Question # 1 Planning and Development
Last year, City Council adopted the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which sets the vision for how our city will grow in the coming decades. This summer, Council will vote to adopt Charlotte’s first Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), which are the regulations needed to implement the comprehensive plan. Recently, Council approved a rezoning petition to allow drive-through establishments in the areas that were previously zoned as transit-oriented development (TOD) districts. These TOD areas are meant to be walkable, and therefore would not have allowed a drive-through to be built by-right. This is not the first time the city council has diverted from adopted plans and regulations. One of the goals of the soon-to-be-adopted UDO is the reduce the number of exceptions and be a plan-making city instead of a deal-making city. If elected, will you help to end the practice of granting exemptions to adopted plans and ordinances?
Patrick D Cannon (D, At-Large): Over the years I had an ability to see how area plans would be diverted from what those plans called for, largely impart because the plans were said to be old and needed to be updated. It would be my hope that with any newly updated plan and future ordinance, that we as a council would follow what those plans call for which I would be supportive of.
Larken Egleston (D, At-Large)(i): I agree once the UDO is fully adopted, we should aspire to see less 'exceptions' made in rezoning petitions, but also acknowledge each situation is unique and must be evaluated individually. I share Sustain Charlotte's broader goal of making Charlotte a less car-centric community and have demonstrated that commitment through being a vocal advocate for investment in bike/ped/transit infrastructure.
Kyle J. Luebke (R, At-Large): Yes. One of the key rationales in the development of the UDO was certainty for developers in how they can develop and peace of mind for neighborhoods in how those communities are going to grow. Allowing for exceptions simply because developers ask for them defeats the entire purpose of our zoning code and it allows those who have deep pockets to manipulate the system to their advantage. Exceptions should be rare and they should be based upon a fulsome examination of the purpose of the particular zoning rule and whether the exception fits into what the City is trying to accomplish. Though I am not willing to say that there should *never* be exceptions, I will fight to reduce the granting of exemptions to adopted plans and ordinances.
LaWana Slack Mayfield (D, At-Large): I will commit to researching how the impact of COVID-19 has changed how we do business with safety at the forefront along with realizing impactful ways to protect our environment.I support expanding the financial cost to our regional partners who also utilize our infrastructure.
David Merrill (R, At-Large): I like the concept to the UDO but there are a few areas that I feel need to be better revised for the long-term benefit of our entire community. For TODs to be effective we need to consider first mile/last mile needs for those that may not be within a short walk to transit stops. For TODs to work we need park and ride options and nearby places for people to refuel themselves and the vehicles they need to arrive to the transit stops. The UDO needs to be updated in a way that exceptions will not be commonplace and allowed only in situations that benefit the local community.
David Rice (R, At-Large): yes
Braxton Winston II (D, At-Large)(i): Yes
Charlene Henderson (D, District 1): "If elected, I would help to end the practice of granting exemptions to adopted plans and ordinances without community engagement. The Unified Development Ordinance one of the goals is the reduce the number of exceptions and be a plan-making city instead of a deal-making city. If this is to work, there must be a plan that will engage residents. As a native of Charlotte, this development will take years to address and complete."
Billy Maddalon (D, District 1): Yes I will. Any plan requires a "critical path" be followed if it's to be successful. Following the critical path requires discipline, despite vested interests engaging and hoping to divert. It's not easy, but discipline is required and my decades of executive level experience leading in our community gives you a clear indication of how well I promote fidelity to desired outcomes.
Amar Johnson (D, District 2): Yes.
Tiawana Brown (D, District 3): Yes-absolutely , unless it is proven to be unavoidable to do so and deemed necessary to help the constituents as a whole. Otherwise a solid yes.
Victoria Watlington (D, District 3)(i): It is the responsibility and privilege of the residents of this city to, through their representatives, determine how we want to grow. I respect the democratic process of reviewing each case on its on merit, engaging the public regarding the preferred path forward, and voting. As a representative of communities who have seen government policies desecrate their neighborhoods in the name of progress, I will always be diligent to review each request, taking into account the unique circumstances of the surrounding community.
Cedric Dean (D, District 4): I will help end the practice of granting exemptions to adopted plans and ordinances, unless the hardship is so unique that other people have the same situation.
Darlene Heater (D, District 4): I am a strong believer in planning for growth and of “plan the work, work the plan.” I also believe that plans are intended to inform development, not explicitly restrict innovation or make great development investments impossible to execute. Bottom line, I believe most new projects will align with our new plan. When there is a great development project or an innovative land use application that is good for Charlotte, I would support an exemption.
