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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Raleigh City Council live blog, evening edition

Posted by on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 7:06 PM

Welcome back everyone! Council chambers are filling up; unlike this afternoon's City Council meeting that barely pushed an hour, this evening's agenda is looking lengthy, with 17 citizens speakers and 13 matters scheduled for public hearing. 

There's a whole crowd of people wearing green T-shirts to show solidarity with the food trucks, who will be able to operate virtually nowhere mixed use when downtown and other food truck friendly places go that way under remapping. There are some neighborhood-looking folks, who I guess are here for rezoning cases. And there are the PUPS people who will doubtless have a lot to say.

7:02: And we're off. Remember everyone, limit your comments to 3 minutes or incur the wrath of Mayor Nancy!

7:03: First up is Sharon Hambleton, who's there with some neighbors who will be affected by the building of an Ample Storage facility at the intersection of Sinclair Drive and Louisburg Road. They have 200 petitions they want to give to the Council.  They don't know who's requesting the rezoning, is it Ample Storage or  the City of Raleigh? They don't know who owns the property. They feel they should have been approached by the owners, whoever they may be, with their intentions to build a storage facility. They are concerned about traffic safety and large vehicles blocking them from coming and going. Also, storage facilities = ugly. They're asking for NX remapping.  

7:08: There are so many problems with this proposal, Sharon is still going. Fish dying in nearby lakes because of pollution, more crime, traffic nightmares, threatened property values. Already two other storage facilities within a mile and half. All they want is NX, though this is not part of remapping. 

7:10: Never mind, it is part of the citywide remapping. MAB is "really confused," as is everyone. The owner can build this 3-story monstrosity under the current zoning, according to attorney. 

7:12: It's too late then, Sharon asks? Mayor Nancy says they can't request to have someone else's property rezoned. An attorney from the neighborhood is speaking. "A storage facility at the entrance to this beautiful neighborhood where children play will severely impact the property values of all our neighbors," he says. He's asking to put a hold on this. Attorney says Council doesn't have authority, because this was zoned a long time ago. But the developer will be willing to work this out with the neighbors.

7:15: Attorney Michael Birch is speaking on behalf of Ample storage. It's been shopping center general use since 1984, way before this neighborhood ever came into the picture.  There's no 2-story limit on the property; it was recommended CX-3 under remapping. The neighbors are disparaging the developer's reach-out. Attorney says trust Mr. Birch to do what he says he will do re. working with the neighbors, because "he comes here frequently."

7:17: RS brings up "screening." Storage facilities have low traffic right? Correct, but yeah, no one wants to see that storage facility looking garbage. There could be some kind of protective yard?

7:18: But still, all that traffic is IN our neighborhood, the speaker says. She risks her life daily in traffic already and this will destroy our neighborhood. Talk to the developer, MN says! Because this zoning has been there for decades. The MN solution: get staff on it to see about traffic impacts. Talk with the developer, there is nothing the Council can legally do right now because this ain't a zoning case yet. 

7:21: Staff will be in touch.  Laurie J. Meilleur is now up. She's here on behalf of dog owners who want to purchase permits to let their dogs off leashes in public parks. Other cities have done it, San Diego, Boulder, somewhere in Maryland, not Austin, etc. There's precedent, little risk exposure (?), and litigation protection. Laurie's already in talks with Parks Advisory board. The INDY endorses this proposal. 

7:23: MN knows this proposal is out there. MAB says there's a committee already looking at this. 

7:24: Deanna Winick is up. They want storm water systems not installed correctly fixed in Ashworth Estates. Um, this will cost $300,000. Probably more. They think the City of Raleigh should shoulder some of this cost.

7:27: Manager says this has been a long project with a long history. 2 issues tho: City is going to look at how much this costs itself, thank you. And these were installed on private property, so are we going to spend public stormwater $ on repairing a private system? This is difficult but we're working with the neighborhood, and we're just  going to keep doing that. 

7:29: The residents haven't had recent conversations with the developers who put the storm water systems in. People getting screwed by developers. MN wants some kind of resolution. Don't worry, the manager says; this issue won't go away but we need to look at this more. 

7:30: Lena Gallitano is here, repping the Wake Audubon Society. There's a petition for city buildings to adopt a "lights out" policy so birds stop flying into the buildings because they are drawn to the light. The Performing Arts Center is the most deadly!!! So, this will also reduce utility costs. Turn off the lights when the activities in the building are over, my dad is clearly not on the City Council or this would never have been a thing.  

7:33: We can gain: protection of migrant birds and other birds, also almost endangered birds. Reducing utility costs. Raleigh will be first to do this, set an example. Advance the Council's mission of being on the cutting edge of conserving environmental resources. The cutting edge!

