Umstead Act Should Not be Weakened

Well, the go-go-growth crowd is not as monolithic as I recently suggested. Sometimes competition can split even the most steadfast of allies. The Herald today reported that a

113-6 vote in the House endorsed an amendment to the state Umstead Act to allow the UNC system's 16 campuses to sell goods and services in competition with the private sector when doing so would further the teaching, research and service mission of the university.

Hackney and Insko voted in favor. Bill Faison voted against thereby joining the "anti-university" crowd that for the moment also includes Aaron Nelson. From the Herald report:

"The Umstead Act is an important piece of legislation that protects small business," said Aaron Nelson, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. "I am extremely disappointed and concerned to learn of the effort to change it to allow the university to compete more actively with private enterprise. The changes that have been proposed are bad for business, they're bad for small business and they're bad for this community."

Student Stores Manager John Jones gave a weak defense of the change. He said

the Umstead Act now bars the store from offering an online catalog, as many university bookstores in other states do. It even regulates the sort of posters the store sells. The store can only offer images with campus scenes; more generic posters featuring popular celebrities, musicians or professional athletes are forbidden.

Right, so the UNIVERSITY of North Carolina needs to sell posters of celebrities? I don't think so. How would this “further the teaching, research and service mission of the university”?

Nelson is right on in this case. If anything, the Umstead Act should be stronger in university communities. The state depends on the ability of private economy to provide a vital commercial foundation for the home communities of its campus sites. This, of course, is nowhere more true than in Chapel Hill.




Rather than fixate on the poster issue, why should university stores be prohibited from having an online catalog? An online catalog seems like pretty standard fare for any retail operation. Why should university stores be barred from competing with private enterprises and why, for that matter, should small businesses by protected from competition with university stores?

Finally, what does this have to do with "go-go-growth"?

The poster example is a good one: why shouldn't the Student Stores be able to sell posters of Michael Jordan?

While I'm concerned that the monopolists will try to use the Umstead Act as a cudgel to beat down local nascent efforts to deploy a municipal-sponsored broadband network, I also expressed some concerns about weakening it, especially in light of the latest UNC PR efforts on UNC/North.

why would the "monopolists" (?) care whether the town has a municipal sponsored broadband network? I guess the question that's more interesting to me, but less relevant to this discussion, is why the town should sponsor a broadband network? Is there something wrong with the plethora of private broadband options available?

The state has huge advantages in competing with most private enterprise, particularly small business.

To take an obvious example, locals bemoan the difficulty of sustaining a locally owned bookstore. There is none at all on Franklin Street. How much impact does UNC's having a full service bookstore on campus (I don't refer to textbook sales) have to do with this? Plenty, I'm sure.

What does selling celebrity posters have to do with the "teaching, research and service" missions of the university? Nothing.

UNC's bookstore is responsible for there not being a local owned bookstore? (Does the Internationalist and the Bookshop not count?) The fact that you can hop in your car and drive to Borders or Barnes and Noble where almost every book in the library of congess is avialable (plus coffee) doesn't have anything to do with that?

And yes, Dan, you mentioned the posters before. Can you address why the university bookstore should be prohibited from having an online catalog?

Bill, the "monopolists" are obviously concerned as they've used their legislative hand-puppets across the nation to pass draconian laws outlawing this type of municipally-sponsored utility. They've lately had that real piece of work, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, introduce a bill to ban such efforts nationwide.


Terri B. pointed out elsewhere on OP that the competition provided by these community-based networks has not only driven the cost of service down for community-subscribers by has also driven the monopolists prices down immensely (and their service quality usually increases). The US is now ranked 19th in the world in broadband capability yet pays the highest prices in the world for that priviledge. For what I pay for Bellsouth DSL, I could have 500 times the download speed and 2000 times the upload speed in South Korea - speeds sufficient for realtime distributed learning programs (imagine a teenager not missing a day of class due to a serious illness because they can participate in realtime, imagine the new types of private services business could deliver locally with that capability, imagine having multiple cable services competing in the local markets because they offer content irrespective of the medium).

