What's Next for Chapel Hill?

This year's municipal election is over. There were wins I was proud of and losses that deeply disappointed me. Regardless of who you supported in this year's elections, I think we can all agree that everyone who ran should be given our thanks for stepping up to the plate; that the incumbents who lost should be given our gratitude for their years of service; and that the council and mayoral newcomers should now be given our help, advice, and honest feedback to keep Chapel Hill moving forward on progressive issues.

I'm a fan of the TV show The West Wing, and though it ended years ago I rewatch it regularly. Not the least of the reasons why I keep watching is that it portrays a universe in which nearly everyone involved in political leadership is motivated by strong ideals, and works every day with a sense of duty to make their country a better place. And I'm reminded today of fictional President Josiah Bartlett's phrase at the end of every battle, won or lost: What's next?

After the happiness of victories and sadness of losses begin to fade, it's time for us to ask ourselves: What's next for Chapel Hill?

I would answer with two things: governance and organizing.

First, governance. As the yard signs come down and mailings cease, we still have a town to run. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that a divided council will mean a return to more split votes and close decisions. Your voice is going to be more important than ever before. Please join me in committing to making sure that the new town council hears your opinions and your priorities on a regular basis.

Politics at the local level is about so much more than growth and development. It's about making sure our public employees are paid fairly and have an opportunity to live in the town they work in. It's about providing leadership at the state and national level on issues from gun control to LGBT issues to local decision-making authority. It's about supporting the state's best public transit systems and getting people to think outside of the car. It's about protecting our homeless, low-income populations, and others of the most vulnerable people in our community. It's about continuing to grow our small local businesses and keeping our retail dollars here at home. It's about finding new ways to use both innovative technology and good old-fashioned person-to-person outreach to make our town's services and decision making accessible to everyone. And it's about so much more.

We need to push our new leaders to make sure these issues that make our community the vibrant, progressive place we're all proud to call home don't fall by the wayside. They can't do it without our help.

To achieve these goals, we need to have a conversation about political organizing.

Undoubtedly, the results of this most recent election were decided in large part by who could turn out the most bodies at the polls. And this was an unusual election. Though I disagreed with the narrative they presented, we saw what started as a small group of residents successfully organize and turn out thousands of voters for their candidates. As we look forward to future elections, it's clear that their outcomes will be increasingly decided not by the issues alone, but by who can get out the vote for their candidates.

If progressives want to keep the council working on their issues, they need to change the face of the electorate. Chapel Hill is a diverse community, made up of people from all ages, all income levels, all races and ethnicities, and therefore all viewpoints and all priorities. Progressives need to expand the voter base. We need to ensure that a 20-year-old college student who has never before voted, a 40-year-old single mother who couldn't imagine finding the time to follow local elections, and a 60-year-old retiree all have an equal vote and that we build a Chapel Hill that works equally well for each of them.

After yesterday's election, I posed a question on social media: What would happen if 5000 young people, students, low-income people, renters, minorities, and other people historically underrepresented in local government showed up to the polls in two years? I don't know, but I'm willing to find out.

To achieve this is going to take organizing of a kind we haven't done before, using tools we haven't used in local elections before. I don't know what this will look like yet, and I don't know what the right vehicle to make it happen will be. But I do know that it has to happen.

I am hopeful that 2016 will bring about unprecedented registration of new voters in Chapel Hill to do our part in making progressive change at the state and federal level. But registering voters for the even years isn't enough. We need to build a movement to engage them at the local level, and turn them out to vote in 2017, 2019, and beyond.

And so, at the end of a long letter, you find my call to action. Help me figure out how to build this movement. Help me figure out the right strategy and the right tactics to make it happen. Now is the time to get started. What tools do we need? What data do we need? How can we grow and educate our local electorate now, so that we have an enormous pool of informed and engaged voters at the next local election? I want to do this. I want you to help.





After living in Chapel Hill since 2001, I will soon be moving to Greensboro, not out of any specific dissatisfaction with Chapel Hill, but rather to get married again at the ripe old age of 52.  The two towns have really only one thing in common: universities: one in Chapel Hill, and six in Greensboro. 

