Out of jail, yet out of luck: Following HUD's lead, Durham Housing Authority board to consider relaxing housing rules for ex-offenders
Nosh owners ask city for grant to open new restaurant on West Chapel Hill Street

Parking, gentrification and more: live blogging City Council, May 19

It's 1:17 p.m., and Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden is reading the agenda.  Download Durham City Council Work Session Agenda - May 19 2016

While you're waiting, here are some items of interest:

Morgan Street parking garage  Download 11139_MEMO_PROPOSED_NEW_DOWNTOWN_PAR_389330_696396

Environmental cleanup of new site of Durham Police Department headquarters  Download 11137_MEMO_POLICE_HQ_PGMP_1_DEMO_ABA_389031_696315

And a request for a neighborhood improvement grant by Wendy Woods, co-owner of Nosh, to open a restaurant at 1200 W. Chapel Hill St.. It was an old gas station, then a church, and is now vacant. It sits diagonal from Kent Corner.  Download 11088_OTHER_HABITABLE_SPACE_LLC_PROJE_387975_690963

1:30 p.m. City Councilors receive health benefits while serving the city, but not after, unlike some city employees, depending on hire date. Question is whether City Council members who serve at least 10 years could pay into a health savings account, like employees hired after July 1, 2008. City makes a small contribution. Financial impact: $6K and change. 

Other option: The same situation, but councilors with 10 years of service would get city health insurance up to age 65. Over 65, the councilors would be available for a Medicare supplement, about $100 a month or so per member. Plus health insurance, it's another $6K to the city. Employees don't get this option.

Councilman Steve Schewel: If City adds an entire group of qualified people, the insurance is mandatory, right?


Councilman Charlie Reece: I don't think either of these options serve the taxpayers.

Mayor Bill Bell: At some point in time, additional benefits should be available to people who serve. This doesn't impact me; I'm not involved in it. (Bell is 74.) To say no, is to preclude any situations that might come up after you've served 10 years on the council. Future councils might want it [even if you don't want it.] Some people think this should be a full-time job, but that's another conversation.

Council is not taking any action on this.

1:55 p.m. Morgan Street parking garage, Harmon Crutchfield, interim transportation director: Refers to last meeting in which affordable housing was mentioned as part of the parking garage plan. There is additional information about land use, constructability and affordable housing. [He has several people here who can ask questions.]

Bob Chapman, local developer who wants affordable housing in the garage, signed up to speak on the issue [Powerpoint alert!] I want to talk about an outstanding opportunity on this property, especially when the Loop is undone. Kimley Horn massing study shows there is air space where you could put 42 apartments here without reducing the parking count. [We'll ask Chapman for his presentation.] Shows a parking deck in Roanoke, Va., where a Hampton is on top. 63% of 36 parking decks are pre-cast, icnluding American Tobacco. We used the number $18,350 per space, and ended up with enough money to spend money on $130 per square foot for all 42 apartments. If this were signed in August, could be done four months sooner than projected. If city sold those units to a nonprofit to Durham County Land Trustees, $333 a month for rent, and would help people making less than 25 percent area median income. The Empire State Building was planned and built in 20 months; we have 26 months and it's not as complicated.

Councilwoman Jillian Johnson: There was concern that to design a garage with housing on top of it could cost more, if it were added at a later date.

Robin Williams of general services: We don't have that specific dollar amounts, but we can say that putting housing on top of the structure, flagppole situation, creates a need for structural support. A wrapper would be more affordable, but there are site constraints that make us question the viability as well.

Reece: Asks transportation director about local employers getting monthly parking for their employees.

Crutchfield: It's ironic that this past week that I got a request from a customer who wants 3,000 square feet of parking space, we had to tell them we didn't have monthly parking for that tenant. That's not the only one.  Projected date of opening of new garage is summer of 2018. I'm going to look into incentives for parking downtown — park and ride options, because we have transit within our jurisdiction. [BCR wrote about park and ride a few weeks back.]

Reece: It seems clear to me [that this could be an option].

Crutchfield: We have a park and ride in the south that we'll implement in August. May not be enough so we need to look at another one as well.

