Stef Mendell is a candidate for Raleigh City Council’s district E. Find more District E candidate responses here.
The Raleighites Agenda, a community-powered questionnaire, includes questions from Raleigh residents. For more questions on the process, visit this post.
QUESTION 1: For district candidates: What is your vision for your district and the city as a whole? (What will Raleigh look like in 10-20 years?) Once in office, what actions will be your priority to achieve that vision?
Right now Raleigh is a City where it is very difficult to move up the economic ladder. I want to make sure that all Raleigh residents have an opportunity to share in our good fortune. That means continuing my focus on housing affordability and transit. I want to work with developers to figure out how to make housing more affordable through incentives and partnerships. I want to ensure that the City takes steps to incentivize the retention and rehabilitation of naturally occurring affordable housing. I want to explore options for freezing property taxes for vulnerable members of our community. I want to accelerate the building of bus shelters. I want to introduce more objective criteria so that we build sidewalks where they help children get to and from school and help residents get to and from bus stops. I want to accelerate the adoption of bus rapid transit.
I want to make sure that Raleigh makes good decisions in terms of environmental impact. In 10 to 20 years I want Raleigh to have maintained a robust tree canopy. I want us to have made significant improvements in managing storm water. I will continue my focus on improvements to the UDO to facilitate that happening.
QUESTION 2: What’s the impact on traffic of the rapid high-rise development in downtown, and what are you doing to avoid the gridlock we’re seeing too often? How would you improve walkability, especially in the urban core?
I am very concerned about the impact on traffic of high-rise development, which is why I would not approve John Kane’s rezoning request for 40 stories in Smoky Hollow until the conditions included a traffic impact analysis that will require adjustments to the plan if it is determined that there will be a negative impact on traffic in the area. Even though our UDO says traffic impact analyses are not required in the downtown zoning district, I will insist that we either revise the UDO or include that condition with all rezoning requests.
I want to introduce more objective criteria so that we build sidewalks where they help children get to and from school and help residents get to and from bus stops.
QUESTION 3: According to the Arts & Economic Impact Study 5, the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Raleigh generated $532 million in economic activity, representing 95% of the total activity for Wake County in fiscal year 2015. The creative economy also supports over 8,00 full-time equivalent jobs in Raleigh and generates $26 million in tax revenue for local government.
What is your vision for the arts and the role they would play in Raleigh’s overall economic development strategy?
There are some groups that question the expenditure of public money on arts and culture, so I think we need to do a better job of communicating the positive economic impact.
I have always found inspiration from John Greenleaf Whittier – “If thou of fortune be bereft, and in thy store there be but left two loaves, sell one, and with the dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”
QUESTION 4: What is your vision for Raleigh 20 years from now? Development will happen whether you support it or not — so what is next? What is the big idea? What is YOUR big idea?
We need to make sure that as we grow, we preserve the very things that are attracting growth to this area and the very things that we all love about Raleigh.
Our Comprehensive Plan outlines where density is desired and it’s important we steer density to those areas in order to make our public transit effective.
QUESTION 5: With rising costs for parking and rent, what will you do to help keep independent, locally-owned shops in downtown Raleigh from being swallowed up by larger chains?
The City’s Economic Development staff work closely with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance to support local businesses. I would take direction from those experts.
Stef Mendell is a candidate for Raleigh City Council’s District E. Find her website at stefmendellforcouncil.com.