It may be unfair to compare Chapel Hill to the 3rd largest city in North Carolina, but the more time I spend in Greensboro, the more I realize that Chapel Hill has much to learn: how to have both affordable housing and good schools, how to provide plenty of both local and national retail stores while still having good traffic, how to promote local jobs, how to keep taxes low, and how to balance growth with the environment.  After this past election Chapel Hill has decided to change course, and I strongly suggest you take a look at Greensboro before turning the clock back to the late 80s.

You can tell a lot about a town by who runs the government, and the Greensboro council shows a healthy diversity in race, age, and gender, while Chapel Hill is represented almost entirely by late middle-aged white people.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the later, but a city that prides itself on its liberalness would do well to be more inclusive in its government.

On the infrastructure side of things Greensboro invested heavily in transportation, and it really shows. A fiber optic-based traffic control system was installed about seven years ago, and not coincidentally, they didn’t have to wait for the Google fairy to drop by with 1Gb/s internet service:  a local NC company hooked up 1G service to my new house for the low teaser rate of $39/month.   Now they’re working on an innovative public/private partnership to make high speed internet as ubiquitous and plumbing and electricity, and available to “rural areas, poor areas, and many that are simply near the bottom of the schedule”.

By itself the improved traffic control system would only be a marginal improvement, but Greensboro had the good sense to connect and integrate neighborhoods to each other. This not only creates multiple ways to get around town, but it reduces segregation by race and class.  Chapel Hill neighborhoods have tended to cut themselves off from the surrounding areas in a misguided attempt to reduce through traffic, but in reality has ended up making traffic much worse as cars are funneled onto a couple of feeder streets, all clogged with shoppers heading out of town to find stores.

Speaking of shopping, while Chapel Hill residents flood town council meetings to prevent retail from being build close to residential neighborhoods citing traffic concerns, in Greensboro the close proximity of neighborhoods and shopping decreases the amount of time I have to spend in the car, and correspondingly decreases the concurrent number of cars on the road at any one time.  The round trip time for an errand will go from 45 minutes down to 10, and that’s if I drive. Thanks to the large number of bike lanes and trails I now have the option to safely bike.  

The comparison between the two cities in terms of green amenities is particularly striking.  In Chapel Hill I remember angry residents showing up to protest building new greenways because the sound of bicycles would disturb the wildlife, create runoff, and otherwise harm the environment,  In Greensboro they realized that the sacrifice of building greenways and making streets wide enough for bike lanes is a reasonable tradeoff for the opportunity for other green modes of transportation, and so there is a huge network of roads with bike lanes, twenty seven miles of greenway, and dozens of extensive parks.  For the first time I won’t have to drive to Durham to ride my bike!  

I’m not trying to say that Greensboro is perfect. There are parts with ugly strip malls, there is more crime, and sprawl has been built outside the city limits because of the lack of a buffer.   On the whole, though, Greensboro shows there are reasonable options for growth that improve the quality of life, keep taxes low, and protect the environment.


So, hey, congraulations on the nuptials!

A couple of random thoughts in response to this message:

 - Chapel Hill has installed its own fiber-optic traffic control system; for years now I've seen it occasionally being maintained and extended. Some details here. As to why this hasn't been used as the backbone of a in-town fiber-optic system, I know the Town hasn't been able to start its own municipal broadband service due to NC law, but I don't want to speak to the dteails. As for Greensboro's public/private partnership, the article you link is a couple of years old. It's easy to say you want gigabit internet access available in rural areas, but a lot more difficult to actually do so.

 - Greensboro certainly has its nice parts, but the level of sprawl and underdeveloped proprety is stunning. It always strikes me when I drive into town that you go past I-840, the stub of the new northern loop highway around the city, and then you travel several miles into the city without seeing any development beyond one-story strip malls. It's a significant misallocation of resources.

