Carrboro candidates face off

Guest Post by Tom Jensen

The Carrboro Sierra Club Candidates Forum is tonight at 7 PM in the Board Room at Carrboro Town Hall. The forum will start with 75 minutes of questions for Aldermen candidates, and conclude with 45 minutes of the Mayoral candidates.

We will be taking questions from the audience, so if you have anything you want asked but can't be there feel free to post here and I will add it to the pool of possible questions.

This is the first opportunity to see the Carrboro candidates face off, so you should all either come or watch it live on the People's Channel!

Tom Jensen is a Senior at UNC on the Sierra Club Political Commitee. He is also the chair of Students for a Progressive Chapel Hill.



Live blogging the Carrboro forum! Dan Coleman is moderating and all the Aldermen candidates are here. We're going to start with two minute introductory statements from each of them.

David Marshall is first. He is acknowledging the fact that everyone who runs for office in southern Orange County says they are an environmentalist, but there are different types. He believes environmentalism is a holistic idea rooted in livability.

John Herrera is next. He thinks the Sierra Club should endorse him based on his record as an incumbent, even though it didn't the last time he ran. He says the main issue of concern to him is public transportation (reducing oil dependency.) He will increase the use of biodiesel.

Katrina Ryan says she doesn't think she has much of a chance of getting the Sierra Club endorsement. She wants to talk about conservation. She doesn't think that good environmental policy is being practiced around here. She wants to capture natural gas, increase the number of hybrid vehicles in Carrboro, and address storm water problems cooperatively with the region.

Randee Haven-O'Donnell says the environment is very important to her. She wants to maintain tree top canopy, promote pedestrian pathways, and preserve open space, particularly Bolin Creek. She is involved in Friends of Bolin Creek. She's also been involved with the North Carolina Recycling Association, and environmental education in her work as a teacher.

Catherine DeVine is looking forward to learning more as an Alderman. She says it takes a lot of collaboration to make good environmental things happen between government and citizen's groups. She likes the Village Project vision for Carolina North.

Jacquie Gist has been an Alderman for a long time. She likes living in a town where everyone believes in global warming. When she first ran in 1989 one of her key issues was supporting the watershed protection ordinance, which she is proud to have seen passed. She cosponsored the 40% Open Space ordinance that has resulted in a lot of the things that keep Carrboro beautiful. She has gotten through bike paths and sidewalks. She's been a long time advocate of Bolin Creek. She also advocated for the purchase of Adams Tract.

First question: What have you done in the past on the environment that distinguishes you from other candidates?

Katrina first. She fought an ordinance in Houston where there is very little zoning. She has raised a lot of money to protect woods and prevent flooding there. She organized a recycling drive in a low income area of Houston.

Randee next. When she worked for the CHCCS they used cafeteria school waste and diverted it to a hog farm in Alamance County. She also helped create a recycling program cutting down on plastics and cardboard in the landfill.

Catherine Devine doesn't claim to have done anything to promote the environment. She's an Appearance Commissioner in Carrboro. If you expand the definition of environment to quality of life, she has done a lot to keep Carrboro looking good. She has partnered with Bolin Creek and helped to make its festival solar powered.

John Herrera has supported the sidewalk bond and greenways as well as the purchase of the Adams Tract. He supports the master plan of the Parks and Recreation Department. He supports fare free busing.

What steps should Carrboro take to help the region improve its air quality?

Jacquie first. She says we should promote walkability and cut down on the number of people who drive to work. Nobody who works at the university who lives on a bus line should have parking. She thinks living in a walkable community is very important to our vitality.

David Marshall now. He says there needs to be a lot of collaboration with other governments in the area. There should be meetings solely focused on the environment- open space, greenways, storm water management.

Randee says interjurisdictional bodies need to work together to create a solution. Light rail and regional rail are in our future- connections to Alamance and Chatham County. The bus system needs to be about more than UNC- serve permanent residents better too.

Catherine DeVine says we need very effective public relations to encourage walking and public transportation. The CHN yesterday said that lots of people move here because they can walk places. Even she doesn't walk all the time, but some sort of rewards system for using public transport needs to be instituted.

In the coming years Carrboro will be building new public buildings. How can we make them environmentally responsible?

