Name as it appears on the ballot: Patrick Buffkin
Party affiliation: Democratic
Campaign website: patrickforraleigh.com
Occupation & employer: Attorney, State of North Carolina
Years lived in Raleigh: 18
1) Given the direction of Raleigh government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
Raleigh is a wonderful place to call home, but our city government has been slow to react to the challenges that come with the rapid growth and change we are experiencing. We need to develop a community consensus on a transformative response to the housing affordability crisis, get to work on providing folks with more mobility options to escape traffic congestion, and get back to the long-term plan for making investments in our water and sewer utility and make investments in our infrastructure like roads and stormwater facilities as we grow.
2) If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for your district. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces.
In District A (North Raleigh), we recognize the need to develop a community consensus on a response to the housing affordability crisis, get to work on providing folks with more mobility options to escape traffic congestion, and get back to the long-term plan for making investments in our water and sewer utility and make investments in our infrastructure like roads and stormwater facilities as we grow.
3) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the city council and as an advocate for the issues that you believe are important?
As a member of our city parks board I have listened to and worked with members of the public to help them shape the future of our parks. This work has prepared me to help our citizens shape the future of our city so that we can grow in a better way.
4) Most people agree that Raleigh faces a housing affordability crisis. Do you believe the council made a wise decision not to place a bond on this year’s ballot? Why or why not?
Although I support a housing affordability bond referendum, the decision this past year was appropriate because the council did not have a sound plan for spending the bond money. If I am elected, we will get to work on developing a community consensus around a transformational response to the housing affordability crisis that includes significant public investment, reforms to our zoning laws to allow more opportunities for people to move here, and establishing a framework for agreements with private developers to support affordability.
5) Assuming the council places a bond referendum on the 2020 ballot, how much money to do you believe the city should ask for? What do you believe it should fund? Outside of a bond, what steps should the city be taking to promote housing affordability in Raleigh?
Roughly $75 M and this funding should be dedicated to land banking along our busiest transit corridors, construction of new affordable units, and investments through our nonprofit sector partners.
6) Discussions surrounding housing often turn on questions of protecting neighborhoods’ characters or promoting density in the city’s core—i.e., what kinds of new housing the city should add, and where? At the crossroads of this conversation is the rapid gentrification of Southeast Raleigh. What role should the city play in ensuring that the longtime residents of those neighborhoods can continue to afford to live there?
The city should encourage the development of walkable urban environments, especially in our downtown core, and along our busiest transit corridors. These environments should provide options for people looking for apartment, townhouse, duplex, or quadraplex living. The city government should be active in addressing the housing affordability crisis, especially in Southeast Raleigh where there is a disparate racial impact from gentrification.
7) The city currently has twenty neighborhood conservation overlay districts, which can restrict new development. Do you believe this tool is being used effectively? How would you change the city’s approach to NCODs, if at all?
As NCODs have grown in popularity, we need to take a more comprehensive look at the impact NCODs have on the city as a whole to ensure that we are able to accommodate future growth and provide equity in our development decisions. Our city zoning laws should be flexible enough to allow for future growth that supports a walkable, urban environment – especially in our downtown core and along our busiest transit routes.
8) If you could change anything about the city’s unified development ordinance, what would it be and why?
I would provide more opportunities for citizens to understand and engage in the process for updating the UDO because I believe that we have work to do in the area of providing more housing options for people to move here.
9) Earlier this year, the council required homeowners who wish to build an accessory dwelling unit on their property to petition their neighbors through an overlay district process. So far, no neighborhoods have started the application process. Do you believe this is the right approach to ADUs, or do you believe they should be allowed by right? Please explain.
No, I believe that we should have a more flexible policy on ADUs.
10) When considering new downtown development projects—e.g., John Kane’s proposed tower on Peace Street or new developments in the Warehouse District—how much consideration do you believe the council should give to automobile traffic and parking concerns?
Council needs to undertake a comprehensive review of new downtown development projects, including whether the projects are consistent with the unified development ordinance, the city comprehensive plan, and the citizens’ views expressed during the re-zoning process. Traffic and transit challenges, including pedestrian safety should be a part of that review as well..
11) Developers are eyeing at least three parcels on the outskirts of the downtown business district for twenty-plus-story buildings. Do you believe this area is an appropriate place to add height and density? What conditions should the city attach to such projects, if any?
Yes, this type of development will help us grow in a better way by contributing to our tax base, making our utility service more efficient, and providing opportunities for people to live in a walkable urban environment close to where they work.
12) What are your thoughts on the city’s approach to alternative transportation options downtown? Is the city handling issues such as regulating e-scooter companies and building protected bike lanes the right way? Why or why not?
I support providing people more options to get around the city, especially downtown where alternative transportation options can support public transit and help people escape traffic congestion. I would like to see more protected bike lanes that are better connected with public transit.
13) Earlier this year, the city passed an ordinance banning whole-house rentals and regulating other short-term rentals. Are you concerned about claims that this ordinance might conflict with state law? Do you believe the city’s policy is the best way to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rentals? Why or why not?
Yes, the city must follow state law. I support a more flexible approach to short-term rentals.
14) Do you think Raleigh’s system of Citizens Advisory Councils is the best way of fostering engagement with local government? If not, how do you believe the CAC system should be reformed?
The CACs are a good way to foster citizen engagement, although I would support improvements where there is consensus to make CACs more effective, for example, considering the relative size of CACs across the city and using technology to allow more citizens to participate in these meetings.
15) Four council members have called for the city to join a lawsuit over the RDU Airport Authority’s quarry lease with Wake Stone. Do you support RDU’s quarry lease? Do you believe this case is something the city should involve itself in? Why or why not?
As an advocate for parks and open space, I do not support the quarry over a park and I expect that the pending lawsuit will reach a decision prior to my being sworn in, if I am elected. The key question is this: what are the city’s rights to stop this quarry? If the current lawsuit doesn’t answer that question, then I will support getting an answer so that our citizen have a voice in this decision. Regardless of how this lawsuit is resolved, if I am elected to city council, I will be a vote in support of Umstead park and preserving open space.
16) When Mayor McFarlane announced her decision not to seek reelection, she cited increasing incivility among council members. Do you agree with her assessment? If so, what would do to lower the temperature in city government and make the council more productive?
I agree with our Mayor. I want to be a part of a city council that is focused on making our citizens’ lives better, not playing politics and fighting with other elected officials.
17) Do you believe the city needs a community police oversight board? If so, what should the board look like, and what powers should it have? Do you believe the city can or should challenge the state law that blocks access to certain police personnel records?
18) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.
All of the urgent challenges facing our city are related to the pace of growth that we are experiencing. I believe that growth and change are a reality for our community, and that we need to grow in a better way so that we can keep the quality of life that we enjoy today. To do that, we need to get to work quickly before our challenges get out of hand like what we have seen happen in Atlanta and Austin with traffic and San Francisco with housing affordability. I hope to be a part of building consensus in the community on responding to these issues.