Thank You, Raleigh!
November 9, 2022
I Filed for Re-Election!
July 6, 2022
Big news -- I just officially filed for re-election! I am so grateful for the overwhelming support I've received so far.
The past few years have been challenging, but I am proud of what we have accomplished in a short amount of time. Here is a short list of what we've been able to achieve together since 2019:
Made historic investments in affordable housing. Our historic affordable housing bond is paving the way for thousands of new affordable units, and we are investing in protecting naturally occurring affordable housing along transit corridors. We are also funding down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, home rehabilitation for low-income seniors and the disabled, and permanent supportive housing for those in need.
Ended exclusionary zoning and allowed for more types of housing. We passed major, progressive zoning reform that will allow “missing middle” housing such as townhomes, duplexes, and quads to be built throughout the city. We also passed text changes allowing ADUs, tiny homes, and cottage courts.
Secured funding for Bus Rapid Transit and made our bus system fare-free. I also remain committed to bringing commuter rail to our region.
Invested in our parks and greenspaces. Last year’s budget included millions in critical park maintenance and we are moving forward with a parks bond to fund the advancement of Dix Park, the Chavis Park revitalization, and parks throughout the city.
Community engagement. We created the first ever Office of Community Engagement with full-time staff and recently appointed a new Community Engagement Board. We also established the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and a Hispanic and Immigrant Affairs Board.
Now is not the time to let up. The issues that we all care about so much require consistent leadership and long-term strategy. Raleigh must be a city where stable, affordable housing is available to everyone. We must expand transportation options including continuation of fare-free bus service and commuter rail to relieve congestion and make our city accessible to all. And we must continue to work towards a city that is equitable, inclusive, and listens to the voices of all who call Raleigh home – our lifelong residents and newest neighbors. That’s the future Raleigh deserves and that’s why I’m running for re-election.
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More Progress on Affordable Housing, Mandatory Parking Minimums
March 16, 2022
As mayor, my focus has been building a more affordable, accessible, and greener Raleigh. This week, the City Council continued to deliver on that, making even more progress on my 10-point plan for housing affordability and advancing Raleigh’s Community Climate Action Plan.
The City Council continued our commitment to affordable housing by directing $4 million in funding to protect naturally occurring affordable housing along transit corridors. Last month, the City Council rezoned city-owned land near Dix Park to add hundreds of new affordable housing units to the area.
The City Council also voted to remove mandatory parking minimums. Here’s why that’s a big deal: countless studies have shown that these requirements contribute to carbon emissions, add to the cost of housing, make goods and services more expensive, and penalize residents who cannot afford to own a car or choose not to drive. This change also reduces stormwater runoff generated by parking facilities by promoting an increase in the use of tree planting and landscaping, green roofs for parking decks, and permeable materials for parking lots, driveways, and walkways.
Our city’s policies should put people first. Preventing empty, unproductive parking lots and making way for more affordable housing is a big step in the right direction.
Continuing our Progress in 2022
January 27, 2022
As we close out the first month of a new year, I wanted to share just some of the Raleigh City Council’s recent progress on key issues and our plans for 2022 and beyond.
We ended exclusionary zoning and expanded housing choices across the city. Decades of prohibitive and discriminatory zoning laws have led to a shortage of housing and artificially high prices. We passed progressive zoning reform that allows “missing middle” housing, including duplexes, townhomes, and other types of housing to be built throughout the city. Prior to this, you could only build townhomes in 20 percent of the city, which prevented the possibility of home ownership for many. We also passed Accessory Dwelling Units or “granny flats” by right and have allowed the construction of tiny homes.
We passed a historic affordable housing bond and are funding thousands of new affordable housing units. And with the help of funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the City of Raleigh purchased a hotel to serve as supportive housing and an emergency shelter for those in need.
We secured funding for Bus Rapid Transit and made our bus system fare-free. Since 2020, the City Council has used federal funding to make the GoRaleigh bus system fare-free, allowing more people to access public transportation. In 2021, we renewed this policy and I support making this a permanent change. I'm also committed to working with the City Council to implement and expand Bus Rapid Transit throughout the city, one of the key goals of the Wake County transit plan.