7:35: Megan Anderson, Raleigh's new Sustainability manager, is coming forward to talk about what the city is already doing. 

7:36: Everyone thinks this is a very positive plan and  we are happy to assist, she says. But there are some public perceptions of safety that need to be considered. Public's perceptions of safety: more important than birds' actual safety? Discuss. Manager says we do a lot of sustainable things already. We can work this out or bring it back to Council.

7:38: RS is in favor. MAB thinks Megan can work it out. Lena wants the city to adopt this as an official policy. They will after they work it out. Teamwork!

7:40: Alex Johnson is up. He's urging the Council to protect food trucks that will not be allowed to operate in mixed use areas all over the city. Raleigh's food truck scene has grown "astronomically." New zoning maps will stunt food trucks' growth. This city loooovees food trucks (I know that's right). There's a 23-year old food truck owner who slings potatoes from her family's farm. MAB: And there's no samples? 

7:43: But seriously, let's not curtail their ability to operate when unemployment is at a "record high." This is crucial to Raleigh being the number one city in the nation. Mayor Nancy is convinced. BG puts forward a motion to support food trucks in NX. MAB says issues related to sidestreet vending arise, parking arise. That's related to food truck policy, so let's separate that. 

7:45: Odom wants to know why food trucks were kicked out of NX in the first place? STAFF? Travis Crane says that was a proposal received form consultants and that they would be happy to entertain a text change. That text change motion passes unanimously. You win, food trucks! Council gets a standing ovation. 

7:46: MN asks if the food truck folks if they want to quit while they're ahead; MAB advises Jennifer Martin to "sit down." Jen's wearing a cape. She's says thanks Council, reminds them this still has to go through approval meetings etc. Don't forget, food trucks provide significant contributions to our local economy. All but one in Raleigh are completely locally owned. 

7:48: John Pugh from House of Swank on Bloodworth Street is up. He used to run around Raleigh with a trusty 3-string guitar, making T-shirts. Now they're a legit business. He's asking for a pilot program for streetside parking for food truck in low traffic areas. 3 Raleigh food trucks have been on national TV! "This is an easy win on a silver platter wrapped up in a gingham bow with a note form Santa Claus saying ho ho ho, Merry Christmas."

7:51: Jessica Doyle, also supporting food trucks, streetside parking pilot plan. She has a food truck. Parking is an issue. Like in the Warehouse District, which only has streetside parking, this would be good. Also, jobs. 

7:54: MAB wants to put streetside parking in Law and Public Safety. Raleigh will have its food trucks. "Merry Christmas guys," MAB says. 

7:56: PUPS is up, this will not be as fun. Manager says obviously PUPS has been getting a lot of attention. Goal is to balance tremendous growth downtown with all the stakeholder groups. That's why there's a trial period. Staff will provide an update from Derrick Remer and Deputy Chief. 

7:58: 81 contacts with 48 different business since the ordinance took effect have been made (You can ask Paddy O'Beer's about that). Unforeseen effects: the split layout. It was always OK with the city, then it also became OK with the ABC commission. Totally not confusing.  

8:00: Deputy Chief Perry is talking about violations and issues. Police and Fire are doing work. 43 written warnings have been issued to 30 different businesses mostly for serving outside with out a permit, not maintaining sidewalk clearance, no signs about alcohol service area. Also: 42 quality of life violations, 10 businesses exceeding interior occupancy, 

8:02: WM: what is a quality of life violation? According to a chart: damage to property, intoxicated and disruptive people, open container, pubic consumption, resisting arrest, trespassing and urinating in public. And this is just for the PUPS ordinance! MAB: SO that's an individual violation, right? Correct. And the 43 other were specific to businesses.

8:04: Steps going forward: Deadline for businesses to apply for a new permit is Sept. 8. The city has received one as of yesterday afternoon- will they receive more? The businesses have to submit architectural drawings to determine outdoor seating capacity number. And they will continue with enforcement, bring a report back November 3.

8:05: MAB says there are unintended consequences: an ice cream shop can't have more than 3 people outside; what if it's a family of four? How do we correct that? (Is it ridiculous that we *need* to correct that?) Also, cash registers aren't allowed on sidewalk. But um, Pour House etc. collects money on the sidewalk. They're doing everything the right way but they're being told to move their cash register now. Could we tweak that in the ordinance? Not penalize people doing business the way we want them to? Apparently the ice cream shop, TREAT is the only business that has applied for a permit. The Pour House operates on a state maintained road, so we prob have to get the state involved. 