Besides the problem of the monopolists not trying to serve various segments of society, the poor or rural citizen, they also, apparantly, have no will to provide decent service at a decent price point. It makes sense, monopolies always want to retain their price advantage. Haven't you wondered why, with all the "plethora of private broadband" options supposedly available, our community gets such short shrift? Where's the market force correction? It's obvious where it is, safely squelched by entrenched business forces so that they can continue wringing the maximum profit from the littlest of efforts. Oh, and they need to ditch that continuing bunkum about how costly it is where we have yester-years infrastructure, they were more than compensated over the last 12 years by provisions in their hand-tooled '93 Telecommunications Act. They've collected the loot to upgrade but drug their feet in spending it (guess it cuts into their crazy profit margins).

Why a municipal utility? Well, for starters, we can save big bucks on Town operations and provide new kinds of Town services at a price point taxpayers will be happy with - for instance, effeciencies in police protection or housing inspections. Other than my selfish desire to cut my tax burden through increased efficiencies, I also want to see our Town lead in bridging the "digital divide". Sure, it'll be nice when the overall "monopoly tax" levied on us goes down (my combined cost for private services will drop roughly 5-fold - money I could spend in the local economy), but it'll be even greater when we leap from 19th to maybe 5th or 6th in capability. The economic boost it gives and the increased economic attractiveness it brings communities that implement muni-networks are just icing on the cake.

We can't depend on the monopolists to serve the under-served, we can't depend on the monopolists to provide service at a liveable cost, we can't even depend on them to help develop our economic base.

We can, though, depend on them to use any method, whether paid-for legislative meat puppets or Umstead-like Acts to squelch true competition.

Will gives a good case of where government can appropriately step in when the market is not doing the job. He addresses the digital divide. There is also a healthcare divide, a housing divide, etc.

I have no problem with an online catalogue per se. The question is: catalogue of what? Student Stores sells tic-tacs. Should they have an online tic-tac department? Should Bulls Head compete with I don't think so.

And, sorry for not being ultra-explicit as required in the blogosphere, I was referring to a quality new book store comparable to Branch's (will they survive the summer?) or Regulator.

In St. Paul, MN the city's plan to develop a municipal network has resulted in the following "offer" by one of the national carriers: "to install and manage a $5 to $19 million citywide wifi/wimax broadband service. Planned services would include public access, including mobile, for under $20/month with a "digital divide access" package offered at under $10/month. The business model would reportedly also support recurring funding of digital divide projects. City Public Works and Public Safety would receive free services under the partnership, which would also allow independed ISP's to resell bandwidth." In other cities, the municipal network (not wireless) carries phone and cable services as well as internet access for around $30 a month total.

What we have in this area is charged far above costs + reasonable profits. Bill--I thought you free-market folks supported true competition? Given all the regulation of the Telecomm Act, municipal networks might be the only option for introducing competition into the telecomm market.

But as to the point of this post, isn't it contradictory to embrace the Umstead Act but not the Telecomm Act? If we want government to support a municipal network, why can't we allow the government to sell posters? I understand Will's concerns about businesses within CN, but if the Town and university administration are able to negotiate an acceptable financial equity plan, this might be the best way to bring a broader tax base into town.