We supported small businesses and the economy. In 2021, I supported Raleigh’s Building Up-Fit grant program to assist businesses with improvements and renovations. 57% of the grants have been awarded to minority-owned businesses. We also recently made curbside take-out zones permanent downtown, helping to support local restaurants as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will build new affordable housing. Housing should be a right, not a privilege in Raleigh. That’s why expanding access to affordable housing continues to be my top focus this year. Using funding from the housing bond and other sources, including public-private partnerships, Raleigh is purchasing land along transit corridors to use for new affordable housing units. Raleigh is also partnering with land trusts to provide long-term affordable housing, such as the Lane-Idlewild project that will be developed by the Raleigh Area Land Trust.
We will expand affordable and efficient transit. Transportation and housing affordability go hand-in-hand – an affordable house is not truly affordable if the transportation costs to get to work, shop for groceries, and get around town are too high. We must continue to expand transportation and mobility options to relieve congestion and make our city accessible to all. In addition to continuing the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit, I will continue to work with our regional partners to make commuter rail a reality.
We will continue to invest in Raleigh’s parks and greenspaces, and build a world class Dix Park. Raleigh’s system of over 200 parks is a huge part of what makes our city so special. We plan to continue our historic investments in parks, greenways, and community centers with a Parks Bond in 2022. The bond will fund the advancement of Dix Park, the Chavis Park revitalization, and parks programs throughout Raleigh with an eye toward equity and accessibility.
We have a lot more to do for Raleigh’s future, so let's get to work!
City Council Update
September 7, 2021
The Raleigh City Council is working hard to keep Raleigh moving in the right direction. Here is some recent progress we've made on key issues that will boost Raleigh’s economic recovery and promote affordable housing and transit options.
- Raleigh embraces Biden-Harris Build Back Better agenda for housing affordability. The White House recently released a white paper outlining steps local governments should take to encourage more affordable housing and increase supply. The City Council has already taken action on many of these steps, including eliminating exclusionary zoning laws and parking minimum requirements, as well as allowing accessory dwelling units by right. You can read more about our progress on housing affordability here.
- City Council extended popular outdoor seating accommodations. Bars and restaurants will be able to continue to operate on sidewalks and in parklets/pedlets, a program started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to its popularity, the council is exploring making this a permanent change, even after the pandemic subsides.
- Small business grant program saw huge success. Small businesses are vital to our community and Raleigh continues to make sure they are supported. In fiscal year 2021, Raleigh's Building Up-Fit grant awarded 28 grants totaling almost $630,000. 57% of the grants went to minority-owned businesses.
- City Council focuses on affordable housing and transit to allocate American Rescue Plan funding. Last March, the City of Raleigh was awarded $73.2 million dollars that must be spent by December 2026. Phase 1 of that spending is already underway. Phase 2 will do even more to meet the community’s recovery and associated economic impacts of the pandemic. Five focus areas have been targeted for relief - economic recovery, housing/homelessness, community health, infrastructure, and transit.
- The City Council authorized staff to draft zoning changes to bring back corner stores. Good and services need to be closer to where people live. Corner stores will reduce car dependency and help address food deserts. Be on the lookout for opportunities for public input where you will be able to help shape this policy.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a Big Win for Raleigh
August 17, 2021
Since becoming Mayor in 2019, I’ve worked hard to improve and expand Raleigh’s infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing city. I've led our City Council to promote job creation, expand public transportation options, and advance sustainable energy practices.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill supported by President Biden and just passed by the Senate will allow our city to make important investments, including repairing roads and bridges, providing necessary maintenance to our water systems and electrical grid, and improving airport and other regional public transportation. And if we didn’t know it before the pandemic, we now know how critical it is for everyone – students and adults alike – to have readily available and reliable broadband internet access, which this legislation provides.
The bill marks the largest investment in public transit in history and will allow Raleigh to expand bus rapid transit, improve regular routes, build bus stop shelters and fund commuter rail with our regional partners.
