Many Chapel Hill residents’ first encounter with the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town (CHALT) occurred during last fall’s municipal election, when they viewed a CHALT-sponsored road sign or banner encouraging residents to vote or received hand-delivered campaign literature endorsing Pam Hemminger for Mayor and Jessica Anderson, Nancy Oates, and David Schwartz for Town Council. While CHALT members put an immense amount of time and energy into the campaign to help elect their endorsed candidates, CHALT’s activities on behalf of the Town began long before election season and encompass much more than endorsing and supporting candidates for local office.
CHALT is a town-wide network of residents working with local government to ensure a prosperous, just, and livable future for Chapel Hill. CHALT includes long-time Chapel Hill residents and more recent arrivals, individuals who have served for many years on Town governing and advisory bodies and those who are new to local governance issues, renters and homeowners, old and young. CHALT’s diverse membership share a vision for Chapel Hill based on the following principles:
1. Manage growth responsibly
- Ensure that new development does not worsen traffic congestion; seek solutions to existing congestion problems;
- Work closely with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system to help maintain the high quality of Chapel Hill schools;
- Protect and enhance the quality of our streams, natural landscapes, parks and recreational trails, and college town ambiance;
- Ensure that new development contributes positively to the appearance of the town and to residents’ enjoyment of their homes, neighborhoods, and public spaces;
- Encourage new development that will ease rather than worsen the tax burden on existing residents.
2. Promote housing, work, shopping and recreational opportunities for all residents
- Discourage residential and commercial gentrification; protect thriving, locally owned businesses from being driven out;
- Use zoning and incentives to preserve existing moderately-priced housing and to increase the supply of new moderately-priced housing;
- Support policies (i.e., living wage ordinances, voucher programs) that increase residents’ ability to purchase or rent market-rate housing;
- Recruit department stores and moderately-priced clothing and housewares retailers to open locations in Chapel Hill; nurture the growth of locally-owned retailers that serve local needs;
- Increase the supply of affordable office, retail, and light industrial space and provide infrastructure to support the growth of local businesses that employ and pay decent wages to town residents.
3. Spend tax money wisely
- First things first: Make provision of basic services and maintenance of infrastructure the highest town spending priority;
- Ensure timely funding for Town financial obligations and necessary services, such as retired employee health costs and replacement of old buses; do not push these costs off into the future;
- Where possible, seek savings by employing local experts to work on Town projects rather than outside consultants;
- Work with the staff to continually seek ways to improve efficiency and provide better value for our tax dollars.
4. Empower residents
- Promote transparency and civic engagement in local governance;
- Make it easier for citizens to get information about town government and to share concerns with staff and elected officials;
- Heed the considered advice of Town-appointed boards and knowledgeable citizen advisory groups;
- Hold workshops to help residents better understand and participate in budgeting and Town planning decisions.
5. To achieve these goals CHALT will:
- Offer constructive suggestions to Town leaders on matters of policy, planning, and governance based on well researched, data driven analysis;
- Continue to grow a network of Chapel Hill residents and other stakeholders who share the vision for the Town described above;
- Educate the public about local governance and planning issues including transportation, affordable housing, financial management, and new construction;
Further information about CHALT can be found on the organization’s website, chalt.org