Councilman Eddie Davis: Did the meeting the manager had with Mr. Chapman create wriggle room for a time frame that would be acceptable.

City Manager Tom Bonfield: it wasn't a negotiation, just an information sharing. There are site constraints. Anything can be done and designed, but there are certainly constraints that complicate that. Delivery, we have a significance difference of opinion how quickly we could build the site.

Crutchfield: Parking is paid with parking enterprise funds, any affordable housing can't be funded through that. 

Bell: I know the parking is a problem downtown. I think we have to be innovative when we can be. The staff report is all about why we can't do it. It seems to me we're providing the money for the parking garage for retail/commercial space there. I need the legal staff to tell us why we can't use the parking fund for housing if we can do that for retail/commerical space.

Patrick Baker: Will get back to them tomorrow.

David Boyd finance director: assuming you could pay for housing from parking fund, and the parking deck cost the same, then the math works. If the parking deck plus affordable housing costs more, the models won't sustain funding it, even from the parking fund. If it's not legal to use those parking funds, then affordable housing needs a different funding source.

Bell: I've not seen a projected budget for this garage.

Robin from general services: It was presented in February. Cost is $23 million, all in but without the housing. It is our position that housing would add costs. We feel the deck should be cast in place —durability and lower maintenance to city — as opposed to pre-cast. More leak proof for the retail component. The schedule the staff presented was ambitious.

Bell: We have a certain amount of dollars to spend. I just want to make sure we explore the options, that you feel comfortable saying affordable housing shouldn't be built on this site. Mr. Chapman do you have other comments?

Chapman: The gap, savings, comes from going with a pre-cast deck. The new county courthouse deck and the Duke Hospital deck are pre-cast. The two most significant issues in Chapel Hill Street and Durham Center deck, both cast-in-place decks, were expensive to overcome. the stretching of the tendons in the deck is not a unique problem. Pre-cast decks, there is a potential leakage where the joints join, solution is to pour concrete over that connection. The timeline saves about four months by using pre-cast. A dignified building in Durham facing the main boulevard of the city when the loop is undone. The plan we drew, we wanted to push the deck back five feet, which is an increase in the existing encroachment into the alley.

Planning Director Steve Medlin: A portion of the alley is not publicly maintained, where the building would go over. The portion that is publicly maintained is outside the building footprint. 

Councilman Eddie Davis to Chapman: Can you assure us there is no self-serving motive in your advocacy for this?

Chapman: We didn't make the short list, we're out of it. I'd like to see the Loop fixed. I'd like to see more people live downtown, and not just people who can afford really high rents. 

Robin from general services: Many things can be done on this site, what is operative is what we can fund and tolerate in terms of the schedule. If you can finance it without going through a tax credit process, the schedule holds — June 2018. There are some things Mr. Chapman didn't account for in a public project, because of administrative steps a private developer doesn't have to do. If the city doesn't have the money to do the housing and we have to do tax credits, then there would be a really big delay. And there's a question if we didn't get the tax credit, [the delay].

Schewel: There is no way we should pursue a tax credit for this. We'd have to fund the money elsewhere.

Bell: Chapman's proposal doesn't include tax credits. 

Bonfield: We haven't evaluated those numbers.

Don Moffitt: We have a lot of property downtown and if we do this piecemeal, we'll find ourself again in a crisis, we're in a hurry. It seems like we need a plan. And we could collaborate with the county, a master plan.

Bonfield: There is not a plan. And it's a very valid point we should take into consideration.

Reece: This is the conversation I wish we would have had in February. I take part of responsibility. I'm excited to hear about park and ride options, satellite parking in our budget. I'll be advocating for that budget item very strongly. The answer is not building more parking decks, it's getting people out of their cars, getting people downtown a different way. Light rail is the shiny project, but in the meantime, even if we build it by 2018, there won't be parking downtown and we'll still have the problem. That could create additional space for us to reconsider the proposal staff has put forward. 

[This might go on the next General Business Agenda]

2:36 p.m. Deborah Giles is discussing the contracting goals for minority- and women-owned businesses who could possibly participate in DPD HQ site cleanup. Land Lease company wants to meet goals.

