Thursday, November 29, 2007

Support Mayor Meeker

According to WRAL, increasing impact fees is one of the proposals he is announcing at the news conference today. We should commend him for responding so promptly to the message sent by the election. Some organizations -- such as the Home Builders -- will attempt to use the
slight slowing of new home starts to defeat this proposal. Don't let them succeed.

Send emails of support to the Council and the TV stations, write letters to the editor, show up at the Council meeting on Tuesday, or any other expressions of support you can think of. Make it clear that we appreciate addressing our concerns about the costs of growth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Missed the Comp Plan visioning workshps?

The handouts and the presentation are on the website now:

The online comment section isn't up yet, but is promised "soon".

The handout documents are worth looking at and seeing if you agree with subjective parts -- and maybe find some surprises in the facts and figures. See if you can guess what Planning District you live in. It took me three guesses....

Issues and actions

While the election is long past, the issues live on and actions will be needed by the Council and citizens to address them.

I plan to continue to express my opinions and viewpoints -- as I did yesterday at the afternoon Council meeting. (Streaming video of the entire meeting is at: ) I urge other people to do the same.

Besides expounding on my ideas, I will using this blog to point out opportunities for other folks: to learn about issues, to express your views, exchange ideas with other people, and even have fun.

Let me know it you have suggestions for opportunities as well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our first chance to help Raleigh plan for the future

Don't miss these chances to guide the Comprehensive Plan Update -

Tuesday is the first of the three visioning workshops, each with a citywide scope and identical content and format, to be held in different parts of the city. The purpose of these workshops is to define a vision for Raleigh's future. The workshops will also address citywide issues and opportunities. These citywide workshops are not intended to be specific to the area in which they are being held.

Please plan on attending at least one of the upcoming public visioning workshops. Light refreshments will be served.

First round of city-wide public workshops:

November 13, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Shepherd’s Hall, The Church of the Good Shepherd
125 Hillsborough Street
For a guide to downtown parking, see

November 14, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
McKimmon Conference and Training Center, NCSU
1101 Gorman Street
For directions to the conference center, see

November 15, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
North Raleigh Church of Christ
8701 Falls of Neuse Road
For directions to the church, see

Public input workshops will be held in three sets of three meetings each, for a total of nine public meetings. This first set of workshops, which will focus on the overall vision for the City's future. Eventually public workshops will be held in all parts of the city.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Urban Form lecture

The next "Designing a 21st Century City" lecture is on Tuesday:

Creating Urban Form: Conventional and Form-Based Codes

How Do We Design a 21st Century City?


November 6, 2007
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Fletcher Opera Theater
in Raleigh, NC


Cities all over the world are striving to create more accessible and walkable urban environments. Development patterns are the result of zoning regulations. Conventional codes are based on specific land uses. Form-based codes are based on design, and less on use.

What are form-based codes, anyway?
What are the pros and cons of conventional codes?
What are the pros and cons of form-based codes?
Why does zoning sometimes forbid exactly what our plans call for?
Great cities of the world were created without zoning; why do we need rules at all?"

More info on the City of Raleigh website:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Comp Plan Kickoff tomorrow

Remember that the City of Raleigh is kicking off the public participation portion of its Comprehensive Plan update tomorrow starting at 7p. See the city website for details.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hybrid bus report

It was so quiet you could hardly hear it run, but the hybrid portion adds $200,000 to the cost of a $500,000 plus bus purchase. The bus is American-made manufactured by Gillig Corporation in California. The new CAT buses arriving in Feb 2008 are made by the same company.

Councilor Stephenson and Crowder took a ride on it, along with members of the Raleigh Transit Authority, transit staff and a few citizens. The City Manager and few other staff members stopped by while it was parked on Hargett Street across from the Municipal Building.

Then it headed over to TTA for them to take a look at it as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hybrid bus tomorrow!

From: Eatman, David
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 11:53 AM
Subject: BRT Hybrid Electric Bus
The City of Raleigh Public Works Department, Transportation Operations
Division, would like to invite you to view one of the most technologically
advanced buses in production today. A 40 Foot Gillig, Low Floor, Hybrid
Electric Bus will be available for viewing and test rides between the hours
of 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. on Thursday October 11, 2007. The bus will be
parked on the eastbound side of Hargett Street by the City of Raleigh
Administrative Complex, 222 West Hargett Street. The City of Raleigh¹s
transit program is considering the use of this vehicle for special transit
services. Test rides will be available at 10:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon.
A flyer displaying the vehicle that will be present is attached. Please
join us as we evaluate our bus procurement options.
David Eatman
Transit Administrator
Public Works Department
City of Raleigh
For questions regarding this event please call 890-3030.

I'll still be commenting on the issues

I hope you'll join me.

One of our first chances to will be at the Kickoff for the update of the Comprehensive Plan on October 25.
Go to

to register.

Hope to see you there

Monday, October 8, 2007

Now or never

It's time to vote for your choices for Raleigh City Council.

I hope you'll choose me as your 2nd choice for the At-Large opening based my positions on the issues:
Impact fees: Increase them
North Hills TIF: No
Dix Park: Yes
Teardowns: Stop them unless the neighborhood has a Neighborhood Plan that protects its character.
Growth: Manage it, with the help of the updated Comprehensive Plan.
Parks bond: Pass it
Transit: Make the CAT system more reliable and support TTA rail.
CACs: Market them and revise the boundaries to better reflect population.
Environment: Protect water and air quality by reducing miles traveled in personal cars and increasing forested open space.
Drought: If it doesn’t rain, go to Stage 2 water restrictions. And from now on, start going to water restrictions earlier.
Comprehensive plan: Make sure it protects our natural systems and encourages transit-oriented land use, and includes wide public participation.

