Last week for the web, Jasmine Gallup reported on a lawsuit that six Hayes Barton homeowners are bringing against the City of Raleigh concerning its new missing-middle-housing policy. Readers had thoughts.

From reader Sarah Pearson via email:

“Luxury townhomes selling for two million dollars is not affordable housing which is what the missing middle is supposed to address. I live in Raleigh and see this happening all over the city. My own neighborhood was affordable. Now developers come in and tear down modest homes, cut all the trees and build more expensive houses. I’ve come to realize a developer is simply doing what is allowed. It’s the way the business works. At fault is the city that not only allows these practices but encourages them. Hopefully this lawsuit will be successful and a new, better way to move forward is found.”

From reader Dave Connelly via email:

“Interesting article. Most residents of Hayes Barton live in election precinct 01-05. The majority of votes cast in the November 2020 election in that precinct were for Democrats, up and down the ballot. So—progressive when picking their politicians, yet regressive when picking their neighbors. My irony detector has just started smoking.”

From reader Bob Gilbert via email:

“The Raleigh text changes and unlimited development unleashed on Raleigh have not only *not* created more affordable housing, according to recent commercial real estate data and news, Raleigh has a glut of empty high end commercial and high end residential units as high as 18% vacancy, and a dearth of affordable housing and sf homes to the tune of thousands of units a year. And now even John Kane abandoned his crazy plans for maxing out North Hills.

Also last time I checked $2 million townhomes are not affordable housing.

Missing middle over incentivized rapid high end development and under incentivized needed community benefits like infrastructure, transportation and affordable housing.

And that’s why half the city council was replaced and Mayor Baldwin won by only 10,000 votes while having 15 times the campaign cash.

Disdainfully focusing on only one neighborhood’s reaction left out the fact that the overall result of this year’s Missing Middle neighborhood meetings were resoundingly negative in the whole city, not just Five Points.
And there are and were objectionable projects in all districts.

The new City Council are remaking Community Engagement which was eliminated as a method, excuse and pretext to this zoning tragedy, as a number one priority and we have already seen good progress from them in that direction.

We are all for truly affordable housing, infrastructure, better transportation and a more sustainable city but this method is proving how to do the exact opposite.

Not clear cutting lots and cramming the maximum high end homes on them and calling that affordable.” 

Read Gallup’s follow-up report on Raleigh’s missing middle housing policy here.

We also continue to get reader feedback on our reporting on Durham’s SCAD proposal, including this message from Durham resident, SCAD opponent, and newly announced city council candidate Sherri Zann Rosenthal responding to an op-ed we published from Durham resident Bob Chapman the week before last. 

“Bob Chapman’s splashy piece in the Indy was a snow job, part of a PR campaign by the real estate industry meant to convince us to give developers enough loopholes to price us all out of town. ‘SCAD’ will speed up the current displacement [of] people of color and non-rich folks from Durham, while making scads of cash for developers. 

Yet the most powerful faction of the City Council—Johnson, Caballero, Middleton and Williams—seem to have swallowed this whole, saying they believe developers know best. 

At their May 1 council meeting, the Council will probably vote to accept these destructive changes—unless they hear strong opposition from you. 

Here are the two big lies of Chapman’s article: 1. That SCAD is anti-racist. 2. That it will create affordable housing. 

Using Hayti’s destruction as a way to sell the Anthony Amendments is a cynical ploy. The Hayti disaster was a bait-and-switch, where the community was promised investment and renewal, but instead got displacement and demolition.

Our problem isn’t the number of houses. The problem is affordability. DataWorks documents that Durham’s ratio of people to housing units 20 years ago is about the same as today. 

Deregulation as proposed by SCAD won’t fix affordability. Part of SCAD is taking the small lot option and putting it on steroids: tinier lots, taller and bigger houses, no room for trees or storm water. Existing relatively affordable houses are demolished and replaced by 3–4 on tiny lots—which go for $450k and up. 

The small lot option and SCAD open up settled neighborhoods for new profit extraction. There’s a lot more profit to be made from 3–4 new small homes than the real estate commission from the sale of existing homes. Yet the total number of houses created won’t move the needle on supply.

Trickle-down housing is as fake a theory as trickle-down economics. Affordable? No.

Our public policy should be investment and renewal, preserving Durham’s sense of place and providing more affordability than new construction can.

Deregulation of the real estate industry is a bad idea. We need common sense, effective regulation to protect neighbors from ruin.Look into the substance of these complex amendments and let the Council know your thoughts well before May 1.”

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