As the November Raleigh City Council Elections Approachlocal activist group Livable Raleigh commissioned local left-leaning research group Public Policy Polling to poll residents on issues such as growth, affordable housing and community engagement.
The group – led in part by former city council members Stef Mendell and Russ Stephenson, who lost their re-election bids in 2019 – criticized Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin’s strategies to increase affordable housing, saying that she is too lenient with the promoters.
Baldwin says his pro-density approach to zoning and development helps increase housing supply and ultimately lower prices, a strategy that has been somewhat effective in other cities. .
The poll results show, unsurprisingly, that Raleigh residents are concerned about a lack of affordable housing and increased gentrification as Raleigh grows at an unprecedented rate. The Raleigh-Cary area was the nation’s second fastest growing metropolitan area from 2010 to 2019, according to data from the US Census Bureau.
The increase in population has led to a growing demand for housing, an increase in the cost of living, and concerns about increased traffic and crime. Growth will likely be one of the main issues in the upcoming municipal elections.
Of the 665 Raleigh voters polled by Public Policy Polling, 48% said “Raleigh’s growth rate is too fast”, while 36% said “it’s about right”. A further 9% said it wasn’t fast enough, while 7% said they weren’t sure.
Nearly half of those polled, 49%, said “lack of affordable housing for middle- and low-income families” is the biggest problem facing the city, according to the poll. Asked about the second most important problem facing the city, about 22% of respondents answered “something else/not sure”, 16% answered “traffic jams” and 12% answered “gentrification”.
About 45% also said they believe Raleigh’s infrastructure is starting to lag behind the current rate of growth. About 53% said they agreed (rather than disagreed or were unsure) that “Raleigh’s growth is destroying neighborhoods and forcing a lot of people to move out of Raleigh”.
Respondents are also concerned about the elimination of Citizens’ Advisory Councils, public forums designed to engage citizens and allow residents to vote on matters to be brought to the city council in an advisory capacity. The CACs had been part of Raleigh’s political landscape for nearly 50 years before the city council abruptly voted to dismantle them in 2020 without public input or notice.
Critics of the system have long said that Citizens’ Advisory Councils need to be reformed or changed to make way for more effective community engagement, but the city council’s lack of transparency has fueled distrust of their promises to do exactly that. Of the respondents, 69% disbanding the CCCs was a bad decision. About 49% said city officials were “doing a poor job” of “keeping Raleigh residents informed about what they were doing.”
Who was interviewed?
The poll was conducted in February and the respondents were a random selection of registered voters in Raleigh, according to Jim Williams, a polls analyst for the group.
The population surveyed is relatively representative of Raleigh’s voting population, although white Democrats are slightly overrepresented.
Of the 324,629 people registered to vote in Raleigh, about 44% are Democrats, 17% are Republicans and 39% are unaffiliated, according to city voter registration statistics. Of those polled, about 55% are Democrats, 16% are Republicans and 29% are independents, according to the poll.
In Raleigh, about 26% of voters are black, 54% are white and 4.3% are Hispanic. In the survey, approximately 26% of respondents are black, 62% are white and 5% are Hispanic.
Respondents were roughly evenly split in age, with 36% 18-45, 38% 46-65, and 26% over 65. Respondents were evenly dispersed in each of the five Raleigh City Council districts — 22% in District A (represented by Patrick Buffkin), 14% in B (David Cox), 20% in C (Corey Branch), 19% in D (Stormie Forte) and 25% in E (David Knight).
Half of the interviews for the survey were conducted by telephone and the other half by text message. The margin of error of the results is +/- 3.8%. Read the full survey below.
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