Welcome back! It’s 6:45 and council chambers are already full. People here for Airbnb have been directed to an overflow room.
Dozens of police and firefighters and their supporters are here to lobby for more pay. Matt Cooper from the Raleigh Police Protective Association and Chris Ferrell, a senior firefighter, just held a press conference outside city hall.
Ferrell said firefighters cannot survive working 56 hours a week for $11.25 an hour, starting pay. “Would you run into a burning building for that,” he asked. (I 100% would not).
Ferrell said firefighters have to work part-time jobs to get by, which takes them away from their families during weekends and holidays. “We leave our families to protect yours,” he said.
Raleigh emergency responders say they haven’t gotten raises in years and that Raleigh is not competitive with other growing U.S. cities, where starting salaries are $14 thousand to $18 thousand higher. Even regionally Raleigh officers are comparatively underpaid, and Ferrell said the city is losing good firefighters. This is why police and firefighters are demanding a 7 percent raise, “professional pay for the professional services” they provide.
Officers say they are struggling and that they need help right now. They cannot wait until next April when the city is slated to receive the results of a citywide pay study.
7:09: The meeting has been called to order. Petitions and request of citizens are up. Mayor Nancy asks groups of people to designate spokespeople and keep their comments to three. Not voting on the budget tonight, she clarifies.
7:10: Alphonzo Hedgepeth is here to talk about a property on Bloodworth Street acquired by the city by eminent domain. HE asks them to be moms, dads, aunts, uncles not politicians. His grandmother’s house was taken. How does it benefit the public he asks. Why can’t he and his pregnant wife live there? Why take an 80-year-old widow to court for this. The city won the case and it was turned over to them after she passed away. His grandmother had 17 kids she raised in the house and it’s all the family has to remember her by. He says he’s a young black male trying to make it in society, but there’s a roadblock at every corner. The city is taking peoples’ tax dollars and crushing peoples’ dreams. He says Larry Jarvis has not been in touch with him, asks if the city doesn’t want him living there, if he’s not good enough to live there, if city wants someone else to live there. Asks for a task force on eminent domain and that a task force be created in Jarvis’ Neighborhoods Dept. for cultural sensitivity training.
7:14: Thomas Erwin, attorney, wants city to ask NCDOT to transfer Old Leesville Road to the jurisdiction of the city of Raleigh.
7:18: Budget public hearing is up. N.C. Police Benevolent Association, Raleigh Chapter president Jamie Rigsbee is up. He says low pay is tied to retention of RPD officers. He criticizes city officials pointing to a pay study when executives got big pay increases without a study. There are 40 vacancies this year and the city is essentially training officers for other municipalities. Its time to pay officers the wage they deserve as they provide high level services to the city. Are you ready to fix the issue, support the police department? The time is now he says. PBA is willing to work with the council. Officers who risk lives every day deserve nothing less. Really loud applause
7:22: Keith Wilder, Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association is speaking. 30 years passed and firefighter pay has barely doubled. Years of sluggish salary growth, he says. He wants Raleigh to be on a national list of best paid employees, like it’s on all the other lists. Dedicated professionals are entitled to better compensation, he says. He says firefighters need council members to stand up for them like council members Coopman and Thomas Crowder did years ago. DO what you know is right, send this budget is back and ask for no less than a minimum of 7 percent raise. More applause.
7:25: Holly Richard, CEO of Tammy Lynn Center is here. 42nd year of early childhood intervention program. She thanks council for its support. 93 children from non English speaking families this year and they have hired bi-lingual therapists. She just wants to say thank you.
7:26: Erica Moss is speaking. She is a field organizer for Power Up NC. Asks council to vote for Penny for Housing tax, progressive tax for low income community access to affordable housing they are being priced out of. She has personally housed teacher colleagues who couldn’t find affordable housing. Affordable housing is a right, not a privilege, she says. Even people with Section 8 vouchers can’t find it. She’s talking about a woman in SE Raleigh who can’t afford to live there any more, contemplating moving out of state. Another low income woman raising a young grandchild has been looking for housing since November. She can’t find housing. This is why she urges vote on Penny for Housing.
