Equality NC Action Fund Endorses in Chapel Hill Races

For the first time, Equality NC Action Fund has issued endorsements in key municipal races throughout North Carolina, including Chapel Hill. According to the announcement, they "evaluated candidates using multiple factors, including responses to an LGBT issue-based questionnaire, candidate interviews, public position statements, and past voting records."

Other municipalities included in this year's endorsements are Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Kure Beach, Raleigh, and Wilmington.

In the race for Chapel Hill mayor, Equality NC Action Fund endorses Mark Kleinschmidt for reelection.

In the race for Chapel Hill Town Council, Equality NC Action Fund endorses the following candidates:

  • Donna Bell
  • Michael Parker
  • Lee Storrow
  • Jim Ward

Read more about these endorsements here.

Issues: 

Total votes: 337

Comments

At this point, I would think an endorsement by ENCAF has very little merit, given Lee Storrow's police record and most recent brush with the law. Storrow is lucky he is not right now a guest of the county instead of being released on a promise to appear. But apparently has the cred to ring up an endorsement from this group.

So why so early in the campaign? Did ENCAF not take into consideration Storrow's history of bad decisions? In addition to endangering the public, Storrow has consistently voted to reduce the amount of affordable housing in the community and violate resource conservation district regs. Did ENCAF weigh those points?

And why was the endorsement entered before election forums and debates? What was the hurry?

Seems awfully short-sighted to endorse on those grounds.

 

 

get off my lawn

That's what half the residents of Chapel Hill have been saying to developers, Jerry, and yet the mayor and imcumbents keep voting against residents' wishes and best interests. So why would ENCAF endorse that sort of anti-community stance?

I guess we will find out in 8 weeks what the voters think. As to "anti-community stance", that's a matter of opinion. Sorry ENCAF doesn't share your opinion. The council, elected by voters in 2011 and 2013 believes it is acting in the best interest of the community at-large. I have ZERO connection with developers, but my son and daughter-in-law are moving back to Chapel Hill in 2018 when she finishes her PhD in Cambridge and I want to make sure that CHALT doesn't succeed in driving up rents by limiting rental housing, since my son and D-I-L will be the evil renters destroying Chapel Hill. My family has lived in Chapel Hill on and off since 1941. 

Pro-tip, the attacks on Lee Storrow here and, and especially the vicious ones on Chapelboro, are the kind that will generate support for him. 

Don, you're making a strange argument here. The mission of Equality NC is to advocate for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, not for a particular approach to zoning and land use policy. Their endorsements reflect their judgment of candidates' commitment to advancing that mission, and they're spot on.

Chapel Hill Alliance for a Liveable Town (CHALT) is not driving up anyone's rent -- the council-approved developments are doing that by eliminating affordable housing and then building projects that set a target of $850 or more a bedroom per month. And by the time your DIL moves here, those rents will be closer to $1,000 a month per bedroom thanks to the short-sighted decisions by the council, including the incumbets above endorsed.

CHALT favors development that benefits the town as much as developers -- check out the webste for the facts and details instead of getting your information second- or third-hand. The group objects to the sort of give-aways that we have seen the council throw to developers with Obey Creek, The Edge and Ephesus-Fordham, all of which will cost tax payers more than the town will receive in benefits.

Recent council development decisions do not make for a sustainable environment -- that requires that developers include more of a business element to their projects than apartments. But council members seem to believe that more apartments will bring in more tax money, and there's not many economists who will agree that that model works. Residents will pay for these short-sighted decisions in the next 10 years or more with traffic congestion and increased environmental burdens. I would think that any group that favors equality would not endorse the politicians who consistently vote to stick it to Chapel Hill residents.

 

Maybe devans the reason that Equality has endorsed the slate it has is because of the people on it -- a diverse group of white, black, gay, straight, young, old, homeowners and renters, all representing the community.  Chapel Hill has had one or more black members of council continuously since May 10, 1953, but has had a council member under 30 only 16 years of the last 44.  I look at your slate and don't see much of that. As far as "traffic congestion" is concerned, I guess if housing is not built in Chapel Hill and people then commute from further away the traffic passing by doesn't count. I also enjoyed listenting to a part of the legislative debate on abolishing the protest petition and heard a shout-out when it was mentioned that one of the reasons to pass the bill was "Chapel Hill NIMBYs"

In my dealings with the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Liveable Town (CHALT), I haven't run into a single person who could remotely be called a "NIMBY." In fact, the folks I've talked to are in favor of development, the more the better because it will reduce the impact on their property taxes. But it has to be development that benefits the town just as much as it enriches the developer. That means building as much retail as housing so that a project pays for itself. (I'm pretty sure "NIMBY" was coined by a clever developer who needed leverage to get his project passed and understood the concept of misdirection.)

