November 2019 Precinct Meeting

Date: November 18, 2019
Location: Davidson Town Hall
Attendance: approx. 40

Greg Snyder opened the meeting at 7:07 p.m.

Greg announced the Holiday party on Dec. 7.

Michelle Blumenthal gave a word about the canvass on Dec. 8

Greg provided a brief recap on the discussion of housing and why the precinct Dems are examining this issue:

We got into this because we felt it was important to be present and on the ground in all neighborhoods, creating and maintaining relationships in between elections. It’s not enough anymore to just show up at election time and ask for people’s votes.

Housing and development is one of the key issues about which people feel strongly. In West Davidson, development is an existential threat. So we thought we should be paying attention to this issue.

We’ve had several meetings on the subject:

  • 6/17/19: Willie Jones did a presentation on housing solutions and his experience with the Smithville Community Coalition in Cornelius. Some take-aways:
    • The “ideological baggage” of the town and town officials; there’s a long history of racial prejudice both conscious and unconscious.
    • Divisions within the communities themselves. It is sometimes difficult to forge a consensus among folks who have not had the reason or occasion to cultivate civic life, civic action, and civic discourse.
    • Other tips: You have to do some deep research on the neighborhood, know who lives in every house; know the neighborhood intimately. You’ll need time to build those relationships. Churches can be useful here. Best to have some sort of 501c(3) entity formed; that way, if someone wants to give you something, you can legally accept
  • 7/22/19: Ron Potts and Lisa Mayhew came talked about their experience in Smithville.
    • Lisa talked about the need to stop looking backwards and get hung up on the past and instead to look to the future and what we’re going to do, and also, to find a way to speak with one voice
  • 9/16/19: Rusty and Cindy Reid come talk about the town perspective on affordable housing.
  • 10/1/19: In early October, the town had folks from Chapel Hill and Durham come down and talk about some solutions they’ve come up with. Willie Jones and Lisa Mayhew also participated in that discussion. The question of how much initiative and leadership must come from West Davidson and how much from the town was a key issue.

A lingering question: How do we as a precinct continue to be helpful when it comes to this issue?

We’re coming up on 2020, and we’ll be be devoting all our physical and psychic resources to the elections: Christy, Natasha, Cooper, getting rid of Tillis and yes, he who shall not be named.

Jane Campbell, Davidson Town Board, took over at this point.

Jane expressed the desire that Davidson does not become a town of haves and have-nots.

She talked about housing insecure folks on the extreme end of the spectrum, people actually homeless in our community; affordable housing discussions often omit these folks. These people tend to be women over 55, single (divorced, widowed) who have had a major health issue.
Solutions: Room at the Inn, etc.

The Town also needs to look into affordable rentals. Oak Hill is one such, and it would be nice to have more. It’s operated by a non-profit in Virginia. There’s talk of possible expansion.

The bungalows on Jetton have been occupied since Day 1; we need more of such places.

The Town can’t mandate rent control. They can’t compel The Linden to offer affordable rentals. But it never hurts to ask, to exert moral suasion, if we can’t make them do it legally.

Land trusts – It’s one tool. The whole point of these is to keep the land out of the hands of developers. It’ll be all too easy for West Davidson to go the route of Catawba and Delburg.

If not land lease, perhaps deed restrictions, in which the town has the right of first refusal. Home-owner owns the land (unlike land trust) but appreciation is limited; maybe %2.5 per year. This way, owner can receive some appreciation. Deed restrictions run for 30 years and then expire. You’re faced with the same problem in 30 years, but that’s a while.

Questions/statements:

Evalyn: ~25 states that require affordable housing from municipalities. Jane: NC not one of those states! That’s why we have to elect enlightened representatives like Christy and Natasha. We are one of only 3 municipalities in the state that has an affordable housing policy.

Jane mentioned that there will be two quad-plexes in the Davidson Bay development; not land trusts.

Pat Stinson: need to start thinking about the income side of things; Ingersoll Rand and Davidson College have promised jobs but haven’t always lived up to the promises.

Lib W: we have some job fairs, but need more

Charlie Raynal: spoke strongly on the need for the College and for the Churches to pay living wages—just and fair wages.

Dora: need some bolder action at the state and federal level. There are hopeful signs.

Jane: remember the National Citizens survey? People in some parts of the town aren’t so concerned about affordable housing. You guys need to keep pressing the issue, asking questions, keep the heat on.

Ruby: even if we can’t compel the developers legally, perhaps we can exert some moral pressure. What if people were to demonstrate and let people know that this particular developer chose NOT to have affordable units.

Greg: have to close this off, unfortunately. Listening to all of this, the key word that keeps coming up is justice: we want to live in communities where justice is done, where people of different incomes have the same rights, where people are paid a just wage. We want just elections, just districts, fair voting laws; we want just policies where health care, education, and the environment are concerned: policies that do justice the environment on which we all depend. So this emphasis on housing is consistent with our larger political mission.

Dora gave a final word on the Community Development Block Grant Open House, held on Monday, Nov. 18 at the Ada Jenkins Center. This program provides funding for low-to moderate-income residents for housing, economic development, public improvements and other essential services. That survey can be found a completed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MecklengurgCDBG

Meeting adjourned at 8:25.