Making city streets safer for everyone.
One of the most common requests I get as Chair of the Public Works Committee is to calm traffic and make streets safer for pedestrians. This spring, I brought nationally-recognized experts to meet in Raleigh with Councilors, city staff and the public to describe how we could change our street planning policies from focusing on moving cars to make sure streets are safer and shared more equally by everyone, including cars, bikes, and pedestrians of all ages. As a result, the Council voted to incorporate these ideas - called Complete Streets - into new street planning policies so that future street projects are designed to be safe and efficient for cars and all other users. In addition, a Complete Streets element has been incorporated in Raleigh's new
Promoting citizen involvement.
Russ has always always felt that our Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) leaders are Raleigh's most important front-line advocates for strong neighborhoods. Accordingly, Russ has worked hard to make sure they have the staff, financial support and respect they need to do their jobs effectively.
Getting substandard properties under control.
Absentee landlord rental dwellings can quickly drain the quality of life and property values out of a neighborhood. After years of effort, recent changes to add rental registration have made it easier to track problem rentals, saving tax dollars that used to be wasted on repeated police and inspections investigations. New landlord training program and the deterrent of the PROP (probationary rental program) have put slumlords on notice and begun to lift the quality of rental housing across the city. Click here to read a letter published in the News & Observer.
When Mordecai and Oakwood neighbors worried that Raleigh had no rules for regulating abandoned commercial properties in their neighborhoods, I reached out to Charlotte and Greenville and brought back a new ordinance. Now for the first time, inspectors have some clout in addressing the problems of abandoned commercial properties.
Putting more police in more neighborhoods.
Another common citizen request is to improve police presence in neighborhoods, both to reduce response times and to help deter crimes before they happen. In my first meeting with new Police Chief Harry Dolan, I asked about stretching our public safety dollars by developing a police auxiliary force. These would be retired officers who would improve police presence, while freeing up regular officers to focus on the most important service calls. Council was supportive and now Chief Dolan is developing a Reserve Officer Program that is scheduled to go into effect before the end of this year. Another outcome of my first meeting with Chief Dolan is the new RPD Volunteer Program which teams up citizens with the police department to help keep neighborhoods safe in a variety of ways.
Expanding after-school and recreational programs.
At a community celebration neighbors talked about the need to make better use of the city’s existing community facilities. I asked the Parks Department to bring forward a proposal to hire additional staff at two Community Centers that are only staffed part time. This proposal was approved by Council and will provide extended hours of operation with expanded after-school and recreational programs for Raleigh residents.
Getting control over alcoholic beverage sales.
Stores that sell mostly alcoholic beverages can be a blight on neighborhoods, but local governments have never had control over state ABC permits. As a committee vice-chair at the NC League of Municipalities, I introduced a new advocacy agenda item this spring, to lobby the Legislature for more local control over ABC permits. I will be looking for your support in lobbying our state representatives on this issue.