Archive for Asheville City Council
That was the original title for this essay generously published in the Mountain Xpress this week. Click through to read the whole thing. Excerpts:
I’m proud to be a part of a city where people care about each other. One recent study cited Asheville as one of the most generous cities in America, whose residents volunteer lots of time and money to make the world a better place. This is a community that knows we’re all in it together, and that’s why we’re going to be able to rise to the challenges facing us today.
We love living here, but we’re acutely aware of the fact that Asheville has a very high cost of living and very low median household income. Helping us get that median wage up are Living Wage Certified businesses that have made human value and dignity central to their business models. Great businesses like New Belgium Brewing, Linamar and PLI are helping too. The sad fact, however, is that too many employers here pay low wages for an honest day’s work. No one who works a full-time job ought to live in poverty. The city, county, Economic Development Coalition and Chamber of Commerce are working hard and all rowing in the same direction: toward better paying jobs. Asheville is examining our economic-incentive policies to better support homegrown entrepreneurs who pay living wages.
Asheville aspires to be a city of equal opportunity for all. Increasing incomes and offering affordable transportation options are two parts of a three-pronged approach to ensure a thriving city for generations to come.
The third leg of that three-legged stool is affordable housing, defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. We all want a vibrant city where economically mobile citizens can get a leg up, and where the elderly and disabled can live in dignity. We want an Asheville where residents can save money toward homeownership, business startups, tuition and increased opportunities for their children. Without affordable housing, a big part of our Asheville family struggles just to stay afloat.
This is a guest post from the effervescent Amanda Rodriguez. Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda.
I moved to Asheville eight and a half years ago from Massachusetts because I hated big city life and bitter Boston winters. I also wanted to be closer to my grad school. While completing a low-residency program in Charlotte, I lived in Asheville and worked full-time, scraping to get by, supplementing my meager income with student loans. After graduating, I was still in love with Asheville, but I was buried under crippling student loan debt and the exorbitant cost of renting in the city. I wanted so badly to stay in Asheville, but it seemed like an impossibility. I was nowhere near hitting the 30K a year mark despite having a Masters degree.
When construction started on the Clingman Lofts, I became fascinated with them. As they took shape, their fun, funky aesthetic seemed perfect for me. I even crept into and explored them one night while they were still a work-in-progress. My heart ached at visions of the future that I imagined with myself cozy inside one of those lofts so close to downtown. My heart ached at the seemingly unattainable dream that I could be a homeowner in Asheville.
Affordable housing made that dream a reality. I’ve lived in my loft on Clingman Avenue for over five years now, and though the road to get here was rough, it was so very worth it. Using various programs throughout the city, I became a homeowner, and my monthly mortgage payments are even slightly less than I was paying to rent all those years ago. Because of affordable housing, I was able to set down roots in Asheville and make a life for myself. I was able to add myself to this vibrant community, contributing to the economy and the work force, contributing my intelligence, my creativity, and my diversity to my new home town.
I think of all the amazing and valuable people who’ve essentially been pushed out of Asheville because the wages are too low and the cost of living too high. I’m fearful of the trend towards gentrification that seeks to homogenize a city that is a renowned tourist destination because of its eclectic community. Affordable housing is vital to attracting and retaining talented people in our city, to fostering diversity, and to keeping Asheville weird.
So, it has been a fairly boring election season this season; no suspensions for drug use or domestic disturbances, no tweeted genitalia or exiting of the closet, none of the usual fare that stirs the unwashed masses from our political stupor and angries up our blood. Okay, we did have the bizarre finger pointing/pissing/yelling match between Johnathan Wainscott and Cecil Bothwell, and a typo-strewn grammatically challenged Facebook rant from John Miall Jr. But all in all, it was pretty tame. This is what happens when Carl Mumpower isn’t around to offer up his own brand of gentlemanly wackiness, but politics isn’t entertainment folks, it is serious business. Serious. Business.
Having said that, what follows is my mildly informed election predictions (for entertainment purposes only):
This Wednesday, Oct 30, from 4-8pm, at The French Broad Brewery The good folks of the 9th precinct invite you out to a meet and greet super happy fun time, with beer!
In addition to an opportunity to hob your knob with your favorite/least favorite City Council candidates, there will be raffling off a bunch of goodies (including a BBQ gift card, Brews Cruise tickets, and much much more!), polite conversation, burgers and dogs (the hot variety) will be available to satiate your appetite , and tasty tasty beer. Come meet your 9th precinct officers (That’s you Oakley). Beer, free stuff and political activism, what could go wrong? Nothing! Did I mention beer? Beer!
Proceeds from this event will go toward the establishment of 9er Notes, a local newsletter billed as an insurgency against powerlessness, and cynicism, and the infiltration of our bodily fluids.
More info: here
What’s that saying about never going full on something or other?
(Video courtesy of dixiegirlz.)
It’s been a few weeks, and your Asheville City Council is coming together again to deliberate and decision-make. This Tuesday we’ve got a big consent agenda, a report from the School Board, five public hearings zoning and development rules, and several various new business items. We took the October 8th meeting off due to the Mayoral Primary election, so there’s lots to do.
Have a look at the entire agenda after the jump, or click here to see it at the City’s website. Please offer your thoughts in the comments.
Please remember that early voting has begun for Mayor and City Council members. You can click here to see locations and hours of operation for early voting. Thank you for being a part of deciding Asheville’s future.
Your Asheville City Council meets Tuesday night for another night of deliberation and decision making. This week’s agenda is below the fold, or you can click here to view it at the City’s website.
This Saturday, you have the chance to stand together with people who are ready for our clean energy future. Gordon Smith for City Council campaign volunteers will be canvassing Saturday at 10am (details here – FB event page), so consider making a day of it! From the Beyond Coal: A Rally for our Future Facebook event page:
Let’s move Asheville beyond coal! Come take action and call on Duke Energy to retire the Asheville power plant and lead our state in renewable energy. Come out on August 24th from 2-4pm Pack Square and take action! There will be music, kids activities, and speakers, and much more! #ActOnClimate, #FearlessSummer
Currently our electric energy comes the Asheville coal-fired power plant, which is the largest single source of CO2 in Western North Carolina; amounting to over 500,000 extra cars on the road. It is polluting our air, our water and our communities. Not only that, but the coal that we are burning comes from mountaintop removal, which is destroying mountains, sickening communities, and harming the air and water of communities in Appalachia.
With music, kids games, speakers, and much much more!
Speaker Program includes:
Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign director
Terry M. Bellamy, Mayor of Asheville
Ian Somerhalder, actor (Lost & Vampire Diaries)
Hartwell Carson, French Board Riverkeeper
Drew Jones, Climate Interactive
Dr. Richard Fireman, retired MD
Nick Mullins, coalfield resident