Lee Storrow and our Town Council members consistently vote for development that includes 75 percent or more housing, ignoring town-sponsored studies that detail how that model costs the town more in services than they bring in in taxes. Since Lee has voted consistently to sustain that model, which ultimately is unfair to all residents except the developers, the fairness issue applies and speaks to where he places his priorities.

 

How in the world are recent developments eliminating affordable housing, meaning that we had affordable housing but the new development got rid of it?  

As you know, the town council has control over zoning, and isn't able to tell developers exactly what to build. Nothing is stopping a company from buying land about putting up more apartments that rent for $850 or more.  Except for CHALT, was has continually argued against building anything.  

Sure, the official policy is CHALT supports development that "benefits the town", but in practice the logic is as follows:

1. Only new developments that "pay their own way" should be allowed.

2. Only new developments that don't increase traffic should be allowed.

3. Any new residences cost more in taxes than would be collected.  (They had a guy come and give a talk!)

4. Therefore there shouldn't be any new apartments or houses of any sort built because they would both increase traffic and raise taxes.

5. Therefore there shouldn't be any new retail built because it would increase traffic.

 

 

platforms? From what I read, CHALT is in favor of more commercial development, because it does in fact bring in more in taxes than residential. CHALT also says they are in  favor of development that has an affordable/workforce component that conforms to the towns own standards. CHALT is in favor of the town considering infrastructure such as traffic and storm water when they approve development. CHALT want needs funded from the budget rather than the current pattern of paying for wants first and floating a bond for the needs (e.g Fire Stations, Police Stations etc.)

The key thing that resonates with me is that CHALT wants thoughtful development not just development for the sake of tax base or development for the false promises of density. 

To answer your first question; the council has stood by while the previously affordable housing stock has been depleted and now seems to want to dump the problem on the County.  

I really can't find any fault with what CHALT says they want to do, nor in their criticisms of the council's current business as usual.

I'm just reading CHALT"s own platform docments and editorials.  Here's the official platform:

http://ourtownchapelhill.org/2015/01/24/4726/

"Require new development to pay its own way. Favor development that strengthens town finances by generating more tax revenues than taxpayer costs. Use an economic model to estimate the costs new development will impose on the town and the new tax revenues it will generate."

What does "pay its own way" mean?   In this editorial  it explains everything:  

"They say that providing services (fire, police, schools, trash) to new residents costs more money than towns can collect from them. Sure, theoretically, there’s a break-even point: If your house or apartment is valued at, say, $650,000, you might pay enough property tax to cover the cost of basic town services and infrastructure upgrades. But what about the property-tax shortfall caused by your less affluent neighbors? Who’s going to pay extra to make up for that?"

On CHALT's website it says "A myth persists that approving a lot of high density developments composed of residential units will help the town to charge lower taxes.  Citizens have conducted their own cost benefit analyses and found that the costs greatly outweigh the revenues for all but commercial development. ". 

So, according to CHALT's own calculations new houses must cost at least $650,000 to be break even in terms of taxes vs. the cost of providing services, to the point where all development "but commercial development" shouldn't be allowed.  CHALT is obviously against building any new residences of any sort regardless of price or affordability.

You also write that "CHALT is in favor of more commercial development", but the official platform says "Ensure that new development does not worsen traffic congestion".  From my conversations with CHALT supporters, they've made i abundantly clear that any new retail or commercial buildings will increase traffic, which is unacceptable, even if its only a 1% increase.  Unless you know of some magic businesses that don't have anyone driving to them, this means any actual new developments would be opposed.

The CHALT supporters I've read all seem to think that the recent increase in development is some sort of nefarious plot by the current town council, not realizing that the pace of development is a factor of the economy.  When the economy is down, especially after the unprecedented crash in 2008, development grinds to a halt.  When the economy is strong, demand increases, and thus development starts up again. Instead, the current council gets accused of being in the pocket of developers and somehow orchestrating a development boom for personal gain.

