First meetings of 2022 update: tiny homes, breweries, LGBTQ liaison
We had our first City Council meetings of 2022 on Tuesday January 4 and Tuesday January 18. Below are a few updates:
1. We adopted an ordinance to make curbside pickup zones permanent downtown. In March 2020, we instructed staff to deploy approximately 100 temporary curbside pickup zones to assist businesses and restaurants affected by COVID-19 during the State of Emergency. Since that time, businesses have expressed a desire to keep some of these zones in place. Look for them next time you’re downtown!
2. We received an update from Police Chief Patterson that RPD has finally added an LGBTQ liaison position. Community members, including Equality NC, have been advocating for this position for years, and I’m glad we finally got it done. I actually spoke with the liaison today, and he is excited to get to work; some of his duties will include assisting and advising other officers on cases involving LGBTQ issues and building relationships with business owners and LGBTQ community groups.
The addition of this position along with our adoption of the nondiscrimination ordinance last year should increase our Municipal Equality Index score next year. Raising the score has been a priority since I was elected; it was in the 50s in 2019. When it’s calculated again next year we should join a few other NC cities with a 100 score.
3. We approved a text change to make it easier to build play structures on residential property. This change was initiated by request of a resident. If you’re a subscriber, you can read more about it in the News & Observer. I appreciate Council Member Buffkin’s leadership on this issue.
4. We approved a text change to allow construction of tiny homes! Tiny homes are a tool that can be used to address our housing crisis and are part of our continued effort to tackle zoning reform. I’ve said this before, I don’t think anyone has identified an outright solution to housing affordability. But I am certain we’re not going to find the solution doing things the exact same way that got us into this mess. And it starts with zoning reform. I’m glad we continue to make progress.
5. We adopted a text change to allow breweries to operate in more places in the city. The change allows breweries to expand into more areas, so long as they have a tasting room, tap room, restaurant or retail use which is open to the public.
Our next City Council meetings are Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.