7:29: William Terry is here to talk about Halifax Court renovations. He says it is not affordable to people who formerly lived there to come back to after it was redeveloped. It spaced out former neighbors all over the city. He’s also asking for council to vote for Penny for Housing.
7:30: Power up NC organizer Kaji Reyes-Gertes is here. This is a project of the N.C. League of Conservation Voters. He says ask people in low income communities what they need and be environmentally conscious. Needs are jobs, affordable housing and affordable utility bills. He says energy efficient housing is crucial. Truly affordable housing is the first step to a healthy city, he says.
7:32: Kirby Jones, Director of Daniel Center for Math and Science in heart of SE Raleigh is here about grant funding. He says there are two major Raleigh institutions just beside SE Raleigh: N.C. State and Central prison. Children in SE Raleigh more likely to end up in prison rather than in college, he says. His organization engages 5-12 year old children until they are college age. Programs that focus on college readiness. The org. has applied for a city grant that will help break generation poverty.
7:35: Sandy Scherer is here on behalf of Raleigh Historic districts…She’s talking about LED lights in historic districts. That was denied because of lights and brightness. Thanks to RHDC work and conversations with Duke Energy, styles of historic lighting have been identified that are more suitable for historic districts. There is now more info on those lights. She wants a budget allocation for the purchase of more appropriate historic looking lights. Historic neighborhoods are widely enjoyed, she says. She has a petition with 200 signatures for this lighting. She says it’s workable solution. Budget allocation is first step, then COA process will happen. Cost differential is approximately $136,000 per year. Savings between current lights and roadway LEDs would more than cover cost of expenditure for historic lights.
7:39: Jennifer Patterson, NC. State grad. and firefighter. She has always worked as a team and helped people in need. Her apartment building caught on fire. She watched firefighters fight the blaze. She says she struggled that day but did what she was supposed to do. It’s against our nature not to rescue people we love, watch your home burn to the ground.” I have to be honest,” she says. Putting on the uniform each day is becoming increasingly difficult. Please reconsider budget proposal, we have waited a long time.”
7:42: Matt Cooper is speaking. All police and fire officers are standing. He says officers are scrutinized and demonized, mistakes make national news. But could be killed and make news for a day. One thing that has not changed is how officers carry out professional duties on a daily basis. Wages have not kept up with growth of this population. Neighboring towns and cities have. They are aware of the pay study, but there are emerging issues of retention. Officers are looking for jobs elsewhere after hearing of the budget. Some will take home less pay. Execs have received handsome raises. The cities is willing to except accolades but it’s unwilling to give raises. He asks for 5-10 percent across the board increase, eliminate health insurance costs, consider a physical fitness incentive.
7:45: Kirsten Weeks is speaking from Food Bank of Central Eastern NC. Also Cisco employee. Cisco has had partnership with the food bank. She urges council to join Cisco in assisting food bank; commit $100,000 a year for 5 years. It will have a huge impact for hungry families.
7:47: Millbrook Methodist Church rep. is here for the food bank funding request to. Can’t meet needs of local neighborhood without assistance so the church reached out to the food bank. Food bank volunteers are passionate. They feed 1,000 people per month.
7:49: Mayor Nancy says ONE SPOKESPERSON PER ORG., PEOPLE. Chris Evans, Interact board chair is speaking. Interact provides assistance to victims of domestic violence. Raleigh gave Interact $75,000 in last three years. Interact has a grant from Raleigh this year, but she says it’s not enough and will lose $70,000 in city funding while need is increasing. They provide a lot of services, including only shelter program for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
7:52: MAB wants to add that as a budget note.