Dan--I'm not sure I can share your aggravation on this one. I don't think the Bullshead has much to do with the absence of a good new bookstore on Franklin st (or in Chapel Hil/Carrboro beyond the University). Presently the two bookstores with really strong academic inventory (the Bullshead and the Gothic) are buried on campuses that are quite inaccessible and visitor-unfriendly for those not affiliated (I once wanted to take a friend from out of town to the Gothic--we eventually gave up when I could find no legal, available parking within walking distance!). The Regulator in Durham seems to thrive, and Internationalist and the bookstore in Southern Village do okay with their more specialized inventory. Branches is possibly defunct, but last night I heard they might make a deal. Bill--Borders and Barnes and Noble don't have anything like the entire library of congress catalogue (are you thinking of Amazon?)--they don't even have a decent selection of recent university press titles. In any case, I think the primary bookstores the University bookstore competes with are those two ugly textbook oriented places on Franklin (near the Varsity) and just off it (near Vespa). I've never been into either (they don't look like they aim at 'real' bookstore customers), but I suspect they sell posters of Michael Jordan, Scarface, etc. There are many similar towns that sustain both University bookstores and independent bookstores that compete both with trade titles and for the business of professors and grad students. It's not possible to open such a bookstore on Franklin st due to rents. Sooner or later, one will open in Carrboro, and if it is run well, it will thrive. Does Maxim, Playboy, Skittles, or any number of other products already available at the Bulls Head (all of which compete, for example, with Sutton Drugstore) advance the 'research, teaching, and service' agenda? Who exactly owns the Bulls Head?


Can you explain how our community is getting short shrift in terms of broadband? Is this something that only affects Chapel Hill but not Durham or Raleigh? If so, why? Seems to me that there are at least 3 forms of broadband available--DSL, Cable and Satellite and that there are multiuple providers for each of those 3 forms.

Also, how would we save "big bucks" on Town operations? Hard benefits, please. As for the "digital divide", I can understand if you are someone who lives in the sticks and you can't get broadband, but if you live in a place where broadband is available and you don't have it, doesn't that mean that perhaps you're not interested in it? There doesn't seem to be much lack of uptake of cell phones among the poor and cell service and broadband service seem to cost the same monthly...Just because you consider broadband a "must have", I don't think you should assume that the only reason another person doesn't have it is because they can't afford it...

Bill Oliver asks:"Why should university stores be barred from competing with private enterprises and why, for that matter, should small businesses b[e] protected from competition with university stores?"

From "socialism. n 1: Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government."

How about computers? The RAM shop in the student stores
gives an extremely good deal to current students, faculty, and
staff on the purchase,
support and maintenance of IBM computers and the typical
software that accompanies them, whether for UNC or personal
use. Am I correct that if this bill becomes law that UNC will
be able to offer the same service to all UNC alumni?

I remember about a dozen years ago that a local computer
store in the Bank of America building sued UNC because
UNC was selling computers retail for less than the local
store could buy them wholesale. I don't remember the
outcome of the lawsuit, however the student stores still
exists, while the local vendor is history.

It seems to me selling just about anything that makes money furthers the mission of the UNC system. Money is money.

I presume the amendment was endorsed because legislators don't think Universities will go crazy with this. Probably they think profits that fund Universities are good and local businesswomen and men will find ways to handle some medium scale competition. I'm sure legislators envision healthy competition.

But here on Orangepolitics, we can imagine what will really happen if this ammendment passes... every store in CN will be a company store...

Actually, I don't know how I would have voted on this. With the information presented here, I would have voted with Faison, but maybe there are some good reasons most endorsed the amendment.

This discussion has spun off in a number of directions. To address two of them,

Of course, Bulls Head inhibits the development and/or success of an independent bookstore on Franklin Street. They have a somewhat captive market of tens of thousands. Many of those are required to enter the building to purchase text books and pass by it several times daily. The issue is not whether Bulls Head is “buried on campus.” The question is whether students go to local retail to buy books as they do ice cream or beer. I remember the case Joe describes. More recently, there is the phantom office supply store which appears at various locations around Franklin Street when the moon is full.

Terri wonders why the government ought to provide telecomm but not posters. Telecomm falls in a gray area between two traditional areas of government activity: essential services and economic development. Will argues both points well and his argument does not need repeating.