Liz Millsaps Haigler (D, District 5): "I was against the drive thru. I am adamantly for quadruplexes on single family lots (and wish the city had educated citizens on how allowing them increases property values + showed folks photos and sales prices of the quads on Pecan Ave & McClintock Rd.) I embody your values on this issue and would love for the process to be easier and much more accessible. However, I have some serious reservations about the UDO: Staff bungled the sidewall restrictions so that very few duplexes or triplexes will be allowed on single family lots. What else did they bungle? This UDO is completely untested & there’s no allowance or review process for any mistakes that have been made. Every property owner is on their own if they are harmed.Here in Oakhurst we are getting the Monroe Road Streetscape in which the city is taking many parking spaces thru eminent domain for a more walkable neighborhood. After that, today’s parking requirements are waived for the current owner/tenant/use but if any of these change or the building is renovated/expanded/torn down then the today’s parking requirements kick back in & there is no way to bring back those spaces. This will be a nightmare for the neighborhood in that it will put an end to adaptive reuse for these properties & make it difficult to bring in new uses and businesses at a time when Oakhurst’s commercial sections are just beginning to improve. A solution would be to have a zoning Streetscape Overlay that reduces parking requirements, but that is not planned. I believe parking requirements should be reduced as public transportation improves and increases, but there is no provision for that in the UDO. I believe a little more parking needs to be required in TOD districts. More Handicapped spaces for example. Plus motor scooter & bicycle spaces. And parking needs to be relevant to the type of the businesses: Less parking for bars (deterrence to drunk driving), but more for say, a veterinarian – if a car or coyote attacks your pet, you’re not likely walking or biking to the vet or waiting for a ride share. I believe we can start cutting down on the suburban parking requirements slightly. The city says an equity lens has been applied to the UDO, yet the Tree Permit process will harm folks in our older suburbs who are already struggling to pay property taxes because they must pay for an arborist to assess their dying tree. The UDO is silent about the Tree Permit Fee, but it has been reported that they would like it to be a whopping $1,000 which can only be mitigated down to $500 by planting a tree. Fully half of our citizens cannot afford that. It’s also very silent as to whether the city would continue to remain responsible for trees planted by the city in the right of way or if the city is subject to these requirements. Last year the city clearcut over 1.5 acres for our multiuse path from the 2008 bond money & another dozen plus tall oaks right before Christmas that weren’t on the plan they gave our neighborhood. As someone who deals with zoning issues on a daily basis I see so many instances in the UDO that do need exceptions – (not big developer exceptions, but things that harm individual property owners & communities) – some date back to prior zoning codes. So here’s my recommendation: The UDO effectively rezones every piece of property in the city, and it is not apples to apples + only about 5% of the public has engaged with the city about it. I believe the city must notify every single owner and spell out the changes to their specific parcel, give owners a reasonable period to research and express their concerns & if they don’t agree with the change, be grandfathered in for a period of time. ***Update: The “PRO-BUSINESS” Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition (REBIC) just endorsed my opponent in an email to my fellow Realtors"
Marjorie Molina (D, District 5): I support the vision of the Comprehensive Plan and many of the stated objectives within the UDO. These plans will give the City Council a road map for how to manage growth and compatible land use, going forward. I will absolutely utilize these plans to guide my decision-making on the City Council. Still, I believe Council reserves the right to make exceptions based on community feedback and the possibilities that new technologies, consumer habits, and building amenities may require adaptations to these plans over time.
Rob Hillman (D, District 6): Yes. A great deal of thought has gone into the 2040 Plan, and consequently, the UDO.
Nancy Wiggins (D, District 6): As a Rezoning Commissioner I have gotten developers to modify. there plans with some regularity: however, sometimes buildings do require drive throughs because it involves a part of their business model line pharmacy Drive through s. We want sick people to come and get the medicines that they need to get well but we don’t want pharmacy staff to become ill so Ala drive- they/ walk up window is appropriate.
Question # 2 Transformational Mobility Network
In 2020, the Charlotte Moves Task Force recommended a “transformational mobility network” (TMN) of transportation projects and proposed a funding strategy for the network that centers on a “One Cent for Mobility” countywide sales tax. However, there has been little visible progress on moving this forward, even as new federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will create time-sensitive opportunities for our area to compete for federal dollars that will require a local match. Do you support the need to secure a local funding source to build the TMN? If so, what will you do as an elected official to move the process forward? If not, what do you propose as an alternative to support mobility for all residents?
Patrick D Cannon (D, At-Large): I do support a funding source of some sort, but not the use of property taxes as has been proposed in years past that I fought against and help identify monies in reserves with former city manager Ron Carley to support our transit initiatives. To move the process forward on say what might be one-cent sales tax as a potential revenue source, I would ask that the city incorporate an anti-displacement policy to avoid gentrification as Austin, TX did, and that the city incorporate opportunities for women and minorities to be included in the ability to perform construction build-out on the project.
Larken Egleston (D, At-Large)(i): Yes, I support local funding for TMN and have been a champion for this effort in my 4+ years as a councilmember. As the city's representative on both the Centralina Council of Governments and the NC League of Municipalities boards, I have been building relationships and trust with the other elected officials with whom these conversations and negotiations must take place. While it may seem there has not been much visible 'progress', there have certainly been many meaningful conversations taking place between jurisdictions towards agreement on how to move forward as a region, and I am confident those will bear fruit in the near future.