7:53: Interfaith food shuttle’s Becky Jacobs is her. A lot of people with IFFS are here too. They want to say thank you for helping feed thousands of Raleigh residents per month.
7:54: Shana Overdorf, Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness is here with a group of people. She supports 1 percent property sales tax. Raleigh has decreased homelessness, and to continue there needs to be more investment in affordable housing. Says it’s crucial for the community and thanks council for understanding that.
7:55: Jean Tedrow, CEO of Passage Home is here. She also supports 1 cent property tax to affordable housing proposal. We need more tools in the toolbox to address affordable housing. Increasing overall supply of housing. Increase affordable housing for all, especially workforce housing. One cent offers hope and opportunity to add the tool to the toolbox.
7:57: Karen Rindge from Wake Up Wake County is up. Commissioners approved transit plan and referendum will happen in November. She says Raleigh must invest in Go Raleigh and make bus system work for riders. Improve service and expand investments in bus shelters. Continue to support transit, excited about Union Station. Spend money it takes to make sue its a first rate public amenity. Address affordable housing too! Plan for bus rapid transit and commuter rail now. They support property tax increase too. Thousands of miles of sewer pipes are aging; Wake supports 4 percent increase to water and sewer rates to fix again infrastructure. Urges council to ask lawmakers to strike senate budget provision that eliminates Falls Lake rules, not settle for a delay in rule-making process.
8:00: John Niefenegger, NC Housing Coalition and Families Together. He supports the affordable housing reliable funding source. Local governments must step and a reliable source of funding promotes predictability. Values vibrant, diverse community and is willing to support property tax increase to get it.
8:03: Art rep. is here. He’s speaking about public art. Praises the arts plan 1 percent increase for public art allocation. Artist Thomas Sayer (?) is speaking. He helped secure the public art ordinance. “How do we talk abut who we are as a people, what we are as a place,” he asks. “Public art is an efficient way of telling stories in a unique way.” Spend for the increase, he says.
8:05: Nancy Novel, arts Commission chair is here. Commission appreciates plan approval, needs support to move it forward. 5 priorities for implementation, which align with plan goals. Neighborhood arts programs, ADA and equity/diversity’; increase public art across city; design arts marketing to promote awareness of artists and programs; income opportunities through events; connect people to volunteer opportunities and support arts tourism. She asks for support for implementation funding requests. Arts coordinator position, art van, events across city, 1 percent increase for public art. Time to kickstart the plan, see every citizen lead creative life they envisioned. Support arts funding increase. People stand up to support.
8:09: Boys and Girl club rep is here. He’s talking about a girl involved in activities from working poor family. Doesn’t always know where next meal will come from. They started a feeding program recently and served 25 thousand meals. Want to expand all 5 location in Raleigh; need a specialty vehicle to transport food. It would help serve a lot of children.
8:10: Mark Turney, resident. Consider changing timing of a greenway project along Tryon (?) Road; make it sooner because growth in residential on this road. Increase in homes, traffic. Students going to school, SAS campus is there. Move this project up for safety’s sake.
8:12: Victor Boone, Legal Aid NC’s regional manager is up. They provide legal services to low income people in non-criminal cases. He asks city to continue its funding to Legal Aid. They’ve been getting $50,000 a year and the city “is getting its money’s worth.” They have a diverse funding base but still need the city’s $50,000 fund.
8:15: Ruffin says that funding is in the budget.
8:16: Jeff Murrison from Hillsborough Street Municipal Services Corporation. Thanks for selecting us to manage those funds and investment in Phase 2 of streetscape. They want current funding continued for Phase 2. 15 cent assessment on services.
8:19: That’s it for the budget! There’s a hearing on closing right-of-way at intersection of Manchester Drive and Rampart Street. Staff recommends approval. No one here to speak and council approves.