Recognizing the role that emissions play in climate change, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will help move us toward our long-term goal of 100 percent clean buses, boost environmentally friendly electricity sources, and incentivize the purchase of consumer electric vehicles. While GoTriangle moves forward with a proposal for commuter rail from Clayton to Durham, which would reduce congestion along the I-40 corridor and connect our region, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill includes the largest investment in Amtrak since its creation, hopefully paving the way for more frequent and faster rail service between Raleigh, Atlanta, D.C. and up the eastern seaboard.
I am thankful to the bipartisan group of Senators and to President Biden who moved this forward. Our city and state will become more accessible, connected, and greener. But this piece of legislation alone won’t solve all our problems. Raleigh needs local leaders who continue to think big and are willing to make the necessary investments to keep our city moving forward. We can’t afford to look back now.
July is Parks and Recreation Month
July 16, 2021
Parks and greenspaces are at the center of so many experiences and memories. Raleigh’s system of over 200 parks is a huge part of what makes our city so special.
As Mayor, I understand the value of building and maintaining world class parks in our growing city.
July is Parks and Recreation month and there is so much progress to celebrate on Dix Park, Chavis Park, Barwell Road Park, and future parks and recreation spaces. Check out some of what we’ve been working on below.
Pennies for Parks
In our recent budget, we funded critical park needs, including $38 million in desperate park maintenance over five years. The first improvements will be made at Laurel Hills Park, Pullen Park and the Pope House Museum, the only African-American house museum in North Carolina.
We have the opportunity to build the best destination park in the world. And we can’t mess it up. It is imperative Raleigh wisely develops Dix Park into a world-class attraction and community area.
The design for the first phase of the park, 18-acres of land called "Plaza and Play" was unveiled at a community meeting last Tuesday night. When completed, it will include attractions such as a “grand stair” that incorporates greenery leading up to the plaza and a waterfall. There will be a gorgeous playground with wooden towers, a sand bowl and slides, and a picnic area surrounded by trees and lights. There are also plans for cookout areas, gardens, mazes and a pedestrian path along Lake Wheeler.
Carolina Panthers and Barwell Road Park
The Carolina Panthers came to Raleigh this week to unveil a new Play 60 Challenge Course at the Barwell Road Community Center in Southeast Raleigh. It features a climbing wall and ropes course. We are thankful to the entire Panthers organization and the NFL for making this a reality.
Re-Opening of Historic Chavis Park
Last month we celebrated the re-opening of Historic Chavis Park in Southeast Raleigh. I was proud to see the unveiling after many years of hard work by community leaders, city staff, and city council. Built in 1937, Chavis Park has a storied history and we know that it will continue to serve the community well. Included in the renovations are a brand new community center building, plaza, children's splash area, and playground.
Devereux Meadow Park
The Parks Department is currently in the planning and design stage for a new urban park north of Downtown. The proposed designs are beautiful and would create a vibrant addition to our community. You can learn more about the history of the area and see proposed designs on our "Virtual Open House".
We also would like to hear from you! Fill out our public survey before July 23rd to give the city staff and council input on the current concept plans.
New Housing Affordability Measures
July 7, 2021
When I ran for Mayor, I proposed a 10 point plan to encourage housing affordability and create more housing choices. Yesterday, the City Council continued to deliver on those promises.
- We approved TC-5-20, which permits more housing types to be built in certain residential districts, amends the methodology for determining how many units can be built on a lot or site, and adjusts minimum lot and site sizes. For the first time in many decades, people will be able to build townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and small apartments in more areas of the city. This will make housing more affordable and significantly expand housing choices throughout Raleigh.
- Multiple, new affordable housing projects were approved. In the Lane-Idlewild community, 17 affordable cottage courts will be built by Raleigh Area Land Trust and their partners. We also directed the city to seek a developer for two properties we are rezoning around Moore Square, one of which will require affordable housing. The second will be sold at its appraised value but the money received will be dedicated to our affordable housing fund.
- We also approved policies that will allow us to land bank along transit corridors, and set aside funds to prevent evictions.
