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Candidate for Raleigh City Council District D

Ted Van Dyk 

Candidate for Raleigh City Council District D

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Ted Van Dyk
Full legal name, if different: Theodore Nicholas Van Dyk
Date of birth: 5/8/61
Home address: 217 Hawthorne Road
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.tedvandykforcouncil.com
Occupation & employer: Architect, Principal, New City Design Group
Home phone: 834-4565
Work phone: 831-1308
E-mail: Ted@newcitydesign.com



1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Raleigh? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?

Transit, managing growth in a high quality, sustainable manner, moving forward with Dorothea Dix Park, and finding he right balance for long term economic health and strong community. District D is at the crossroads of Raleigh's future, with NC State, transit corridors, Dorothea Dix, and other major components of the City's future within it. It is also a diverse District, where many of our citizens are concerned about jobs, feeding their families, and living in safe neighborhoods. My priority will be to represent all stakeholders in the district, and find way that we can shape Raleigh's future in ways that benefit the broadest cross-section of our community.

My methodology will be consensus-based, and will focus on building a shared vision by working with community stakeholders and finding buy- in with fellow council members. Our district deserves effective leadership, and that is leadership that works with the mayor and fellow council members for the betterment of the community.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

I have worked as an architect in Raleigh for 20 years, and have made many contributions to the City's built environment. I have intimate knowledge of the development and approval process. I have been a member of the City's Appearance Commission for two terms, and have learned much by representing the Public's interest in that role. There are many improvements to the process- including raising the bar for submittals, assigning a planner to each CAC and offering support, and providing additional staff and resources in the Planning Department- that would improve outcomes for all concerned.

I have been on the Hillsborough Street Partnership Executive Committee for several years, and led the 'loyal opposition' back in 2006, which led to a re- evaluation of the roadway plan, elimination of 9 of 11 of the roundabouts, and a cost reduction of approx. $10 million, based on the Planning department's findings.

Finally, I have led the Roundtable Program Committee for ULI's Triangle Chapter for the past 3 years, and have planned and delivered over 30 programs on topics ranging from the Banking Crisis to Transit to Affordable Housing.

3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I have been a moderate democrat throughout my career. I understand what it means to be a business owner, and have worked with many fine teams over the years to produce new business and good projects for the City. I also understand that there are 'holes in the market'- parts of our social fabric that are no well served by the free market- affordable housing, services to the indigent and mentally ill, medical care and basic services for the poor, and regulatory and growth guidance functions, including planning, zoning, and entitlements. These are building blocks of any civil society, and need the support of governmental entities to provide them at needed levels. All of the people in our City need a seat at the table.

There are also cultural institutions and other groups that may need support in order to provide all of us with the richness and quality of life that should come with living in a world class City, and that we should nurture as positive contributions to our lives.

Our challenge is to fund these needs while maintaining a viable economic climate, and a balanced stream of revenues and support. We must structure our revenue creating mechanisms to fairly distribute costs, and be realistic about what we can accomplish within the means that our City has at hand.

4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

There are many times that principles must guide the way a leader makes decisions. I will have two questions that I will ask when appraising issues- is the topic likely to lead to an improvement for the Citizens of Raleigh; and, how can I best use my influence to ensure the best outcome for my District and the City?

Our Council may be looking at a development project, impact fees, raising rates to pay for needed services, or other issues that may divide the community in some way. Seldom will there be a clear black and white answer when dealing with issues at this scale-.so, what will make Raleigh a better place, what will best serve to deliver the services that our community needs, what is the best route to building consensus on an issue?

If the outcome of careful listening and working to bring parties together results in an unpopular decision which none the less is best for the City, then so be it. But in the end, the goal is progress, not an ideological stance that may look good on paper but fails to move the City forward.

5) What are the two or three most important program or policy initiatives you will champion if elected to the Raleigh Council? Or, to put it another way, how will your election change anything in Raleigh?

I will work to bring a Positive Voice to the Council and District D. I believe that the Council can be more effective, and my District better represented, by a Councilman who understands the value of relationship boths with other council members and with other entities such as the County and the State.

Priorities such as improved transit, strengthening and shoring up the development approvals process, empowering neighborhoods by offering additional support to CAC's, capturing open space, and creating workable, updated plans for transit friendly and sustainable development are all attainable.

It is not a solo effort however, and I hope to bring a new spirit of cooperation and focus on results to the Council.

