Every Raleigh resident who is 18 or older is a voting member of a Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), an organization that serves as a link between members of the community and City government.
Raleigh has 18 CACs. Each CAC represents a different geographic region of the city, and each decides its own activities and priorities. All CAC meetings are open to everyone; however, you can vote only at meetings of the CAC where you reside. You can attend as an individual or you can represent your neighborhood-based organization at your CAC meetings.
CACs are nonpartisan. They also are independent of the City Council. In fact, CACs are the only advisory boards to the City Council that are not appointed by the Council. Instead, residents of each CAC region elect the chairperson and other officers of their CAC.
CACs and City Government
Raleigh’s CACs are a connecting point between municipal government and residents. They provide a way for the City to share information about government activities and to receive feedback from the community. Through CACs, residents and neighborhood groups participate in decisions directly affecting them.
For instance, CACs have a voice in planning and development issues. Most proposals for rezoning property go before a local CAC for review. Often, a person seeking rezoning will appear before the CAC to discuss the proposal. The CAC votes on the proposed rezoning, and the Raleigh Planning Commission and City Council take the CAC’s vote into consideration when it is weighing whether to approve the rezoning request.
CACs have a say in other matters, too, such as parks and recreation facilities, streets and sidewalks. CACs also stay in contact with the Police Department about activities in their communities.
Each CAC holds regular meetings, and everyone is welcome to attend. The meetings provide a forum to share information about neighborhood improvement plans and other neighborhood affairs. At the meetings, CAC members discuss community issues and take votes. The opinions of CAC members and results of votes are presented to the City Council and other City officials
City Council members sometimes attend CAC meetings to talk about issues before the Council. City staffers often appear at CAC meetings to discuss how the City can assist with services such as sidewalk repairs or new signs. Police representatives usually attend to discuss crime trends and offer crime-prevention tips.
All neighborhood-based organizations, such as neighborhood and homeowners’ associations, are encouraged to send representatives to CAC meetings and share information about the CAC proceedings with their members. It is important that every neighborhood have representation at CAC meetings, because broader input leads to better decision-making.
Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council
The chairpersons and vice chairpersons of the 18 CACs make up the Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council (RCAC). The RCAC meets each month to allow CAC leaders to share information. The RCAC also considers and takes positions on issues before the City Council.
Meetings of the RCAC are open to all. For the meeting schedule, call the Community Services Department at 919-996-6100.
Neighborhood Recognition Awards
The RCAC sponsors annual Neighborhood Recognition Awards to honor those who work to make their communities better places. Individuals, neighborhood groups, schools, nonprofit organizations and others are eligible for the awards.
Raleigh created its CACs in 1973 and 1974. The CACs were established to help educate residents about City government and to provide them better representation and input in City decisions. The first CAC officers were installed in February 1974. The mayor at the time, Clarence Lightner, spoke at the installation and challenged the CACs to work for solutions to community problems.
Mayor Lightner also noted that Raleigh was blessed with active, interested residents. “Raleigh has involved itself in various citizen participation efforts in recent history,” Mayor Lightner said. “In addition, all City departments, from Recreation to Planning, have worked with civic and neighborhood organizations on a wide range of projects. The CAC program has added a new dimension to this citizen participation effort.”
In early 2020, RCAC became a self-supported, independent organization.