Good news about the CH fiber system; hopefully in the future that will be able to be utilizied in some way other than traffic signals.  The law preventing municipal broadband was struck down, but I'm sure cities are still wary of going that route.  The article about the Greensboro initiative is from 10/25/2015, so that is recent.  Undoubtedly it is difficult to get utilities to less popular regions:  the reason, of course, is its much more expensive, which is why CHALT's allegations that density is more expensive is head scratching.  In the past its taken public/private partnerships to bring new-fangled technologies like electricity and phone service to rural areas because of the added costs, and there's no reason why high speed internet will be any different.

There is a lot of sprawl around Greensboro; the area you mentioned isn't actually within the city limits, but its true you have to get well within the city limits to see any density.  Its also a good lesson for Chapel Hill as well in the sense that there's a tendency to want to allow lower-density building at the town limits, but eventually, over time, towns grow, and what is now at the edge will someday be well within the city limits.  

In Greensboro there is a bit of an urban core around where Elm and Market meet between Spring and Murrow and most of the rest is sprawl particularly in North and West Greensboro.  You can drive for a solid 15-30 minutes or more down either W. Market or W. Friendly and depending on traffic and see nothing but sprawl and sprawl that goes on north and south of you all of which is within the city limits. Greensboro is actually quite huge something like 130+ sq mi compared with like 21 for Chapel Hill.  I don't think I would want to go the route Greensboro has gone, though with that said, Chapel Hill needs to do something, because if we do nothing we are simply going to let Durham, Hillsborough and Pittsboro/NE Chatham dictate regional growth, likely at our expense as far as traffic and commericial goes at the very least.


How about giving the CHALT candidates and especially the voters a little credit -- they identified issues that they saw as a threat to this community, they cared enough to get organized and inform fellow residents and then everyone acted on their grievances at the polls. Affordability, housing, economic prospects and having a Town Council that listens to the people it is supposed to represent were essential to the CHALT message, and the voters responded to that.

By implying that CHALT doesn't want anything to change, you are insulting way more people than just the CHALT faithful. And you are showing a degree of obliviousness to recent town history that may serve your rhetorical purposes but is just not accurate -- much like what the council incumbents and some business interests tried to pass off as their priorities and accomplishments.

You don't have a monopoly on caring about your neighbors and their chances to share this community as equally as possible just because you are young. CHALT is just as committed to making this a better place to live as you are. Many of its members have shown that commitment in the past and can be credited with actions that have brought about the very qualities of the town that you espouse.

Calling for a mobilization of young voters before the newly elected mayor and council members have even taken their seats is just daft. The least you can do is to give the newcomers a chance to prove the depth of their belief in the community and that they too care enough about it to try to make it an even better place.


I found Jason's post to be gracious and not anti-CHALT at all.   Calling for greater youth participation in the political process is a perennial goal, especially since the median age on the council is now probably 55, and has little minority's representation.  Those are problems the council has faced for years and has little to do with the previous election specifically.   


A good point. Speaking entirely for myself, I look forward to seeing the new folks' input on Town Council. It's one thing to portrary yourself as a "Socrates throwing verbal rocks at these mediocrities," another to come up with concrete plans which actually impact the problems you perceive. I'll admit to being skeptical about some of their generalities and how they'll translate into concrete action — for example, I doubt that the best way to lower housing prices is to slow the pace of new construction — but they've certainly earned the opportunity to have their voices heard up on the dias.

I whole-heartedly agree that all of our newly elected officials deserve our appreciation for their willingness to serve and, as Mr. Evans suggests, we give them a chance to show they are effective policymakers.

However, there are some very real differences in priorities between what many CAHLT backers have endorsed and what many of their critics support.  Many of us believe Chapel Hill needs to move away from suburban style development towards creating places where people can live, work, shop, and enjoy our free time in a place where all of these things are within walking distance.  Many CHALT backers believe any building taller than 2 to 3 floors is out of character with Chapel Hill and that we should stick with our suburban landscape.  Many of us believe light rail is the right choice for moving 49,000+ people on and off UMC’s campus.  Every single CHALT backed candidate opposed DOLRT, which makes us concerned newly elected officials could undermine the project.  Many of us are excited that the Bolin Creek Trail extension will finally make biking downtown possible and believe the environmental benefits of getting people out of cars and on their bikes exponentially outweighs any impact of building the extension.  CHALT has been wishy-washy about that project at best, with some supporters vehemently opposing the current work extending the greenway.  Many of us believe it is impossible to solve our affordable housing crisis unless we build more housing.  Based on what residents heard from those who canvased door-to-door for CHALT told them, they seem more concerned about stopping growth than with adequately meeting our housing demand. 