(no surprise). 

"Who’s going to pay extra to make up for that?"............... Commercial tax base makes up for the loss in residential housing everywhere else except Chapel Hill. Another source of funds is embedded in town's "vision" but not being enforced is the requirement for "affordable" housing in new development.

"Ensure that new development does not worsen traffic congestion"...............I took that to mean that there should be a focus on commercial development for workers who live here (less traffic) and that infrastructure, either roads or public transit should be planed to accommodate and increase in traffic (more capacity) unlike Obey creek. 

I am just not getting same vibe as you are at all. I think these are citizens that are upset with the deafness of the town council to their concerns. I think the town (at least from what I read) lack a unified plan for all of this development, is ignoring infrastructure in a rush to get any sort of development in quickly, and ignoring the commercial potential of some sites (e.g. the edge). The town has not negotiated with developers on behalf of the citizens and people feel as if their quality of life is being risked by the town councils behavior (form based coding). 

When it comes to you main point, the fact is CHALT folks feel as if the town has stood by while developers have taken existing affordable housing off the market and replaced it with higher rent units (e.g. Timber Hollow), and not held developers to their own standard of providing affordable housing.

All of this is well documented and I honestly have not heard anything of substance from the council. You would think thay would be able to dig up a few examples to counter the concerns. The notion that unfettered development is going to somehow take care of the affordable housing problem seems like a ludicrous premise to me.

 

 

 

The over-arching theme I've seen from CHALT is whatever the town council does, they're against it.  As far as I can tell the CHALT founders have some sort of personal beef with individual council members, probably because the council has to deal with reality and CHALT doesn't have to do anything but sit on the sidelines and snipe.  If by chance one of the CHALT slate gets elected it will be interesting.

"I took that to mean that there should be a focus on commercial development for workers who live here (less traffic) and that infrastructure, either roads or public transit should be planed to accommodate and increase in traffic (more capacity) unlike Obey creek."

What I've seen instead has been a complete ignoring of the benefits that local development can bring to traffic by helping keep residents in town rather than have to drive outside the county to work or shop.  I mean, did you read this editorial?  Its pretty typical of all CHALT supporters, as its completely anti-development, with not a single idea about what  good development might look like.

In terms of "deafness" of the current council, I've never found a more responsive local government.  Not only does each development process get 50-100 hearings that have real impact on what happens in the town but individually I've found them to incredibly responsive.   I've sent emails to individual members letting them know about traffic issues, or giving my opinion on the direction the town should go, and they've always fixed the issues promptly and gotten back to me with reasonable explanations for their actions.  

What I see happening is the council is doing its best the handle a small number of angry citizens with a tenous grasp of how zoning and development works, and are trying to balance that with what's best for Chapel Hill as a whole.  That's why CHALT candidates aren't getting any endorsements. The most important endorsement in my opinion will be The Independent, but that won't come out for a week or so.

The following names are people who i plan to vote for and support for town council, For mayor obviously myself along with in the following order David Schwartz, James Ward,Jessica Anderson,and finally Nancy Oates. Gary Kahn

I'm sure they are hapy to have your endorsement. It speaks a lot to CHALT's substance that their platform was seen as serious and socially optimal by Chapel Hill's most outside the box Mayoral candidate.

....however as a citizen I think that many of the points she makes are valid.

Oates who is rtunning had an interesting interview where she was asked what the town did well and I thought the answers were thoughtful and interesting. http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/chapel-hill-news/article38326344.html

Parker has similar criticisms of the current state of affairs: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/chapel-hill-news/article38328108.html

As I have pointed out elsewhere the bond rating while good, points only to the towns wealth (ability to pay). Not its financial stewardship, which I believe should include far more than the ability to pay. Oates says it well, Parker fails in my mind to link taxes, affordability, diversity to the debt/taxes and I think that is a miss. He does underscore jobs which goes to the focus on entrepreneurial support and commercial space which I think is what CHALT is suggesting as well. CHALT seems to me to have an organized and coherent plan/strategy across multiple candidates which is sorely missing from the current Town Council and cannot be so easily dismissed as “anti-development”.