Kyle J. Luebke (R, At-Large): I do not support the one cent countywide sales tax for the TMN. Not only will the General Assembly not even consider allowing us to implement that sales tax, the towns of Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius are against the tax because they have not seen, nor will likely see, any of the transportation benefits. Instead, we should be looking at unique funding plans for our transportation system (such as tax increment financing) that will allow us to leverage the property development potential of fixed transit routes. The biggest failure of the Blue Line was that the private sector received all of the benefit for the light rail through increased development and land value, but relied upon public funds to make that private benefit happen. If elected, I would want us to work to ensure that the private benefit is paying into the public cost.
LaWana Slack Mayfield (D, At-Large): Charlotte like the Nation has been impacted with our working poor/working class neighbors feeling the financial burden of rising housing, utility and transportation costs. I will commit to working with our Mecklenburg Delegation, Council-colleagues and building relationships with our towns to create a strong shared cost model that will disburse the cost of transportation expansion.
David Merrill (R, At-Large): I support a partnership to secure the funding on transportation networks within the city and municipal, county, and state partnerships for expansion outside the city limits. To move this process forward I will propose a bond to expand the city network which will be repaid by development along the corridors.
David Rice (R, At-Large): yes, get inputs from the public vote to move forward, showing federal funding to match dollar for dollar, i can show how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill create public/ private projects.
Braxton Winston II (D, At-Large)(i): Yes I do. city council must engage with communities and leaders in and outside of Charlotte on a personal basis. The Council decided not to do this instead relying on consultants to lead the way. We should change that approach.
Charlene Henderson (D, District 1): "In support of TMN for ALL residents, it will help continue to connect residents to work, play, schools, and housing, without having to always be in a car. Nevertheless, with equitable development, and access to the opportunity, I see this as a win-win for all residents because when transportation can get a person from one point to another in a timely manner, it increases mobility for all residents. I also would like to see more community leaders and constituents volunteer for boards and committees, such as Transportation, Planning and Environment, who actually are boots on the ground to actively participate in these studies along side the Task Force."
Billy Maddalon (D, District 1): I support the need for additional local funding for enhanced mobility. I'm told the issue in Raleigh is "demonstrated need" and "capacity to deliver". My approach would be to engage and fund lower hanging fruit on our mobility map (dedicated bike lanes, greenway expansion, sidewalk connectivity, reimagine our bus system, etc.), which will hopefully demonstrate the need and capacity to the NCGA. Small wins with high touchpoint needs can created much needed momentum where there there currently is none. I am also not opposed to working with the county to consider a collaborative approach to doing what we can through property taxes. This issue is too critical to let the years go by and miss once in a lifetime funding sources that literally determine success or failure.
Amar Johnson (D, District 2): I do support social mobility as this is part of Upward Mobility, specifically social equity. I would try to minimize the cost to the taxpayers and take advantage of all federal dollars. With that being said, we need to look at the current revenue stream and see if there are any monies available to use instead of creating a new tax. Or increase an existing tax that does not come from the local residents directly, like the hotel tax from visitors and tourist, professional sports ticket sales, revenue generated from hosting sporting events, etc.
Tiawana Brown (D, District 3): "The Task Force proposes a mobility investment program designed to achieve the vision of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan for ""safe and equitable mobility. It was adopted to advance our mobility goals. I would support the local funding source Transformational Mobility Network. "
Victoria Watlington (D, District 3)(i): Though I would much prefer a funding model that did not include a regressive tax, given a limited set of funding options, a sales tax increase may be appropriate to generate revenue for transit. However, we have learned from previous transit projects, as well as peer cities, that we must ensure that public dollars are used for public good. This means that any funding structure should include a shared-cost model with the private sector development along the transit lines, economic opportunity for minority and small business, and anti-displacement protections for residents living along future transit lines. In addition, any tax increase cannot be for transit alone. It must include greenways, bike lanes, and sidewalks, to connect communities beyond transit routes. We should prioritize projects that create new connections to mitigate congestion and provide non-car alternatives for moving about the city. I will continue to engage the residents of District 3 to understand their needs, and articulate them to stakeholders in an effort to create a plan with broad support.
Cedric Dean (D, District 4): "No. The current process disfavors the African American community. (Less than 3% will circle back to Blacks) It's unrealistic. In order to get buy-in beyond Charlotte, we will literally have to form a multi-county transit authority, which would make a sales tax referendum more appealing to Republican legislators because it would take power away from Charlotte and share it with neighboring Republican-controlled counties."
Darlene Heater (D, District 4): I believe in and support the TMN and one cent tax funding strategy. The state legislators do not support the strategy—currently. There is much more work to be done to bring forward a strategy that we can all support. I am prepared to work on finding potential funding solutions to advance our mobility infrastructure. I am also prepared to work with our communities to ensure we are collectively discussing solutions and plans that meet the needs of constituents.