8:21: Sidewalk assessment on Wade Ave., Freedom Drive/Ryan Court and Sanderford Roads are up. This is kinda boring so I’ll be tuning out. Sounds like the city needs more money for Wade project because of a “perfect storm of factors.” There’s some discussion about how people pay for it…people who benefit from the improvements (property owners) pay by the square foot. There’s also federal funding. Assessment on properties would make it cost $146 K.
8:38: MAB motions to go with staff proposal for the city to supplement funding. All approve except Bonner who said the way these projects are paid for are unfair. Next sidewalk assessment is approved. Last sidewalk assessment is approved.
8:40: Petition annexations is up. They’re approved (Leesville and Fox Rods).
8:41: Now there’s a rezoning for land on Rock Quarry Road near Jones Sausage.
8:55: A rezoning on Leesville Road.
9:11: Residents nearby are in favor. No one speaks in opposition. It’s referred to the Growth and Natural Resources Committee.
9:15: A rezoning on Wake Forest Road. It passes.
9:21: Airbnb text change proposal is now up. Lots of people here in yellow shirts supporting the sharing economy. There will be a brief presentation from planner Eric Hodge.
9:22: Short term rentals not currently an allowed use in city of Raleigh. Read about the text change proposal here. Most important points: zoning permit needed for hosts, to be renewed annually; 400 foot spacing requirement between operators, prohibit whole-dwelling, max. number of rooms rented is 2; each room limited to 2 people, so max. 4 adults per night; requires onsite resident manager; no cooking facilities in rental rooms and prohibits exterior advertising.
9:25: A lot of people here to speak. There’s a chance it could go back to committee again, Mayor Nancy says. Offers to hold a supporter’s baby bc it’s bed time. “Let this lady go early,” se says.
9:29: Don Martin is up. He has rented rooms on many days in the last year and paid occupancy tax in the last year. He’s talking about all the visitors he’s had, including people looking to move to Raleigh; family visiting their daughter who was a crime victim, Americans living in Japan, grandparents…Says sharing economy is here to stay and he relies on this to supplement his retirement income. He asks councilto vote against.
9:31: Liz Tracy, California transplant is speaking. She has a place in Boylan Heights and used short-term rental while looking for a permanent place. She’s the director of HQ Raleigh. HQ Raleigh recruits lots of entrepreneurs stay in short term rentals when they visit the area. They can check out neighborhoods where they may bring families long term. The startup community has thrived. Take another look at the ordinance.
9:33: Shawn Briscoe, the lady with the baby, is up. She rents her whole house on Airbnb when she’s not there. She is single mother of 2, owns Alter Ego salon in downtown Raleigh. She says short term rentals helped supplement her income when she was getting divorced. Short term rentals make it so much more hospitable to young families because they don’t need to haul around all their kids’ stuff. Families looking to move to Raleigh come stay. She asks council not to vote for the text change.
9:36: Jay Dawkins is up. He says Raleigh is great city, NC great state. HB 2 was a major setback. If we make this move with short term rentals, we’ll messs up like Boston. Spend more time on this, he says.
9:37: Jennifer Bryson (?) She’s here to show solidarity with those opposed to the proposal. Mother of 4 so saftey is important her, and would not do Airbnb if it wasn’t safe for their family. Safety is major, she says. But her family gets to know people very different from her family. They have had guests from Ethiopia, Dominican Republic…people want to learn about what it’s like to live in America and it’s a great joy to us to tech them. Her kids help clean u after guests. Lots of transitioning guests.
9:39: John Tole (?) Wants to deregulate. Doesn’t agree with the spacing rule. 400 foot rule isn’t good bc it doesn’t take into account spacing and neighborhood type. Go with one care per rental house. Eliminate the whole dwelling rule, he says. Property owners and HOAs should decide what regulations are. The onsite manager rule is also not good. “I love Raleigh, no place I would rather live,” he says. Invest in a lot of real estate here. “We are already on top,” he says. “Let’s stay on top.”
