Your letters, Jan. 19: Hospital parking, housing costs and school safety

January 19, 2014 

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Patient visitors should get break

Re “UNC Hospitals parking fees add up, CHN, Jan. 15,

UNC Hospitals used to offer coupon books at a discounted rate and each coupon was good for 24 hours, no matter how many times a person came and went. It is a sad thing that they no longer offer these.

If a person has someone in the hospital there should be at least one person per patient who gets free parking in the hospital lot, across from the hospital during the stay. Surely there’s a way to work this out.

Taking a shuttle back and forth to a park and ride lot, especially at night or early morning, isn't very helpful during a time of stress for families. If it's the university who sets the rate, then they need to get with it to help these families.

Jane Majors


Good schools drive housing demand

In his recently published opinion piece, “The rest of the poverty story,” (N&O, Jan. 14, Michael Jacobs accuses the town of Chapel Hill of harming poor people by adopting policies that he claims create an unaffordable community. For example, he pins the blame for the high cost of housing in Chapel Hill on policies that limit the construction of new housing units.

However, the price of housing in a given community is determined not only by supply, but also by demand. Demand for housing in Chapel Hill is particularly strong in part because many middle-income Triangle area parents – those who cannot afford to send their kids to private school – perceive Chapel Hill public schools to be better than those in the neighboring communities, and are therefore willing to pay a premium to live in the CHCCS school district. Should we therefore blame the high cost of Chapel Hill housing on the comparatively poor quality of Durham and Raleigh public schools?

Instead of castigating the residents of Chapel Hill for the high costs we willingly pay in order to enjoy excellent schools and government services, Mr. Jacobs should instead exhort the policy makers of Durham and Raleigh to make their own schools and communities equally attractive.

David Schwartz

Chapel Hill

How town can help

In response to Sally Keeney’s article on aging in place, and Yvonne Mendenhall’s letter, aging in place would be much easier in Chapel Hill if town regulations (the LUMO) were changed in two respects: 1) to increase the “Maximum Floor Area Ratio” in the R-1, R-2, and R-3 residential districts; and, 2) to allow more than one “Dwelling Unit” in the R-1, R-2, and R-3 residential districts.

An increase in the MFAR would enable more folks to expand their homes to accommodate additional space for live-in helpers, whether they are extended family or hired assistants.

Allowing more than one DU would enable those aging in place to have more privacy, by having a separate dwelling on their property for their helpers.

Both of the above would be in accord with much of current development thinking, which is to promote higher-density living, which is environmentally and fiscally the best way to go for communities.

However, I was recently told by a member of the Planning Department staff that proposals like these would have to await “future” treatment, because Chapel Hill’s bureaucracy and politics cannot handle more than the currently proposed changes to the LUMO (allowing B&Bs, signage changes, etc.).

Well, in the “future” we are all dead.

In light of the tremendous interest in aging in place, our town should actively consider making LUMO changes that will benefit individual families, such as those proposed in this letter. Until recently, our planning process has mostly favored big, rich developers. It’s time Chapel Hill bureaucrats made regulatory changes that will be of direct benefit to the rest of us.

Adrián Halpern

Chapel Hill

Resource officers must put law first

Re “More SROs won’t make schools safer,” (CHN, Jan. 12, )

It doesn't appear Amanda Young spoke with any local school administrators or officials or public safety agencies that provide numerous school resource officers to Durham's schools prior to writing this commentary. Had she done so, I think she would have found that there is overwhelming support for having school resource officers in all schools.

She might have also learned that SROs aren't lurking in the shadows waiting to arrest students and “undermine” the authority of teachers and administrators. SROs genuinely care about the welfare and security of students and staff – regularly going out of their way to assist students in need and organize community-service projects.

However, let's not forget that they are law enforcement officers first and foremost. Enforcing the law is their job. They are not counselors, mental health professionals, prosecutors, or judges. An SRO is a small cog in the large wheel of juvenile justice and school safety and security – with emphasis placed on safety and security. To argue that they don't make schools safer is naive. There are countless stories of SROs preventing numerous school shootings and other types of violence (here's a few:,,,

Unfortunately we don't live in a world where people with murderous intentions can be influenced to change their mind through “behavior intervention.” When a killer makes the decision to harm students, a school resource officer is the first line of defense, and they will bravely put their lives on the line to defend others. Finally, I encourage Amanda to actually speak with a real-life SRO in Durham and accompany them through a school day. I would be surprised if she still has the same opinion about SROs in schools.

Paul Sherwin

The writer is a deputy and the public information officer for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

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