Finally, many CHALT critics are concerned the movement simply wants to bring back the same old  anti-growth policies of the mid-1980’s to mid-2000’s that left Chapel Hill less affordable, less diverse, less economically sustainable, and frankly, more boring.  While it’s a fair request to ask folks to give newly-elected CHALT candidates a chance, it is not fair to expect us to endorse returning to policies we already tried and saw fail. 

Clearly, all of our newly elected officials are highly intelligent people who care deeply about our community. By all means, let’s give them a chance to evolve their positions as they become acquainted with the other side of the dais.  However, when they advocate for policies that many of us believe are not in our town’s best interest, we should, as Mayor Kleinschmidt so eloquently advised, “civilly, offer your advice in constructive ways.” 

I’m confident Chapel Hillians can be gentle in our critique of individuals, but rigorous in our critique of ideas. 

What you say is more what I would hope for and expect from a loyal opposition. However understand that in the words of Danial Patrick Moynihan; you are entitled to you own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

For starters, DOLRT is not moving anywhere near the numbers you suggest by GoTriangles own figures. DOLRT is a economic development plan for Durham NOT a transit plan as it was advertised. If you stop to do the math, many more can be served by public transit in a much broader area for less money. The number of people who support regressive taxation for a 1.8 Billion dollar economic development plan that bypasses existing services, masquerading as transit is dwindling rapidly.

Density and growth just for the sake of it is not desirable or sustainable. I think you are glossing over the main CHALT livability message which I interpret as smart growth. CHALT stands apart by encouraging more commercial tax base that contributes rather than residential that is a net drain on resources. Let’s put development where it belongs instead of approving large residential development on parcels that are obviously better for commercial because the builder profit in residential is better. Restated; I do not think height is as much of an issue as other considerations like commercial vs. apartments, land use and storm water and I do not think the previous council stood strong in the face of builder pressures, nor did they have an overall discussion/plan that communicated how all of this development harmonized with the town.

I have not heard a CHALT position on Bolin Creek. Because i don't live there I am not versed on any controversy, but I do know that CHALT supported candidates are very concerned about the lack of connection and coordination and flow on the various bike routes from a safety perspective. See Nancy Oates Blog on her riding experiences. Perhaps you could elaborate?

Affordable housing is such a nebulous discussion. It seems to defy definition. I will say I was very disappointed by the previous council’s approval of previously affordable space without any plan to replace them, leaving people out in the cold and exacerbating the problem. I also lament the previous councils decision not to enforce “affordable” ratios, and seemingly acquiescing to builders demands. I also think that simply building units is unlikely to solve the problem. Builders are building more expensive units because that is where the profit is, and at the end of the day there is less and less affordable stock for people with families. I agree we (both county and towns) can and needs to do better in this area.

While CHALT did well, I am not sure that CHALT has a majority, bear in mind as far as the council goes it was a pretty split decision.  I do think there was a significant shake up and I certainly congratulate the winners as I think everyone who ran deeply cares about our community.

James, I agree, people deeply care, and there probably are not enough new votes to reverse bad policies and decisions from the past. On the other hand, the N&O (Fred Naiden) has a fair and compelling post mortem on the recent election: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article43488819.html

If you believe his analysis, it might cause some of the other members on the council think twice before becoming obstructionists to well-reasoned change. Politics makes for strange bedfellows.


What I see happening in Chapel Hill in the past decades is the Prisoner’s Dilemma writ large: each neighborhood tries to optimize growth to benefit their own micro interests to the detriment of the entire community.  The job of the council is to balance competing interests and do what is best for the entire town, which apparently runs the risk of getting them voted out, thus perpetuating the decades long endless loop of making it more difficult to build, which drives up land costs, which makes high density the only option to recoup land costs, which makes residents put in more restrictions, which makes it more difficult to improve roads, which makes it more difficult to build, which drives up land costs, ad infinitum.  

