5/18 and 6/1 meetings summaries: bus update, parking minimums, 15-minute city
We had City Council meetings Tuesday May 18 and June 1. Of note, these meetings were our last regular virtual meetings, and we are returning to in-person meetings June 15! I am so excited to get back to the table.
Below is a summary of our meetings. But first, I want to provide a brief update on buses.
- Buses will remain fare free until at least July 2022.
- Regarding benches and shelters, staff has worked with Raleigh Transit Authority (RTA) to provide seating at more bus stops. As a reminder, the City adopted a policy to provide shelters and benches at any bus stop with 10 boardings per day, and 85% of bus riders will board at a stop with a shelter. This month, RTA approved shelters at all DHIC and Raleigh Housing Authority (RHA) sites even if they don’t meet the 10 boardings threshold. There are 24 stops within the current GoRaleigh system that serve DHIC and RHA locations, 11 stops have an existing shelter or bench in place while seven have designs in progress. Staff will submit the remaining six locations for design within the next 30 days. RTA also approved the installation of a new type of amenity, a “pedestal seat”, that will be installed at stops with less than 10 boardings or as temporary installations at sites that qualify for a shelter that hasn’t yet been constructed. We have more work to do to make sure transit is safe and accessible to all, especially to those who rely on it most. But these are good steps in the right direction.
1. We started the process of eliminating parking minimums citywide and capping or mitigating parking maximums. Earlier this year, we eliminated parking minimums downtown and within Transit Overlay Districts, now we’re taking a larger step forward. Parking minimums were established decades ago and mandate a required number of parking spaces for each new development. In recent years, it’s become more apparent that parking minimums work against, and conflict with, other goals, such as: housing affordability and housing supply, use of transit, cost of goods and services, reducing stormwater runoff, and climate change.
Removing parking minimums does not mean that new parking will not be built or provided. It means that each development will decide how much parking is appropriate, rather than a prescribed amount.
2. We received final recommendations for our efforts to restructure and increase community engagement. Two primary recommendations were to (1) create an Office of Community Engagement that will work collaboratively with the Department of Equity and Inclusion and community groups to engage with residents who have been excluded from or inadvertently discouraged from engaging in public processes under the old system and (2) establish Neighborhood Enrichment Units to go out into the community and direct community engagement programs, activities, and services. This new structure will be funded in the FY22 budget that will be approved this month. For the first-time ever, Raleigh will have an office solely dedicated to Community Engagement citywide, across all departments.
Other recommendations also included hosting periodic “Welcome to Raleigh” events for new residents and hosting “Community Rooms” throughout the city to create spaces for asking questions and sharing ideas. These recommendations, and others, will be implemented through the Office of Community Engagement throughout the next year.
3. The committee I chair, Economic Development and Innovation, made two recommendations to council to address access to goods and services. We recommended that staff draft a text change which would allow Accessory Commercial Units (ACUs) in residential and mixed-use zoning districts. ACUs will allow small-scale, locally-owned retail within neighborhoods, bringing goods and services closer to where people are, reducing car-dependency. We also recommended that staff identify impediments for commercial/retail development in mixed-used zoning districts where commercial uses are already allowed and bring to Council any options to address those impediments to make it easier to build commercial/retail units. One of the issues I campaigned upon in 2019 was innovation and making it easier to do business with our city, especially as it relates to small businesses. I am glad we’re making strides towards those goals.
HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!