We are publishing statements made during the May 24, 2023 public hearing on the Town’s housing choices proposal.
My name is Anne Gordon and I’m here from Spring Glen, a community made up primarily of duplexes and condos in the Franklin-Rosemary Historic District here in downtown Chapel Hill.
Most people don’t know about us – even people who have lived here for 40 years – but our community is a mixed-age and mixed-income group of people who share a small subdivision of land full of trees, springs, and wildlife. Few of us could afford to live in this part of town if this configuration didn’t exist. But this is about more than just us.
Exclusionary zoning affects us all – in addition to furthering economic and racial segregation, it enables continued climate disaster by pushing new housing into developments that take the place of trees and require increased energy use, when there is already infrastructure in existing neighborhoods. Indeed, even the historic district already functionally has duplexes, with a growth in the number of accessory dwelling units and increasingly huge additions. Sounds like corporations aren’t the only developers and investors in this situation.
Parents in the room have seen the impact of continued socio-economic segregation with school buses this year – people who work in our community can’t afford to live here, and recruiting people to commute an hour to drive a school bus was nearly impossible – hence the catastrophic driver shortages that interfered with all of our lives.
I was at a meeting in the historic district last week when someone said “we just want to preserve things the way they are.” But this is not an option without ignoring that “the way things are” includes racial inequality, economic inequality, and climate disaster. These aren’t even big changes – we’re talking duplexes! So to everyone who shakes their head and says “someone should do something” about inequality and segregation in our community – this very small change is how we do that.