Planning & Transportation

When Art Reflects Reality (Even After 130 Years)

As I took my seat in the Paul Green Theatre last Saturday for PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of An Enemy of the People, I had no expectation that the performance would resonate with the kind of local government discourse and behavior I see right here in Chapel Hill. Yet, as the play began and the story unfolded, that is exactly what happened.

Written by Henrik Ibsen in 1882 and adapted by Arthur Miller in 1950, Enemy tells the story of Dr. Stockmann, a physician who attempts to expose an inconvenient truth about his town, only to find himself and his family alienated, alone, and in danger as a result of his actions.

As the play reaches its climax, Dr. Stockmann makes a final attempt to convey his findings and alert his community to what he has uncovered. But rather than being able to speak freely, he is silenced from speaking about the issue at hand, which causes him to dive into a monologue condemning the tyranny of the majority, the silencing of his freedom of speech, and the hypocrisy of those around him who abandon their values in the face of inconvenient truths.

This Week in Orange Politics: February 16-22

Though the Carrboro Alderfolks and Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board are both are break this week, it’ll still be a busy week for Orange County’s public bodies. The Chapel Hill Town Council will consider Obey Creek and talk about a number of other development proposals currently on the table, while the county school board will consider approving its strategic plan.

The Hillsborough Town Board will hold a workshop on stormwater and Riverwalk, and host a joint meeting with the county commissioners covering transit, economic development, planning and host of other issues.

Other events across the county this week include a town hall with Chapel Hill Town Council member Lee Storrow and a meeting of the Chapel Hill Transit Partners. We’ll also hold our monthly editors meeting Sunday.

Here’s the full summary:

CARRBORO BOARD OF ALDERPERSONS

  • There is no meeting this week. The next meeting is Tuesday, March 3rd.

CHAPEL HILL TOWN COUNCIL

Town Hall Series Starts Next Week

Starting next week, I'll be hosting a series of four Town Hall events that each focus on a different issue in our community: downtown Chapel Hill, social and environmental justice, economic development and working together in Orange County. 

I want these events to be an opportunity for residents to engage and take an active role in shaping the future of our town. All you need to bring is an open mind and ideas for how we can build a more vibrant, livable community. Here's the schedule:

Issue: Downtown Chapel Hill
When: Wednesday, Feb. 25th at 5:30 p.m.
Where: DSI Comedy, 62 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Click here to see full event details and RSVP for the downtown Chapel Hill Town Hall.

Issue: Social and Environmental Justice
When: Saturday, Feb. 28th at 1 p.m.
Where: Rogers Road Community Center, 101 Edgar Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

How Unaffordable? A Look at the Data

Last week, Chapel Hill’s economic development officer, Dwight Bassett, presented some data on Chapel Hill’s housing market to a reasonably-sized crowd at Town Hall. Bassett’s presentation followed a brief talk from Robert Hickey of the National Housing Conference about what’s happening in housing trends around the country.

Like many of the other audience members, it was Bassett’s data that struck me the most. (During the Q&A following the presentations, all but one question was directed at Bassett rather than Hickey). The one number that really stood out: 3117%. That is, since 1990, the number of houses in Chapel Hill valued at over $500,000 has increased by 3117%.

Compare this to more affordable price ranges: For houses valued between $100,000-$149,000, the number of houses has increased by only 32%. For houses valued between $150,000-$199,999, there has only been a 107% increase in the number of houses.

Let's Do Parking Right: A Look at the Evidence

Parking, like traffic, is a recurring theme in local conversation about growth and development. We often hear from some community members that there is nowhere to park in downtown Chapel Hill/Carrboro, that a lack of parking is hurting local businesses, and that the parking minimums required for the Ephesus-Fordham renewal district are insufficient.

But the facts simply don’t support these claims. The reality is that providing more parking – especially surface parking – is fundamentally incompatible with urban land uses.*

Numerous urban planning scholars have researched parking, and their research has consistently confirmed that more parking is not desirable on any metric – unless, that is, you want more people to drive and create more traffic.

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