Liz Millsaps Haigler (D, District 5): This is another thing that needs some exploration and creative thought. Sales taxes are one of the least equitable methods to fund things – they are disproportionate & harm our poorest citizens. And unless by some miracle we get a majority of Democrats in the NC House AND Senate in November, it’s very unlikely the NC Legislature will allow us to put the sales tax on the ballot & then there’s the challenge of convincing the public to vote for it. All of that will take at least another 18 - 30 months. Property tax revaluation will bring in more money beginning in 2024. I would like to explore whether hospitality or airport funds can be used for any part of the Silver & Red Lines. Plus we need to look to Gaston, Iredell & Union counties for their share of these rail lines
Marjorie Molina (D, District 5): "Yes. I support the need for a local funding source for transportation investment. I believe the Silver Line and Gold Line extension will deliver incredible benefits in mobility and connectivity for District 5 residents. I’m also focused on ensuring CATS busing (routes, frequency, technology) and bicycle/pedestrian access remain a priority for funding. The Mayor and Council must be unified in their ask of the General Assembly for enabling legislation for a local funding option. I believe we will only be successful with the NCGA, if Councilmembers and their constituents are fully aware of the plan’s components and have confidence in the financials. Transparency is key."
Rob Hillman (D, District 6): Yes, local funding is a critical part of an improved Muti-modal transportation system that will help build our economy, enhance job opportunities and improve our quality of life and includes a better bus network, commuter rail and additional light rail, greenways, bikeways and improved sidewalks. I'll work with the surrounding towns in Mecklenburg to build support for a funding source. It will also be important to have a marketing plan that effectively shows our citizens the benefits of investing in an improved transportation network. I believe that our community is stronger when we work together.
Nancy Wiggins (D, District 6): Absolutely I am for this 1cent sales tax. Yes the tax is regressive;however,this way everyone participates.When we got the 1st funding for the Blue Line the USDOT requires that we add the same tax in the ‘90’s because our smog level exceeded LA due to our tree canopy Justcthis year, we have flunked the smog test & we are currently deemed the city with the worst smog.. Addiibg the Sliver Line will go a long way to alleviate the problem. We must act NOW while there is infrastructure money available.
Question # 3 Vision Zero
In 2018 Charlotte adopted a Vision Zero goal to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, and CDOT staff are working with Vision Zero Task Force members to achieve this goal. What investments and actions do you believe are most important for Charlotte to fulfill its commitment to Vision Zero and ensure that our streets are safe and well-connected for people of all ages and abilities to walk, bike, and ride transit?
Patrick D Cannon (D, At-Large): I would think that pushing actions surrounding the support of any policies that embrace the 2040 Comprehensive Plan which would be incorporated in the Charlotte Future 2040 Policy map processes and the Unified Development Ordinance process, would aid us in ensuring safe streets along with ride, walk, and biker options for all.
Larken Egleston (D, At-Large)(i): I was one of the councilmembers who voted in favor of adopting the Vision Zero goal and have backed up that vote with others to fund bike/ped infrastructure as well as supporting projects like road diets, decreased speed limits, and other traffic-calming measures in my district to make our streets safer for all users.
Kyle J. Luebke (R, At-Large): Vision Zero is failing in Charlotte because we are looking at the issue the wrong way. Currently, we look from the perspective of vehicles and how pedestrians can keep themselves safe (example – wear reflective vests). Instead, we should be having a pedestrian focus, and view our streets through someone walking or biking. Having biked and walked throughout Charlotte, I can tell you firsthand how we can realize our Vision Zero goals. We must work with CDOT to rethink how we engineer roads - both arterials and in our neighborhoods. We must work with neighborhoods to understand pain points in those neighborhoods and how we can slow down our streets through beautification. And we must work with advocacy organizations – like the Metrolina Association for the Blind – who have a unique perspective of what it is like to navigate our streets. Only by changing the structural realities of our built environment so that our City is safe for everyone, can we fully reach our Vision Zero goals.
LaWana Slack Mayfield (D, At-Large): I feel we can allocate greater investment towards community outreach/education as of now the residents who are familiar with Vision Zero are those following climate/sustainability impacts. I have spoken. to numerous residents over the last few weeks who have no idea this is a priority. With so many new residents moving to Charlotte we need a multi-level joint government & business campaign to educate the community.
David Merrill (R, At-Large): We have a lot of great and safe streets, and we have many more that are not. There is an elementary school a few blocks away on my street and drivers constantly travel over 60-mph in a 35-mph zone and run though stop signs without stopping. We need CDOT to do a better job of placing traffic control devices such as speed humps in the communities that request them while remaining within the requirements set by Charlotte Fire. We also need to better mark cross walks, and improve our sidewalks placing them several feet away from the street curbs. We also need more bike lanes on our neighborhood arterial streets, around our greenways, and parks.
David Rice (R, At-Large): the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill could be introduced to address these issues.
Braxton Winston II (D, At-Large)(i): We need a master plan on how we will connect our sidewalk network. We have greatly increased our public investment in sidewalks over the past 5-years and updated policy to create complete streets that are safer for pedestrians and cyclists. However, we still rely predominantly on private development for bike/ped improvements. The scale of the issue is too large to deal with project to project which is why we need a master plan.
