In your article about a Montford homeowner under attack by the city for having “too many people” [“Sustainable For Whom,” Nov. 17, Xpress), Assistant Planning Director Shannon Tuch says, “This is all based on life-safety requirements. When you have eight related people living in a house, there's a head of household ... who would act ... in the family's best interest to get everybody out. When you have eight unrelated people, it's pretty much every man for himself."
Ms. Tuch's assertion that a head-of-household is more likely to act in his self interest than eight unrelated occupants is simply unfounded. I'm sure Ms. Tuch excels at her government job, but she's a dull sociologist. Recently, a small fire broke out at Bernard Carman's home — for the first time since taking ownership 22 years ago — inside someone's locked and vacated room. The smell of smoke was detected in minutes by several housemates. Acting quickly and with coordinated effort, a resident climbed a ladder, entered the window and doused a burning blanket moments from flaming. The house was saved and without fire damage.
Four unrelated people acting together effectively mitigated a serious life-safety incident. I suspect Ms. Tuch is not so interested in the life-safety issues of eight unrelated people living in a spacious and secure home. What she does, though, is provide a pretext for enforcing North Carolina housing code, which precisely defines who can live where in Asheville. A simple inspection of the historic home would satisfy any observer that this residence is adequate, safe and well-maintained.
We need to reclaim legislative authority at the local level. We can determine for ourselves a whole range of civil issues without blanket interference from a distant legislature. The only thing standing in the way of justice in this and many other cases is the lack of home rule.
— Tim Peck
[Editor’s note: The author is a resident of the Montford home referenced in this letter]