CHALT has stated that the law of supply and demand isn't valid in Chapel Hill, which is ridiculous on its face, but if the election was about keeping the town affordable for the average person, then the CHALT approach is only going to make it worse.  The example that New York and San Francisco are bigger and they're more expensive, therefore being a bigger town increases housing costs is just silly to anyone with even a smidgen of experience in economics.   THAT is why CHALT failed to get any endorsements.

In my opinion the election's small turnout hinged on spreading enough false and inflamatory information to get some people riled up enough to vote.  The people who were pretty happy with the town's direction didn't feel as strongly, and thus don't vote in the same percentages.  You see the same thing happen in the Republican parimaries.  The people who listen to right-wing talk radio get all riled up on a maufactured narrative and end up voting for extreme candidates.

a visionary council would try to get roger perry, together with UNC and convert some of the neglected 2 story graduate student housing on the south side of campus "redeveloped" into highrise nicer living.   For those not familiar there are probably 40 or 50 red brick duplex fourplex two story residences spread out over 10s of acres on the south side of campus.   They are totally neglected and run down.   I know UNC doesn't want to be in the housing business but

that would be a perfect place for 7 story apartments since they are next to 7 story buildings already.   And guess what they wouldn't create traffic problems.   If the housing was nice and cheap it would have no problem attracting students.


That is an intersting idea, but it might take an act of the legislature to allow that to happen. Ultimately the university is owned by the state, and as state property, creating affordable housing in that location could be problematic. It might be more realistic to suggest the university reconfigure the buildings for classroom space or offices.

If UNC wants to do something it can.   UNC wanted the homeless shelter far away from campus and agreed to

lease UNC land to the Town for 1$ to make it happen.   The main reason UNC students don't always want to live on campus is no amenities (e.g. own kitchen) and in the article gerry cohen posted, it costs ~250$ a month more to live on campus.  Why?   UNC is required by state law to make all buildings last 100 years, which makes it twice as expensive as private development per Gerry's article.   So if UNC and the Town really wanted to house more people on campus in a cost competitive way,  UNC would lease land to the Town for 50 years,  the Town would sublease to Roger Perry (similar to IFC); and perry could build residential appartments with amentiies.  However, even though it sounds like much of this demolished housing isn't going to any near term use, UNC probably doesn't care if it houses its workers/students on campus; particularly if it is offloading transit costs to the Town, the students, and employees.   And no one on the council seems to care about this that much either.


UNC pays for the campus routes and for the express routes that serve the UNC-operated park-and-ride lots, plus a share of the other routes proportional to its share of the UNC-Chapel Hill-Carrboro population. UNC's contribution to Chapel Hill Transit's annual budget is about 58%, Chapel Hill's is 31%, and Carrboro's is 11%. This is a major investment by UNC and is a key to the success of Chapel Hill Transit.

no one said UNC pays nothing.   Also, as you probably know transit fees are collected from researchers' grants and workers and students.  And there are charges to use the park and ride lots.  I think literally every CH transit route runs to

the edge of UNC Campus.    Although CH transit is a great thing, it's really a shuttle system for UNC.   If CH transit didn't exist, UNC would have to contract it out to have it happen, at least for the MLK and Franklin street routes so undergrads could get to campus.  Either that or the large apartment complexes would have to higher their own drivers and busses as they already do for LUX


I agree that the most logical place for UNC student housing is on campus property, but I have a proposal to integrate that concern with other planning and transportation issues and opportunities in a coordinated development vision.

As noted in a post below, Odum Village is on the chopping block. It has been for decades. It is also located close to the planned terminus of the TTA rail transit line. My idea is for the University to abandon plans to build a research campus on the Horace Williams grounds, and to build a new, larger mixed-use Odum Village there (and as a car-free zone, with dedicated bus transit).