At the end of the day, It says a lot to me that the difference between the challenges are mostly tactical, not philosophical. To be fair, I think that the current Mayor and Town Council also are trying to do what they think is best, but lack a history of good planning, and a collective strategy/tactics to support their thesis of what is best. 

Damon

Nothing strange about my argument at all -- Storrow has a history of making bad decisions behind the wheel as well as on the council dais. I would hope a group offering up endorsements would consider a range of decision making, looking at fairness issues in their own group's interests as well as across a community-wide spectrum.

I also would prefer a council member who can weigh issues in an informed, careful and foresightful manner. In Storrow's case, a council member didn't have enough sense to call a cab when he was so tipsy he couldn'tt read the speedometer in his car.

Looks like Storrow had the judge, the prosecutor and his lawyer running around trying to do him a favor at the courthouse. Check out the Daily Tar Heel story about his court date. The lawyer, of course, did his best for the client. But I don't understand why the judge and even the prosecutor were going to bat for him.

http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2015/09/chapel-hill-town-councilman-...

Anybody other than Storrow would have had the book thrown at them for a third offense on the speeding charge. I guess there's justice for the well-connected and there's little people justice. Lee is right up there among the well-connected.

 

Wow, quite the anger.  In plea bargaining the DA is always glad to take a guilty plea to the most serious offense, which is the DUI.  The sanctions in terms of fine, suspension, and insurance points for a DUI will be many times greater than a third speeding offense. It really takes no special connections to get a speeding charge dismissed if one is pleading guilty to DUI. In fact, it's been quite a scandal across the state about how many people charged with DUI get off from that and plead guilty to a lesser offense.  Storrow is taking his medicine, didn't try to delay thye hearing (it would have been relatively easy to get a court date on the DUI pushed back past the election.)  BUT HE PLEAD GUILTY to a serious offense.  I don't think taking a guilty plea on DUI and dismissing a speeding charge involves the judge or DA "going to bat for him". But you are certainly free to file a judicial standards complaint. I see from the news story that his first offense was a 70 in a 45 and he pled guilty to 54 in a 45.  Under 10 miles over the speed limit means no insurance points and probably a $180 fine, you can do that once every three years.  ANYONE can get that done just by asking the assistant district attorney at calendar call, you really don't even need an attorney.  His second offense was 55 in a 35, he pled to improper equipment, that's another $180.   My son, my first cousin. and my son's fiancee all got speeding charges in NC (Lenoir, Cabarrus and Alamance Counties) lowered to either 9 miles over or improper equpment in the last 3 years and they did not know the judge or ADA.

Most people drag out their trial date. Not so here. A guilty plea to a serious offense within 10 days is highly unusual.  But in your book it's somehow unethical.

Just keep on helping Lee like you are doing. 

 

I've seen the nasty vicious comments over at Chapelboro.

No anger here, Jerry -- maybe you're projecting a little there.

Just puzzled at how the judicial system handled this particular case. Thanks for the primer on how to beat the system and not have to own up to one's mistakes -- of course, assuming you have the resources to be in that position. Is there a class at the court house that informs one and all, especially the little people, about the subtleties of the judicial system and how they can enjoy the same benefits that someone with Lee's resources can? Pretending that your speedometer was at fault for your exceeding the speed limit is a good one!

Glad to hear you have broadened your reading scope and are seeking information at Chapelboro, too!

 

Chapel Hill Alliance for a Liveable Town doesn't advocate halting all development. You're being misleading or disingenuous by parroting that all about. I wish CHALT's opponents would at least be honest when they try to label the group as anti-growth -- CHALT is not anti-growth, and anyone who tries to stick that label on the group is either dense or has another agenda. CHALT is in favor of sensible growth, which is not what is happening right now.

Simple math -- if you approve a development that will raze 150 affordable apartments, as will happen in the Ephesus-Fordham district, while adding only 50 in the project or next door, then you've lost 100 affordable units.

New projects that will add an equitable mix of retail/business and housing to the tax base would tend to pay their way. Again, simple math and good housekeeping -- projects should benefit the town rather than just the builder. Not happening right now -- projects that include more than 75 percent housing cost the town more than they bring in in taxes.

This concept of managed growth that benefits the town more than developers is not that difficult to grasp or accept as a sensible path to a better future for the town.