Sale of posters are neither an essential service nor an economic development activity. Nor is it an important convenience for students that the university ought to provide like, say, access to a granola bar. No one is going to be significantly injured by having to wait until after class to walk over to Johnny Posters on Franklin Street to buy a 50 Cent poster.

Dan--There are two bookstores on Franklin Street that effectively compete for the textbook business, location not withstanding (and exactly who owns Tarheel books?). We don't need another. The undergraduate market is accounted for--a successful bookstore would/could look elsewhere for customers. Borders opened four years ago--about a mile and a half from Barnes and Noble--and its parking lot is routinely packed (frequently with students). When we hear that people in Carrboro are saying that they want a bookstore, we aren't talking about undergrads. We live in one of the two most educated metropolitan areas in the country. The only bookstores that stock a lot of university presses are buried on campuses . That's annoying to everyone whose not on these campuses--even many professors and grad students. This is an obvious, untapped market.
I would add that Greensboro has plenty of scholars--five institutions of higher education--with nothing to speak of in terms of bookstores. When I was in graduate school, I would travel to Ithaca (about an hour away) two or three times a month, mostly for the bookstore in the commons. I probably went to the bookstore buried on Cornell's campus no more than 1/7th as many times. And believe me, that was a lot more convenient than the Bullshead. I really can't get excited about having Franklin St compete for student dollars for textbooks, fast food, crappy posters, etc. Dollars downtown gets from these businesses are also lost in the sense that no one is going to travel to downtown Chapel hill from Durham or Hillsborough (let alone Raleigh or Greensboro) to go to Quizmos . When I was in school, people came to campus at the beginning of the year selling the cliche posters for two or three days. Unimaginative students raced to get their Pulp Fiction, Michael Jordan, or whatnot to pin on the walls. But this town has a lot of imaginative consumers, on and off campus. I'm confident that no businesses serving us will open on campus any time soon, no matter what exemptions they get . Why then are there so few businesses serving us, especially downtown? No free parking--even for an hour (unlike Asheville, Charlottesville, and Athens, to mention relevant comparisons--all have free parking and a far better retail mix downtown(and they have universities to compete with/be supported by))--obviously discourages shopping downtown. And then the rents are so high that's it hard to see how you can think about starting a business downtown. I can't think of any other reasons why interesting businesses locate in places like University Mall , where its a lot harder to attract students(not to mention pedestrians and visibility). I really think that whether or not posters are sold on campus is the last thing to worry about.

If anyone would like to read the text of the (original) Umstead Act, it can be found at:

The proposed revisions are at:

If I understand Will's position correctly, he, as well as many others I'm sure, are concerned about those research-driven businesses UNC wants to put at Carolina North. One such business, a faculty member who produces some kind of science education material (I think), has just gone commercial with his research and has rented space in Carrboro (legal per the Act). While the business itself won't compete with any local businesses, if Carolina North space was available it would be competing with non-University commercial space.

H1539 removes CN from the constraints of the Act altogether. Although I don't see any problem with the university selling posters, books or clothing, I have major concerns about competing for commercial space. Both Chapel Hill and Carrboro need an expanded business base (other than retail). Their commercially zoned properties will not be able to compete with University space unless (maybe) the University is required to charge for the full commercial value of the space. We could be faced with subsidizing space on campus (through our taxes) that actually increases our tax rate in order to pay for services to that space. Any fiscal equity agreement will need to consider the lost commercial opportunities of both towns, especially if there are no restrictions on what UNC can do on HW property.

Will is also concerned about the types of businesses that might locate at CN. Under that case, the proposed legislation might serve us well since it would require a panel to review all new University businesses. However, there is nothing in the legislation as currently written that requires the panel to have local representation. In other words, the panel could chose to make decisions without input from the local community. That's a big weakness.

Carolina North is already exempt from the Umstead Act, regardless of what happens with H1539, thanks to some prior action by the General Assembly.

