Letters to the Editor

05/06 What Else You’re Saying: John Schelp, Elissa Fuchs

NPO now more than ever

When the development industry is losing a case, they often resort to three tiresome tactics: (1) accuse everyone of being a NIMBY, (2) reframe their position under the guise of affordable housing, and (3) call in help from developers and lobbyists in Wake County.

Fact No. 1: No neighborhood association in Durham has supported more high-density development than Old West Durham. Over and over, we supported higher densities in multiple projects on and near Ninth Street – which is part of Old West Durham. NIMBYs? Hardly.

Fact No. 2: The biggest threat to affordable housing in Old West is developers who buy rental properties, kick out the families that rent them, demolish the homes, and replace them with large houses with multiple bedroom-bathroom units. This business model allows the developers to skirt zoning rules and rent to multiple, unrelated tenants, effectively operating as small apartment buildings, with each individual tenant paying about the same amount that the family who rented the house did before the developer came in. We are not opposed to density, but we're trying to keep the housing options affordable with a Neighborhood Protection Overlay that allows far more density by allowing roughly triple the number of granny flats than currently allowed.

Fact No. 3: The majority of NPO opponents at the Planning Commission hearing were not Old West residents. And some of those opponents were members of the Triangle Community Coalition, a group from Wake County that represents developers, builders, and real estate interests. It's troubling to see people coming over from Wake telling Durham officials what to do in our community. Many of the opponents were developers, real estate agents, and absentee property owners whose opposition to the NPO appears to be rooted in financial self-interest without regard for the effect on other homeowners, families, and renters in Old West Durham. In addition to the impact on this neighborhood, allowing this type of development to continue undermines the city of Durham's commitment to ensuring that affordable housing doesn't become a thing of the past.

We need a Neighborhood Protection Overlay now more than ever.

John Schelp


Let the police train

The more we train the police the more they can learn the tactics that have evolved in the IDF (Israel Defense Force) that will allow them to perform their duties in a threatening environment without the use of force. The IDF faces constant bodily harm and refrains from the use of deadly force – using it only as a last resort. Our police need to learn this type of restraint.

The police are our first line of defense and risk their lives to protect us. New York's finest, NYPD, opened an Israeli branch (Kfar Saba) in an effort to improve techniques, training and experience. Why would the council want to deny DPD the opportunity with our greatist ally in the Middle East to gain expertise in various facets of law enforcement to better protect themselves and Durham citizens?

Police from all over the country have been exchanging training with Israel for 30 years precisly because our police are also our first line of defense in terrorism. Police chiefs including Boston and D.C. have described the Israeli training as invaluable. Training is meant to prepare the police for situations they never experienced. There's no mention of our current police chief's experience relating to acts of terrorism.

Elissa Fuchs