Mark McCurry | Indy Week

Mark McCurry 
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Re: “Chapel Hill polling shows the challengers taking over

It doesn't surprise me in the least that Hemminger is ahead with Republicans. Social conservatives will vote against an LGBT politician on the basis of their sexual orientation. It does bother me that if CHALT wins all, the entire Council, with the exception of Maria Palmer, will be heterosexual and white. We need diversity on the Council.

5 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/31/2015 at 10:21 AM

Re: “Vote! The INDY’s endorsements for races in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro

It is also important to be clear about numbers. Affordability in the context of supply and demand is relative to the supply demanded. There may be more units in San Fran and New York than Chapel Hill overall, but the price is relative to demand. Numbers in this context are tricky. I will concede the housing market does not always behave rationally, and when markets don't behave rationally you have sometimes have prices that seem to contravene the prevailing wisdom of what should be occurring if you assume purely market forces. That having been said I will not say supply and demand does not apply. When market's don't behave rationally, it is important to have policies like Penny for Housing to create affordability when the market won't.

Don't get me wrong, I am not the biggest fan of the free market, but when you work in this context they are important realities to consider when trying to make a positive impact.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/27/2015 at 5:10 PM

Re: “Vote! The INDY’s endorsements for races in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro

That is why I said the issue of supply and demand, RE: housing stock, is complex. I don't think any economist would say the laws of supply and demand don't apply. Leaving that aside, that is why Council is pursuing other strategies like Penny for Housing, 15% affordable with Inclusionary Zoning, and projects like DHIC.

They aren't engage in affordable housing solely through the prism of building more units. My argument is it is an oversimplification of the issue to look at new units of multifamily, label them all luxury, and say Council has abandoned its commitment to affordable housing.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/27/2015 at 4:55 PM

Re: “With the rise of CHALT, Chapel Hill’s never seen an election quite like this

Personally, there are a few set of facts that would make me believe Council is pursing the wrong strategy.

(1) If Chapel Hill had no need to grow. Chapel Hill has consistently been growing in population since it was established. That is what healthy cities do. A stagnating population is evidence of a sickly municipality. Stagnating populations are evidence of economic hardship or disaster. In such a case, we would have no need to build anything, as no one would be coming to town. In such a case, the problem would be managing decline. Detroit is a classic example of a city that has recently faced these problems.

(2) New planning tools or technology supplanted the benefits of smart growth. If new research suggested other forms of development surpassed the economic, social, and health benefits of smart growth, I would say we need to be encouraging these types of development. We need to get away from urban sprawl and auto-centric development. From what I understand, smart growth is the best tool available.

(3) If the Council was neglecting important social issues they have the ability to address. In this case, I think Council is constantly looking out for ways to make the lives of citizens better. They have passed ordinances to address affordable housing (Penny for Housing, DHIC) they operate on a community policing model to stay engaged with residents, they are working with the University on important social justice issues (Northside Initiative)...and so on.

I'm not an advocate of saying everything Council does all the time is perfect, but all things considered, they are doing an excellent job with the tools and authority they have. From my time in local government, they only people I run across who are truly angry are the ones who activate when something happens they don't understand, or they want Council to solve something that is beyond the scope of their legislative authority. 9.99 times out of 10, it is simply a matter of education and perspective.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/26/2015 at 12:51 PM

Re: “Vote! The INDY’s endorsements for races in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro

I actually posted this on the wrong thread. Whoops.

RE: Affordability

I have oft heard it said that the multifamily units of the type in mixed use projects are luxury units whose existence somehow, therefore, betrays affordable housing goals. I don't agree they are all luxury units, but I like to assume they are to simplify the conversation. The issue is one of supply and demand in housing markets. Which is complex. Generally speaking it is the case when wealthy buyers come to a community and can't find housing they want, they buy less desirable property and renovate. This speeds gentrification. Maybe I am incorrect on this point, but my understanding is affordable housing providers in town have generally been advocating for a general increase of supply of all types, to ensure currently affordable properties stay affordable. Adding high end units isn't necessarily abandoning affordable housing. It is adding stock to get other properties affordable. That having been said, there is dissent among economists about how housing behaves in response to traditional supply and demand forces. The nature of housing as a commodity makes it unique among market goods, but I would argue supply and demand are still in play and important considerations to take into account when trying to balance housing stocks and promote affordability.

It is also true this isn't the only strategy Council is pursuing. Penny for Housing, DHIC, and the Northside Initiative are all examples of programs designed to help increase the stock of affordable units and subsidize housing. You need a good tax base to do that, which is what multifamily mixed use helps promote.

5 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/25/2015 at 7:30 PM

Re: “With the rise of CHALT, Chapel Hill’s never seen an election quite like this

RE: Affordability

Think this might be my last post as I feel like I am starting to go on a merry-go-round. That said, I am glad community discussion has been as robust as it has this election cycle. Civic participation is healthy.

So, I have oft heard it said that the multifamily units of the type in mixed use projects are luxury units whose existence somehow, therefore, betrays affordable housing goals. I don't agree they are all luxury units, but I like to assume they are to simplify the conversation. The issue is one of supply and demand in housing markets. Which is complex. Generally speaking it is the case when wealthy buyers come to a community and can't find housing they want, they buy less desirable property and renovate. This speeds gentrification. Maybe I am incorrect on this point, but my understanding is affordable housing providers in town have generally been advocating for a general increase of supply of all types, to ensure currently affordable properties stay affordable. Adding high end units isn't necessarily abandoning affordable housing. It is adding stock to get other properties affordable. That having been said, there is dissent among economists about how housing behaves in response to traditional supply and demand forces. The nature of housing as a commodity makes it unique among market goods, but I would argue supply and demand are still in play and important considerations to take into account when trying to balance housing stocks and promote affordability.

It is also true this isn't the only strategy Council is pursuing. Penny for Housing, DHIC, and the Northside Initiative are all examples of programs designed to help increase the stock of affordable units and subsidize housing. You need a good tax base to do that, which is what multifamily mixed use helps promote.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/25/2015 at 1:02 PM

Re: “With the rise of CHALT, Chapel Hill’s never seen an election quite like this

Here's the thing about numbers, politics, and campaign season. When you enter political discourse during campaign season, for every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.

The bigger picture, is the town needs to accommodate change. That is how communities work. The only way this town isn't growing, is severe economic depression (UNC closing), or natural disaster. If we have to accommodate growth, and we do, then smart growth is the best option. This is what Council is pursuing and what the planning community generally agrees is the best. There may be growing pains, but whatever numbers you want to throw against smart growth, I can almost guarantee the alternative options are going to be much much worse. Smart growth protects our urban services boundaries, is the most tax beneficial of all development, gets people out of their cars, and has a minimal impact on the environment. In my personal opinion, what Council is doing is the best strategy.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Mark McCurry on 10/25/2015 at 11:02 AM

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