All posts in category Housing

Park, Housing: Not an Either-Or

In 2003, as a taxpayer I voted against spending more than $16 million to expand and renovate the Chapel Hill Public Library. The town had a small but functional library, surrounded by the woods and trails of Pritchard Park, and while the demand would only grow as the town grew, it seemed to me we […]

Will we always have Paris?

Maybe Town Council’s next intercity visit should be to Paris, a city that Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane cited as her favorite because of its low buildings. At council’s Nov. 15 meeting, we reviewed a concept plan for a 5-story building of apartments, offices and retail, with 68 parking spaces on less than 4 acres at […]

Sitting on the Historic District Commission

In an interview aired on National Public Radio recently, Magazine Editor Hall-of-Famer Tina Brown described her desk-on-a-treadmill, noting, “Sitting is the new smoking.” That shot a little dart of fear in my heart, because my role as a Town Council member requires me to sit a lot. Council meetings, work sessions, committees, task forces and […]

Economics of affordability

A council member told of going to dinner at a new restaurant in town and having to wait a half-hour for a table. Initially, he took that as a good sign of how well the new business was faring. But once he was seated, he noticed that several tables had been removed since the last […]

Conflicting Priorities

Bonnie Hauser, founder of Orange County Voice, shares her insight into factors that affect housing affordability: Last month the N.C. General Assembly (NCGA) took away Orange County’s authority to collect impact fees on new home construction. It was a low blow by Raleigh politicians but brings new insights into the important topic of affordability. Thirty […]

High-Rent District

I sat on the stoop of my 1940 Cape Cod and surveyed the view — one-bedroom brick-ranch duplexes and frumpy 1930s bungalows, SUVs spilling off gravel driveways onto lawns of hard-packed red clay tufted with weeds — and thought, “Wow, I’ve made it. I now live in the high-rent section of town.” According to a […]

Better planning for affordability

Last year, when Orange County commissioners proposed a $5 million bond to be used for affordable housing, I pushed for a plan. The county commissioners instead offered a slogan — 1,065 homes for $5 million — that was so unlikely to be achieved that it didn’t rise to the level of a goal. Trying to […]

Building community

When the Habitat for Humanity staffer asked, “Who’s not afraid of heights?” I raised my hand. I should have thought it through. But at 8:30 Saturday morning, with the temperatures still in the 70s and standing in the shade of a large, leafy tree, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the unroofed part […]

Use housing market forces to help

So much for the law of supply and demand. Council has approved a plethora of high-end market-rate apartments because a majority of council members believe that flooding the market with high-rent units will saturate housing demand and eventually inhibit rent hikes. These council members ignore the fact that in Chapel Hill, as in most cities, […]

Funding Our Bubble

Chapel Hill’s bubble has been both boasted about and blasted, depending on the politics of the critic. We have a reputation of being a haven for bleeding-heart liberals, a sanctuary city in sentiment and practice, albeit not codified. But a sneak peek at the proposed Trump administration budget indicates that our bubble is about to […]