 

DEvans. you state "projects that include more than 75 percent housing cost the town more than they bring in in taxes.". Are you speaking of just property taxes hen you figure out what housing generates, or also including the 37% of the town budget that is either state shared revenues based on population or sales taxes?

I have been reading some of CHALT material on Ephesus Fordham since I live around there.  I was particularly surprised how much time and effort they have dedicated in Ephesus Fordham to oposing redeveloping that vacant lot next to the ABC store that has been vacant ever since the Multiplex deal feel through the better part of a decade ago.  If folks are going to fiercy oppose developing vacant lots next to liquor stores I would be hard pressed to think of what they would support developing.

 

This is my understanding of the concerns, although I follow what CHALT is saying and I agree with it, I am not a CHALT member. I do not think CHALT is against the EF development, I think it boiled down to the following:

1) Form based coding had the perception of being rushed through. The concerns about height seemed to be the most apparent and swept under the rug. FBC really is about the structure and not land use.

2) Land use/infrastructure seemed to be ignored especially storm water concerns in an area that has a very bad history

3) The standard for "affordable" housing  seemingly was ignored.

4) the TCs stated goals of commercial development seemed to be ignored.

So you see, the disconnect (at least from what I understand) is not development vs. no development, its the details behind the development and the interactions with staff and the council. (I was not there at the meetings, nor do I live in EF so I do not know first hand)

 

The thing is nothing is ever good enough for CHALT, thus they are the special interest group of NO.  

The objections to height are a key example of this.  The simple fact is in the 1980s Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange county agreed on a rural buffer which neccessitates more density and height in certain areas to accomplish the dual goals of preserving the surrounding rural areas and allowing for growth.  Ephesus Forham as it is laid out now is for the most part car centric shoping centers from the 1950s-1980.  As such it makes sense to have height and density here especially to create a critical mass for improving transit availiblity and having walkable retail as opposed to most other places in Chapel Hill particularly areas that are more single family residential e.g. Northside which is facing some legitimately terrible development plans.  Form based code is basically from my understanding a set of guidelines for development to provide predictability in development.  Thus in and of it self arguing against form based code is silly unless you really do oppose pretty much all development, arguing for a better form based code however, I would say is entirely reasonable.

As to stormwater I feel like CHALT is trying to argue both sides against the middle here.  The simple fact is that when much of Ephesus Fordham was developed in the 1950s-1980s era a terrible job was done on stormwater management.  Pretty much everyone agrees on this.  The issue is that various people purporting to represent or agree with CHALT have both argued against redevoloping the area because of stormwater concerns and indirectly against capital improvements for stormwater when they argue about the costs of redeveloping Ephesus Fordham.  This doesn't make much sense if you think about it because what they are arguing is that the stormwater situation is bad, while also arguing that we should do nothing about the stormwater situation.  This is yet another example of saying NO to everything.  Part of the reason for the costs associated with Ephesus Fordham is to improve storm water managment by water retention and flood mitigation upstream so as to improve the situation as opposed to just leaving it as is.

In regards to affordable housing being ignored all I have to say is checkout Greenfield Place and Greenfield Commons which is probably one of the more ambitious affordable housing projects Chapel Hill has undertaken.

Finally in regards to commercial development being ignored, you cannot force developers to build things.  If you could this place wouldn't have been a vacant lot next to a liquor store for the better part of a decade.  On top of this I think its an entirely reasonable and positive strategy to put a mix of commerical and residential together to allow not only for commerical to have a nearby customer base, but also to allow people to walk to the businesses they patronize.  I am not an enviromental expert by any means, but I tend to think its generally a positive thing to replace auto-centric development with more walkable development which I think this does.

This is not to say the way Ephesus Fordham is being handled is 100% perfectly or that there is no room for improvement, but I tend to think generally the town is on the right track with it.

 

I want to reiterate; all I can give you is my opinion based on what I read.

On one hand you say EF was laid out for development in the 1950s-1980, and therefore the height and density makes sense. On the other hand you say "The simple fact is that when much of Ephesus Fordham was developed in the 1950s-1980s era a terrible job was done on storm water management" Now one might conclude the two are related and it requires some additional thought to keep from making the same mistakes or making things worse. If so, the CHALT arguments make sense. I do agree that even if the proper caution is being exercised it is optional and not a requirement of the development.