Katrina first. She has a solar energy plan. With federal grants municipal buildings can be converted to solar energy in the next two years. This is her primary initiative- to reduce fossil fuel use.

Jacquie just built an energy efficient house. Fuel costs are rising, and she thinks we need to require buildings in Carrboro to be energy efficient. She thinks we should make regulations stricter across the board in terms of efficiency.

Randee is happy with Smith Middle School and the green building codes that it has been designed with. She wants to see the same thing at the third high school. She thinks it's critical to look at the newest building materials and encourage developers to be responsible.

John served on a committee to encourage green building in the schools. He says there need to be incentives to reduce parking and use biodiesel.

What is the best way for getting people from the main UNC campus to Carolina North?

Catherine DeVine says the best way is to use rail, although she was initially hesitant. She thinks there is going to be a lot of traffic spill over onto Estes Drive Ext. and she is not comfortable with that.

John Herrera says the people who work there should be able to live within walking distance. He says if we have the money to do light rail that would be great, but it'll take a lot of working with other governments. He also encourages bicycling.

Katrina Ryan says Carolina North is a UNC project and that we almost need to insist on a light rail solution- every 10 to 15 minutes there should be a tram between the main campus and Carolina North. It keeps the cars of students off the road and allows people who need the parking to use it.

Randee says there need to be short and long range terms. She says the Village Project should be looked at to get ideas for how light rail and busways might be used. She wants to see which options would be best at which phases of the development of Carolina North.

How can Carrboro work with TTA and Chapel Hill transit to make better connections to regional transit?

David is first. He says quantitative analysis should be used to solve public problems. He is getting a Masters of Public Policy at Duke right now. Governments need to work together.

Jacquie says one of the problems with TTA is that it takes a long time. It's good for people who have flexible schedules, but is inconvenient for some. There need to be more TTA connector spots in Carrboro. You can't have more buses before you get more riders, so we need to work to increase ridership.

Randee says the gas prices will help encourage public transportation. She says there need to be more hubs, so that it's easier to get from downtown Carrboro to Durham. She also encourages cooperation with other governments.

Catherine DeVine says it's going to take a lot of collaboration to achieve our goals, and that there isn't enough cooperation between Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and UNC as it stands.

A controversial recent development was Hannah Ridge. Would you have voted to approve this development? Why or why not?

Katrina says she doesn't know much about Hannah Ridge. She says that she can't give a yes or no answer without knowing more about the arguments for and against.

Jacquie says when neighborhoods are built next to neighborhoods it's never easy. She says that when a neighborhood goes into a new area that there needs to be a minimum environmental impact. She didn't think this development fit the bill. She thought there would be too much traffic and loss of trees close to the creek, thus she voted no.

John Herrera says he would have voted against it. It was not sustainable or environmentally responsible. He is proud of his vote to support Pacifica which he thinks is a model development.

Randee says anything built in that area of Carrboro is difficult. There are a lot of erosion and stormwater issues there. If these kinds of developments are going to be built, there needs to be some method for long term monitoring of sedimentation, erosion, and storm water runoff.

Tom, I'm out of town and couldn't make this meeting... and really appreciate your live blogging! Thanks for taking the time to do this--it's much better than reading a short article in the paper tomorrow.

What steps would you take, if any, to reduce sprawl in Carrboro?

David Marshall says the key is smart growth. How can we develop in the future while taking into account the environment and walkability?

Katrina says that if sprawl is a problem we must consider the cause. People want easy access to large roads to get to their jobs. We need employment that can pay the cost of living. She says we need to seriously consider the rural buffer.

Jacquie says the Alderman have worked for a long time to deal with the issue of sprawl. If there was a simple solution to the problem of sprawl it would have been taken care of a long time ago. The small area plan was a tool for reducing sprawl, but needs to be tweaked. We need to create places where people live, work, and play.

John Herrera says we need high density mixed use development to eliminate sprawl. We can grow up or grow out. He would rather grow up so that our open space is preserved.

What is your stance on the Winmore development? Do you think it's appropriate so close to Bolin Creek?

Catherine DeVine says no. She doesn't think buffers are wide enough.

David Marshall also says no. He thinks if we just went ahead and bought the area close to Bolin Creek that would be the best way to protect it.