6) What can you point to in your record, on the Council or in community service, to demonstrate that you'll be an effective city leader?

Please see my comments on the Hillsborough partnership, appearance commission, etc, above. You will also find that the Cameron park homeowners Association recently asked by to take up the completion of the neighborhood Plan, and includes me in al discussions of the new Comp plan as well as issues impacting the neighborhood. You can go to my firm's website www.newcitydesign.con to get a sense of my professional work.

7) Recent droughts have underlined Raleigh's water problems. Growth could cause the city to run out. On the other hand, the city isn't selling enough water to pay down the debt on its existing systems, resulting in rate increases. How should Raleigh deal with water in the coming years?

We got ahead of our headlights in projecting revenues during an economic boom. Many of the investments made, however, were important, overdue, and could not wait. Our future is in adding conservation and gray water re-use to our building code, so that green ideas become routine, much as accessibility and ADA standards did 20 years ago. Our rates need to cover our costs- we will be better able to appraise this situation when the economy levels off, though my hope is that the current slowdown has offered all of us some time to recalibrate expectations. We have a good plan for water supply well into the 21st century- we need to see water as a precious, limited resource, and act accordingly.

8) Crime and gang problems plague some parts of the city. Is there more the Council should be doing to go after them?

The Raleigh Police Department is an excellent force for a City of our size. However, our pay scale is well below some other similarly sized cities. We need to be sure that we are able to recruit and retain the best law enforcement professionals possible to keep our City safe. This includes finding and retaining professionals skilled in gang related enforcement and pro-active community programming.

9) Are new initiatives needed to address the city's fast-growing Hispanic population? If so, what do you recommend?

The Hispanic population is growing in our region, and is making important contributions. Our ability to enfranchise them into the mainstream depends on our ability to respect and value their culture, while offering enhanced opportunities for education, job training, housing, and other services. Working in concert with The Community College system to expand English as a second language and GED programs would be an early priority.

10) Does Raleigh need better public transit services? (A lot better?) If yes, what specific steps do you advocate, and how would you pay for them?

Raleigh’s transit system needs enhancement at all levels- I include greenways and sidewalks in the ‘transit equation’ by the way. We need more frequent bus service, and we need light rail, and finally regional rail. Early steps will be to harness the ½ cent tax to expand bus service. I see early adaptation of the TIFF financing model to build park and ride parking decks at key locations. These offer tangible, physical centers for transit activity, visible to the public. Park and Ride decks can serve CAT busses and TTA today, and rail tomorrow if placd in strategic locations.

I am particularly interested in a light rail line from the Fairgrounds to downtown, to serve as a pilot initiative, and to knit together the sports and entertainment attractions at RBC and Carter Finley to Hillsborough Street, the Campus, perhaps Dorothea Dix, Park, and downtown. This system could later be expanded west to Cary, the Park, and he airport and east to Clayton and other bedroom communities as ridership and demand dictated. But it would be a start, rather than waiting for some distant time to construct a regional system out of whole cloth.

11) Raleigh's development fees (impact and capacity fees) are the lowest in the region, meaning that current residents shoulder the lion's share of the cost of growth, not developers or newcomers.

Impact Fees should essentially be incentives for development in reverse. There are, and will always be, many folks who are interested in low density single family suburban housing. However, trends are shifting, ad both younger workers and empty nesters are interested in more urban living, with walkable neighborhoods, proximity to entertainment, dining and shopping, and proximity to transit for commuting and travel.

So, we should structure our impact fees to reflect true costs. Dense urban developments generate more revenues, and cost our City relatively less to support, than low density residential development. So our impact fees should be relatively low for dense infill projects, and tiered to reflect costs of lower density development accordingly.

12) Raleigh's never required developers to include affordable housing (however "affordable" might be defined) as a condition for approval of tall buildings or big subdivisions? Should it? If so, what rules should apply?

In the near term, it seems from a regulatory perspective that the best way to include affordable housing will be to offer incentives to developers that are attractive enough to induce them to include some affordable housing in their development mixes.. 'Inclusionary zoning', which mandates a certain percentage of affordable housing in developments of a certain size, will yield limited results in our area. We simply do not have the volume of dense urban projects that larger urban areas enjoy to make a meaningful dent in our need, which is significant. And the value of adding low density options at the urban fringe, where services and transit are less accessible, are of limited value.