9:42: John Faison (?) Nonprofit director, relies on supplemental income from Airbnb. Concerned about limiting the number of people who can stay. Families want to stay together when travelling, be able to cook. People from all over the world, 23 different sates. We hope we will continue to be a welcoming city, he says. Sharing economy is good for the local economy. This allows Raleigh to be the 21st century city of innovation of its mission statement. It’s a step backwards to try to solve a problem that does not currently exist.
9:44: Mayor Nancy clarifies that it is now illegal to do short term rentals but the ordinance would legalize it. Karen Johnson, “lone opposer” to the proposal, is here. She says there is an Airbnb across the street in predominantly young family neighborhood. They are all very concerned she says. She canvassed the neighborhood, spoke to 85 people and 61 signed a petition opposing it. A lot of people are looking to move out. The proposal will impact us because we cannot enforce covenants unless we take it to court, for $30-80K. Turnberry residents suggest let registered Raleigh neighborhoods opt-in instead of making it legal across the board.
9:46: Bob Gill (?) He is here to endorse. Airbnb defines who we are as a people and place, just like art does. He has a whole house rental. He wants to see that supported. Airbnb has been functional here since 2007, with only 7 complaints. Half a million people. Trying to be a progressive, world class city. Consider the reputation of Raleigh and the benefits Airbnb bring to Raleigh.
9:48: Amber Vance is speaking. Sold her condo in Cameron Village, but couldn’t find a new residence. So she stayed in an Airbnb in southeast Raleigh. She was able to test drive it, she says. She has to stay in hotels for work, but living with host families is way better. Homey, like an amped up visitors center. She wants to host eventually. Take out the 400 foot buffer
9:50: Eddie Coleman, Oakwood resident, operates apartments in Oakwood. Lots of really good folks have stayed in our property, he says. Musicians who play in Raleigh festivals, millennials. We don’t need to send the wrong message. Don’t fix a problem until it really is a problem. Don’t pass the wrong rules or send the wrong message.
9:52: Thomas Henderson, 42-year Raleigh veteran, 5 year short term rental veteran. No noise complaints, most guests don’t use cars here. People come for Convention conferences, NC State events. Scientists, professionals, artists, people who just want to check out Raleigh. They bring business, go to restaurants, go shopping etc. Many wouldn’t come if they had to pay hotel rates but cost is not the reason; people enjoy interacting with hosts and learning about the area where they’re travelling.
9:54: Mike Shumaker wants to address criticism that short term rentals impact affordable housing. He had a property with a mother in law suite, stayed there and did short-term rental upstairs while they rode out the property value increase to their downtown home. Reconsider the policy you are about to pass, he says.
9:56: Sarah Buxton. Downtown home owner, short term renter. She says she has seen positive impacts in bringing people here. She also left her job due to an injury; she has part time jobs now and short term rentals help supplement her income. She asks council to reconsider the regulations.
9:58: Andrew Blackburn form Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors says agency has concerns about these regulations. Spend time thinking about homeowner rights. When we sell houses we 2 things, he says. More individual freedom than when they rent—use property as they see fit within law. Also property ownership still main way for middle class families to build wealth.
9:59: Marsh Hardy opposes the rules too. He wants short term rentals legalized, see welcoming spirit of Raleigh continued. People uncomfortable with that who want to live in a more regulated place “could perhaps move to Cary.” He says short term rentals will ease affordable housing difficulties for young people, bring revenue. He doesn’t like 400 foot spacing. Someone could just buy a license, not use it and lock neighbors so get rid of that. Look at Nashiville’s model. And most of his guests don’t have cars, so parking provision is also too specific.
10:02: Gregg Stebben is up, first to be cited in Raleigh. No one has spent more time in city meetings talking about this than him, he says. Has concerns about current proposal. He says he hoped David Meeker would come here and speak, but David said “are they still talking about that?” A loaded response. He mentions Architect meeting where a lot of people and council members showed up to support. He says people may think this issue was resolved a long time ago, by not enforcing the law. There was an 18 month test already; how has it worked out with zero regulations? No one here wants no regulations but it has worked pretty well without them. 500 houses, 13,000 visitors and 7 complaints. Long term rentals are way worse. Go to something much more reasonable, less restrictive.
