Some Raleigh City Councilors Turn Their Backs on Affordable Housing Promises

From the News & Observer...

Some city leaders campaigned on the idea that they could protect neighborhoods and help make Raleigh more affordable. But since the October election, they’ve struggled to find that balance.

Following a divisive election season that often focused on housing affordability, the Raleigh City Council this month has balked at a trio of ideas that advocates say would benefit residents struggling to find housing within their budget.

On Tuesday, the council opposed a change to city ordinances that would allow short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, to operate in Raleigh. Supporters said it would help some residents generate income they could use for rent.

Council members also shot down a proposal to convert two city-owned historic properties at the corner of Cabarrus and Bloodworth streets into a co-living development targeting lower-income workers downtown.

And on Nov. 8, the council declined to expedite a vote allowing residents to live in accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as “granny flats” or “backyard cottages.”

These moves come a month before political newcomers replace two of the council’s more pro-growth members, meaning Raleigh’s governing body will soon be controlled by members who favor a more cautious approach to growth.

It’s common for residents of growing cities to elect protectionist candidates if they feel like new development has added too much traffic, noise or unwanted activity around their neighborhoods, said Mack Paul, a local development attorney.

“Candidates or elected officials who are running on a platform of neighborhoods’ concerns are going to resonate to a greater degree as cities grow and become denser,” Paul said.

But, as property values rise, Mayor Nancy McFarlane says her colleagues’ anti-growth sentiments are impeding progress that would make Raleigh more affordable. On Tuesday, for the second time in two weeks, she scolded her fellow council members.

The proposed co-living development, she said, “fits into exactly what we’ve been saying we want to do: save historic structures and provide more affordable options in an area with lots of service workers. We need to come through and do the things we say we want to do, or it’s just lip service.” ...
— Henry Gargan & Paul A. Specht - N&O
Brent Woodcox