John Herrera supports Winmore. He thinks it's environmentally sustainable. It's the kind of development we want in Carrboro, and he hasn't seen anything better. We have one of the toughest land use ordinances in North Carolina, and developers hate us because we're so vigilant. It promotes high density.

Randee says that while she was on the Planning Board she voted against Winmore. It was just proposed for the wrong location. She thinks the area along Bolin Creek should be preserved, not developed.

Yes, thank you, Tom!
Why isn't this on the People's Channel?
I wish I had known!

Would you support increasing setbacks and limited clear cutting along steep slopes near creeks?

John Herrera says that he will support it as long as we can afford it. He says Carrboro is already a leader and that is part of the reason for high taxes. He's worried about how much it will cost.

Katrina says it's a little late to be talking about clear cutting and preserving creeks, citing Winmore and Pacifica. She says we should double the size of the buffers. Watersheds need to be expanded, and there needs to be a master plan for Bolin Creek.

David says he is always for enhanced environmental protection. You can't just say 50 feet and expect that to be adequate everywhere- you have to look at the lay of the land on a case by case basis.

Jacquie says there's always something more we can do. Strengthening buffers is something we should always work on- they're a lot better than they were when she got elected 16 years ago. She has worked to increase penalties for violating ordinances that protect the environment.

The impact of development on our streams can be reduced by using storm water control methods. If elected what sort of low impact measures would you add to our development ordinance?

Randee says you have to look at the plans for the development and how buildings are sited. How much impermeable surfaces do you have and where are they located?

Catherine says the town's planners and engineers know what they're doing and will prevent mistakes. There are some guarantees built into the land use ordinance already.

Katrina says some of the growth near ecologically sensitive areas needs to be stopped to make sure that our preservation measures are actually working.

Jacquie says we should advocate for alternative lawns. Water just runs off people's lawns and takes stuff with them. She wants to preserve natural yards with pinestraw, pebbles, trees, and undergrowth.

What kind of car do you drive and what is its MPG?

Sorry I didn't catch what everyone drove!

David- 25 mpg
John- 28 mpg
Katrina- Ford Focus 34 mpg
Randee- 26 mpg
Catherine- 35 mpg
Jacquie- car has 60,000 miles and it's 14 years old.

What would you do to get more affordable housing in Carrboro?

Catherine says people want to live in Carrboro because it's such a fine community. She doesn't know how to get affordable housing when you have to pay $230,000 for 900 square feet.

Katrina says this is the toughest question facing the new Board of Aldermen. She says students need to be moved back on campus- get the rental students out of Carrboro. This will bring down prices, and some places will come up for sale as it becomes less profitable to be a landlord.

David says a certain percentage of new development should be set aside for affordable housing. We have a responsibility to folks who work here to make it affordable for them to live here.

Jacquie says as an incumbent, you know all the reasons why things don't work. She has worked on housing issues for decades, because she thinks it's a moral issue. There are a lot of reasons why housing is expensive- we can't pass the kind of legislation we would like to because the General Assembly does not give us that kind of power.

How would you recommend protecting Bolin Creek while running light rail over it?

John Herrera says we are trying to build an environmentally sustainable community and that a light rail system is possible because we are moving forward in general forward on building.

Catherine says we should protect Bolin Creek first, through the passage of a bond referendum. Once we have decided how to do that, we can do light rail. Bolin Creek is the first priority.

Randee says we need to have serious discussions with rails to trails folks if the light rail doesn't work out. She says there will be one area where the train would run over Bolin Creek, and we need to figure out how to use the existing rail corridor.

David says Bolin Creek should be looked at as the most important asset this community has. It doesn't mean we can't have a light rail. We can do both, we just need to be careful.

Closing statements-

Jacquie is glad that new ideas are coming out. She lives in Carrboro because she loves the walkable lifestyle, and she will do anything she can to preserve Bolin Creek and that lifestyle.

Catherine says we can do more than one thing at once- in fact we have to do everything at once. She calls it flying the whole plane- we can do Bolin Creek and light rail at the same time.

Randee says Carrboro is a tree top community. When you sit at Weaver Street you feel like you're in green space and that's worth maintaining.

