As the Raleigh City Council election approaches in November, local activist group Livable Raleigh commissioned the left-leaning local research group Public Policy Polling to survey residents on issues including growth, affordable housing, and community engagement. 

The group—led in part by former city council members Stef Mendell and Russ Stephenson, who lost their bids for re-election in 2019—has been critical of Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin’s strategies for increasing affordable housing, saying she’s too lenient with developers.

Baldwin says her pro-density approach to zoning and development helps increase the housing supply and ultimately lowers prices, a strategy that has been somewhat effective in other cities. 

Poll results show, unsurprisingly, that Raleigh residents are concerned about a lack of affordable housing and an increase in gentrification as Raleigh grows at an unprecedented rate. The Raleigh-Cary area was the second-fasted growing metro area in the nation from 2010 to 2019, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

The increase in population has led to a growing demand for housing, an increase in the cost of living, and concerns about increased traffic and crime. Growth is likely to be one of the biggest issues in the upcoming city council elections. 

Survey Results

Of the 665 Raleigh voters Public Policy Polling surveyed, 48 percent said “Raleigh’s growth rate is too fast,” while 36 percent said, “it’s about right.” Another 9 percent said it’s not fast enough, while 7 percent said they weren’t sure. 

Almost half of the respondents, 49 percent, said “a lack of affordable housing for middle and low-income families” is the biggest problem facing the city, according to the poll. When asked about the second-biggest problem the city faces, about 22 percent of respondents said “something else/not sure,” 16 percent said “traffic congestion,” and 12 percent said “gentrification.”

About 45 percent also said they think Raleigh’s infrastructure is starting to fall behind the current growth rate. About 53 percent said they agreed (rather than disagreed or were not sure) that “Raleigh’s growth is destroying neighborhoods and forcing large numbers of people to relocate outside of Raleigh.” 

Respondents are also concerned about the elimination of citizen advisory councils, public forums that were designed to engage citizens and allow residents to vote on issues set to come before the city council in an advisory capacity. CACs had been part of Raleigh’s political landscape for nearly 50 years before the city council abruptly voted to dismantle them in 2020 without public input or notice.

Critics of the system have long said citizen advisory councils needed to be reformed or changed to make room for more effective community engagement—but the less than transparent behavior of the city council fostered distrust in their promises to do just that. Among respondents, 69 percent disbanding CACs was a bad decision. About 49 percent said city officials were “doing a bad job” of “keeping Raleigh residents informed about what they’re doing.”

Who was surveyed?

The poll was conducted in February and the people surveyed were a random selection of registered voters in Raleigh, according to Jim Williams, a polling analyst with the group. 

The population surveyed is relatively representative of the population of Raleigh voters, although white Democrats are slightly overrepresented. 

Of the 324,629 people registered to vote in Raleigh, about 44 percent are Democrats, 17 percent are Republican, and 39 percent are unaffiliated, according to municipal voter registration statistics. Of the people surveyed, about 55 percent are Democrats, 16 percent are Republicans, and 29 percent are independent, according to the poll. 

In Raleigh, about 26 percent of voters are Black, 54 percent are white, and 4.3 percent are Hispanic. In the survey, about 26 percent of respondents are Black, 62 percent are white, and 5 percent are Hispanic. 

Respondents were about equally divided in age, with 36 percent age 18-45, 38 percent 46-65, and 26 percent older than 65. Respondents were also scattered around each of Raleigh’s five city council districts—22 percent in district A (represented by Patrick Buffkin), 14 percent in B (David Cox), 20 percent in C (Corey Branch), 19 percent in D (Stormie Forte), and 25 percent in E (David Knight).

Half of the interviews for the survey were conducted by telephone and half by text message. The margin of error for the results is +/- 3.8 percent. Read the full survey below. 

RaleighSurveyResults.PPPLivableRaleigh by Jane Porter on Scribd

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