Charlene Henderson (D, District 1): In the city of Charlotte, we are experiencing population growth that has effected the city on safety for all residents, so it is important to think about having more bike lanes and building more sidewalks for the safety of the city of Charlotte. So stiffer penalties when it comes down to speeding, driving while impaired and texting while driving. Human life is the best life, so we have to collaboratively work together on safety plans and look at other best practices in neighboring states that make it work.
Billy Maddalon (D, District 1): Part of the challenge lies with the never ending local vs. state road issue. Again, with respect to low hanging fruit, I'd advocate that we start with improving access to schools, parks, recreation centers and commercial/employment centers. Too many communities are isolated and cut off from safely walking or biking to the most needed and attractive assets adjacent to neighborhoods. The new recreation center beside the Hidden Valley community is a perfect example. You literally have to take your life in your hands to cross Tryon to reach the center. This is complicated by Tryon being a state road and not the responsibility of the city. It's a cluster. Not withstanding the failure to better plan non-auto access concurrently with the construction of new infrastructure, we have to start where the most immediate needs are identified. Sometimes it's as simple as asking hard questions and hold people accountable for results.
Amar Johnson (D, District 2): The more people you put into the street, the more opportunities you will have for an accident to happen. In order to achieve the Vision Zero goal there will have to be a design change to the current structure of the street layout and barriers, and pedestrians and bike lanes. There may need to be some changes to the law as well to protect drivers and pedestrians.
Tiawana Brown (D, District 3): Charlotte announced as a community it is all of our responsibility to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries to support Vision Zero goal- to that end, investments must be elevated and smart. We must acknowledge first, there are too many people traveling on Charlotte roads, which means too many cars, too much traffic, and more often times than not there will be accidents, and many of them will lead to fatalities. There is too little mobility for those that do not own a car. We must invest in other modes or transportation that don't include driving, such as walking and cycling , more paths to avoid traffic- also add more safe routes to CATS-inclusive of ensuring safety for all drivers. These types of investments I will support.
Victoria Watlington (D, District 3)(i): Traffic impact studies should be executed at an area level, rather than in a piecemeal fashion with each rezoning. Our growth is outpacing our infrastructure, and our streets are becoming more crowded (and dangerous). We need to rework the speed hump policy to allow residents (not just property owners) to petition for speed humps in dangerous areas, and lower the speed threshold for eligibility. We've got to invest in complete streets in high traffic areas to ensure the safety of pedestrians. And yes, we need traffic cameras.
Cedric Dean (D, District 4): The most essential investments must include reducing speed limits, changing street corners, and adjusting cross signals. The lower speed limit, increased enforcement and safer street designs are all building on each other to keep Charlotteans safe. The primary goal is to deepen this work. Not even a single tragedy on our streets is acceptable.
Darlene Heater (D, District 4): In order to fulfill the commitment, we need to adequately fund the improvements, connections and infrastructure. In University City, we executed a pedestrian thoroughfare study to identify where pedestrians and cyclists are crossing streets and what improvements should be made to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety. We are now using this plan to advocate for Vision Zero investment and remedies, using data to back up the request. Communities that are experiencing greater investment have more potential for investments in public realm that will improve conditions. City Council and City Staff need to also make sure we are addressing conditions in communities where investment is not providing improvements.
Liz Millsaps Haigler (D, District 5): I love Vision Zero! Before I was a realtor, I was a paralegal & one of our cases in the mid 1990’s was a mother of 6 who was killed when a truck turned right on read while she had the right of way in the crosswalk. It was an intersection on Central Ave that has had multiple injuries & deaths since then. I do not believe in collateral damage/deaths in a car centric society. We must have a combination of safety measures + education of drivers, cyclists, runners and walkers. The early “Walk” light for pedestrians is excellent as are the protected bike lanes on The Plaza. I’ve noticed the addition of these lanes has taken the average car speed from 50 mph to 30 mph. A childhood friend of mine used to teach people how to cross the street in Irian Jaya on the island of New Guinea because the natives would send their kids to the city to be educated, and these folks had never been around cars before. We need to do the same. Drivers still aren’t sure how to make turns on the roads that have them; delivery folks need to know where they fit in without blocking them. Pedestrians also need to be educated about when they have the right of way, the dangers of crossing outside of a crosswalk, how they are no match for a 5 to 20 ton vehicle & that even though they have the right of way it would benefit them to catch the driver's eyes, etc. Also, let's bring back red light cameras!
Marjorie Molina (D, District 5): I stand behind the Vision Zero goal and will work to promote it among my constituents, if elected. I believe City investment is critical, as so many of our neighborhoods in District 5 still lack adequate sidewalk infrastructure or protected bike lanes, and I will work to ensure District 5 neighborhoods are prioritized in the City’s Community Investment Plan. We need to continue to rely on the data to identify problem-areas – based not just accidents/incidents, but understanding where there are bus/transit corridors and employment centers with more bike/ped traffic. We should also work to empower our neighborhood associations to identify areas of concern and recommend solutions.