Katrina says she likes small towns. She asks, when have we reached the area's carrying capacity? Who is going to call for limiting growth in Carrboro? She wants solar energy and hybrid buses before we get bigger.

John says he wants one sustainable Carrboro. We are facing unprecedented social, political, and environmental challenges. He thinks the people and diversity of Carrboro is the biggest issue coming up. We have invested a lot in the environment- now we need to invest more in people.

David says we need to ask what the impact is going to be on air and water quality with every question. We need livable communities that minimize the impact on natural resources as we grow. He thinks solar energy is a good idea as well for improving our impact.

Opening statements for Mayor-

Alex Zaffron says that it's easy to be an environmentalist in Carrboro, and that the work done over the 15 years is building on the work that has come before. We are leaders across the state. Extensive watershed protection measures have occurred under his watch. We need development to occur within our urban core.

Mark Chilton says that as growth occurs it needs to make Carrboro a better place. A Bolin Creek preserve needs to be created with the Adams Tract serving as a southern anchor. He also outlined a three step plan for environmental protection in Carrboro, but it went too fast. Please fill in the gaps Mark! Mark also talked about affordable housing.


It's supposed to be on the People's Channel! They're in the back room broadcasting it. I don't know what's going on!

If I misreported any candidate's statements I hope they will correct me. This is going quick. I apologize for grammatical errors.

What specific changes are needed in the NW area plan?

Alex says this was discussed at a retreat in January. He thinks Winmore is a success, although of course it could be improved. Alex thinks zoning called for in the small area plan needs to be put on the ground.

Mark says that the floating zone concept has been unsuccessful. One of the biggest reasons Winmore is so controversial is that folks who live next door to it didn't see it coming. People can't be blindsided.
Is it possible to eliminate traffic congestion in downtown Carrboro, and is this a desirable goal?

Mark says steps have been taken to try to reduce congestion, and that it is possible. It is not a desirable goal to relive congestion though.

Alex doesn't think it's possible or desirable. One of the keys to a functional urban environment is a desirable level of congestion. You want an infrastructure for people, not cars.
What is the best way for getting people from the main UNC campus to Carolina North?

Mark says probably via the internet. It's too early to guess what the best technology would be.

Alex says there are multiple technologies that could be used in the corridor, once we determine what the corridor is. It will have to interface with the rest of the transit system. He thinks the Village Project is a great starting point.

The Hannah Ridge question again-

Alex says he would have voted against Hannah Ridge. It didn't have enough affordable housing or mitigation measures considering its proximity to Bolin Creek. He enthusiastically supported Pacifica though.

Mark says he agrees with Alex about Hannah Ridge, although he didn't follow it that closely because he didn't live in Carrboro at the time. He thinks he would have voted for some version of Pacifica.
How would you work to improve regional transportation?

Mark thinks the number of stops on TTA should be reduced to save time. It should integrate better with Chapel Hill Transit. Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and TTA needs to work better together on long term planning.

Alex says several approaches need to be taken. The staffs need to collaborate better. TTA has waits for buses that are too long. CHT has much better service.
How do you keep downtown Carrboro quaint even though it's getting bigger and people have to live somewhere?

Alex doesn't consider it to be quaint to begin with- vibrant and exciting is a better way to describe it. What sorts of architectural controls can be used to keep Carrboro exciting is a question that needs to be investigated.

Mark says good architectural guidelines are one part of the solution. Carrboro needs to consider something along the lines of a historic district to protect the old buildings in downtown.

Would you spend Carrboro $ to increase bus service?

Mark says yes. There are a lot of areas that are not being served well enough currently.

Alex also says yes. Feeder service for Rogers Road is coming online soon. One issue is that Chapel Hill has not yet annexed its part of the area.

Considering the runoff problems at Pacifica and the fact that the development is considered to be in compliance, how would you prevent erosion?

Mark says we should go back and take a look at Pacifica and how well all the modeling compares with the actual results in terms of erosion. There needs to be an acknowledgement that we should have some minimum standards.

Alex says he mostly agrees with Mark. There are low impact development standards that may or may not function well during the construction stage. How can LID standards be applied during construction so as to lessen erosion? Is the problem at Pacifica or is it upstream?
What steps would you take to ensure new public buildings are designed in an environmentally responsible manners?

