housing-prices in chapel hill over time
Limited housing supply has created a competitive housing market in Chapel Hill and put homeownership out of reach for most households

Thanks for being here, y’all – I know it’s late, so I’ll bring all my energy for this:

I try to be a numbers guy. We’ve got an estimate from the projected housing needs report that we need an average of ~485 units/year. There are limited developable parcels remaining in town for large multi-unit projects. This amendment gives us the flexibility to keep up with housing need over a twenty-year period, though I want to point out that this amendment is a watered-down version of a more ambitious amendment that would have given us more flexibility.

As you consider what to do, I think you can ask a very simple question: How do you do the most good and the least harm? It seems pretty obvious that permitting this kind of housing helps a more people than it hurts, and blocking it hurts more people than it helps.

We can try to stall change, but we can’t stop it. And if we resist the future, we abandon the chance to shape it. I think that permitting this kind of housing is visionary. It’s a way to say that you want to create a Chapel Hill that our children and grandchildren can live in – and not just our children and grandchildren, but other people’s children and grandchildren, too.

Let me read you a tweet from a graduating senior here at UNC: “I think me being sad about graduating is more a reflection of how suburbanized, isolated, and unwalkable most places in this country are.” This housing amendment isn’t just about logistics, it is literally about hope for young people, for working people, for poor people, and really for anyone who wants a place to call home here.

So I want to urge you to be ambitious – not just on this issue, but on our budget, too. I’ve seen the list of things we want to accomplish; I’ve seen how tight our budget is; I’ve seen the projects and spending we’ve had to defer to make ends meet. We have got to catch up with needs in personnel, transit, equipment, vehicles, greenways, and parks. Be ambitious! Let’s get that money and shape Chapel Hill into a model for other cities in America of how we create to a greener and more affordable place to live – one where walking and transit are easy and life is more fun for us and those after us.

Theodore Nollert is a renter, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission, and a PhD candidate in English literature. He was the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG)...