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Government Affairs Local News Updates


BACKFLOW INSPECTIONS BEGIN TO FLOOD BACK IN


RALEIGH – Backflow update!!! According to several TAA members, Raleigh is inspecting and requiring action on properties with non-compliant backflow prevention assemblies.


From a previous alert on the issue: Backflow is the undesirable flow reversal of water, liquids, gases or other substances into the City of Raleigh Public Water Supply. Backflow can occur when water pressure in the distribution system drops relative to a service line. This can happen due to the use of hydrants for fire fighting, water main break, high usage or backpressure from a pump.


A backflow is an assembly that allows water to travel in only one direction. When working properly it stops a contaminant such as pesticides, fertilizers or animal waste from entering the po- table water supply when either a backsiphonage or backpressure event occurs. A reduced pressure assembly (RPZ) is required for both residential lawn irrigation systems and when a resident uses public domestic service while also having a private irrigation well within the property limits.


Do not be caught off guard, contact your TAA vendor provider to make sure your property is in compliance. For more information on Raleigh’s program visit http://www.raleighnc.gov/ home/content/PubUtilAdmin/Articles/Cross- ConnectionFAQ.html and Durham’s program at http://durhamnc.gov/ich/op/dwm/Pages/ Backflow-Prevention-Program-(CCC).aspx.


GIVE ME A SIGN


RALEIGH – As if taking a cue from the Five Man Electrical Band, the City of Raleigh saw a “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign/Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind/Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”


As a result, they decided to propose changes to the current sign ordinance.


The proposals include a prohibition on vehicles used as signs (with a limited number of exclu- sions), as well as limiting the maximum allow- ance for window signs to 30 percent of the total window area, with the area between 4 and 7 feet above the sidewalk being limited to 5 percent of window signage.


8 the ApartMentor | May/June


According to the memorandum from the Planning and Zoning Office, “The proposed text change would classify window signage as a wall sign. The window signage would be included in the overall allocation for wall signage. A building is permitted two square feet of signage for each one lineal foot of wall to which a sign is attached.”


There is some good news, however. The City deferred taking action on the proposals and instead decided to create a Task Force to study the issue further.


TAA is closely monitoring this situation and will alert affected members as necessary.


I’M FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND I’M HERE TO HELP


DURHAM COUNTY – Durham County Commis- sioners have released their legislative agenda for the upcoming short session at the General Assem- bly, and it includes a request for rent control.


According to their legislative agenda, “Legislation placing limits on the amount of any rent increase and the time which increases may be imposed by landlords will assist the elderly in maintaining a quality of life that reduces stress and any potential health problems associated with the same.”


Rent control is a misguided attempt to provide affordable housing that results in temporary short-term ‘successes’ but ultimately brings dire long-term consequences.


Economist Thomas Sowell has addressed rent control in his book “Applied Economics:” Among the consequences of [rent controls] have been 1. a shortage, as the quantity demanded increases while the quantity supplied decreases, both in response to artificially lower prices, 2. a decline in quality, as the shortage makes it unnecessary for the sellers to maintain high quality in order to sell, and 3. a black market, when the difference between the legal price and the price people are willing to pay becomes large enough to compensate for the risks of breaking the law. (112-113)


TAA supports working to provide affordable housing for those who need it most but strongly opposes any form of legislation that imposes rent controls, be they floors or ceilings.


We will monitor this and any other such legislation to address it as the need arises.


CALL THE BUS DRIVER, THESE STUDENTS ARE BEING TAKEN TO SCHOOL


CHAPEL HILL – In case you missed it, UNC students are asking the Town of Chapel Hill to lift the current ban preventing more than four non-related persons living together within the town’s borders.


According to Christy Lambden, UNC student body president, “students are being evicted from their homes in the middle of the academic year and are facing the undue burden of finding afford- able replacement housing. The occupancy rule – combined with the lack of affordable off-campus housing and limited on-campus housing availabil- ity – forces students farther from campus and into even more residential communities.”


However, the town contends that those students are also driving up the average rental price in town and therefore making affordable housing difficult to find for residents whose incomes fall below the 30 percent AMI threshold.


The fight centers on the Northside neighborhood, located just north of the town. The neighborhood has been one of the locations that low-income earners have been able to afford to live. (The influx of students into the neighborhood was starting to change its historic affordability.)


On March 31 the NC Court of Appeals upheld the town’s law that stated residents in Northside can’t have more than four cars parked outside their dwellings. The plaintiffs, two rental housing own- ers, vow to appeal to the NC Supreme Court.


The law in Chapel Hill has direct and indirect implications for the multifamily industry. Primarily, it illustrates the need for affordable rental hous- ing in the town, housing which could be met by multifamily residences.


Additionally, it puts greater pressure on the town council to approve projects that contain multifam- ily housing components, such as the Ephesus Church/Fordham Road project.


Lastly, it provides valuable lessons to UNC students on how local municipal governments operate and that their temporary four-year need for housing does not outrank the community’s long-term residents’ need for housing.


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