Alex says the use of low impact development standards and green building techniques. One role of the Mayor is to bring the talents out of other people. He likes Katrina's idea for getting federal money.

Mark says the North Carolina Recycling Association publishes a guide that could help us in using recycled goods to build new facilities. Energy efficiency is a must.
How will your leadership style make you an excellent Mayor?

Alex says he has been on the Board for 10 years. Community ownership and bold new initiatives needs to be integrated with each other. He is a collaborator and wants to work with his counterparts in other jurisdictions. A few years as our representative to the MPO he brokered a compromise.

Mark says he was a uniter on the divisive mid-90s Chapel Hill Town Council. He will bring the same sort of approach as Mayor. It's important to have good explanations for making tough decisions and exploring other options.

Tom, you're doing great!
If this is on TV, someone let me know...

Describe the environmental implications of the lack of affordable housing?

Mark says many workers are having to travel long distances to get to work. They're coming from Roxboro, Siler City, Southern Virginia. The social impact of excluding lower wealth people from our community is not good.

Alex says commuting patterns are a huge problem, as is the drain of cultural diversity caused by the expensiveness of living in the area. Dysfunctional development patterns occur as a result. This is a serious social and environmental issue.
New idea for affordable housing in Carrboro-

Alex says they have tried to get inclusionary zoning and have implemented several measures that are starting to produce results. He says the formula used for affordability is based on a four person household and should maybe be reevaluated.

Mark says an overall rewrite of the development ordinance could be a starting point. There needs to be a real incentive to developers to build affordable housing.
Would a downtown library improve the walkability of downtown Carrboro?

Alex says it's the key missing amenity for downtown. The town needs to look for an opportunity to build one in addition to the Cybrary.

Mark says he agrees with Alex. There are two things holding it up- there will probably need to be a countywide bond issue for new libraries both here and in Hillsborough. We also need to have a serious discussion with the OC about when this is going to happen.

Closing statements-

Alex says one of the exciting things during his time as an Aldermen is the great ideas his colleagues have brought to the table. He lauds the creativity of Mayors Kinnaird and Nelson.

Mark says he became interested in the environment as a child in Seattle. His family was always passionate about the outdoors, and he has tried to instill this in his children. He helped form the national SEAC and brought David Brouwer to speak at UNC. Brouwer was inspirational.

PHEW! It's over. Mark and Alex, I feel like I didn't get your responses as detailed as I could have so feel free to expand here.

Ruby, thank you for providing the forum for Tom's live blogging.

Tom, thank you for your live blogging. You summarized my views perfectly. Thank you for omitting my many hems and haws (and other embarassing mistakes).

Mark and Alex, I am almost certain that it's bad form for an Alderman candidate to comment on the mayoral race but I will throw caution to the wind: you are both awesome candidates for the position. I almost wished there was a co-mayor system.

Jacquie, Catherine, Randee, Katrina, and John: I learned a lot from you tonight. Thank you for making this a true learning experience.

Sorry, I'm not usually this effusive. The talent and commitment in that room was just mind-boggling.

Thank you, Tom, for taking on this huge task! You did a great job, and captured a lot of important details. This record will be very helpful for the political junkies who couldn't be there in person. Oh, and the voters of Carrboro ;-)

Fantastically readable Tom. Maybe I'm getting to be too much of a local policy wonk but there were some really great ideas on the table. You presented both the ideas and the interplay in an exciting fashion.

And congratulations to the Sierra Club for some very illuminating questions. The 27th is certainly going to be interesting.

Wow, Tom, you're amazing. Great job and interesting forum in general. Those of you with some pull in these matters, can you help me get the energy bills I requested so I can post the solar plan in its entirety?

Oh, and BTW, I'd like to commend Dan on another great job moderating.

Thank you Orange Politics.Org for transmitting the Sierra synopsis promptly! Thank you Sierra Club for holding the forum and generating thought provoking questions. Fellow candidates, thank you, it was fascinating to listen to your perspectives. Most notably, there was solid affirmation for sound environmental judgement expressed this evening, may we all continue to be strong stewards of the environment.

