All posts in category Housing

Chapel Hill’s Arab Spring?

More than five years ago, a few weeks after the Tunisian Revolution that launched the Arab Spring, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad told The Wall Street Journal: “When there is divergence between your policy and the people’s beliefs and interests, you will have this vacuum that creates disturbance.” I hope we won’t someday look back on […]

How much is that rent, really?

Trying to find an apartment in Chapel Hill affordable to your typical Chapel Hill worker takes diligence and a roommate. An apartment complex may advertise rent at one price, but by the time the management adds up all the additional mandatory fees — valet garbage pick-up, package delivery acceptance, weight room access, and Internet and […]

Think of the possibilities, then plan

How many times have we heard, usually from people who make money by developing or selling real estate, that affordable housing is not possible in Chapel Hill? That we might as well admit defeat and build only luxury apartments in town, thus forcing out the modestly paid and the middle class? Yet towns similar to […]

What, me worry?

I’m at that age where I repeat myself. For more than a year and a half, I’ve been nagging Town Council members to fix the Ephesus-Fordham form-based code so that we can repay the $10 million loan we took out for improvements to the area. Bear in mind, we put up Town Hall as collateral. […]

The Deciders

Recently I asked the town manager for an organizational flow chart of town staff that would show who was in charge of what. I received 18 pages of charts in response, most of which broke out the hierarchy of positions in each department. The collection led off, however, with a master chart of management levels. […]

Discretionary Zoning

Listen to Raleigh’s city attorney, Tom McCormick: “It is important to remember that when making a zoning decision, the council must consider all potential uses in a proposed district and cannot make a decision based on one specific use.” McCormick said council members have “wide discretion” in deciding whether to rezone a property for a […]

Ask the experts

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. When it comes to working on the problem of not enough affordable housing, town and county elected officials would do well to choose Door #3. At the joint board meeting of county commissioners and Town Council members on June 2, county commissioner Bernadette Pelissier suggested forming a […]

Do-good discount

You get what you incentivize, or so hopes Todd Neal, a Northside landlord. Neal sees the benefit of having more people in the neighborhood who care about the community. To attract those civic-minded tenants, he is offering a rent discount of up to $50 a month to tenants who will volunteer up to 6 hours […]

What makes a house historic?

Last week, the Historic District Commission reluctantly pulled the plug on a house in the Gimghoul Historic District by approving a request by the owners of 704 Gimghoul to demolish the home. The couple had purchased the house in March 2015 and had come to the HDC with a plan to make it live better […]

Horsetrading at the Council Corral

Two weeks ago, Chapel Hill hired a new planning director, Ben Hitchings, who came to the April 11 Town Council meeting. Much to my surprise, he did not resign immediately; in fact, he participated in our work session two days later. That says he’s a man undaunted by challenges. In a nutshell — we embarrassed […]