Then the existing buildings south of the hospitals could be razed after relocating the students there to the new development, making way for a compact, realistic research park on that smaller space. It has long been recognized that most of the tenants of a UNC research park would be in biomedical research, so the proximity to the hospitals and the medical school research buildings makes sense.

Also, tearing down the old Odum buildings would allow for a transit transfer plaza, like the one in Durham, near the planned rail terminus to encourage ridership, since with a little careful scheduling transit users will be able to step off the train and get directly to a bus headed for their destination in town, or take a bus that brings them directly to the train. Many of the CHT routes already go along Manning Drive and Mason Farm Road, so diversions would be minimal.

Honestly I think it will be interesting to see what happens on the town council in the next six months or so.  I wouldn't be surprised to see a fair amount of people getting disappointed in unexpected ways.

James, I think Jason's manifesto and other posts here show that both camps are still winding down from campaign mode. Based on the seeming split in the TC, you may be right about disappointment. I sincerely hope not, because that would mean both camps remain in "campaign mode" in varying degrees until the next election. There is work to be done, discussion to be had, decisions to be made and problems to solve. Everyone benefits when everyone is heard.

OP posters can help by turning down shrill echo chamber rhetoric. Acknowledge that there are some very learned and experienced people with legitimate concerns about current development direction and the so called "new urbanism". Call out the revisionist attempt to brand the opposition as anything but a well-run grassroots campaign. I can tell you progressive has different context elsewhere.  Nowhere else would a progressive (or the sierra club) support a regressive tax to support new development for a small number of well-off people and developers through a critical watershed and mislead voters by calling it "our transit future”. Take a hard, critical look at the elitism and materialism that has infested the progressive brand being professed here.

Here is hoping that Chapel Hill does not become more of a microcosm of Washington DC.

Chapel Hill has approximately 29,000 students, while the on-campus housing can fit in approximate 10,135. That leaves around 18,865 students who need to find housing off-campus, and the natural place for them is within walking distance of campus in order to reduce the number of cars on the road and reduce use of the expensive bus system. This is the same in every campus across the nation, and students fan out into a combination of rental homes and apartment buildings.


From a town perspective I agree its best to discourage students from gobbling up the cheaper housing stock, which is why the town council working with the cheapest neighborhood directly closest to campus, Northside, to create a comprehensive conservation district, special zoning regulations, design restrictions, a construction moratorium for more than a year, a Housing Market Action Plan, and just this year the Northside Neighborhood Initiative. What else is Mr. Naiden suggesting the council do for Northside given its right next to a major campus?


If students don't live in rental houses, then where? The best place for everyone is for students to live close to campus so they can walk to class, and given the cost of land right next to campus that means multi-story apartment buildings. Putting up buildings miles away and busing students in would only great more pollution. Unfortunately Mr. Naiden is apparently against putting up apartment and condo buildings as well. Where else does Mr. Naiden think students are going to live?  Is he suggesting the town should have put in a city-wide moratorium on renting to students?  Or a city-wide ban against renting your property?  


The fact that state employees, including workers for UNC Chapel Hill at all levels haven't received raises in seven years is indeed a travesty. But its not the fault of the town council. Its well documented that the infrastucture costs of high density housing is significantly less than the costs of the low density neighborhoods build in the previous decades, so its unclear why this was suddenly an issue given no mention was made of it during the decades Chapel Hill expanded using low density housing patterns.


The existing council also promoted having non-students live downtown, which is part of the standard strategy to revive downtowns: rather than lamenting that there's no grocery store or "place to buy socks", and expecting people to drive downtown from the suburbs, you encourage people to live downtown where they spend more time out of their cars, and create the demand that will support local businesses in a walkable community. There is zero relationship between this building and the bonds, which were targeted at helping to fix other infrastructure problems that have been here for many decades.


Its clear that Mr. Naiden's apparent recommended course of action would in fact have the opposite reaction that he wants, and decrease the available of affordable housing in Chapel Hill.