I'm not a Carrboro resident, but I found this fascinating nonetheless, and an excellent use of the blog! Thanks!

Tom, You're the Blogmeister! I don't really think you missed much of anything that was actually said---Tried to squeeze my Bolin Creek bond proposal in, but Dan hit the Ejector Seat button b4 I was able to get it out (not a ding on you, Dan---you did a great job---it was a function of my incurable tendency to blather on...)


I wanted to expand on and thus clarify an answer I gave last night at the forum. I don't want to mislead anyone.

I have three vehicles: My bike, which I use whenever I have the chance (short trips like going to school, groceries, etc.). A 1997 Buick LeSabre that gets an average of 25 miles per gallon, which I use to go to work in. And a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport (the smallest, most efficient Ford Explorer model) that averages 21 miles a gallon, which I try not use unless I have to.

There. Now I can sleep soundly tonight. :)

After reading this post, I would like some clarification about the statement that Ms. Ryan would like to "get the rental students out of Carrboro." Is that referring to graduate or undergraduate students? Other than some housing for students with families, UNC has very little in the way of on-campus graduate housing. In my experience, this is typical of most universities. In the case of UNC, many grad students appreciate the reasonable rent, free buses, and walkability that allow us to live in Carrboro and study/work at UNC. If the area becomes unlivable for graduate students, the university will suffer, and so will the community. Besides, shouldn't there be a place in Carrboro for everyone? Students are people too...

I would appreciate clarification from Ms. Ryan and comments from any of the other candidates on this issue. I think it is an important one for many constituents.

Stephen, thanks for picking up on this--I also noticed her comment, which struck my as particularly intolerant and nasty. Certainly it'd be illegal to keep students (or any particular group) out of town. And certainly the town itself would lose a lot if this happened--the businesses, for example, would suffer. Many undergrads and graduate students have already lived in the area for years, and will stay here after they graduate; we're not always as transient as you'd think. I'd argue that the students (who are often disguised as moms and dads, shoppers, workers, etc.) are a big part of why Carrboro is such a nice place to live.

I'm a grad student, and my husband and I own a house in Carrboro; we're spending a lot of time and money on improvements, which will also benefit our neighbors (both aesthetically and financially).

Singling out students seems both mean-spirited and, well, like poor campaigning.

In addition to being either stupid or mean, it is most definitely illegal to attempt to legislate who legally rents or owns homes in any particular place based on employment or educational status.

Add that to the long list of values that Katrina does not seem to share with most of Carrboro.

In addition to being either stupid or mean, it is most definitely illegal to attempt to legislate who legally rents or owns homes in any particular place based on employment or educational status.

Add that to the long list of values that Katrina does not seem to share with most of Carrboro.
Ruby, I live in Carrboro, and you don't share MY values. I don't call people "stupid", even if I really, really, really don't agree with their opinions. I especially wouldn't do it in public, and I certainly wouldn't do it on a website that I, myself hosted. It's incredibly hypocritical for you to talk about "values" in the same breath that you call somebody "stupid".

I suggest that if you really want to have a website about "Orange County Politics" that you don't call people "stupid", especially people running for office. If you really just want to call people names that you don't disagree with, then just call it "Ruby's Blog" and don't try to pull the whole "productive dialog ... to better understand each other..." bullshit.

Good luck with your little blog. I have no interest in spending any more time in one sided conversations/arguments with people who make Jesse Helms look open minded by comparison.

My two cents: And this from a person who refers to (on this site) the homeless as "bums"? Pah-leeeze!

Whoa, Nasty!

But since you asked (and I've got a quiet moment here at work), Ruby's right that it's both illegal and frankly, wrong, to attempt to legislate where people live based on the factors described, but one cannot ignore the fact that there have been considerable conflicts arising from behaviors associated with large numbers of undergrads in neighborhoods populated primarily by families---Namely, heavy-duty partying and the attendant noise and detritus.

