Photo courtesy of GoTriangle
Expect the full force of affordable housing and transit advocates to show up today at the City Council work session (1 p.m., second floor committee room, City Hall), as the agenda is packed with those issues and other tidbits.
Issue 1: The land next to the bus station is up for more discussion.
The rub: The city owns these two acres, and Durham CAN identified the parcel as an excellent place to build affordable housing. Self-Help wants the city to donate the land so it can apply for a tax credit for that very purpose. But City Manager Tom Bonfield has suggested issuing an RFP and putting it out for bid. The city could put stipulations on the sale, requiring some level of affordable housing, but that's all to be determined.
Councilman Steve Schewel sent BCR his vision for affordable housing; it's lengthy—and I haven't made it through the whole document yet—but definitely worth a close reading. Download Towards an Affordable Housing Strategy 2015
Issue 2: An economic development incentive agreement, worth $5.25 million over 15 years, with Longfellow Real Estate. The developers say they need the money to build an 820-space parking deck in the Innovation District, which is adjacent to Durham Central Park. The Innovation District is a proposed biotech/lifescience campus downtown.
The rub: Will any of these 820 spaces be public? And why is the city subsidizing deep-pocketed developers for a parking garage? Are there not other worthy projects that could use some help?
Issue 3: A presentation from GoTriangle about the light rail project about the recommended alternatives, as laid out in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The agency is asking the mayor and city council for their blessing.
The rub: Suburban residents in the Downing Creek and Farrington Road area are unhappy. The alternative puts the maintenance facility near Farrington Road and the line crosses Downing Creek Parkway, parallel to N.C. 54, which could cause traffic problems for the subdivision. On the other end of the line, there is still concern about the placement of the Alston Avenue station and whether it will divide neighborhoods. Durham Area Designers also is chiming in. Download Durham Area Designers DO LRT Downtown Section Comments
Issue 4: The city's disparity study, analyzing if minorities and women are being excluded from city contracts.
The rub: Data came out earlier this year showing that there is a statistically significant disparity in contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses. Council and the mayor were very dismayed by this news, and asked for more information and recommendations. The report lays out ways to reach out to these groups to ensure they have equal access to information and opportunity.
Issue 5: Elois Johnson is going to speak during the public comment period about the "Dog Poop Ordinance."
The rub: I'm just guessing what Johnson is going to say, but from my personal experience, I would advise that when you bag your dog poop in parks and public areas, TAKE THE BAG WITH YOU.
See everyone at 1. I suggest bringing snacks and drinks. It's going to be a long haul.