1) tout affordable but build 7 story residential apartments without affordable in them

2) tout commercial but rezone commercial to residential

3)  acknowledge trading "values"  (affordable, commercial, environmentally sensitive, quality of life (traffic!)) for density bonuses but then

get very little in return.

carraway village -  building mostly residential in a spot begging for commercial;  contemplating paving/building in RCD?  contemplating 3.5 million in town expenses for that?  really?     I think Ephesus Fordham first building will be as unappealing as East 54 but with much worse traffic.


If luxury apartments/condos are successful they drive up rents and housing costs near them , not make them cheaper.

Reading your manifesto I tend to think most of the differences you are trying to extoll are not essential and mostly manufactured.

"We need to push our new leaders to make sure these issues that make our community the vibrant, progressive place we're all proud to call home don't fall by the wayside. They can't do it without our help." 

- Are you saying that the "old" leaders did not need to be pushed, or did not need your help? I seem to remember a lot of people saying that the decisions made by the council could have been better.

"it's clear that their outcomes will be increasingly decided not by the issues alone, but by who can get out the vote for their candidates." 

- Wow. Really? Are you seriously saying this election was not about issues alone? What is it that you think drove the turnout?

"What would happen if 5000 young people, students, low-income people, renters, minorities, and other people historically underrepresented in local government showed up to the polls in two years?" 

- That answer of course is "it depends" Are these 5000 voters you call underrepresented, informed? Or is that not a criteria as you seem to suggest?

"To achieve this is going to take organizing of a kind we haven't done before, using tools we haven't used in local elections before."

- A very "Us vs. Them" attitude Jason, You don't define the reasons that you think you are "progressive" and others are not, but I suspect you have more in common than sets you apart and remaining differences are largely tactical. Exactly how are you planning to “help”, when your statements resonate with  the spirit of Mitch McConnell?

the only way to find the missing 5,000 voters who vote in commissioner and national elections but not in odd year stand alone is to switch to even year like High Point has had for a decade and Winston-Salem will go back to in 2016. Another way to have representation is to go to a mixed district and at large system like Raleigh Charlotte Cary and Greensboro have. 

these are perfect for 7 story residential buildings.  Totally rundown inefficienct use of space.

Next to parking decks and chiller plants on UNC campus no one to upset, no traffic to generate


According to the DOLRT DEIS, per the UNC Master Plan, the Odum Village buildings are slated to be demolished. See DEIS Section, page 4-72.

Odium Village will close summer 2016. Plans as of a year ago called for a new dorm on Ridge Rd that will also house the same 275 students.  Land likely to be repurposed as more hospital buildings, creek, open space and greenway http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/10/unc-plans-for-new-residence-....  I would note another comment that building high rise apartments there wouldn't disturb anyone else.  Of course there are LOTS of folks on Purefoy Road and Mason Farm that are hardly nobodies. 


No one to upset other than the people who love on Mason Farm, Purefoy, and all the side streets. Also would all the proposed new high rise apartments be free from property taxes as they are on campus? I thought that the official position was that no housing should be built unless it generates positive property tax revenue

that makes sense, even though people still live in them they look like they stopped being maintained 10 years ago.


However, Still would make a great spot for housing.    Why can't council ask Perry to put high rises there?

Among other things...

For one there is the issue of land ownership.  Secondly I am pretty sure the town council doesn't have that kind of power.  Third I suspect if we are talking about Odum village, the university probably has there own ideas about what they want to do, not to mention the amount of investment that has probably already gone into Ephasus Fordham etc.

Edit...I just saw Gerry Cohen already made most of these points.


at one point Chancellor Hooker promised a "bed for every head"


and as far as plans for the land they will be demolishing buildings for Odum Village.... and...

"Odum will no longer be used as a residence hall, but the land will be used for other purposes, like green space, a creek and storage space."
Read more: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/10/unc-plans-for-new-residence-hall-to-open-in-2017
Quoted from The Daily Tar Heel

pretty bad "green space"  next to a parking deck and chiller plant... there's no creek there either maybe they'll build one

anyway the point is I understand the jurisdictional reality, but I wish the council and aldermen would urge UNC to use some of the unused space for housing. 

For one this has got to have UNC nervous about residential...