Greenfield Place and Greenfield Commons are the developments on the Chapel Hill cemetery land, correct? While I applaud DHIC’s competency, I think history has shown that clustering low income housing has repeatedly been an abject social failure. Experience has been shown that it is socially much better to integrate the housing mixing all incomes and backgrounds into a diverse community fabric. So I think that the requirement for density to tradeoff a certain percentage of affordable units is a very good social plan (economically probably not as lucrative). Why was that dropped? I suspect the developer did not want it, and I suspect that the TC rather than negotiating on behalf of the community knuckled under to the builders wishes. At least that is how I perceive it.

While I agree with your assertion about walkable communities, My cursory view is that the commercial residential mix is insufficient to sustain a reduced vehicle community and the high rents are high making the walkable aspects affordable to a small number. Further a "walkable community" in the middle of a parking lot seems a bit incongruous to me. Perhaps I am being "Glass half full", we shall see though. I still agree with CHALT that the development process was rushed and there are many circles that were not closed. 

Of course “Obey Creek” and "The Edge" also have their obvious barnacles. 140 West has not lived up to it’s promise of paying for the parking deck. Greenbridge condos are tax valued in some cases more than twice their market price. The TC seems to be more interested in pushing things through than being representatives for issues and thinking about quality of life for the longer term, which also amplifies the concern in my mind.

TBlake--Thank you for these thoughts. Speaking personally, here is my most fundamental problem with CHALT. I do not disagre with 100% of the issues that they raise. However, I think that if you look at the various iterations that CHALT has taken since the mid-80s you see a history of concern trolling. Paul Krughman wrote a great analysis of 'concern trolling' when used by 'reasonable' conservatives on issues of climate change:
 

"A brief thought, linking two people: Robert Samuelson and Greg Mankiw.

Both enjoy lecturing us on the need to take strong action — Samuelson demanding that we do something about rising health care spending, Mankiw that we join the “Pigou club” by taxing oil consumption.

But both can reliably be counted on to reject any actual proposal along these lines that either (a) has any chance whatsoever of becoming legislation or (b) is proposed by Democrats.

Just saying"

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/concern-trolls/

 

I think it's the same situation with CHALT and development. It's not that CHALT will just say 'we oppose all development.' Instead, they claim to be on board with 'good development'. Just like 'reasoable' conservatives claim to be absolutely on board with the fact that climate change is a big problem. But when you try to nail CHALT down on what 'good development' looks like you get parameters that preclude any development that might occur in the real world, despite the token statements to the contrary. 

I think Krugman is as guilty as anyone of Concern Trolling. Just sayin'

I have not tried to nail anything down as perhaps you have, but their criticisms resonate with me.

That's fine, my point wasen't about Krugman, but rather about the phenomena he was highlighting. James did a wonderful job above outlining how CHALTs rhetorical claims of not being 'anti-develioment' do not match their actions. 

Prior to the current incarnation of CHALT, I participated in the Central West Small Area plan group as a random citizen observer.  The reasons being is that I was living right next door at Shadowood at the time, I was a 3rd year law student who had recently been studying state and local government, and I was invited by some committee members I knew to join them.  Participating in various capacities as well were several people who are now highly involved with CHALT, and when the overall committee did not wholesale incorporate their ideas the future CHALT folks created something called the "minority plan" or "citizens plan".  Now this is something that is probably still buried in OP archives if you all want to look it up and I know Erin Crouse wrote a piece on it at the time.  The point being is this "minority plan" would be considered pretty attrocious if you held it up to the CHALT standards applied in this line of reasoning as it did almost nothing for commerical development and less then nothing for affordable housing.  

Thus I do tend to agree with Will about concern trolling especially considering that if you read CHALT material on the Central West Steering Committee they are still angry about it and speak fondly of the "citizens plan."

Well, you have me there. I cannot match your experience.

Again, there is a difference between being "anti" and wanting the proper attention paid to details and lessions learned.

To trade analogies with you; I point to the "Better, faster, cheaper" mantra in software engineering that lead to the loss of the Mars observers in the late '90s. Hard and expensive lessons. Fortunately NASA realized the root cause and fixed the process. http://www.globalprojectstrategy.com/lessons/case.php?id=10 

I think there are a lot of developments that could have done better with more attention to detail and community imput.  I think there is definitely room for improvement with EF and some developments particularly Charterwood, for example could have been done better.   