8:08: Mack Flintosh is speaking. She works at Citrix and Coglin's. Two incomes because she couldn't get by on her Coglin's job alone. I'm lucky to have my other job, she says. It's incredibly sad to see what's happening right now, she says. Her boss Zack Medford tried to comply with the ordinance, was chastised when rules were changed in a day. We have been here for every meeting, but police or fire are in their establishment every night. This scares patrons away, and they leave noisily. This is just one opinion, I can't imagine how many other people have been affected. It's only a matter of time before Raleigh is no longer one of the best places to live. 

8:11: Ellis Webber. Paddy O'Beers employee. She is from Raleigh and remembers how much it sucked a long time ago. She's representing "hundreds of service industry employees affected by new regulations." It's not reducing noise, keeping people quiet or sending people home early. Adverse effects: communication breakdown between us and fire, police, zoning people. People leaving and being loud. More trash. Substantial financial loss. My wages diminished up to 50%. Do we want to go back to the old downtown? Do we want unemployment, and vacancies filled by national chains? Support local businesses. Keep them thriving. I'm in Raleigh for a reason because I want to be here. Inspect what we're expecting.

8:16: Russell Morrell: Downtown Raleigh manager of Alchemy. Patrons are like, what is the bar I'm drinking in doing wrong, because the cops are always here. He's had to increase security. Street traffic has doubled with the 1 a.m. surge, that's happening twice a night now. There's a loss in revenue. 

8:18: Ken Briska. Manager of Capital City Tavern. His employees have seen a huge decrease of money in their pockets. The level of enforcement, though cordial, is way too much. They come in peak hours, takes me away from my work. Inspections runs 20-30 minutes long. People look at me like I'm a criminal. Is this even about the use of sidewalks or a city ordinance any more? We have a job to do too, and it's really hard under these circumstances. 

8:20:  A Dan Lovenheim's employee, Louis...business consultant, 13 year veteran bartender, finishing an MBA in Finance. Raleigh is great. But there has been a shift from conservative familial structure that has been living in Raleigh. Odom says "careful, I'm old. " So yeah, since the ordinance: a lot of public noise, long lines, aggressive patrons, changed temperament, basically people being like WTF are these regulations, this is killing my buzz. His revenue is down 20% because patio seating capacity is limited. Quality of life violations shouldn't be happening, but that is an individual's choice. 

8:26: MN asks him to wrap up his comments. "Embrace how Raleigh is growing, do not curtail it."

8:26: Ken Yowell, owner of Calavera, Oak City Meatballs, Moonlight Pizza. 5-15% loss of sales since the ordinance. He has good, non-belligerent patrons who don't support the ordinance. Some businesses have made mistakes, but don't punish everyone for the mistakes of a few. Calavera and Oak City Meatballs are collateral damage. He's asking for compromise during festivals. 

8:30: MN we do understand it's a lot of changes and we appreciate your patience. We are hoping for the best outcome for the city. We will continue that 90-day period to see what that outcome is that's best for all of us. MAB: One thing that kept being repeated: we have many people coming for Hopscotch, Bluegrass festival etc. Can they not be greeted by a bunch of police officers? MN says the city guests mutually enjoy each other. MAB: under the old circumstances they did...MN: We will discuss with Derek, mmmk, thanks so much. 

8:32: Public nuisance liens, street improvements are up. See you at Larry Jarvis's Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Plan, up shortly. 

9:23: After a lengthy debate about street improvements on Lorimer Road (it passed), NRSP is up. Larry Jarvis will present. 

9:24: Issues on the table: Safe Vibrant Healthy Community objective is to increase the supply of housing for all income groups, create walkable mixed use mixed income neighborhoods. Link between strategic plan and NRSA designation: NRSA makes it possible for DHIC to put senior housing on Washington Terrace site. They could apply by January

9:27: They need to know if mixed income (50% low, 50% moderate) is on the table before they can decide on who will redevelop Washington terrace. Neighborhood revitalization is more than just housing, but uplifting neighborhoods. Rehabbing existing houses, services for youths and seniors, new day care center, infrastructure improvements.

9:30: To be  eligible for NRSA, 70% has to be low to moderate income.Working on this since 2012. Recommendation is to continue public hearing until November to have more conversations with the community. NRSA is not tied to UDO remapping, Comprehensive Plan or proposed New Bern Avenue corridor plan. 

9:45: Octavia Rainey is speaking. I think "this is sneaky, dirty and underhanded, what our neighborhood services have done. College Park should not be in this strategy." Mr. Jarvis jerry-rigged census tract 506 to be a high-poverty census tract. To help Mr. Jarvis understand I'm not playing any more games with him, I'm taking a delegation to HUD." She's asking for all Jarvis' emails re. College Park and Washington Terrace. "I'm sick of playing these games, I'm sick of meeting with him."