With that said I would think there is may be room for collaboration about building workforce housing.  Especially for UNC hospitals to avoid issues with important employees living out of town and incliment weather.  Granted this likely depends on a number of factors of which I suspect many are beyond my present knowledge.

there are already 3  seven and/or eight story buildings on Mason Farm Road:

molecular biomedical research building

Genetic medicine, and Marsico Hall..   Plus there is a huge water tower and chiller building even closer to Odum village.

Isn't it interesting that people who defend seven story buildings off campus where there are none, won't defend them

on campus to house people where they work,  next to existing highrises.   

Hey I don't have any objection to high rise housing near the medical complex. I'm just saying that it needs to be analyzed like anything else l, without dismissing current neighbors in that area as unimportant as you seemed to do.  I think it's also important to know if such a project would be tax exempt or not. Also such a suggestion also is impacted by expansion plans for the medical research complex. It's not as simple as the town council getting Roger Perry to build the residences on property neither he nor the town owns. A plus for high rise residences there is that the light rail station will be in walking distance 

seems like replacing existing residential on UNCs campus with more density is the place to do it.

When you calculate the costs the Town absorbs for paying for buses for UNC workers going to work from off campus, plus potential auto/bus emissions into the atmosphere, plus fewer commuters -  even if UNC pays no property tax the sum financial and quality of life issues would have broader support than building high rises on already bad roads e.g. franklin/eliot for example.  (UNCs share of the bus is not "equal" when you consider 90% of its riders go to UNC).

Students pay for the CH Transit system with a fee tacked onto their tuition each semester. That's in addition to what the University pays from its budget.

University Housing is a cost center--they do not receive funding to supplement their expenses. Here's the description of how they plan to handle the closing of Odum Village:



I don't think UNC pays 83% of the costs is my point.   Even if the town's don't get property tax on UNC workers and students living on campus , they will save money on buses and benefit quality of life (greenhouse gases, traffic)


In 2015, UNC paid $8M of the $13.5M budget or about 60% of the total. Then those of us who are Orange County residents also paid with our taxes. http://www.townofchapelhill.org/home/showdocument?id=25761



The only *tax* paid by all Orange County residents that would support CH Transit is the 1/2 cent sales tax on many items sold in the County. Taxpayers in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Town limits pay for CHT through property taxes. Non-residents of the towns would pay only if they owned property in them. Orange County stand-alone property tax is not a source for CHT. If it were, it would be even higher than it already is. 

The University as a whole contributes more to CHT than the Federal and State governments together. That's largely the case because State revenues have dropped so much as a result of the majority party's policies in the legislative budgets of the 2011-12 and 2013-14 biennial sessions. Am not seeing any change in that trend.  From my discussions with transit board members and system managers across the nation, that level of contribution to a community-wide transit system is highly atypical. 

for me.

Precisely what percent of revenues collected by the combination of the half cent sales tax AND the additional vehicle regitraton tax (both regressive taxes) acually have gone to support CHT? Why wouldn't GoTrangle absorb the cost of keeping Park-n-Ride facilities free? The apperance from my perspective is that they preferred to spend that money on more studies and consultants.


You are missing a key benefit of transit. It is in eliminating car travel.
Regardless of whether or not a  majority of bus users are UNC affiliated. You are eliminating car trips and the need for even more parking by having transit.
Beyond that, some UNC workers could not dream of paying the monthly charges for parking on campus. But they still need to get to work every day.
Less cars is good for all of us

if workers and students are housed on campus.  even better than bussing them.   I was simply responding to the comment that if UNC builds more housing the town might miss out on property tax.  But yes, I agree the Town benefits  from less pollution and traffic even though it subsidizes the busses for UNC since they are not paying at the level of UNC affiliated ridership.  Simply saying much like having busses is better than cars,  housing people where they work/study is even better than bussing them.

Just took the time to read some posts from 2015. Jason asked about getting the progressive vote out. Turn out for local elections continues to be low. Trump and 2016 showed that nationwide voting matters but still too many people for various reasons dont vote. Without a local print newspaper I think local engagement will continue to be an issue.



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