American Planning Association
North Carolina Chapter
Strategic Priorities 2018 – 2022
In communities around the state, housing costs are rising faster than incomes. Housing production slowed to a crawl during the Great Recession. Coming out of the recession, renters as a proportion of all households grew, and in many communities the pace of new rental construction could not keep pace. The result has been a significant increase in rental rates. Even in the for-sale-market, many cities have seen prices outstrip income growth. In hotter urban markets, the problem is most acute in specific geographies. Inner ring neighborhoods, once affordable due to their old housing stock, have seen a wave of rehabilitations, additions, and teardowns and rebuilds, dramatically raising the price of these older neighborhoods and displacing formerly naturally-occurring affordable housing (NOAH).
North Carolina communities lack the authority available in other states to implement solutions such as mandatory inclusionary zoning. Some communities contribute local tax dollars for affordable housing, but in many places this is either an excessive fiscal burden or a political non-starter. Attempts to build new affordable units through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit can run into neighborhood opposition.
APA-NC can serve as a resource for data, defining the problem and potential solutions that can be implemented in NC, as well as a source of advocacy for enhanced local authority. Many local governments in NC have done great work on this topic; their findings and best practices should be broadly shared. APA-NC can also work with partners to dispel myths about affordable housing, such as adverse impacts on property values or increases in crime, neither of which have been observed in rigorous studies.
Extreme weather events and floods are becoming more common as the state feels the early impacts of climate change. Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 was the most significant flood event to hit the state since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The Raleigh area was hit by historic flooding just a few months later in April 2017, not from a tropical storm, but from a low pressure system. Some parts of the state and the Southeast have seen multiple 100-year storm events over a period of two years. Over a year after the disaster, recovery from Hurricane Matthew remains an urgent priority in eastern North Carolina.
Planners have an important role to play in planning for both hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Critical decisions about where and whether to rebuild, how to protect critical infrastructure, and how to relocate development out of harm’s way, are all topics in which planners have important roles to play. APA has an entire division devoted to this topic: Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery. APA-NC has 36 members in this division, making it the sixth most popular in the state (Transportation Planning is number one with 71 members).
Diversity & Equity
NC is becoming more diverse with each passing year, but this diversity is not reflected within the planning profession. As of 2016, the State was about 63 percent white, 21 percent black, with the Hispanic/Latino population at 9.2 percent being the fastest growing ethnic group in the state. While statistics on the racial and ethnic makeup of APA-NC members are not available, any attendee at the North Carolina Planning Conference can see that hispanics/latinos and African Americans are not proportionately represented in the profession.
As a result, planners will often find themselves working with communities where they lack easy familiarity with the norms, culture, and language. Planners need tools and resources to effectively engage and plan with diverse communities. As the leading provider of professional education to North Carolina planners, APA-NC can play an important role in making relevant training available to its members, both at and outside of the annual conference.
The concept of equity needs to be more deeply embedded in the work of planners and the chapter. Ever since urban areas began their post-WWII decline, revitalization has been focused on place-based strategies to lure investment into areas suffering from disinvestment. In the new century, many urban neighborhoods are receiving so much reinvestment that displacement has replaced decay as the top concern, while other areas including rural places still struggle and increasingly seem left behind. Revitalization that is not broadly shared is not true revitalization. Planner’s thinking and tactics need to evolve to match this new reality.