July 8, 2020
Big changes are coming to Raleigh. Yesterday, the City Council took major steps forward to make our City more equitable, affordable, safer, and welcoming to all.
After several months of staff research and planning, we followed through on our promise to allow the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as granny flats, by right in every residential district of the City. At the suggestion of Councilor Stewart, we eliminated a rule limiting occupancy and will allow live-work units as well as short-term rentals. I’ve asked staff to look at ways that we can encourage the construction of more ADUs. Not only does this give Raleigh residents more control over their own property, it will increase housing choices and availability. We also expanded cottage courts – an example of the “missing middle housing” we are encouraging -- and eliminated minimum parking requirements downtown and in transit overlay districts. The latter change will allow housing to be built less expensively and moves us toward creating a less car-dependent city.
Additionally, Raleigh voters will officially have the opportunity to vote on an $80 million affordable housing bond this November, as we voted to move forward with the bond at our council meeting yesterday. The bond includes funding for the construction of housing through public-private partnerships, low-income affordable housing, a first-time homebuyers program, and a home repair fund.
I, along with many of my fellow council members, campaigned on getting these things done, and yesterday we delivered.
The City Council also voted unanimously to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in the City of Raleigh following a motion from Councilor Corey Branch. This was long overdue and an important way to honor and recognize those who didn’t gain their freedom until long after our country’s founding. But we know it is not a substitute for the reforms people have been advocating for. The council unanimously approved a letter authored by Councilor Jonathan Melton that begins a dialogue with our state government on how we can work together to increase transparency and accountability and improve the relationship between the police and community. We hope that the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Inequity in Criminal Justice helps foster this conversation.
As a result of the recent damage to downtown businesses (on top of the hit they had already taken from the COVID-19 pandemic), the Council voted to allocate funding to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance to help promote and restore downtown. Through the end of July, business owners can take advantage of an expedited permit process for storefront repairs. You can learn more and apply here.
We also made the tough decision to cancel or postpone all festivals, road races, parades, and other large gatherings in Raleigh through at least the end of October. COVID-19 is not going away and while we are disappointed, it is not safe or responsible to allow such events to move forward.
As you may know, we are currently accepting applications to fill the vacant District D council seat. We are committed to bringing underrepresented voices to the table and hope to have a diverse pool of applicants. If you or someone you know is interested, you can learn more about the process and apply here.
Please remember to wear a mask when you are around others outside your home and practice social distancing. The City of Raleigh has been working with WakeMed to provide free masks to people in the hardest impacted areas of our community. There will be another free mask giveaway this Saturday, July 11th from 12pm to 3pm in Roberts Park.