and in city leadership.
Most rezoning cases were sent to committee or held for further discussion.
Council’s upcoming decision to either keep or eliminate Raleigh’s COVID-era free bus fares has been framed as making an important statement about Raleigh’s commitment to high quality and equitable bus service. Maybe so, but if you listen to the Raleigh Transit Authority’s Nov 10 deliberations on the topic, you might conclude that reinstating fees will have little impact on a system that is in decline and without an effective plan to provide high quality and equitable transit services in post-COVID Raleigh.