BTW, Environmental cleanup begins in July.  More information about the building design and components in July. Still on track to complete DPD HQ in 2018.

Reece: How much $ have we spent on this so far?

Gina: $215K on pre-construction, and more, but... I'm not going to speculate.

Bonfield: We're getting a report on what we've spent to date and what we're going to spend.

People have signed up to speak opposing the DPD HQ:

Diatra  Jackson: Durham Beyond Policing campaign. I fully oppose the building of a new HQ and expansion of policing in our neighborhoods. Look to the city to divesting from policing and investing in black and brown communities. 500 people have signed our petition against the DPD HQ. Protests, town hall meetings and other canvassing. We want a participatory budget that allocates resources to what people need. We respectfully disagree with Mr. Schewel that increased policing equals increased safety in black and brown communities. Police do not keep us safe. They don't prevent crime, they react to it. We want raises for city workers not cops, sustainable food and water.

Reece: Can you tell us of other communities that have divested from the police department? What has it meant for them and the lives of the people?

Ms. Jackson: SpiritHouse is working on a Harm Free zone, learn to deal with conflict resolution respond with community and care, not incarceration.

Cole-McFadden: Does your organization mentor young, black men? So that they will change direction?

Ms. Jackson: We're not a mentoring organization. No. 

City worker and union member is speaking now: Our budget needs capital improvement road repair, increased wages. City needs this not a big police station. How will this address the ongoing issues of unemployment? How will it develop restorative justice programs for people of color? How will it help workers? Or Lavonte Biggs, who was killed by Durham Police. We know we need a crime lab, but there are other options to explore. We encourage the city to hold more public meetings to determine the needs of its citizens. 

Bell: I was young once too, I'm 75, I'm not talking down to you. I've been there. Some of the efforts you're workign for are admirable. Some are not doable. Doing away with the police department is not doable. We did a city-wide and county-wide survey asking people what they wanted. No one said get rid of the police department. Important to understand how we got here, not done in cover of darkness. All done at public meetings. Thsi isn't built to police a neighborhood. It's a structure for city employees who are in dire need for a better place than now. Some folks wanted it on Fayetteville Street, but we didn't have control over the land. My mind isn't going to change on this. I don't think you're going to get 4 votes. I want to talk about pay increases, it's doable. It's not mutually exclusive. If you build a DPD station, that doesn't mean you can't have affordable housing. I don't think you're going to find a majority of council members to support this. There are better goals. Not building DPD HQ is not one of them. I would ask to continue to try to work in a constructive manner, but if you want to get something done, pick something the Council can focus on and we can work on getting it done. The DPD HQ is done.

Other ideas you've raised are admirable, the livable wage to $15. Don't pit the DPD HQ against the other issues. It takes time.

Ms. Jackson: Well, we're still going to talk to people.

Bell: I'm not saying don't do that. But you're coming to us saying it.

Zaina Alsous: $70 million doesn't make sense to us.

Bell: I understand. There's also a need for police HQ, just like water and sewer. We've gone through all this. It's not your fault you weren't there for those discussions, but we had them. You can rally, that's your privilege, but the people making the decision around this table, and we're not changing our position on this. 

Ms. Alsous: You don't hear what people actually want. We're hoping the process should be amended.

Bell: This decision was not put to the people. It was put to the people who elected us. If you don't want us, you can turn us out.

Ms. Alsous: We're going to keep coming and we're going to keep doing this.

Eddie Davis: I want to distinguish the right of people to object to project that we have with the position that we don't need police. Who put their lives on the line every day.

Bell: I'm trying to be above board Ms. Jackson on where we are on this issue. Bring as many people as you want. That's what's great about Durham, the openness.

3:04 p.m. We're on to gentrification presentation.

John Killeen, NIS, manages the Neighborhood Compass Project, neighborhood data to make it useful. I was asked to respond to a conversation about gentrification. And a methodology done by Governing about gentrification. First part is about hindsight, second part is what we can do annually. [We will get the presentation from Neighborhood Improvement Services.]

Killeen defining gentrification from other sources: displacement of lower-income residents by more affluent. Lance Freeman of Columbia University: gentrification can also be seen as a welcome development because of decades of neglect and disinvestment. 

