Monday, November 27, 2017

Five ways to fight gentrification of Davidson's Westside neighborhood

During the recently completed election, maintaining Davidson's small town character was a driving theme of the campaign season.  A major factor in achieving that goal will be limiting gentrification of Davidson's Westside neighborhood.  In a growing region that's a tall order, but here are five concrete ways to achieve it.

1.  Reduce Davidson's solid waste fee and return to the policy of having this paid for out of property taxes.  The town's solid waste fee which is by far the  highest  of any of the neighboring towns is a regressive "tax" that impacts low income households more than others.  It was implemented during the height of subsidies for Mi-Connection as a way to free up money to pay for those subsidies.

2.  The Town should work with local realtors and attorneys to provide pro-bono advice to Westside homeowners to ensure investors don't take advantage of homeowners in the neighborhood.  This would ensure the highest resale values in the neighborhood and reduce the attractiveness of buying property for teardown projects.

3.  The Town should abandon the idea of the Red Line rail transit project in favor of supporring Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  Rail transit along the current proposed alignment more than anything else will accelerate gentrification along its route by concentrating high density development around the station area bordering the Westside neighborhood.

4.  Assuming the current Davidson Depot project at the Metrolina Warehouse site eventually collapses under the remediation costs to clean up the asbestos contamination, the Town should work with the property owner and the development community to maintain the historic nature of the site in any future development effort undertaken there.

5.  In light of the lame duck approval of the Hyatt Place hotel by the outgoing Board, the new Board should investigate reversing that approval by any legal means available.  In addition, the Town should severely limit any additional conditional approvals on nearby property going forward.

Implementing these ideas will require a high degree of political courage and fiscal discipline, however if Town Hall truly wants to preserve economic and racial diversity in this town they are all certainly very doable.  Making progress on these items would also be a tangible sign the new Board is truly willing to put effort and action behind the idea of maintaining Davidson's small town character.

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