9/1/2020 meeting summary: Affordable Housing Bond, micromobility (scooters!), big rezoning
We had afternoon and evening council meetings on September 1, 2020 (technically on September 2 too, since we finished after midnight, it was a long day); below is a summary of pertinent information:
1. We received more information and took additional action on the Affordable Housing Bond.
Several months ago, we adopted the Affordable Housing Bond Committee recommendations for an $80 million bond allocated as follows:
- $16 million (20%) for transit site acquisition;
- $24 million (30%) for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) financing;
- $28 million (35%) for public and private partnerships;
- $6 million (7.5%) for owner-occupied home rehabilitation; and
- $6 million (7.5%) for down payment assistance.
We also adopted the recommendation to produce more housing units affordable at 30% area median income (AMI). At the meeting this week, staff presented policy recommendations for producing more housing affordable at 30% AMI.
Staff recommended allocating $10 million from the bond funds for permanent supportive housing for very low income (30% AMI or lower) chronically homeless individuals, $10 million from the bond funds for non-profit partners to create or preserve small scale projects where not less than one-third of total units serve 30% AMI or lower, and $8 million from the bond funds plus regulatory incentives for new rental developments where not less than 20% of the units are affordable for not less than 30 years. Staff also recommended requiring 25% of units in 9% tax credit projects and 10% of units in 4% tax credit projects to target creating housing affordable at 30% AMI.
We voted to adopt and approve all of these recommendations.
2. We approved a policy to allow city employees to volunteer to work as Precinct Officials on Election Day. Any city employee who volunteers will receive paid Administrative Leave for their regularly scheduled work hours on Election Day and for the related training and set up, up to 20 hours, as well as the compensation normally paid to poll workers through the Wake County Board of Elections.
3. We received an update from Raleigh Water on city utility payments.
Raleigh suspended disconnects on March 12, 2020 and reconnected any accounts previously disconnected. In April, City Council approved an adjustment of residential water rates, recognizing that customers are using more water at home during the pandemic.
Since that time, we’ve seen in increase in residential use and a decrease in non-residential use, as projected. Presently, late fees are scheduled to resume on September 19, 2020, but disconnects remain suspended.
Raleigh Water customers who need help paying their utility bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify and apply for financial aid through WakeHELPS. WakeHELPS will provide up to $500 per household from Federal CARES Act Funding the county received. More information here.
Raleigh also maintains the Utility Customer Assistance Program (UCAP) to help economically distressed water and sewer utility customers manage their utility bills. More information here.
Raleigh also has a program called Project Share, where other customers or businesses can donate additional money each month to help residents who are in crisis and unable to pay their utility bill. More information here.
4. We took action on micromobility (more scooters are coming back!). We worked to learn best practices and engaged in discussions with micromobility providers to create opportunities for collaboration and to eliminate barriers to industry success in Raleigh.
We approved new agreements, that allow the providers to pay more flexible fees, including an annual fee and then a per ride fee. We also worked to address fleet size and parking issues. Finally, we also focused on equity, making sure vehicles are fairly distributed and that there are payment options available to anyone without a smart phone or bank account.
I am glad we came from a place of “yes” on this issue, and more scooters will be returning to Raleigh. I believe Raleigh can and should be a leader in micromobility, and now more than ever it’s important for our residents to get out of their cars, get around safely, and enjoy our businesses and open spaces.
5. We approved a rezoning request to allow development of a mixed use tower up to 40 stories adjacent to Capital Boulevard. Attached is a rendering of what could be built on the site. This project has potential to transform this part of our city and is perfectly positioned near a future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route and along a corridor that was just recently improved for pedestrians. I am excited to watch this area grow and change, become less car dependent, and more lively.
We have a work session on September 8, 2020 at 4 p.m. where we will receive an update on the work being done to create a new system of community engagement, and we will also engage in a pedestrian safety review. I am very excited about both of these topics.
Our next regular City Council meeting is September 15, 2020 at 1 p.m. Also on September 15, we have a work session at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the InterLocal funding (Wake food and beverage tax).