District D Neighborhood Alliance (DDNA) Meeting on October 21, 2008
A great DDNA session today with special guest Larry Strickland from the Inspections Department. The group had excellent questions and Larry addressed many of our concerns.
- Special Guest: Larry Strickland, Inspections
- Thomas Crowder, District D City Councilor
- Jason Hibbets, Lineberry Alliance / SWCAC
- April Hall, Roylene Acres
- Phil Poe, Glenwood Brooklyn / Five Points CAC
- Elizabeth Byrd, Avent West / WCAC
- Bob Geary, Cameron Park
- Renee Bethea, Historic Method / WCAC
- Joe Boisvert, University Park, UPHA / Wade CAC
- Connie Crumpler, Caraleigh / SWCAC
- Jim Paumier, Fairview Acres / WCAC
- John Keadle, Fairview Acres / WCAC
- Pete Huckins, Pullen Park Terrace
- John Reaves, Jr., Caraleigh / SWCAC
We started off with introductions around the room then Larry introduced himself. He’s been on the speaking circuit lately, at the SouthWest CAC, Central CAC, and Neighborhood College over the past two weeks. The two items that Larry wanted to focus on for this group was Zoning Enforcement and Density Violations.
For density violations, Larry stated that they are hard to enforce and difficult to prove. These cases usually require some level of neighbor participation to help with records. These records would include tracking the numbers of cars, car license plates, vehicle description, number of people, and noting if it’s the same people. A density violation is more people in a dwelling unit than code allows. The above items can help prove the pattern of individuals who may be living in a dwelling. For Raleigh, this means that no more than four unrelated individuals in a dwelling unit. Currently, the city is missing a definition for the number of nights that defines “living.” Also, a dwelling unit must contain three items: a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bed.
Next we talked about the PROP and some upcoming changes. With the recent addition of the criminal element of the PROP, a new PROP team is being formed to include a police officer, a housing inspector, and administrative assistants that are dedicated to the PROP. Zoning and housing inspectors will be feeding information into a common system used between these parties, including Raleigh Police Department.
Strickland provided a brief history on zoning in Raleigh. Zoning started in 1923 and started getting really aggressive in the early 1980′s. Any existing structure is grandfathered in to any new zoning unless: 1) the use discontinues for the period of 1-year or 2) damage that causes more than 50% loss, which in turn will require a special use permit.
There was a question about garbage bin violations. This is handled by Solid Waste Services and Fred Battle should be contacted for anyone not bringing in their trash bin or recycle bin by 7:00 PM the day after their service day.
Additional questions were about the number of cars allowed per dwelling. There are no hard rules on parking regulations from a zoning perspective. Zoning requires that there is one parking space per dwelling unit, per the code. So front yard parking and street parking is not considered in this. Our communities face many issues with parking, particularly with student rentals.
Back to the PROP, Larry provided an example about how Greenville incorporates city regulations into their leases. The future goal for Raleigh is to get to this as well. Get information about city ordinances into leases for landlord and rentor awareness. City Inspections is looking to form partnerships with landlords for compliance of ordinances.
Several future concerns were brought up by DDNA members:
- The Hispanic population with respect to unlrelated persons living in a dwelling
- Housing & Environmental is doing a superb job, but Zoning inspections are missing common sense issues
- The McMansion issues becoming a future rental property issue, with respect to minimum density requirements and building permits (the theory is that the McMansions will be divided up and used for future rental property)
- Interpretation of building plans and considering existing overlay districts (Larry addressed this concern and said the systems are being updated to handle this)
Another suggestion to help prevent future repeat violations was to add list pending; a court action pending the lien of the property so that when the property exchanges owners, past uses found in violation will be passed on.
The next major topic was the sign ordinance. Basically, no signs are allowed in the right-of-way in the City of Raleigh (unless approved by City Council via an easement). Real Estate signs are a good example of an industry in compliance with sign ordinance rules. Buying foreclosed homes, Singles add, and mattress advertisements are bad examples. There was a question about signs on buildings downtown, there was a recent change that allowed building taller than 200 feet to have proportional signs for their buildings. Back to everyday signs, including political signs, Inspections has this as a high priority and signs will be removed. If inspections can prove who put the sign out, it is a $200 fine.
On the topics of signs, there was a concern about signs on vehicles. The only violation here is if the sign is a portable sign. Signs on vehicles are in compliance if they are part of the vehicle. For example, magnetic signs are in compliance.
Our group thanked Larry for attending.