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Parking, noise and guns. Raleigh leaders debate how to crack down on Glenwood South.

Crowds pack Glenwood Avenue on Friday, March 26, 2021, in the area known as Glenwood South as Gov. Roy Cooper relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants. Masks and social distancing are still required.

Crowds pack Glenwood Avenue on Friday, March 26, 2021, in the area known as Glenwood South as Gov. Roy Cooper relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants. Masks and social distancing are still required.

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More than 1,600 parking citations. Nearly 100 noise complaints. And 22 guns seized.

Those are just some of the actions taken by Raleigh law enforcement officers and other city staff during three months in Glenwood South.

Raleigh City Council member Stormie Forte, who represents Glenwood South, said she’s been swarmed with emails from residents who live near the downtown Raleigh district.

“For the folks who live around that area, yes, they appreciate the vibrancy, they want to see the businesses do well,” she said.

“But by 2 a.m. when businesses are supposed to be closing and bars are supposed to be emptying,” she continued, “they don’t want folks walking into their neighborhoods and, you know, passing out on their lawns, peeing in their yards, parking and blocking their streets and creating all kinds of ruckus until 2, 3, 4 sometimes 5, 6 o’clock in the morning.”

The City Council met virtually Tuesday to learn how the city has addressed those concerns and plans to ramp up enforcement.

‘Extremely intoxicated’

That part of downtown, the set of bars and restaurants that run along Glenwood Avenue from Peace to Hillsborough streets and Harrington Street and Boyland Avenue, leads the other downtown districts in residential growth.

And there has been $1.3 billion in completed or planned investment in Glenwood South since 2015, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s recent state of downtown report.

“We really want that vibrant and lively community but to be mindful of the neighbors and residents who are adjacent to that robust nightlife,” said Whitney Schoenfeld, the city’s interim director of emergency management, special events and hospitality.

That group works with the Raleigh Police Department to “educate” businesses about the city’s mask rules and social distancing. Since June 2020, there have been 579 “business engagements” throughout downtown including businesses in Glenwood South.

From June 1 to Aug. 31, there were 94 noise complaints in Glenwood South, said Raleigh Police Capt. Jonathan Wood. In addition to the 22 guns seized, there were 227 criminal charges. The biggest issue is reported assaults, he said.

“There were 56 during that time period,” Wood said. “Almost all of those had a suspect or victim who was extremely intoxicated.”

The police department is looking into establishing a full-time hospitality squad to help with enforcement.

Residential parking

The city has residential permit zones meaning only residents may park on the streets at night. But that doesn’t stop Glenwood South visitors from parking there.

There were 1,642 citations in the Glenwood South area, with less than 10% repeat offenders. More than 400 of those citations were north of Glenwood South on streets like Devereux and Hinsdale.

Raleigh is considering adding signs to direct people to park in other areas and could increase the fine from $30 for a parking citation.

Council member David Cox asked if the city could change how often it tows or boots vehicles that park on neighborhood streets.

“It seems to me we should up those fines to at least $100 to have them have a significant impact,” he said.

Residents have “very real concerns” but the city should be careful to strike a balance and not “quell the attractive aspects of Glenwood South,” said Council Member Jonathan Melton, adding he would not support more towing or increased fines.

“Cities have tourist attractions and it’s good to have a tourist attraction in our downtown, and cities have noise issues,” he said. “Cities are vibrant. We are a growing city so we are going to struggle with some of these issues. I certainly think it needs to be addressed but I really want us to be careful that we do not over-regulate to the point the good aspect of having a quote tourist attraction, go away.”

This story was originally published September 15, 2021 8:16 AM.

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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