Parking, like traffic, is a recurring theme in local conversation about growth and development. We often hear from some community members that there is nowhere to park in downtown Chapel Hill/Carrboro, that a lack of parking is hurting local businesses, and that the parking minimums required for the Ephesus-Fordham renewal district are insufficient.
But the facts simply don’t support these claims. The reality is that providing more parking – especially surface parking – is fundamentally incompatible with urban land uses.*
It’s another busy week across Orange County, with all of the county’s public bodies holding at least one meeting.
The Carrboro Alderfolks will talk “green” cemeteries while the Chapel Hill Town Council will have a special meeting on Obey Creek and host an initial public forum on how to use Community Development Block Grants. The county commissioners will discuss mandating that county’s contractors pay a living wage to get government business, while the Hillsborough Town Board will consider an economic development grant application.
Whenever there’s a new development proposal pending before a local governing board, the center of the conversation always seems to gravitate toward traffic. Given this tendency, I think it’s important we understand historic traffic changes in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
After a pretty busy couple of weeks, this week will be a bit quieter for Orange County’s public bodies. The Carrboro Alderfolks will hold the second half of their public hearing on the proposed Carrboro Arts & Innovation Center, while the county commissioners will get a series of annual updates and discuss a strategic communications plan. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board will talk parental involvement and health education.
The Chapel Hill Town Council, Hillsborough Town Board and county school board are all break this week.
In 2013, a couple of European psychologists reviewed the literature in an attempt to define the term “quality of life.” Their conclusion was that it “turn[s] out to be an ambiguous and elusive concept.”
In an editorial in the Chapel Hill News, Travis Crayton and Molly DeMarco claimed “Many of us might have originally chosen to live in Chapel Hill/Carrboro because of the high quality of life, exemplified by a vibrant student life, arts and music scene, and abundance of unique, local businesses.”
Everyone has heard by now that Google Fiber is coming to the Triangle, including Chapel Hill and Carrboro (but not Hillsborough or rural Orange County), for those lucky enough to live in a neighborhood or apartment building that Google deems worthy to provide service to. What do you think this means for us locally? How will this help, or hinder, our efforts to repair the digital divide? With some real competition help bring down prices for other broadband?
This Week in Orange Politics
Yesterday was the last day of Buy Carrboro Week (see adorable flyer at left). This was an initiative of the new group LocalMotive, which is just one of several organizations focusing on economic development and "buying local" in southern Orange County. Others include the Carrboro Merchant's Association's Walk Carrboro, and the Town of Chapel Hill's Downtown Economic Development Initiative and emerging Franklin Street Artists' Co-op. There are also older/more traditional groups such as the Chamber of Commerce (and their We Buy Local effort), the Visitor's Bureau, and the Downtown Partnership (risen from the ashes of the old Downtown Commission). I'm sure I'm forgetting some, and I'm not even touching on the groups covering Hillsborough and the rest of Orange County. Buy Carrboro Week got me to thinking about our evolving understanding of economic development in Orange County. Just like our views on other issues such as growth management, affordable housing, environmental preservation, and school achievement I think we as a community have been continuing to learn and to look ahead, leading to a change in attitudes and goals. I've started to wonder whether a traditional "Chamber of Commerce"-type approach is all that relevant here anymore.
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