Rob Hillman (D, District 6): "City Council has a responsibility to help prevent traffic deaths and serious injuries on our streets. Funding should be provided to assess the safety of all new transportation related projects with clear safety guidelines. Annual tracking and improvement plans need to be created for all locations that have problems. The CMS School Board should be encouraged to teach transportation safety in our schools."
Nancy Wiggins (D, District 6): I along with fellow CMPC Commissioner Mike Sullivan created an initiative that the CMPC adopted (? 2018 or 19) that stated that the Commission would consider the Vision Zero precepts when reviewing our planning & rezonings. We have been in the too 25 cities for pedestrian deaths and this year 2022 may be our worst. Monroe Road near my home has been especially prone to these fatalities.
Question # 4 Access to Parks and Greenways
Although building parks and greenways is primarily the responsibility of Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte has partnered with Mecklenburg County to build the Cross Charlotte Trail and also supports access to parks and greenways by providing bikes, pedestrian, and transit connectivity. What would you do as an elected official to support residents’ access to outdoor recreational opportunities and green spaces?
Patrick D Cannon (D, At-Large): "I would wish to continue the partnership with the county to engage where we can as a city. Local city and county government often crossover realizing that we still are a community of one and that working together works for the common good of all residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Where consolidation may not be of interest in some areas, functional consolidation can always be an option of public works which is something I support."
Larken Egleston (D, At-Large)(i): I was one of the councilmembers who voted to complete the Cross Charlotte Trail and would continue to be a vocal advocate for investment in projects like greenways and public open space.
Kyle J. Luebke (R, At-Large): I am a strong proponent of expanded greenways and outdoor recreational opportunities and, though it is rightfully pointed out that this is primarily the responsibility of the County government, there is a role for the City to play here. We can do three things to expand our outdoor recreational opportunities and green spaces. First, we should aggressively expand our protected bike lane network. I used to bike down Tuckaseegee and, though there is a bike lane, I was always taking my life into my own hands until I got to the greenway. I would like to see, at minimum, some form of protection put into place on many of our current routes. If people feel safe to bike, they will get out and enjoy these spaces. Second, I would also be interested in pursuing more pilot programs relating to shutting down certain streets permanently (such as Camden). Other communities around the United States have had great success in converting roads into pedestrian malls and we should be thinking about how we could leverage our existing streets to provide those community spaces. Third, though not necessarily an expansion of outdoor recreation or green space, in the pandemic, City Council allowed for certain parking spaces outside of restaurants to be converted into dining or parklets. I would advocate for this to come back and would give restaurants the flexibility to choose how they want to utilize the outdoor spaces in front of their establishments.
LaWana Slack Mayfield (D, At-Large): This is community led in my opinion, yes I supported expansion of greenways previously as a district representative and a number of those areas where investment was allocated have seen tremendous growth and local displacement. I will work towards a connected Charlotte that minimizes displacement.
David Merrill (R, At-Large): Yes! I love our greenspaces and think they are a big part of what makes Charlotte such a great place to live. Pardon the pun, but this is one area where we are already on the right path we need to continue our positive efforts in this area.
David Rice (R, At-Large): again, an appeal to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill with Private Property Inputs.
Braxton Winston II (D, At-Large)(i): We have to engage with the County Commission on two fronts: implementation of the UDO & our rezoning process. Parks & Recreation plays an integral role in both of those City processes. Their involvement in those processes is governed by County policy. I have met with County Commissioners & City staff around this issue and my biggest takeaway is that Parks & Rec can align their policy to get different outcomes. But, we have to get County Commissioners more visibility and knowledge on our City planning and zoning processes so they can better guide staff to update policy to achieve desired results.
Charlene Henderson (D, District 1): I have supported residents' access to outdoor recreational opportunities and green spaces by being appointed to one of the advisory boards in the northern regions. I also had the opportunity to meet with the director, Mr. Lee Jones, several Park, and Recreation commissioners Mr. Paul Freestone and the chair Dr. Blanche Penn. I also have walked many of the greenways, bike trails, facilities, and parks. I did have the opportunity to participate in several focus groups with the Meck Playbook for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation. So to say the least, I will continue the efforts in making sure all of the above mentioned will have advocates in support of the residents.
Billy Maddalon (D, District 1): There are already clearly identified issues within District 1 and throughout the city with regard to access to schools, parks and rec centers. I'll be a tireless advocate that these issues be addressed, both on the back end, where proper planning wasn't done, and on the front end, insisting that any future infrastructure be planned and funded as a part of a comprehensive connectivity plan for surrounding communities. Sometimes this issue is as simple as providing sidewalks so that pedestrians can walk to safely.
Amar Johnson (D, District 2): I would absolutely support social equity by creating social mobility platforms. I will ensure all neighborhood pedestrian access are unencumbered for use and connectivity. I would encourage citizens to visit other neighborhoods in different parts of the city via the greenways.
Tiawana Brown (D, District 3): I would support those progressive comprehensive plans that are underway to ensure that we can execute the Cross Charlotte Trail. This would elevate the accessibility to more Parks and Greenways. I would like to see and would support Cross Charlotte in diverse neighborhoods across the entire city of Charlotte.