Terri, I'm not understanding your point about commercial space. One significant barrier to entry in this market for small business is high leasing costs for office and retail quarters. I should think taking your hypothetical prof out of the competition for off-campus, off-CN space would help out folks not affiliated with the university.

I read the amendments to the act. At this point, what keeps me from endorsing the ammendments is the review panel. (The review panel assures that the University does not undertake an activity in competition with an existing or proposed nongovernmental entity.)

The panel shall consist of nine members as follows:

(1) Two members who are familiar with the interests of the business community of the State appointed by the Governor.

(2) Two members who are familiar with the interests of the business community of the State appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives under G.S. 120-121.

(3) Two members who are familiar with the interests of the business community of the State appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate under G.S. 120-121.

(4) Three members who are not employees of The University of North Carolina appointed by the Board of Governors.

Can a panel chosen in this way really be expected to be fair to local businesses interests? We would have to rely an awful lot on the Attorney General.

Ray, how did the local Chamber of Commerce respond when the GA granted CN exemption from the Umstead Act? Exactly what are the full implications of CN exemption?

When Kinko's was forced to leave the coursepack biz after it lost its copyright suit, student stores bought their list of customers and started their own biz. They then started to very aggressively market to customers (professors) of other coursepack producers around town using a loyalty to the company store argument. It took a lot of calls to Susan E. and the DA to get them to back down.
Ask the folks at Foister's Camera how their business with the university is going.


Ray--do you have the legislative bill number that removed CN from the Umstead Act? H1539 specifically states that it is exempt. Why would there need to be 2 bills to accomplish that?

"I should think taking your hypothetical prof out of the competition for off-campus, off-CN space would help out folks not affiliated with the university." I see the existence of faculty/research-driven businesses as a control on rents (some demand keeps rents lower than they would be without that demand) and you are proposing that demand for space keeps rents higher. I believe your premise is only (theoretically) true when there is limited space available (competition). But it's been a while since I had an economics course so I am willing to be corrected.

I think, at least here in Chapel Hill, people are missing the big picture. I moved here for work 7 years ago and rarely come to Franklin Street, even though I love the atmosphere, for one reason and one reason only - parking. Forget about a bookstore on Franklin Street, unless it is a book store only for students. And, if it is for the student crowd, then shouldn't they be able to have a book store on campus as part of their college experience, which they are paying for?

When I lived in Durham, I often went to the Regulator and bought a book, then walked up to Francesca's and had coffee while I read said book. Or, I would walk to the campus book store and pick up a book to read later. Why? Because it was easy. The second I moved to Chapel Hill (two locations there, another in Carrboro), I started going to Barnes & Noble. Now, with small children, I rarely attempt Chapel Hill, while still making it to the Market Street square in Carrboro for Sunday Brunch (parking access). Actually, come to think of it, we have been to Carrboro lots of times but we've never even been to Franklin Street with the kids. Franklin Street is not kid friendly unless you live nearby, but maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. The Community Park, library, and lots of other places are kid friendly and we visit them regularly.

Having said that, we might want to consider the effect this will have on other towns in North Carolina. I went to a small school in Pennsylvania that was the life-blood of the community. If the book store (which sold only texts) had become a coffee shop/bookstore it would have quickly bankrupted the funky-cool bookstore downtown that I used to visit. If they had opened up restaurants like Duke's student center has, then it would have deeply hurt many local businesses.

In short, I don't think UNC-CH doing business is going to affect local business in Chapel Hill as much as poor parking conditions. However, I think in other locations around the state it could have a more severe impact.

Here is something most of y'all probably missed when it first ran. It doesn't play directly into the Umstead Act discussion -- that's not really the direction in which the article goes -- but it does raise a lot of points about university bookstores in general that some of you might find interesting.

Do campus stores collect sales tax on the items they sell? It's been a long time since I've patronized one--just wondering.

This is way off-topic but... Robert, are you aware of the Rosemary Street parking deck? I think there is way more parking in downtown Chapel Hill than in Carrboro.

