Big changes ahead with Raleigh’s new development code

February 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm 1 comment

Raleigh’s city council may be adopting a new 300-page Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) tonight, which will set forth new guidelines for the development of the city’s urban cores. This is primarily the Crabtree Valley, Hillsborough Street, and Cameron Village areas. The idea is to encourage higher-density, walkable, mixed-use development while still preserving a neighborhood feel.

It is encouraging to see that new steps are being taking to ensure that our cities are developing in a more sustainable way. Encouraging more dense development, with shops, offices, and housing in close proximity, means that people will rely less and less on cars. In addition, this will help create a more vibrant public life– with more people out and about, walking and biking, shopping, eating, etc, there will be more activity in our urban areas.

One of the issues that such a plan raises, however, is the lack of public transportation included in the new code– a key piece for encouraging linkages between areas and reducing the use of cars. As the News & Observer reports, public transit investments rely on a half-sent sales tax increase that is supported by Wake County mayors, but opposed by county commissioners. As one councilman put it, “If it still ends up being more convenient to get in your car , it’s going to get more difficult to redevelop these areas.”

There is also the broader issue of access– who are these areas being developed for, and what will the impacts be on surrounding areas? The N&O begins by stating that these neighborhoods currently attract “young professionals.” Along with encouraging a mix of uses, will the plan also encourage a mix of people? Will there be opportunities for lower- and moderate-income people to access housing, business space, or even retail in these areas?

Even in the discussion of public transportation investments, the key is to make sure that the new transit hubs are connected to the outlying areas. As we have blogged before, low-income people are the primary users of public transit. If the urban cores of Raleigh will include opportunities for both recreation and employment, it is essential that public transit provide the connections to allow all citizens access.

It is commendable that the City of Raleigh is working to update its land-use and development codes to encourage more sustainability. However, it is equally important that city planning efforts and big investments like public transit infrastructure encourage the growth, development, and connectivity of all areas of the city.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Housing, Jobs & Employment, Transportation. Tags: , , , , .

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