And on my pledge to increase citizen involvement, neighborhood preservation, and environmental stewardship in the city of Raleigh.

You have from 6:30am until 7:30pm Tuesday to vote. Go to:
to find your polling place.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Publicly financed elections

I've gotten several questions lately on publicly financed local elections.

There appears to be an organized push to expand the public financing of candidates running for offices beyond the judicial races. I think that would be a great thing. Since the candidates would have to have a certain number(to be decided) of small donations, it would actually make it easier to ask people to support you. Most folks don't think that their $10 is worth much. But if it will help their candidate qualify for public funds, that makes every donation worth more. It also makes the person who can spare $10 as important as the person that can spare $100. That is a very nice thought.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Last chance to vote early

The Board of Elections is open on Saturday to allow people to vote at their leisure. Make it worth their while -- if you haven't voted yet, here's your chance!

If you aren't registered to vote, this is your last chance. You can't register and vote on Election Day.

See me on Time Warner Cable 24 all the rest of the candidates --- Friday at 8pm, 9am Saturday and Monday at 8pm.

I didn't talk a lot about the issues because the candidates only get 3 minutes. However I did introduce a new concept: Vote for me because I have the time to do the job the way it needs to be done.

I guess we'll see how well that worked on Tuesday evening....

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Indy questionnaire

With the election just 6 days away, I'm not going to be have time to do much writing here.

Just check the Indy questionnaire :

and the N&O questionnaire :

and audio interview with different questions:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Independent Weekly endorsed me!

As well they should, on the issues.

The Independent endorsement story:
(I put it in my links too.)

My answers to their questionnaire are on the site too.

Raleigh can have a real change for the better!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I believe Raleigh's impact fees are too low. We need to allow impact fees to fund costs of future growth. Raising impact fees is not the only way to deal with costs of growth, but it is the fastest; most other revenue sources would require legislative approval. We should to be constantly researching the successful strategies of other areas of the state and the country that are dealing with similar problems.

The real issue is how development should be managed. Some areas have Adequate Public Facilities laws requiring that the public facilities must be in place before new developments are approved. Otherwise police, firefighters and sanitation workers have too large an area to cover effectively; parks become overcrowded, with land for new parks getting more and more expensive; inspectors and planners don’t have adequate time to do their jobs; air and water quality are threatened by overworked water and transportation systems. Residents new and old suffer.

The City Council has made some courageous decisions to deal with growth. For example, the recent 70% increase in the small existing impact fee, adding the stormwater fee, and the upcoming Comprehensive Plan update which includes protecting environmental resources, and linking land use to urban form. However, much more is needed.

Expanded issues discussion

Please, let me know what you think of my ideas on the issues!


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blunt answers to issues

I do have thoughtful and well thought out positions on these topics, but to save time here's the short version:

Impact fees: Increase them
North Hills TIF: No
Dix Park: Yes
Teardowns: Stop them until the new ordinance is in place (unless the neighborhood has a Neighborhood Plan that protects its character).
Growth: Manage it, with the help of the updated Comprehensive Plan
Parks bond: Pass it
Transit: Make the CAT system more reliable
CACs: Market them and revise the boundaries
Environment: Protect water and air quality by reducing miles traveled in personal cars and increasing forested open space.

So attack it, approve of it, question it, tell me what I left out.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dix Park

Someone at the Neighborhood Exchange asked me to address the Dix property, so it's the first issue I'll touch on.

Bottom line, all the 306 acres should be a destination park as the citizen groups have advocated.

Since I'm due back at the
Neighborhood Exchange at 8am, I'll just repeat my answer to one of the questions about it on a candidate questionnaire:

3. How much money do you think the city should be willing to invest to buy and develop the Dorothea Dix campus?

The question shouldn't be how much, but how. How do we craft a workable public/private partnership, what kind of funding strategies will work best for capital and stewardship needs, or what deals we can make with the State -- those are the questions. I can't imagine the city giving up on this property after the countless hours that citizens (and staff) have put into the effort to craft the best solution for this property. This opportunity has energized thousands of Raleigh citizens to work together to try to figure out the best way to preserve and enhance this property as a major park in the heart of our city. There has to be a way to harness this energy to help the city resolve this issue.

I believe that this property will be such a strong economic engine that it could even help fund some of the mental health needs that the closing of the hospital has left unmet. Countless studies have shown that a park of this quality increases property values in the neighborhoods near it. These increases would benefit not just Boylan Heights, but the neighborhoods across Lake Wheeler Road from the property. Many of these modest homes have been converted into rental units over the years. These houses could be renovated and updated, perhaps even offered to state, city, and county employees at reduced cost before being offered to the general public. This project provides the kind of clear public purpose that Tax Increment Financing is designed to fund.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The world according to Helen

I started this blog to talk about the issues in the Raleigh City Council race, to tell people what I think about them. and to hear what they think about them.

It's going to take a couple of days to get everything up here. I started life thinking I was a writer so I want to be eloquent. Time limitations means I'm going to have to settle for being clear. That's probably just as well.

Right now I have a dog to walk, breakfast to fix, and an interview to get ready for.

In the mean time, tell me what issues you want to hear about first.