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]