These are major steps forward for our city and I am grateful for the hard work of the council and city staff to help get this done. But as always, there is still more to do.
I greatly appreciate your support as we continue our work together to build a Raleigh that works for everyone.
Raleigh on the Rise
May 24, 2021
At last week’s City Council meeting, City Manager Marchell Adams-David released a proposed budget for the next fiscal year titled, “Raleigh on the Rise.” It’s a fitting theme for this moment as we make tremendous progress on key issues in our city. We are moving forward on housing affordability and choice, commuter rail and bus rapid transit, and Dix Park. But there is still much more we need to do. That is why this budget is so critical. We must make investments in our future to ensure that Raleigh is affordable, accessible and equitable.
This budget does that. Some key areas of investment include:
- The preservation and development of new affordable housing units. We recently approved hundreds of new affordable housing units and last year’s affordable housing bond will pave the way for thousands more to be built over the next five years.
- Approval of the “Penny for Parks.” This will provide approximately $7 million per year to maintain our parks and greenways and modernize aging facilities, including community centers.
- The prioritization of pedestrian safety and bicycle lane improvements. Funding is provided for multiple forms of transportation and transit but will also ensure that we focus on Vision Zero – an effort to make our streets safer.
- The establishment of the new Office of Community Engagement, reporting to the City Manager’s Office. This investment will re-imagine how all of our citizens can have their voices heard with a focus on inclusion and equity.
- The addition of three new staff members to the Office of Equity and Inclusion. This effort will help support social justice and civil rights efforts, as well as provide funding for new citywide equity training.
- Additional funding to support our homeless community. If anything, Covid has shined a light on the need for improved services to our homeless residents, especially related to housing, shelter and supportive services. This will be a major effort, working with our partners in Wake County.
- Funding for a disparity study to review procurement with Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Small Businesses. This effort will help ensure equity in contracting and procurement, ensuring that our efforts are equitable and inclusive.
This is just the start of our budget process, and I invite all Raleigh residents to participate in the upcoming public hearing on June 1 to share your thoughts on city priorities. You can sign up to speak on the City’s website at raleighnc.gov.
I’m grateful for your support on these critical issues. This budget will help us build on the successes of the past year and allow us to get ahead on challenges we will face in the future by making smart investments now.
Happy New Year!
December 31, 2020
I hope all of you had a restful holiday season and were able to distantly connect with friends and family. Needless to say, 2020 was not what we expected or hoped for. But as we begin a new year, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together in this tumultuous time.
As we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Raleigh has worked closely with our state and county to ensure that our community has access to testing services, face coverings and other supplies. In June, Raleigh was the first municipality in Wake County to mandate face coverings and the City worked in partnership with WakeMed to distribute more than 100,000 masks to those in the high-risk areas. Nearly $3 million in federal CARES Act funding has gone toward assisting those in our community facing homelessness and economic hardship.
Raleigh and Wake County are also continuing to support our small business community. At the start of the pandemic, I worked with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to create a Small Business Grant Program with the city contributing $1 million, and another $600,000 raised from our corporate community. We also created a new program to allow restaurants to expand seating on city sidewalks, streets, parking lots and other public spaces, helping bring in much needed revenue. And within 24 hours of the first Stay-at-Home order issued by the Governor, city staff had established curbside pick-up spots to aid our restaurant community. Local businesses can find additional resources here.
Housing Affordability, Transit & Parks
Housing affordability was the central issue of my campaign for Mayor last year, as well many of our Council members. And we are delivering on our promises. With overwhelming support of the voters, Raleigh passed an affordable housing bond in November that that will fund more than 3,200 new housing units over the next five years. It will also allow us to partner with non-profits to provide stable housing to our most vulnerable residents; provide mortgage down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers; offer home rehabilitation loans for low-income seniors and the disabled; and secure land along transit corridors for future affordable housing.