It's important to note that external controls can inspire or motivate redevelopment of neighborhoods after decades of disinvestment. 

References: Furman Center, Brookings, Governing. [We'll link to those in a subsquent post.] In general, higher-income whites displace lower-income African-American residents. 

Gentrification eligibility:

Census tracts with More than 500 people, 40 percent of households below median income, and 40 percent and below median home value

Determine whether gentrification is occurring: Census tracts where median household income increased, when adjusted for inflation; increase of college degrees, percentage increase of inflation -adjusted median home values. These must occur in the top third of census tracts that showed an increase. All these criteria must apply, from 1990-2010.

From the map, it looks like the biggest gentrification happened in Old West Durham, Trinity Heights and Walltown from 1990-2010, using the above criteria.

Now we're moving to the Durham Neighborhood Compass to do a further analysis to learn more about demographics and real estate markets, as opposed to using purely the Governing model: White population is actually less in Old West Durham over 1990-2010. The Hispanic population is up in OWD and Walltown. The black community in Walltown, 58 percent in 1990 and down in the 30s now.

Element of eligibility and vulnerability and desirability -- the latter leads real estate development. Walkability, transit access.

Age of housing and cost of housing is key: Pre-WWII housing is desirable. Then factor in the median sale prices for these older homes — in east Durham $40,000, but in other areas it's quite high —$313,000. One of the things that gets at vulnerability is the % of renters, and the % of rent burdened. If you have neighborhoods that are very similar in housing stock and its desirability — and they went from high renter concentration to lower concentration, with an increase in housing prices — that equals a vulnerable neighborhood.

Jillian Johnson: Cleveland Holloway isn't on here because the change is too recent?

Killeen: Part of C-H is renter, and % of them that are cost-burdened is 50. Considering what we know about the housing market there, the average cost per square foot was $175 in 2015; 10 years prior it was $35. We could use this data to prevent gentrification from happening.

Bell: This is where I hope we get to, an immediate concern: Establish metrics that we could agree on that present a potential for gentrification now. We can start doing what we need to do.

Killeen: You can go to the site and create a gentrification report, and design it so it does that. 

Bell: You come back and tell us what the gentrification eligibility should be.

Killeen: Here are some: Median homebuyer income of people coming into the neighborhood, and the median household income now. That's telling. This comes from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. It also includes demographic data, white, black, etc. Also useful MLS data: median sale values, days on market, which shows how fast properties move in some neighborhoods. Eight days it takes to sell a house in some neighborhoods, four for others, such as just above Burch Avenue. The heating up element is the sales price minus the list price, which tells us how hot a neighborhood is. This could put pressure on renter-occupancy as it converts to owner-occupancy.

We don't have great data on rental amounts from the American Community Survey. There are other ways to get data through scraping the web. The Urban Institute has written about that. Would also like to learn more about renters and evictions.

It's now 3:42 p.m.

Jim, citizen: Gentrification refers to displacement of original residents who can't afford to stay in their neighborhoods.  Taxes used not to be a problem. Now they are. The valuations are going up. In these distressed neighborhoods, there have been dramatic increases in the assessments and therefore, the property tax. Housing and Neighborhood Stabilization Grant could help, $172,000 would be the city portion. It's an immediate problem. Waiting until the fall, there will be no funds appropriated. Starting now taxes are a gentrifying force in Durham. Start doing something now. Housing counseling, housing rehab, weatherization. The grants would help anyone who qualifies immediately. Please set aside funds in the budget process and select a nonprofit that could do this, and be a model for the state.



I love how this "it looks like the biggest gentrification happened in Old West Durham, Trinity Heights and Walltown from 1990-2010." means we'll concentrate more affordable housing in Downtown and East Durham.

Erik Landfried

There is no available land in OWD, Trinity Heights (which is a one-block wide neighborhood by the way), or Walltown (which has 80 cost-controlled houses built by Self-Help...though some of those covenants are ending soon and there is a house for sale for $550,000, so...). There is available land in downtown and East Durham and Southside, which is either A) still relatively cheap, and/or B) suitable for higher density housing, often on land owned by public entities.

