Archive for Asheville City Council

Jun
07

How About Rude Week?

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3q9chgWatching the chatter on Facebook about the Tourism Development Authority here and here.

And there’s this from the Citizen-Times:

ASHEVILLE – In Savannah, Georgia, a policeman has an extra incentive for being nice to tourists: They’re helping pay his salary.

A move to raise the Buncombe County hotel-motel room tax has members of Asheville City Council saying something similar should be happening here — with police or with other services that benefit city residents.

Naturally, the hoteliers are not fond of the idea, as this recent op-ed from a hotel marketer proves:

I have great respect for county and city leaders and understand some of them would like to have a portion of the hotel occupancy tax. However, a hotel occupancy tax used for promoting tourism and funding local projects that benefit both citizens and visitors is an occupancy tax properly used. In fact, going back to the WCU study previously cited, without the current level of tourism in Buncombe County, the typical resident would pay $646 more in taxes each year.

So take a flying leap at the moon, county and city leaders. You too, AC-T editorial staff.

You know, rather than the knee-jerk protests Ashevillians love so much, locals could have a go at acting like jerks to tourists instead. Promote a city-wide “Rude Week” directing local ire at hotel patrons (you know, like those rude restaurants with surly waiters). Get the buskers and Asheville’s bicycle and Segway police to join hotel maids and bellmen to really sell it. I hear the last weekend in July is open these days.

Think that would get anyone’s attention at the Tourism Development Authority, Convention and Visitors Bureau, or the Chamber of Commerce? They could even use their shiny, new room tax to promote it.

May
11

Local Taxes: A Low Signal-to-Noise Ratio

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By Lcj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Asheville property owners may soon pay more in property taxes. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer began to explain to WCQS the other day that legislative changes passed in Raleigh are why:

Privilege license tax: “This last year the legislature got rid of the privilege license tax for all cities across North Carolina … for Asheville what that means is a loss of $1.5 million dollars in revenue.”

Sales Tax redistribution: “the proposed legislation was absolutely devastating for Buncombe County”

But then Manheimer got into the economic weeds and lost track of the broader message. “Absolutely devastating” NC cities is not a byproduct of the legislation. That is the goal.

How many times do I have to say this?

What we’re seeing is an extension of the GOP’s “defund the left” strategy of undermining the largest concentrations of manpower and funding that support Democrats. First they went after private-sector unions, then public-sector unions, and teachers, firefighters, trial lawyers, etc. Then with Voter ID they attacked seniors, college students and minorities. They’ve taken away control of Asheville’s airport. They tried to take away Charlotte’s. They’re still trying to take Asheville’s water system to blow a huge hole in the city budget. Collectively, Republicans in Raleigh are hoping to render cities irrelevant in future state and local elections. And with redistricting, they’ve isolated Asheville in House District 114 and won’t even bother running candidates there for now.

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Dec
12

I-26 Questions Remain

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From the AC-T today:

Construction of a new I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange on the southwestern side of the city would begin in fiscal year 2021 and run through FY 2024, according to the proposed long-range plan released by the state Department of Transportation earlier this month.

Work on a new crossing of the French Broad River would start in FY 2024 and continue beyond FY 2025.

The plan shows no funding over the next 11 years for the third component of the I-26 Connector, a proposed widening of Interstate 240 through West Asheville.

Heads up, Asheville City Council. Don’t fall for this:

A project’s benefit/cost can be improved if funding is provided during the project submission phase through local entity contributions or tolling approved by the local planning organization. In addition, a bonus allocation of up to 50% will be returned to the contributing area for a subsequent project scored through STI.

Rep. Nathan Ramsey was out promoting a local sales tax earlier this year:

“State Rep. Nathan Ramsey, R-Farview, interjected, “On the local component, the community has the possibility to put local dollars into these projects. . . . For instance, Buncombe County has the authority to enact sales tax to raise the score. What we’re told from Raleigh is this will score pretty well, but we won’t know ‘til the scores are released.”

Just so’s you know.

Dec
03

“A very unsubtle threat”

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The North Fork Watershed

The North Fork Watershed

Buncombe County’s legislative delegation (new and old) and city council met at the Civic Center for a breakfast this week scheduled to discuss the city’s draft legislative agenda. Henderson County’s Rep. Chuck McGrady attended as well. Since his GOP colleagues, Nathan Rep. Ramsey (NC-115) and Rep. Tim Moffitt (NC-116) lost their reelection bids this fall, the dynamic between Buncombe and Raleigh has shifted, although Democrats will still find themselves outnumbered and powerless. Just less so thanks to John Ager and Brian Turner.

On Asheville FM’s Making Progress Monday, Asheville city councilman, Cecil Bothwell commented on the future of the city’s lawsuit over control of the Asheville water system. McGrady had joined Moffitt and Ramsey in passing the bill stripping the city of control of its water system and transferring control to a regional commission. McGrady delivered what Bothwell describes as “a very unsubtle threat” [timestamp 37:50] to the city and the county’s new, all-Democrat House delegation, essentially, to play ball if they expect to get anything from the GOP-controlled legislature [timestamp 37:50]:

Depending on how that lawsuit occurs will really determine what happens next. But I will tell you — I want to very clear, I’ve talked to again Senator Apodaka about this — if the lawsuit is decided adverse to the position the General Assembly took last time, he and I do anticipate filing legislation to correct whatever the mistake might be. … I’m quite prepared to come back with a different approach to the same issue.

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Mar
10

Affordable Housing: The Rest of the Larchmont Story

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Back in 2010, there was Screenshot 2014-03-10 at 9.46.47 AM>quite a debate over adding a 60-unit apartment complex on an abandoned site off of Merrimon Avenue. The building, known as The Larchmont, had folks worried that crime would skyrocket, traffic would spike, and quality of life would be irreperably harmed. Fast forward four years, and Mark Barrett at the AC-T takes a look at what actually happened. It’s great to see old prejudices melting away and hear more and more support for Asheville’s working people.

When Mary Chakales’ mother passed away a few years ago, Chakales knew she needed to move to someplace less expensive than the North Asheville home she and her mother had shared.

She found it at The Larchmont, an apartment complex developed by nonprofit Mountain Housing Opportunities near North Asheville’s Grace post office and a couple blocks east of Merrimon Avenue.

“It’s just fallen into place beautifully for me. … I walk everywhere,” said Chakales, 62, who works as a cashier at a nearby grocery store. “Walking’s the best exercise in the world. It’s a nice neighborhood. You don’t have to worry about things happening.”

[…]

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Feb
06

Three-Legged Stool

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Screenshot 2014-02-06 at 11.09.48 PMThat 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.

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This is a guest post from the effervescent Amanda Rodriguez. Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda.

Amanda Rodriguez, homeowner.

Amanda Rodriguez, homeowner.

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.

Nov
06

Thank you

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Nov
04

Election Prediction/Open Thread

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11111111111-780329So, 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):

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Oct
28

Wednesday Fun Time Opportunity!

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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

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