This is my first post.

Ruby, I don't mean to speak for Robert, but I'm guessing he means free parking.

When every other shopping venue (Southpoint, New Hope, Eastgate, Kroger Plaza, UMall, and Weaver Street) offers free parking, people regard it as an affront to pay, even if the deck prices aren't that high. I'm not sure it's even the price as much as it is the hassle of getting a ticket, keeping track of the ticket, and paying at the end.

Plus, quite frankly, are there really any compelling destinations on Franklin Street for non-students between Granville Towers and the UNC President's house?

I'm a neophyte about the issues here, but on the subject of town/gown/ relations, why did UNC start charging 24/7 (except Sundays) for parking in the Swain lot and the Morehead lot. That seems to be a big blow to the downtown business community and any efforts to attract folks who can't easily walk to Franklin Street

Terri, the changes wrought by H1539 are marked by underlining and strikeouts in the test of the bill. If you look at the existing law referenced in the bill (GS 66-58, see, you'll see that the exemptions for Carolina North and the Centennial Campus are already in place. And no, I don't know when they were enacted, and can't tell from the legislative history offered at the bottom of the section.

Chris, I think UNC started charging for parking in the Swain and Morehead lots in 2002. That was the same year the administration wanted to start charging for most night parking everywhere on campus, the point being to discourage driving and raise money for Chapel Hill Transit (see The trustees, egged on by student government and the faculty, vetoed the overall idea. But if memory serves, they allowed the conversion of the Swain and Morehead lots to go ahead as some sort of "compromise" measure.

Thanks Ray for the clarifications. When I reviewed the Bills I thought they were proposing exemptions, not that the exemptions were already in effect.

The two relevant excerpts of 66‑58. Sale of merchandise or services by governmental units appear to be:

GS 66-58.(a) Except as may be provided in this section, it shall be unlawful for any unit, department or agency of the State government, or any division or subdivision of the unit, department or agency, or any individual employee or employees of the unit, department or agency in his, or her, or their capacity as employee or employees thereof, to engage directly or indirectly in the sale of goods, wares or merchandise in competition with citizens of the State, or to engage in the operation of restaurants, cafeterias or other eating places in any building owned by or leased in the name of the State, or to maintain service establishments for the rendering of services to the public ordinarily and customarily rendered by private enterprises, or to provide transportation services, or to contract with any person, firm or corporation for the operation or rendering of the businesses or services on behalf of the unit, department or agency, or to purchase for or sell to any person, firm or corporation any article of merchandise in competition with private enterprise. The leasing or subleasing of space in any building owned, leased or operated by any unit, department or agency or division or subdivision thereof of the State for the purpose of operating or rendering of any of the businesses or services herein referred to is hereby prohibited.

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to:

(8) The University of North Carolina with regard to:

a. The University's utilities and other services now operated by it.

b. The sale of articles produced incident to the operation of instructional departments, articles incident to educational research, articles of merchandise incident to classroom work, meals, books, or to articles of merchandise not exceeding twenty‑five cents (25¢) in value when sold to members of the educational staff or staff auxiliary to education or to duly enrolled students or occasionally to immediate members of the families of members of the educational staff or of duly enrolled students.

c. The sale of meals or merchandise to persons attending meetings or conventions as invited guests.

d. The operation by the University of North Carolina of an inn or hotel and dining and other facilities usually connected with a hotel or inn.

e. The hospital and Medical School of the University of North Carolina.

f. The Coliseum of North Carolina State University at Raleigh, and the other schools and colleges for higher education maintained or supported by the State.

g. The Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University at Raleigh.

h. The Horace Williams Campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

No "Centennial Campus Envy" there. So, looks like inns, motels, hotels, eating establishments, service industry, wares business and REAL ESTATE. Hmm, "UNC Real Estate Corp" coming to a Town near you? Not so far fetched considering the noise we've heard about the current UNC administration's interest in remaking downtown, even to the extent of buying those prime properties.

