(much delayed) 11/4 meetings summaries and 11/10 work session summary
We had regular City Council meetings last Wednesday, November 4, 2020 and a work session yesterday, November 10, 2020. Below is a summary of those meetings.
I’m sorry for the delay; last week I spent time volunteering for Election Day and then was consumed by watching results, as I expect most of you were as well.
1. We received information from staff about the status of the proposed Downtown South project, a summary of what could be included in a Tax Increment Grant(TIG) policy, and an outline for a community engagement approach.
The Downtown South project was announced in June 2019. It’s located south of downtown, comprising more than 145 acres of property located near South Saunders Street and Interstate 40. The project is being described as a mixed-use, high intensity urban development project, including a sports stadium, with a multi-phased construction timeline of 15 to 20 years. The project is anticipated to entail an estimated $2 billion of private investment. Early this year, in February, City Council toured the proposed site during our annual City Council retreat. More information here and here.
The official rezoning process began in March and is still with our Planning Commission. At our last meeting, a representative of the project asked City Council to consider a Tax Increment Grant (TIG) to assist with some community benefits associated with the project, like green stormwater infrastructure, affordable housing, and workforce development.
With a TIG, the city does not issue or take on the debt associated with the project. A private developer assumes all upfront development costs and is reimbursed via a grant to cover certain costs related to infrastructure and public benefits. TIGs are provided on a reimbursement basis only. At our meeting last week, we learned that Raleigh does not have a citywide TIG policy at all but Charlotte does. You can review Charlotte’s policy here.
We authorized staff to develop a citywide TIG policy for Raleigh. Regardless of whether or not it’s used for the Downtown South project, I think we should have a policy. We also authorized staff to outline key terms that could comprise a TIG agreement (public private partnership agreement) between the city and developer for Downtown South, as well as a community engagement process to help form what community benefits would be included in the project. If you followed my campaign, you know my goal is to come from a place of “yes” when considering new ideas and challenges. I think Downtown South could be a transformative project for our city if handled correctly and if certain issues are addressed. I want to say “yes, and…” and directing staff to come back with options aligns with that goal.
2. We took action to help incentivize the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). As you may recall, right before our “summer break,” we approved a text change to allow ADUs by right, citywide, which was a promise I made during my campaign. But it’s not enough to just allow them to be built in the city; to be effective, we need to make sure they’re actually constructed.
We authorized staff to create an ADU Resource Guide to help educate homeowners and the development community on the benefits of ADUs and to create an ADU monitoring program. We also asked staff to explore building permit and facility fee reductions for ADUs as well as other text changes to make ADUs easier to build.
3. We renamed the All Faiths Chapel at Dix Park to “The Greg Poole, Jr All Faiths Chapel.” Mr. Poole was the founder of the Dix Park Conservancy and helped persuade the State to sell the land to the city. He also worked to inspire citizens and leaders to invest their time and money towards building and creating the park. He passed away on December 29, 2018. This renaming is a wonderful way to thank him for his efforts and honor his legacy.
4. We approved a text change to include renters as part of the city’s mailed notice requirements for projects and decisions that affect our city. Thank you to Council Member Nicole Stewart for raising this issue last year and for working with me this year on making this change. It’s an important first step in expanding access to our community members. But we still have work to do.
On Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 7 p.m. Council Member Stewart and I will be conducting a virtual listening session on the topic of renter-related issues citywide. We want to hear from you about other ways we can expand access. We will post the meeting access details this week.
5. At our work session yesterday we received the external report and review of RPD polices and procedures associated with their response to the protests that occurred earlier this summer in reaction to the murder of George Floyd. In September, RPD presented its own after action report, but the City Manager also hired an independent consultant, 21CP, to conduct an external review. 21CP has compiled 38 recommended changes to our police department, across 8 broad categories: Operational Planning, Use of Force and De-Escalation During Protests, Equipment and Resources, Communication, Mutual Aid, Body-Worn Cameras, After Action Reports, Community Engagement.
We directed the City Manager’s office to respond by December 11, 2020 and list what recommended changes can be implemented immediately, in the next 30-90 days, the costs of those changes, what other changes City Council has authority to implement, and what changes we would need to seek the assistance of the legislature.
We have a work session and regular Council Meeting next Tuesday, November 17, 2020. As always, thank you for reading.