Michael Bacon

For affordable housing in tthe west Durham neighborhoods, I have three initials for you:


Garage apartments, guest houses, basement apartments, attic apartments, granny lofts, etc. Most of the lots in OWD have room to have an ADU on it, which has the theoretical potential to double the number of units in the neighborhood, adding affordable housing, but without changing the "look and feel" of the neighborhood appreciably.

When we get enough savings, I'm hoping to put one on our Rosehill Ave. property.


Dude Eric - if you think there is no available land in OWD, Walltown, and Trinity Heights - Hell let's go full on Trinity PARK but there is in Downtown I've got some NIMBY pants you can wear.

They are beautiful - inscribed with lines like 'do good in other hoods' and 'we didn't do it but you should!' and 'it wasn't good enough for us, but it'll be fine for you!"

Affordable housing should be spread across the city. East Durham should not remain a dumping ground of good intentions.


Natalie - Cleveland-Holloway used these arguments when opposing affordable housing on Roxboro St about 5 years ago: "Why don't we put multifamily in Trinity Park!?"

If you are looking for a district with apartments scattered throughout it's neighborhood (including lower-income multifamily), that would be Trinity Park.

If you are looking for a district with no apartments at all, that would be Cleveland-Holloway.


LOL - Anon you're cute. Cleveland Holloway includes apartments on Main, Liberty, Canal, Cleveland, and Gray st. And those are just the complexes. Every single street has integrated multi-family of all sizes.

And for the record - we opposed another non-profit using our neighborhood as a dumping ground. 10 SRO for addicted homeless folks on an acre at a cost of over 170k each SRO (1.7M for the development) and that was after the city was planning to provide the land for free after lying to neighbors about it being for sale.


Natalie - For the record, your neighborhood's map (on your blog) shows that only 1/5 apartment complexes you list are actually in Cleveland-Holloway. (Cleveland)

"When you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you.. and.. I guess.. a thumb pointing up at God. Or something. Whatever." - Stuart Smalley


@anon: Have you spent any time at all in C-H? I live here, and walk past multiple affordable multi-family housing units every day. In my neighborhood. So seriously, go point your fingers elsewhere.

Affordable housing needs to be spread all across town, or it will create concentrated poverty zones populated largely by folks of color. It's redlining all over again, but now run by developers supported by ignorant NIMBYish white liberals.

Michael Bacon

Since I don't log into BCR much anymore, I missed a lot of this...

One of the big reasons for putting it downtown is that the city owns a ton of largely vacant land there. NC law handcuffs the city on a lot of the most effective means of generating affordable housing. (but not ADUs! Come on, people, feel the ADU love!) One of the most effective things the city can do at this point is to work on the land it already owns.

Yes, there absolutely needs to be more affordable housing on the west side of town, and there's still a decent amount of vacant land in OWD south of Hillsborough St. Unfortunately, the city owns very little of that, so there's not much it can do.

Michael Bacon

FWIW, the absolute ideal place for affordable housing in OWD, unless I've missed it getting developed in the building bonanza, is the strip on the northern side of Hillsborough just west of Ninth. But again, it's privately owned, so there's not much to do there.


@Michael- Durham won't allow ADUs on most Old West Durham homes, because the primary units are not large enough (more than 1333sf).


I suppose underlying most of my disdain for the argument for affordable city developed units downtown is that I have absolutely no faith in the city of durham, community development, or NIS's ability to build, operate, or maintain affordable housing. I have a hard time forgetting their slumlord approach to downtown businesses where they owned the building.

Michael Bacon

Al -- I think that needs to change, like other barriers to ADUs.

Natalie -- so who should be building affordable housing? Whatever the city's record, the records of DHA and privately managed affordable housing are worse.


@ michael - that's the rub.

I guess my beginnings of pie in the sky would include the people who run urban ministries tear it down, build a parking deck, and a multi-story homeless services day center and shelter on any of their surface parking lots that double or triples capacity to serve homeless populations on a smaller footprint. Then build affordable housing on any of the other lots, work with a developer to do it and the urban ministries keeps it affordable.

I don't have a solution really - just know that what I see won't work. And I keep thinking about it - what would work, how could we accomplish some goals, and which goals are realistic.

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