(h) Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 66‑58(b)(8), The University of North Carolina, its constituent institutions, the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University, the Horace Williams Campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Millennial Campus of a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, or any corporation or other legal entity created or directly controlled by and using land owned by The University of North Carolina shall consult with and provide the following information to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations before issuing debt or executing a contract for a golf course or for any transient accommodations facility, including a hotel or motel:

(1) Architectural concepts.
(2) Financial and debt service projections.
(3) Business plans.
(4) Operating plans.
(5) Feasibililty studies and consultant reports. (1929, c. 221, s. 1; 1933, c. 172, s. 18; 1939, c. 122; 1941, c. 36; 1951, c. 1090, s. 1; 1957, c. 349, ss. 6, 10; 1967, c. 996, s. 13; 1973, c. 476, ss. 48, 128, 143; c. 671, s. 1; c. 965; c. 1262, s. 86; c. 1294; c. 1457, s. 7; 1975, c. 730, ss. 2‑5; c. 840; c. 879, s. 46; 1977, cc. 355, 715; c. 771, s. 4; 1979, c. 830, s. 4; 1981, c. 635, s. 3; 1983, c. 8; c. 476; c. 717, s. 13; c. 761, s. 168; 1985, c. 589, s. 28; c. 757, s. 206(d); 1989, c. 727, s. 218(9); 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1004, s. 1; 1991, c. 749, s. 7; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 902, s. 3; 1993, c. 539, s. 513; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 769, s. 17.15; c. 777, s. 4(e); 1995, c. 247, s. 2; c. 507, s. 13.1(a); 1997‑258, s. 1; 1997‑261, ss. 4‑6; 1997‑315, s. 1; 1997‑443, s. 11A.21; 1997‑456, s. 55.2A; 1997‑527, s. 1; 1998‑202, s. 4(d), (e); 1998‑212, ss. 9.9, 13.3; 1999‑234, s. 9; 1999‑237, ss. 19.7, 27.23A; 2000‑137, ss. 4(f), 4(g); 2000‑148, s. 6; 2000‑177, s. 10; 2001‑41, s. 2; 2001‑127, s. 1; 2001‑368, s. 1; 2002‑102, s. 3; 2002‑109, s. 1; 2002‑126, ss. 9.15(a), 18.5; 2004‑124, ss. 8.17(b), 9.13.)

Glad to know that the inevitable(?) UNC/North hotel and golf course complex ( "Centennial Campus Envy") will have to be reviewed before being built. I guess the educational service here is - Mr. Bueller, Mr. Bueller?

On the parking, what a disastrous message UNC sent when they converted the free after-hours lots to pay lots. It was especially heartening, during a 2003 Council meeting, to hear that local citizens, who were being asked to use Town funds to defray the cost of programs at the new Memorial Hall, might, possibly, be given a break on parking rates during perfromances at that venue (Jim Heavner, representing Memorial Hall Transformation Committee, said "he would object, if asked, to anyone charging patrons of the performing arts program" - wonder where that went?).

The after-hours (weekdays after 5:30pm, weekends) lot utilization, based on my experience, has gone way down since that decision. Everytime I bike through the lots I wonder how much they net, if anything, on the fees, especially given the additional capital and personnel costs. I guess it's moot on the Art lots as they'll be vaporized with the new Art Commons development, but reversing their decision on Morehead would be a nice gesture (and possible save State taxpayers some change).

We actually have lots of parking inventory downtown but since quite a bit of it is "locked up" in private hands, its utilization varies widely. For instance, the lots near where I work clear out after 6pm but you'd be towed if you had the temerity to park after 6pm. I understand why private lot owners might not want the financial burden of policing the lots 24/7 or dealing with the additional cleanup it might entail, but it seems like a creative approach, maybe spear-headed by the DEDC, would be for the Town to defray the maintenance costs of opening this under-utilized inventory at appropriate times (and maybe even asking for some small percentage to be set aside during "normal" business hours for general public usage [yes, and I understand how students could abuse this....]).