I just tend to think based on my experiences CHALT probably falls particularly into the "anti" column.

I agree with your distinction. But I think that the issue is not that the council is rushing these decisions. I DO agree that there are things to criticize the council for on the proccess (although I think the council overall did a good job, working within the space they had to work in). I think that Michael Parker has provided some helpful insights into where the council could do better. 

Regarding your comments about developers, I would like to see more variety hereand less consolidation of developer muscle. But I again point to CHALT's previous iterations and own policies. They made the proccess of getting a development greenlighted incredibly difficult and the predictable result was that we now really only have incumbent firms with large capital reserves who can grind out the proccess and, therefore, face little competition and can consolidate their influence. 

Despite the fact that there is a group of individuals who disagree with recent land use policies pursued by the current council members, there is not a unitary "CHALT" mindset among that group. There are two issues that they all do agree upon: 1) Council should listen to citizens who are appointed to advisory committees and special committees and 2) Chapel Hill shouldn't become the land of luxury apartments/condos.

This argument over "CHALT" is a diversion in my opinion. Their official platform shares most of the goals of the current council. Where they differ is on tactics. Both groups want walkability, affordable housing, protected environment, and a safe community. The issue is whether those goals should be met by building out every remaining square inch as soon as possible or by taking a more moderate approach to growth. Should council members spend their political capital listening to the highly qualified professionals who live here or hire consultants?

There are also a great many nuanced differences between the generalized CHALT platform and the platforms of those candidates who CHALT has endorsed. It's the individuals who are running for election, not the group. And anyone who has taken the time to listen to the individuals would be very hard pressed to identify any difference in the substance of what they are saying in the forums vs what the incumbents (and Parker) are saying. The difference is that the incumbents have a record that shows their actions of the past few years are not aligned with their campaigning words.

Personally, I hope the town ends up with a Council in which there is more diversity of thought (and fewer speeches from the dais).

Terri--

David Schwartz was a founder of CHALT. CHALT PAC was started to fund the campaigns of the CHALT candidates (who were known to be CHALT candidats months before the announcement). And the CHALT candidates have obviously been coordinating their camapigns. Your claim that the differences between the candidates are a matter of tactics rather than substance is belied by David Schwartz's repeated statement that people should vote for the incumbents if they agree with the direction the town is going. He doesn't say 'tactics' he says 'direction'.

CHALT isn't new. It isn't a spontaneous citizen movement. It's a faction that has been active in Chapel Hill politics, under various names and iterations, since the mid-80s. I'm not saying any of this as an accusiation. It's their right to run a slate of candidates. The logic of it is pretty sound. But let's just be honest about what is going on. 

...like a vast conspiracy. I think the dissatisfaction is much more spontaneous than you give it credit for. I agree with Terri, that despite the rhetoric on both sides,  that the basic difference is tactical and tactics matter not only in perception but in results.

While we are being honest; the tactic of listening and understanding is paramount. Watching the TC videos, my distinct take away is that the leadership angers easily and is dismissive toward some very valid points..

Is anything that I said incorrect? It's not a conspiracy. What they're doing is absolutely legitimate. But let's be honest about the situation. 

 

 

Not sure where you get your information, but I've seen you repeat the claim that CHALT has existed since the 1980s which is pure rubbish. There may be individuals who have questioned development decisions since the 1980s, but CHALT is a new entity. There is a difference between a membership organization and an informal group of people who share *some* of the same views. You are doing an excellent job of spinning this discussion, Will. But everyone would be better served if we focused on the issues. The facts are that CHALT is registered as a PAC, as is EqualityNC. Neither group has put much money into the coffers for any single candidate. Let it go and allow the discussion to proceed without making a big brouhaha over nothing. Please.

From what I have read on the CHALT website and given stuff I remember about past elections,  CHALT really does remind me of the group neighbors for responsible growth that was around and active a few years ago.  So I wouldn't call that point rubbish at least not before reading the similarities.

I still do nto understand why the similarity of concerns over time is somehow being dismissed? Perhaps that very observation is indicative of a larger growing problem? Perhaps the failure of the TC to address these concerns is giving rise to a growing grass roots movement? 