9:50: MN asks, are you saying you don't want this Revitalization Strategy? Correct, Rainey says. You were out there hoodwinking people at meetings, asking them about social services. Put your cards on the table. You're not building communities of trust. People need to be educated, not taken advantage of like with this process. You all know with redevelopment, when black people are relocated they do not come back. 

9:52: WM: I think your word choices are unfortunate, and that you made this a personalized discussion. It would be more productive if we demonstrated a degree of mutual respect. There is a tremendous effort going thru that Dept. You would probably walk away with a fuller or more complete understanding of what's trying to be accomplished. 

9:53: Oberlin resident. Lived in Raleigh 53 years, including in southeast Raleigh. She says many areas all over downtown Raleigh were formerly thriving African American neighborhoods, including College Park. The community here was asked to discuss a draft they had not seen, back in July. Communication is the key, and communication often from a legislative body doesn't filter down to low and middle income people. I feel too strongly about Raleigh to see this kind of thing continue. Some of you have not seen this happen all your lives; I have and have been part of a family that's fought against it. The NRSA plan looks like it's a done deal. It's not right that the people who are affected aren't part of the discussion. 

10:01: Pauline Goza. First time we heard anything about this plan was August 10. On August 25th we were presented with a strategy plan. Is it a strategy or a plan? Prior, we working with DHIC on Washington Terrace. It's important that neighbors provide input; DHIC has been forthcoming communicating with neighborhood. But then Housing and Neighborhood Services was presented and DHIC has been silent. To tell people in the area you have done a study and you know what's best is the same same as saying, purple is a color that's good for you, we will paint your house purple inside and outside with limited input from you. We are asking before Neighborhood Services presents more plans to the community and Council, a task force of community members be included in working through a strategy and or strategy plan. While citizens encourage neighborhood improvements, we also expect to be included in any plan because we are living there.

10:04: Vice Chair of North Central CAC. I had a conversation with retired city employee re. East College Park. he said those people need to stop whining, realize change is coming. They need to sit down and take it. They're not going along with city plan for progress. people don't want to stepped on, deceived. They want to know that they county. It could be win-win for city and ECP if done right. All parties have to be there, open honest and transparent Raleigh could show a footprint for revitalization that works. It could win for everybody, 

10:05: Janna Howard. Poole Road resident. 2 things: mixed income is not a new term for us for neighborhoods. Only recently have we been allowed to live outside segregated neighborhoods, so we have always had mixed income. We get that. What's confusing and unfortunate WM was offended: we have heard conversation from this department 3 times, each time different. Once told that 51% affordable, 49% market value was set in stone. now we hear it's not. Also heard, we did not have option of city property in that area all being for low or mod income if we are not neighborhood revitalization plan. so why would we give up 134 lots for market value when all could be available for low and moderate income?? A married teacher/firefighter would qualify to live in moderately income. we want two things: a task force that engages people in the community so they can have input and final thing, we think this particular neighborhood revitalization strategy area plan could be a model for the country when we engage thinking of staff and people who live in the area.

10:09: Mary Johnson, Jones St. resident. The first time I heard about the revitalization strategy was August 25th meeting. A lot of my neighbors don't have computers so weren't looking for this 25-page document. We were caught off guard. Trust is a problem. Communication will now improve but we didn't know. Also at the meeting, a group was very interested in applying for senior rehab of homes program. They were polite about not saying what is really though about this program: first you wont' get it rehabbed the way you like it. Second, several neighbors have been unhappy with the rehab and had to pay to correct it. A trust element is missing in College Park/Idlewild. People work very hard and want to have a better neighborhood. 

10:12: MN asks, you mention people unhappy with their rehabbed houses...what are you referring to? These houses were redone in last 5 years, speaker says.  

10"13: Idlewild resident. There's a lot of fear coming out of people not understanding what is actually going to happen. If this program goes through and we work together and see how everyone benefits, that's great. We need change but we want to make sure we have some kind of heritage, pride within community. gentrification happens. We are afraid we won't be able to om back home to a place where have had for generations. We want to be a part of the growth of this area. 

10:15: Staff has heard concerns, as shown by asking us to continue this until November. They want to get out there and talk and listen. We will be in touch about future meetings, how best to disseminate information. 

10:27: A Louisburg Road rezoning was held open. Bynum Walter is presenting on a Hillsborough Street (near Dan Allen Drive) rezoning. It will do away with  ground floor restrictions on an already existing building. It passes unanimously. 

Annnnd with that, I'm out. 

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