10:04: Meeting is closed. Mayor Nancy wants to take this to Economic Development and Innovation committee. MAB says full house rental never got a hearing in front of Council requiring people renting more than 2 bedrooms to get special use permit for Board of Adjustment. She calls it a good compromise. Hosts supported that. She says her family travels using Airbnb, VRBO because of all the benefits. Like dogs can come. “It’s like being away from home. Its a comfortable way to travel and i would hate for people not to be able to have that experience in Raleigh.”
10:07: Stephenson uses it too, and says it’s a great thing. He is long term rental landlord himself. Talked with people who have dealt with shortcomings of absentee landlords. He says shared economy is a misnomer; it’s more like “Internet enabled crowd source capitalism.” Opportunities to monetize things that would be otherwise be difficult. We cannot opt-in neighborhoods; only one set of regs for whole city allowed though. It’s good for stable neighborhoods, but absentee landlords are a detriment to unstable neighborhoods.
10:11: He’s lost me. It’s desire to monetize value of a dwelling vs. desire to have quiet safe place where neighbors know each other and kids etc. But full circle, only one set of rules. We can improve and keep debating, but moves to adopt what has come to us from Plannig Commission and revisit in 18 months.
10:14: Kay Crowder seconds. Bonner “has major issue with that.” This is a great way to make out city look horrible in the national press. We need to vet this much further, I’m concerned about a number of these provisions. We have hard form community with very few issues and i am tyring to figure out problem we are trying to solve. This is not where we need to be as a city.
10:15: Mayor Nancy says the whole house provision includes condos. She understands there is a balance needed, residential areas expect security. Things we need to look at so take it to committee.
10:16: Thompson says he has heard form people for and against who majority think short term rentals do need to be regulated. Most people think the text change is good, because people are concerned about the fabric of their neighborhood. People concerned about different people coming in every day, mothers afraid to leave kids outside because they don’t know who is next door. I think it is a good compromise and a good start. He’s in favor of the motion. Bonner motions to send to committee. MAB seconds.
10:18: It fails 5-3. Corey Branch says he hears a lot of people host. People who rent their whole homes still have access to their whole home. David Cox, whose district is pretty much all suburban, has gotten a lot of opposing impact from constituents. This is not a complete ban, it’s important to start somewhere. This is a good compromise between people who want it and people who want to ban it completely. It meets interest of people who don’t want this at all.
10:21: Motion to accept the regulation as written is on table. MAB reiterates this is a huge mistake. 4 voted in favor, 4 voted against. They vote to send it to committee to come up with a new text change; that passes 7-1. Kay Crowder is dissenting vote. It will go back to committee.
10:23: Now there will be an evidentiary hearing on the owners’ of the Merrimon Wynn house’s amplified entertainment permit. People getting sworn in. Jody Strenkowski is speaking. Says she has compromised with neighbors on noise. She learned about concerns she never even knew were issues and addressed those. Three month trial period to use a new setup versus a tent. 3 events with doors open to see how loud. Sound check with Burning Coal Theater. Limited to weekend nights.
10:29: Burning Coal board member says concerned about noise, it has leaked into theater and disturbed performances but is willing to try to come up to a solution for everyone in the neighborhood. This trial period will be a test. Their season starts in October so performances won’t be interrupted. Nearby town home owner is glad about compromise.
10:32: No one is here to speak against. Mayor Nancy asks didn’t she just spend half a million to build a structure to solve the problem? Strenkowski says yes, but the size of structure was limited by RHDC. After 3 months, the group will re-convene to see if possible to make the new building work.
10:37: Council approves the pilot program 7-1.
Meeting adjourned! See you June 21.