Along with the affordable housing bond, we approved Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) by right throughout the city and expanded cottage courts. We also eliminated the ban on short term rentals and eliminated minimum parking requirements in downtown and in transit overlay districts. This change will allow housing to be built less expensively and moves us toward creating a less car-dependent city. We have also taken steps to allow more “missing middle housing,” such as duplexes, triplexes, and quads, in more zoning districts throughout the city, creating housing choices that benefit all our residents. We are working on ways to encourage the construction of ADUs and will work on ways to incentivize more mixed-income housing through the private development community.
We were also successful in our efforts to secure a $35 million federal grant for the City’s first bus rapid transit project on New Bern Avenue. This was one of the key goals of the Wake County Transit Plan, approved by voters in 2016.
And we approved the construction of the new Plaza & Play area at Dix Park, a children’s destination area that will attract visitors from around the country. We will be looking at a Parks Bond in 2021 to support this effort, and build and renovate additional neighborhood parks in our City.
We took steps to make our city more accessible to residents to ensure their voices are heard. Early this year, we eliminated the two-week advance sign-up period previously required to speak at City Council meetings and we moved to include renters in mailed notices from the City. Following a town hall hosted by Councilors Melton and Stewart, we will be looking at new ways to engage renters, as they have often been left out of planning discussions. The City of Raleigh also formed a new Hispanic and Immigrant Affairs Board to ensure a vital part of our community has a voice in city affairs. And we continue to work towards revolutionizing community engagement in Raleigh through a system that would replace Citizen Advisory Councils. That plan is being developed by Consultant Mickey Fearn, a Raleigh resident and national leader in public engagement and innovation. He will be reporting these efforts to City Council in January.
Public Safety and Equity
After significant community input, we created Raleigh’s first Police Advisory Board and appointed a diverse group of residents to review Raleigh Police Department policies and build trust between our police and the community. RPD also announced significant reforms to policing practices, including amending their use of force policies and changing how police respond to some emergency calls. We hired 21CP to conduct an independent review of the Police Department’s response to events in May. That response is currently being examined by the RPD and will be reviewed by the Police Advisory Board with recommended actions.
In August, we announced a new policing program called ACORNS that will allow us to better serve our homeless and those with mental health and substance abuse issues. The new unit will feature police officers and social workers who will work together in partnership to assist those in crisis and get individuals the support they need.
In November, we announced a partnership with Shaw University’s Center for Racial & Social Justice called “Courageous Community Conversations.” Shaw will lead this effort and create a 10-point plan to address social and racial justice issues in Raleigh. The partnership was created with a $50,000 grant I requested from the City Council contingency fund, and approved by Council.
Many glass ceilings were shattered in 2020 – including in Raleigh. In July, we appointed Stormie Forte to represent District D on the City Council – making her the first Black woman and first LGBTQ woman to serve on the City Council. She has proven to be a tireless worker and advocate for her district.
After a national search, we named Marchell Adams-David as our new City Manager, effective January 1, 2021. She is the first woman and first African-American to serve as City Manager in the city’s history.
Marchell will replace Ruffin Hall, who is retiring after 25 years in public service, the last seven of which he served as City Manager. We want to thank Ruffin for his leadership and for all he has done to promote organizational excellence, strategic planning and citizen input, and move us forward in areas of housing, transit and equitable pay for employees.
Job Creation and Economic Development
Raleigh has a lot to look forward to in 2021 and in the years ahead. After a public hearing earlier this month, the City Council voted to approve the rezoning for Downtown South, which will be a transformative project for Raleigh that brings more affordable housing, workforce development and economic development opportunities to the community. We are also excited that Bandwith will be building a new headquarters campus in Raleigh, creating 1,200 additional jobs. Our entrepreneurial community continues to thrive, as evidenced by our home-grown companies such as Red Hat and Pendo.
Happy New Year!
While we accomplished a lot in 2020, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, there is still much work to do to build a more equitable community. That’s why I’m running for re-election as Mayor in 2021. I hope to have your support again.
I am grateful for all of you who do so much to make Raleigh a thriving community. For my part, I will continue to ensure that Raleigh is committed to being a city of innovation, compassion and progress. May the New Year bring you joy and blessings.