Lisa Hughet delivered the following comments to Raleigh City Council at the July 5, 2023 meeting.

Lisa has lived in Raleigh for nearly 30 years and says “my activism really kicked into high gear during the pandemic. Ironically, coinciding with a new City Council who appears not to have the residents of Raleigh as their highest priority. I’m also active in affordable housing matters and animal rescue.”

I’m here tonight to speak to the injustices being forced upon people who live along the future BRT routes.

But first let me say that a massive investment in public transportation that would remove cars and congestion from our roads is needed more every day, for all the obvious reasons – climate, safety and equity. Redesigning our current infrastructure is needed and it will come with a cost and it will be a long and difficult journey.

One point of contention has been the Transit Overlay Districts or TODs. With this regulation, all properties within a quarter mile of a station will allow for denser housing but also allow for retail, restaurants, health and medical facilities and personal services. The TOD requires that those businesses be installed in apartment buildings. The TOD also establishes a maximum 5’ side set back and up to 4 stories. The way the New Bern BRT is being designed, the entire corridor between downtown and Enloe will become a TOD and up to 5 stories. Don’t think this is a big deal? This includes 744 properties. At least 726 of those are single family homes.

For those in an NCOD along a BRT corridor, the city has taken away the last remaining protections you fought long and hard for. Protections you had to get agreement on from the majority of neighbors and then get approved by this City Council. You did that to protect the culture and heritage of your neighborhood. Think Oakwood, Mordecai, South Park and Prince Hall. At the time your NCOD was approved, the NCOD didn’t expire unless you had support from a majority of neighbors. But today, the city has taken that away.

Why would you encourage large scale development in established neighborhoods? Isn’t there a better way to apply density than to entice developers to buy up these NOAH properties and build a 5 story luxury apt building 5 feet from a single story home?

Another point of contention is advertising the BRT as a way to provide affordable workforce housing. Take a look at what’s already happening along the planned BRT routes with million dollar condos where affordable housing once stood. There are no policies in place to prevent this gentrification. The more gentrification, the less ridership. The price tag for New Bern alone will be over $100M. How are you going to protect that investment by moving out the very people who need bus transit?

50% of your funding is coming from the FTA. Why don’t you leverage that inflow of dollars with the general assembly to change the inclusionary zoning law? The city also needs to work with the County and the State to break down the barriers to receiving more federal dollars for low income housing construction. Raleigh has all the hallmarks of a great investment and I wish you would do more to leverage that.

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