Victoria Watlington (D, District 3)(i): As noted above, I will lobby that the TMN not be for transit alone. It must include greenways, bike lanes, and sidewalks, to connect communities beyond transit routes. We should prioritize projects that create new connections to mitigate congestion and provide non-car alternatives for moving about the city. I will continue to engage the residents of District 3 to understand their needs, and articulate them to stakeholders in an effort to create a plan with broad support.
Cedric Dean (D, District 4): "I will fight to give residents greater access to parks. Having access to parks and greenways reduce overeating and stress. I will develop a community task force to preserve natural amenities which will attract new residents, businesses, and visitors. I will assemble the force to develop a plan to utilize contact with nature as a way to boost environmental awareness, stewardship, and advocacy. To inform policies and programs, this task force will work together to determine the actual extent of these benefits and how they occur. This is an essential part of ensuring healthier people, communities, and natural resources, especially as populations grow and become more urban.More specifically, I want to partner with scientist and implement surveys, interviews, and focus groups to assess the benefits of parks and recreation. This approach will provide the evidence and awareness needed for communities to provide more green spaces, for more doctors to include outdoor recreation in prescriptions, for policymakers to require outdoor recreation at school, and for land managers to plan for outdoor recreation. As this task force identify motivations for and barriers to using outdoor spaces, the city and county will be able to work together to design more attractive and accessible parks and recreation options. "
Darlene Heater (D, District 4): "I have been a steadfast and vocal advocate for parks and greenways in Northeast Charlotte. As a leader in this community, I have asked developers to build portions of greenways, raised private dollars to fund greenway planning for University City, doggedly pursued additional greenway connections to new development while protecting access to existing trails and connections. In University City, we are also planning a stroll street/overland trail where we lack greenway infrastructure, to provide equitable access to outdoor recreation across the University City footprint. I have also pushed hard for the county to purchase land for two new Northeast Charlotte parks. As a council we need to create more tools to advance this infrastructure and access. We need to work more actively and consistently with County Park and Rec and with developers to begin to address these woefully lacking amenities and infrastructure. "
Liz Millsaps Haigler (D, District 5): When I was a CharlotteEAST Board member (2017-2019) & Transportation Committee member our primary goal was for the city & county to begin planning Cross Charlotte Trail 2 (XClt2) – an east/west greenway system that will primarily benefit Charlotte’s underserved crescent. One of my co-members likes to say “Let’s put the / (cross) in the Cross Charlotte Trail!” East Charlotte has the least number of jobs, the densest population and the least number of drivers. Many residents of east Charlotte utilize bicycles as transportations & we advocated for transportation dollars for greenways & trails. “Every dollar of initial trail construction supports $1.72 annually from sales revenue, sales tax revenue, and benefits related to health and transportation” per an NCSU study of shared paths. I will continue to advocate for XClt2 and many more outdoor recreational opportunities and green spaces.
Marjorie Molina (D, District 5): We need to be more creative with City-owned land around transit stations and government buildings, including police and fire stations. Short term, pocket park installations would go far to improve blight and vacant lots, while increasing green space and recreational use. While the City has a role to play, I am also committed to cost-effective decision-making and stewardship of the budget that delivers first for the City’s enterprises.
Rob Hillman (D, District 6): The City can play an important role in helping to make sure that new development includes land saved for neighborhood parks, green space and greenway connections. Partnerships are also critical. The Rail Trail Pedestrian Bridge, which will connect Charlotte’s Uptown and South End neighborhoods, is being made possible through a partnership between the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and private sector and nonprofit sponsorships.
Nancy Wiggins (D, District 6): I would encourage my colleagues to set aside funds to allow these Greenways & parks to continue to be built. I think because Charlitte was always such a Suburban City with green lawns and gardens. We allowed Charlitte to @be under parked “. Now that our city has become so much more urbanized, these green spaces must be included in our planning. I would do my best to require that we mandate setting aside more land each year so that future generations will have some natural habitat to enjoy.
Question # 5 Bus Network
CATS is working on the Envision My Ride Bus Priority Study to increase the reliability of bus service. Do you support the goal of increasing frequency on all core bus routes to run every 15 minutes or less, and pursuing dedicated bus lanes and shared bus/bike lanes in areas identified as suitable by the study results?
Patrick D Cannon (D, At-Large): "Yes, absolutely. Typically, if we have a destination, we also have a timeline to meet in order to get there. So ensuring that we can increase frequency timelines is very important."
Larken Egleston (D, At-Large)(i): Yes, I am on record in multiple council meetings and media interviews strongly advocating for additional investment in our bus system regardless of the timeline/outcome of the larger TMN efforts. Most transit users in the Charlotte area are bus riders and we owe them a more efficient, effective, and safe mobility option than we currently offer them.
Kyle J. Luebke (R, At-Large): Yes. I am a bus rider (used to take the 8 and 34 to work and now take the 19 and 20), and improved service that is frequent, fast and reliable is not just a necessity, it is an economic imperative. We cannot be an upwardly mobile City if we do not have transportation that Charlotteans can rely upon to get them to work. We cannot ensure that people will take the bus if it is unreliable and comes only once an hour. Because I spend a lot of time on the bus and light rail, I recognize the need and, if elected, I will be one of the only people on Council who daily experiences the CATS system.