I wouldn't want this "scheme" to be mandated, but it seems like University Square, et. al. could chip in a few spaces and not even miss them (especially Univ. Sq. - which, with its current deficit of high traffic businesses, seems to have plenty of spaces available 'round the clock).

Since the topics drifted a bit toward parking... The only plausible defense I've heard of the lack of free parking in downtown is that the students would clog up the spaces. The obvious solution is to make it 1 or 2 free hours of parking, strictly enforced. This works well in Greensboro around the university and many other places. What is up with that lot where you have to pay if you park before, like, 8pm (I think it is on Franklin (entrance on Rosemary) a little West of Caribou--not sure if this rule is still in effect--I stopped going in to this lot once I saw this rule)? Is there really such a glut of cars after 5pm, when some of us might drive downtown to grab a bite to eat? Another thing--about six weeks ago, I got a ticket on a Saturday morning--I think I got back to the meter about fifteen minutes late. This was the morning of the ABC sale--there was a free parking at the Morehead, but it was very congested. Why vigorously enforce parking at 10am on a Saturday, when there were a lot of people downtown for a community event?? Having University Square give up a couple of spaces is a great idea--might even attract some foot business to that complex. Another idea would be to run buses to University Mall frequently--every five or ten minutes (this might also attract business to a complex that's largely local businesses). As things stand, I do NOT recommend just hanging out at the bus stop there to catch a bus to downtown. You may well be there for a while. In general, if you talk to people from places like Raleigh and Durham, one of the things people are most struck by in Chapel Hill is the (at least perceived) difficulty parking.

To follow up on Steve's post, I go downtown to Franklin St every weekend for breakfast and it almost never fails that I see someone yanking a parking ticket off their windshield and asking, to no one in particular, "why do i have to pay to park on saturday?"

Just a couple of points. I think it's fairly obvious that the continual expansion of universities into the business sector will harm commercial businesses. This concern is not anti-university or even just a local concern. In 1998 the Chief Counsel to the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration stated “Competition between small firms, government sponsored entities and tax-exempt organizations are a serious problem for some small businesses, a problem that has increased in intensity in the last 20 years. This was one of the top issues addressed by the 2000 delegates to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business that resulted in a recommendation that the government take action to prevent unfair competition by tax-exempt organizations. The expansion of Universities into the private business sector not only harms businesses but also, since universities are tax exempt nonprofits, it results in less taxes collected at the state and local level which results in budget deficits, higher taxes for all citizens and less affordable housing as more property is consumed by the university and taken off the tax roles. (May want to check out June 2001 paper by Sol. S. Shalit, Prof. Emeritus of Economics and Finance of the University of Wisconsin, entitled “The University's rationale for growth does not stand scrutiny.”)

Nor is the “review panel” an acceptable solution to a weakened (or defunct) Umstead Act. Terri B. has rightly expressed the concern that the panel will not provide local representation. And Mary R. has also rightly expressed concern that the panel may not be “fair” to local business interests. I feel moving away from protections provided by the Umstead Act to protection provided by a panel is unacceptable on general principle. As a citizen or business owner I would prefer to make a challenge of unfair competition under the provisions, guidelines and case law of a law and not be dependent upon the “good will” of an appointed panel of people. This obviously opens a door for corruption and special treatment where it becomes “who you know” and not the merits of the case. This is aptly illustrated by The N&O article link provided by Will R. on deals forged by powerful businessmen and university and state officials at the ACC. The article states “the deal-making isn't so crude that checks are handed over or legislation debated. This is more subtle, the kind of lobbying done with backslaps and Bud Light.” Rule by law may still be subject to corruption but far less so than rule by a good-old-boy club network of favors, free tickets, bribes and self-dealing. ---Robin Cutson


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