Obviously, in such cases, one tries to appeal to reason and common-sense on the part of the folks causing the problems, but this approach has proven to be singularly unsuccessful in the more prominent cases that have arisen---most notably, a rancorous conflict that arose, and persisted on Pine Street. Does anybody have a perfect answer? No. The best solution that we've been able to come up with so far, is to discourage locating the physical infrastructure that has demonstrably fostered this kind of behavior (four-bedroom 'dorm-style' housing, for example) in neighborhoods where it is disturbing to other neighbors. Is this a ding on students or partying? I don't think so, and as has also been pointed out, the student population contributes to the vibrancy of our community and economy, and is a substantial portion of our community. The idea here is to try not to set up circumstances that have a likelihood of creating and exacerbating conflict in the first place, while respecting the right of folks to enjoy different lifestyles. Sound muddy? Maybe, but so is the underlying issue.


Well, chivalry almost demands that I step in and challenge somebody. I've known Katrina for about 10 years, and I helped do a lot of the research for her campaign.

She told me about this post, and I told her not to respond. Shame on you, Ruby, since you were at the forum, and it seems you are intentionally misrepesenting what Katrina said.

The comment was made while addressing affordable housing. Ms. Ryan very simply said that Carolina North is a very good location for high density student ( meaning undergraduate) housing. Lobbying UNC to make it attractive to students is key in " getting them back onto campus" - the campus, of course would at least in part be in Carrboro.

Legislation requiring anybody to live anywhere was never mentioned. It's not part of any plan or any platform.

Regarding students in Carrboro, I'll add a few observations. The undergrad and grad populations are very different. In my experience, when people refer to UNC "students," they mean undergrads, unless grad students are explicitly mentioned.

In one of the 2003 Carrboro fora, all the candidates except me spoke very strongly for preventing Carrboro from developing into (even more of) an undergrad bedroom community. I was a little cautious; the rest were more cautious to very cautious.

One of the ways to do this is to restrict the bathroom:bedroom ratio to a certain maximum. Ruby, I believed you endorsed Northside's new zoning package in Chapel Hill, which included just such a ratio restriction.

So for everyone who says you can't legislate this sort of thing, uh, it's already happening in indirect ways (not just in Chapel Hill), where nearly everyone involved knows that it's undergrads they're trying to keep out.

I think Katrina's position is being misrepresented. Intenitonally? I would hope not--but given some of the language used...

Carrboro has been UNC's unoffical dorm for as long as I've lived here. (Carrboro from 1982-1997, Chapel Hill 1997-today.) Because UNC does NOT provide enough dorm space for it's student population (undergraduate OR graduate), the UNC students end up in the outlying communitiy. Like it or not, this DOES decrease the affordable housing. College students artificially inflate the cost of housing in Carrboro AND Chapel Hill. I know--we used to rent a basement apartment in our Chapel Hill home to graduate students. We rented to grad students from fall of 1997 through the Spring of 2001. When I can get $650 for a two bedroom, one bath, (small) full kitchen apartment, in a DAYLIGHT BASEMENT, with no dishwasher or w/d hookup--prices are inflated. If UNC had enough housing, then the market would open up, and rental prices would fall.

I don't, for one MINUTE believe Katrina was suggesting that we ban students, graduate or otherwise, from Carrboro. I believe that she would like UNC to take a little more responsibility for housing it's students. If there were more housing CLOSER TO CAMPUS the students would live there.

FULL DISCLOSURE--When I moved into Carrboro inthe fall of 1982 I was a grad student. Lived in University Lake Apartments on Barnes Street. (They USED to be pretty nice.) Because I couldn't get housing in the graduate dorm. I would MUCH rather have lived on campus than off of Jones Ferry...bus passes were expensive, and the bike ride was dangerous. I gave up biking to campus the day I was nearly hit twice in the bike lane by people making right-hand turns. I NEVER biked at night--I drove and parked in one of the lots that USED to be available for free after 6.


I believe there are some circumstances where you can dictate who lives where. (NOT that they apply here).

Stanford University, where 2 bedroom bungalos go for 1.4 million does dictate who lives where.

Most faculty/employees can't afford to buy these houses the university helps pay part of the down payment and even monthly mortgages if necessary. Part of the condition is the university gains equity too and that when sold the property is sold to future stanford faculty/employees.

Not that this has ANYTHING to do with Carrboro , but for instance in the case of Carolina North I believe UNC (possibly with help from the state) could dictate who lives where.. e.g. if the university has equity sharing with employees/faculty etc...


