Ely Portillo

UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
Assistant Director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships


  • ui.uncc.edu
    Aug 13, 2020
    The viral outbreak and ensuing lockdowns caused transit ridership numbers to plummet nationwide as millions of people stayed home or avoided trains and buses if they had to go somewhere. The Centers for Disease Control even recommended people drive solo as they return to work, shunning densely packed transit lines in favor of their own automobile bubble. Charlotte was no different: The Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) ridership fell almost 65% in May (compared to the year before) at the height of the lockdown.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Aug 04, 2020
    A shiny new skyline, a “New South” city, 150,000 new residents since in the last decade — however people describe Charlotte, the word “new” always seems to be one of the first on their tongues. That’s to be expected in a fast-growing city like Charlotte. But it’s also part of the reason Charlotte has a reputation for being a city with little regard for its history, always distracted by the quest for the next big thing (NBA! NFL! Light rail! New banks! NASCAR Hall of Fame! Whitewater Center!), and all too ready to make room for the new by tearing down the old.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jul 29, 2020
    With plans for the 26-mile Silver Line light rail, possible Blue Line extensions, the Gold Line streetcar and more moving forward, there’s a looming question in Charlotte: How will we pay for all of this?
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jul 23, 2020
    With the coronavirus crisis in its fifth month, Charlotte planning director Taiwo Jaiyeoba has noticed something odd: Despite massive disruptions, his staff is actually completing some work more quickly. Plan reviews are faster. Advisory committees now meeting virtually are seeing 100% attendance. And developers have asked if they can continue to have the option of virtual meetings to go over their proposals with staff once the crisis ends.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jul 13, 2020
    Charlotte is losing over three football fields a day worth of trees. That’s the sobering conclusion of a study by the University of Vermont in collaboration with TreesCharlotte, detailing how development, age, storms and other factors have cut down Charlotte’s tree coverage. The percentage of Charlotte covered by tree canopy fell from 49% to 45% of the city between 2012 and 2018.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jun 30, 2020
    The coronavirus pandemic has slowed some of the region’s planning efforts and stopped public meetings, but the virus hasn’t stopped Charlotte’s rapid growth. And in a city that’s added more than 150,000 new residents in the past decade, the effects of that growth are visible everywhere from the rising skyline to ever-more-clogged highways. That’s one reason so many new plans — covering everything from transit to zoning to parks to greenways — are underway right now in the Charlotte region. Amidst all that change, here are three ideas that might shake up how Charlotte plans for its future and what that future looks like.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jun 23, 2020
    A new “Central Park” for Charlotte. A Tryon Street that prioritizes pedestrians over cars. A new neighborhood built around the Carolina Panthers’ stadium, and the burial — or even total elimination — of I-277. These are some of the big ideas planners are batting around as they work on the new Center City Vision Plan, meant to guide development in uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods for the next two decades.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jun 17, 2020
    As a post-World War II, Sunbelt city that grew up in the age of the automobile, a car has long been pretty much a prerequisite for a comfortable and convenient life in Charlotte. Despite the completion of the Blue Line light rail, added miles of greenways and bike lanes, and new options like fleets of shared electric scooters, Charlotte is still a city where more than eight out of 10 people drive to work alone. For most of us, a trip to the grocery store, picking up kids from swim practice and going to a doctor’s appointment require a car.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    Jun 02, 2020
    The novel coronavirus is extracting a terrible toll from our society, replete with mind-boggling statistics: A death toll of more than 100,000, 40 million people unemployed, a 95% plunge in airline passengers and so many more. The losses are immense. Grief is immeasurable. It’s still unclear how far-reaching and deep the economic pain we’re facing will run.  Amidst that, however, the pandemic offers lessons, and opportunities for change. Here are three lessons surfaced by COVID-19 that we should not let fade even after the virus is under control.
  • ui.uncc.edu
    May 19, 2020
    The coronavirus pandemic has generated a flood of data, maps and other resources to track the spread — and places to get help — throughout the region. Many of these resources are scattered across different websites and dashboards. Here’s a brief summary of what’s available, collected in one place. We will update this list as the pandemic goes on.