NRG

James,

NRG and CHALT have Julie McClintock in common. There may be other similarities, but NRG's focus was on keeping Chapel Hill2020 focused on the answering the driving question for that project: "With utmost respect to the Manager, the Town staff, and the 2020 leadership, many 2020 stakeholders feel that our work to date is far from finished and does not answer the fundamental question the Town Council has asked: How much and in what way do we want to grow? " The final CH2020 report doesn't answer that question and leaves it to town staff (with perhaps some input from the elected officials) to interpret the answer in whatever way they see fit. 

I haven't heard any of the candidates you label as "CHALT" raise CH2020 as an issue. 

While 2020 was part of it a lot of it was focused on center west particularly and Ephesus Fordham and obey creek which are issues in this election. I fact i remember reading about those issues on their site. I would also note that 2020 is pretty broad and includes several things at issue in the election. I also believe there is a fair amount of overlap besides just Julie. So again I don't think what will is saying is rubbish

Terri-

Thank you for this enjoyable exchange.

In the INDY's very interesting article covering the PAC, David Schwartz notes:

'That's an important point, Schwartz says. CHALT isn't composed of a gaggle of ornery, not-in-my-backyard kooks, he insists. It's a groundswell of people determined to unseat each and every allegedly unresponsive incumbent on the Town Council.

Crazier things have happened, Schwartz says. "I don't think people see us as quixotic today as they did two years ago."'

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/with-the-rise-of-chalt-chapel-hills-nev...

CHALT's inaugurall was January 25 of this year. Why does David Schwartz believe that CHALT is over twice as old as it actually is? Who is this 'us' who were viewed as quixotic two years ago?

I absolutely agree with you that it is the issues that are of paramount importance. I have zero problem with this political network of citizen advocates working to achieve their goals over long stretches of time. That is absolutely a legitimate thing to do. But I do think that it is pretty clear that this is not a new network of activists but, rather,  a preexisting network that simply changed their name and tweeked their messaging. 

Check out Chapel Hill and Orange County's own fiscal impact analyses, which show that the kind of apartments the current council has been approving are, at best, revenue neutral or, more likely, revenue negative. For example, the county's own staff memo on the town's Ephesus-Fordham scheme: http://www.orangecountync.gov/January_27__2015.pdf

Of course, why should anyone pay attention to that -- the council members don't.

 

thanks for your response back DEvans.  It appears to me that the E-F analysis done by town staff UNDERSTATES the revenues by a probably significant amount. It seems to omit personal property tax on cars, the town ($30?) tax on cars, and various categories of state shared revenues distributed largely based on population such as 1.75 cent per gallon gas tax (Powell bill), beer and wine taxes, taxes on electric power and natural gas, and some minor categories.  It does mention sales taxes in one of the memos but even that does not appear to show up in all of the charts. All these state shared revenues on a town wide basis equal 38% of the total real property taxes collected by the town this year. No reason to think EF would be any different

Debating the philosophy of CHALT or the etiology of CHALT, whether CHALT is stain-resistant or scuff-proof or tastes great or is less filling, may amuse some on this board. The fundamental questions that need to be asked, however, are do we want the town to benefit from development or do we want developers to benefit at the town's expense?

With the current iteration of the council, the calculus has been to approve projects with a minimum of fuss and certainly don't do anything to scare off builders. And for god's sake don't make Roger Perry angry! The incumbents in this year's election have been party to giving away too much to developers with too little concern for the consequences of their votes -- lost affordable housing, lost environmental protections, lost community safety and lost identity.

What I expect from candidates CHALT has endorsed is for them to stand up to developers, ask tough questions about how proposed projects will benefit the town and study how to make life in Chapel Hill better for all of us in the long run. Those are CHALT fundamentals. How can anyone be against them? The council incumbents have shown repeatedly that they are not up to the task of protecting the town or acting in the best interests of us all. I would expect the candidates CHALT has endorsed to do a much better job.

 

 

Ah, finally we get to the bottom of all this. It's Roger Perry, devil incarnate. A combination of King Kong and Attila the Hun who has been causing Chapel Hill's problems for decades !!! 

 

from DEvans:

"the calculus has been to approve projects with a minimum of fuss and certainly don't do anything to scare off builders"

me:

right. six years is a minimum of fuss.  And yes, that left Roger Perry.  Most anyone else didn't even enter the market to provide CHALT approved projects coupled with CHALT magic economics

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