LaWana Slack Mayfield (D, At-Large): Yes
David Merrill (R, At-Large): Yes! Not only do I support this, but it is also a major focus of my campaign. The current city council has had years to make this a priority and they are only starting to focus on this because the Charlotte Republican Slate is pushing hard for something that that should have been accomplishes years ago.
David Rice (R, At-Large): yes
Braxton Winston II (D, At-Large)(i): Yes
Charlene Henderson (D, District 1): I support the goal of increasing frequency on all core bus routes to run every 15 minutes or less, and pursuing dedicated bus lanes and shared bus/bike lanes in areas identified as suitable by the study results. However, we have to make sure that there is a balance to ensure the safety of the CATS drivers and riders, as well as equal work, equal pay.
Billy Maddalon (D, District 1): I do support the overall reimagining of our bus system. I do not own a car. I ride my bike, walk, bus or train to just about wherever I need to go. I can attest first hand that our bus system isn't meeting people where they are, nor taking them where they need to go. Frequency and predictability are two of the key components to making bus travel a viable alternative to cars for most of our community. Dedicated bus/bike lanes are already considered a "best practice" in communities our size all over the world.
Amar Johnson (D, District 2): I do support making the current bussing system more efficient. I do not support or encourage dedicated bus lanes.
Tiawana Brown (D, District 3): I do support the Envision My Bus Ride and look forward to adopting the policy as an opportunity to resolve the need for reliable transportation. As we look into more strategic ways to increase our core routes- we must also ensure the safety on the routes and for those driving the CATS Buses.
Victoria Watlington (D, District 3)(i): YES! The key here is "in areas identified as suitable by the study results."
Cedric Dean (D, District 4): Yes. However, special care must be taken not to require bicycle and bus traffic to mix at high speeds. As bus operational speeds and volumes increase, the number of passing events increases, eroding the comfort and, potentially, the safety of the facility for bicyclists.
Darlene Heater (D, District 4): "The Envision My Ride Bus Priority study is an important step in re-thinking how we deliver transit services to our residents, students, workers and visitors. I believe this study will shine the light on transit routes that are no longer efficient or effective and provide a snapshot of how bus transit routes currently in operation deliver optimum service. Our current system has not changed much in the last 50 years and this overhaul is well overdue. After taking a cohort of leaders to Columbus Ohio to learn from their transit and transportation leaders, we learned of several new transit programs and options that are working extremely well for Columbus Ohio (peer city in size and population demographics). During this trip we took bus rapid transit, explored their university/city convergence of transit systems, learned about transit on demand system that is transforming mobility in and to business centers, and how city and business leaders are making improvements to transit experience to increase ridership. If the study recommends these service delivery improvements, I will support them. "
Liz Millsaps Haigler (D, District 5): "I am open to many new and different methods of getting folks where they need & want to go efficiently. I lived in Taipei, Taiwan in 1989 & was forced to commute 90 minutes each way to teach a 2 hour class. Needless to say, I was flat broke. As a Realtor I’m not driving to the same places regularly so when I google my route, (typically 15-20 min) I check the transit time & it’s usually a 90 minute bus ride. Until Covid, my mother would pick up folks at bus stops in south Charlotte and give them a ride to the east side because she knew she was saving them an hour. I would like to see the numbers on the effectiveness & cost effectiveness of dedicated bus lanes, starting with the ones we used to have on Independence Boulevard & why we no longer have them. To be honest, bikes + buses don’t seem like a good fit to me – I don’t think I would be comfortable on a bicycle sharing a lane with a massive bus barreling towards me, behind my back. And with the new electric buses that would be a silent, 40,000 lb bus. By the way, Taipei solved the issue by building out a massive subway system in just 25 years. I know that I haven’t given you the answers you would prefer on all of these issues, but I hope you realize that I give considerable thought, research & consideration to our city’s challenges. I’ve been around long enough to see ideas and methods become popular, fall out of favor (for good and bad reasons) and rise to popularity again. I take very seriously the fact that as a Council member I will be planning for the next generation of Charlotteans and I want to make the most sustainable choices for their benefit."
Marjorie Molina (D, District 5): Absolutely, 100% yes
Rob Hillman (D, District 6): Yes. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, riding buses and subway trains, so I clearly recognize the importance of reliable bus service. The "Envision My Ride" study results show that ensuring that buses run often and on-time is a priority for riders, along with accessibility to key destinations and connectivity to rail service, greenways and bikeshare. Dedicated bus lanes and shared bus/bike lanes will play an important part in providing reliable bus service.
Nancy Wiggins (D, District 6): "Absolutely!!! I have advocated that we look ar creating a bus system like Bogotá’ s Trans millennium that crosses the city & thus would connect with each of the light rail lines so that riders could cut their travel time because the Buses & trains arrived at a “time certain” for connection purposes."