We can step up our partnership with habitat for Humanity, Builders of Hope, DHIC, and other successful private sector entities to meet needs for affordable housing in creative, and effective, ways. These organizations, and others, have developed models that effectively deliver affordable housing to markets that need it. Our Council could step up support and partnership with these organizations to get units on the ground within delivery structures that are already in place and working well. Many areas of Distrcit D that could benefit from redevelopment, and affordable workforce housing could play an effective and positive role in reshaping some of these areas.

13) What's the best thing about the proposed comprehensive plan for Raleigh? What's the worst thing? As it stands, would you vote to adopt it or insist on changes first?

The New Comprehensive Plan is a huge step forward for the City of Raleigh. Very sophisticated, light years ahead of the document it replaces. This is all natural and to be expected. The old plan did its' job for more than 20 years. The land use map, referred to as the FLUM, has generated a bit of controversy, particularly around some of the City's urban neighborhoods, who are feeling development pressures. This concern and focus is healthy. Attention, energy, and focus are being brought to bear on the key questions of our future- where are we going to grow, and how can we do it in a way that enhances, rather than degrades, our quality of life?

These questions will not all be answered by this document. However, I am not among those that want to stop the train until the color of the upholstery in the dining car is selected.

There are many needed planning efforts, including several around the Urban Core, that have been identified in the Comp plan. If elected, I will work to secure additional resources for the Panning Department, so that the kind of close, thorough planning that our City merits, and that is continually, and often fruitlessly called for by neighborhood groups, can actually take place.

14) Public schools are a county, not city function. Should the city nonetheless act to assist the schools, and if so, in what ways?

Efforts have begun to tie planning to schools, and vice versa. This initiative is in its infancy, and could be a much more sophisticated and fruitful partnership. Schools are essentially infrastructure, and as such have a strange chicken and egg relationship to development. We can as a region make informed decisions as to where our population can grow and offer schools and other services accordingly.

Cooperation, and understanding that we are all part of a larger, interrelated set of institutions and interests will be key in looking ahead as a region.

15) Raleigh's form of government—strong manager, weak council and mayor—combined with the fact that almost all city meetings are held during daytime hours, have the effect of limiting the extent to which average citizens can participate in government decisions. Is this a problem, in your view? If so, what changes should be made? Is this a priority for you?

Our form of government has its' drawbacks. It is one that is really suited to a town, not a City. Raleigh's interests really could, and some would say should, be handled by a full time council. However, on reflection, we find that there are very few instances of corruption or scandal, that those serving are doing so out of an abiding sense of duty to the City rather than for financial gain or undue influence. And so we have an unusually transparent and accessible government for a City of our size.

Much of the Council's business is indeed conducted during the day. Much of it is also benign and garners little public attention or concern. Development and neighborhood issues, in particular, might benefit by evening hearings, perhaps looking at the Planning Commission in particular.

More fundamentally, funding Planning staff so that they could directly support the CACs would be a good first step. Neighbors would have an opportunity to call on staff resources for explanations and interpretations, and Planning staff would receive direct input and feedback from neighbors, rather than garnering these from CAC votes and the limited testimony of those motivated enough to attend public hearings.. Another fundamental, which as Councilman I will work for, is higher standards for application for re- zonings and entitlements.

Clear graphics addressing height, setbacks, and other issues, traffic studies for major projects, and other requirements could offer greater legibility and clarity for neighbors and interested stakeholders.

In return, the development community should be offered a transparent process that rewards high quality, sensitive, and appropriate proposals.

16) Two years ago, the Indy asked every council candidate if s/he would support extending to same-sex partners the same benefits (e.g., health insurance) on the same basis that they are now offered to the spouses of city employees. Virtually everyone said yes, but to date nothing's been done. Is it time?

Yes. This is part of leading by example. The City of Raleigh can show that it is a progressive, 21st Century City by its actions on fundamental issues like same sex partner rights. In many ways, this is more fundamental and important to our social fabric than constructing convention centers and opening downtown streets. We will endure growing pains as we meet the next few years head on, moving from Southern town to World Class City. It will not always be easy, but we can do it.

I hope to have the opportunity to participate in the exciting future that lies before us, and hope that you will consider endorsing Ted Van Dyk for District D on October 6.

Thanks and please do call with questions, follow up, etc.

Best Regards,

TVD

Ted Van Dyk

www.tedvandykforcouncil.com

  • Candidate for Raleigh City Council District D

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