There will be no undergraduates at carolina north. Why create commuters? In fact the latest guestimates suggest 60% of carolina north space is dedicated for leases to private corporations.

The campus has lots of dorms going up all over the place. Supporting more undergraduate (and graduate/professional/family) housing on the main campus for those who work there is a better long term approach.Of course caro north needs its own plentiful housing for ITS employees/landscapers/faculty etc...

I think the simplest thing here would be for Katrina to clarify what she meant. That seems like a far enough request.

UNC is building additional student housing for undergrads and graduates so you all may get your wish by next year. But since we live in a community that's economy is based in large part of real estate, I wonder what will happen to the Carrboro economy (higher tax rates at minimum) when students leave their apartments and move back onto campus? If the students leave, there must be new people coming into the community to take up their slack. Large influxes of new residents create their own sets of problems. Affordable housing cannot be addressed with single solutions like this. We need to think systemically about jobs, quality of life, and taxes/services, in addition to housing prices.

At the Sierra Club forum we were asked "If elected, what would you do to get more affordable housing in Carrboro?"

Look back at Tom's synopses of our answers. Ask yourself, Did these candidates answer the question in a satisfactory manner?

Clearly, we did not. Yet, I know that as good moral people all the candidates have wrestled with the one question they knew would be asked.

The sad truth is that this is the hardest question of all in this campaign to answer. What can we do?

What can we do? (Email me at if you have a non-controversial and tenable answer to this question).

We all grasped for ideas that must have been fermenting in our minds since the beginning of our campaigns. I chose a hard course, one that I was sure would have some people in an uproar--and rightfully so, for demanding developers to set aside a percentage of their units towards affordable housing is a simplistic, heavy-handed, probably untenable, and in some ways sophomoric proposition. Maybe some aspect of that idea is salvageable. I don't know. Yet, the point is that, to date, no one has challenged me on my answer.

Katrina tried to answer that most difficult of questions with the townspeople at heart. Though Tom did a fantastic job color blogging, some context and texture was lost in the summary. Yet, Tom's work clearly shows a person who is honestly searching for an answer. She must have thought at some point that the university bears some responsibility to the community since it is because of its existence that the demand for rental property is so great in Carrboro. So she says, Hey, why don't we get the university to build more housing for students? That would increase the supply of rental units, and thus decrease their cost.

Does that sound like anti-student animus? Not to me, a student twice over.

At no time did I get the sense that if she were elected Alderman she would draft an anti-student bill to send students out of Carrboro and back onto campus.

Some of her critics have chosen to uncharitably interpret Katrina's answer, distorting it in ways never intended. But, hey, flat-footed interpretations is what politics is all about, right?

Wrong. This is Carrboro, the groovy place, remember?

I don't agree with everything Katrina says, but if we start shutting people down because we don't like their views we stand to lose some of the intrinsic communitarian values that have brought us or kept us here in the first place.

And to me that is a far greater loss than the gain of having the candidates we favor win.

Is it now conventional wisdom that if there were "a bed for every undergrad head" provided by the university, undergrads wouldn't choose to live off-campus in large numbers?

I saw all of the specials on appartment this summer and the "flag men" trying to steer folks into the various complexes to take advantage of those specials. Do we still have a lot of unoccupied appartments? Have rents come down at all? Anybody know?

I suspect with tax increases and the coming fuel increases, rents will rise.

Yes we do Fred. In my neighborhood (southern Westwood),
last academic year was the first time that I saw "For Rent"
signs into the academic year and this year, now about a month
old, shows more signs than last. Speculating on the reasons,
I think it is a combination. UNC has built new housing on
campus. The bus system is free and expansive, so that
"walking distance to campus" is not the draw it once was,
and the overbuilt apartment complexes can offer amenities
(pools, exercise rooms, etc) that private landloards

What is funny is that Economics 101 does not seem to
apply. An oversupply of something is supposed to drive
the price down, yet the landlords who put out the
"Take one" brochures in the little tubes, show rents
that are unchanged from last year. Until now, it has been
such a large advantage to be close to campus, that some
poor quality apartments could rent for a high price. But now
with competition, many landlords won't either drop their
rent or modernize their apartments so that they'll succeed
in the competition.



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