Asheville City Council poised to consider HB2 response on April 12

Asheville city seal

The debate surrounding House Bill 2, the recent law that prohibits North Carolina municipalities from passing ordinances that would allow people to use the restroom that matches the sex with which they identify (but which may for some differ from the sex indicated on their birth certificate), is set to come to Asheville City Council at its regular meeting on April 12.

At its March 8 meeting, Council received public comment on the issue of bathroom choice after Charlotte’s City Council passed an ordinance allowing individuals to choose the public bathroom matching their gender identification. Asheville citizens spoke both in favor of Charlotte’s ordinance and against it. Mayor Esther Manheimer said that the Council Governance Committee had heard a report on the Charlotte ordinance earlier that same day, and had concluded that Asheville did not need to take any action in response. Charlotte, Manheimer explained, had an ordinance on its books requiring people to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex. Thus, the Charlotte measure was needed to fix a problematic ordinance. Asheville, she said, had no such law and therefore no fix was required.

On March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on April 5 passed a resolution reaffirming the County’s support of the rights of its LGBT employees on a 4-3 vote split along party lines.

Now City Council will take up the issue and consider its response to the state legislation. Council’s meeting agenda included a proposed resolution that some LGBT advocates and allies immediately repudiated as insufficiently critical of HB2. Councilman Cecil Bothwell has proposed an alternate resolution, based on a measure passed by the Board of Aldermen of Carrboro. Unlike the draft Asheville resolution, Bothwell’s version calls on the NCGA to repeal HB2. Meanwhile, Bothwell’s version continues, “Council will look to the court system for remedy…” will “…adopt appropriate local ordinances to advance the cause of equal protection…” and will encourage other governmental authorities to do the same.

The resolution is included in Council’s Consent Agenda, but it seems likely that Council will opt to discuss the measure separately.


Council will issue proclamations recognizing:

  • April 2016 as “Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month”
  • April 2016 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month”
  • April 18, 2016 as “Lineman Appreciation Day”

Council also will recognize city employees and will sign a two-by-four for the first wall for the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity house built in recognition of generous support from the City of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Consent agenda

In addition to Agenda Item I (discussed above), “Resolution supporting the constitutional rights and equitable treatment of all individuals in employment and public accommodations,” additional notable agenda items include:

  • Approval of a contract to undertake a Comprehensive Parking Study to guide parking planning and funding strategy over the next 10 to 15 years
  • Granting permission to serve alcohol at ten upcoming events
  • Approval of a $180,000 contract for design services provided by Novus Architects for facility assessment and conceptual design of improvements for McCormick Field facilities
  • Consideration of a waiver of $90,000 in city permitting fees for construction at the Asheville Art Museum at 2 Pack Square
  • Amendment to the 2016 City Council meeting schedule which would cancel the May 24 regular meeting and reschedule that meeting for May 17. The public hearing on the fiscal year 2016-17 annual operating budget will also be rescheduled for May 17.

Public hearing

Council will hear public comment on proposed changes to the Unified Development Ordinance for the review and administration of the city’s subdivision standards. Most of the proposed changes focus on updating and clarifying the standards, as well as ensuring consistency with North Carolina statutes which have changed since the most recent update of the standards.

According to a city memo, the most substantial proposed change to the standards concerns the review of major subdivisions by the city Planning & Zoning Commission. The memo explains:

For many years after the UDO was adopted, the Technical Review Committee was the final review and approving body for major subdivisions. This was changed in 2011 and final review and approval was shifted to the Planning and Zoning Commission to explore whether there was a community benefit to holding a public hearing and providing the opportunity for public input. This change has had a mixed response and questionable success.

The proposed amendment recommends moving the final review and approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission back to the TRC. This change is in alignment with the Planning & Zoning Commission’s established priorities for 2016 where the Commission has cited concerns over having limited understanding of the technical standards and limited authority on ministerial reviews, impacting their ability to respond to community concerns. Moving the final review and approval back to the TRC focuses the conversation on the subdivision’s ability to comply with the technical standards and places the approval responsibility on the technical experts.

Beaucatcher Greenway report

City staff will present a report on the Beaucatcher Greenway project. In a memo summarizing the project history, proposed alignment, environmental impact and public response to a survey on Asheville’s Open City Hall public engagement website, staff recommend two actions. First, staff advocate completing the design phase of the project and moving into the competitive bid process for the greenway’s construction. Second, staff recommend reallocating $972,137 originally budgeted for soccer field resurfacing to the budget for the Beaucatcher Greenway. The fund reallocation is possible due to the award of a Tourism Product Development Fund grant to the soccer field resurfacing project.

The total projected cost of the Beaucatcher Greenway project, including city land acquisition costs, is $3,751,264, or just over $3 million per mile of completed greenway. The total finished length of the greenway is 1.25 miles. Though high, the cost appears to be comparable to other planned city greenways, according to cost information contained in the city’s memo.

State legislative agenda

Council will hear a report on and vote to adopt a city legislative agenda for 2016. The agenda addresses the following categories:

  • Municipal authority: car sharing, Municipal Service Districts
  • Municipal revenue: lost revenue due to repeal of Privilege license fees, electronic posting of governmental notices, oppose sales tax distribution reform that would reduce sales tax revenue to Asheville
  • Mandates: enhance state funding for education and transportation infrastructure without reducing municipal revenue
  • City services: preserve local control of public utility systems, enterprise funds, building code, code enforcement officer’s authority to require changes during building inspection
  • Transportation: maintain and increase funding, retain local control over multi-modal transportation planning and safety and continue Metropolitan Planning Organization, inter-governmental I-26 planning and strategic mobility formula
  • Economic vitality: state housing trust fund, workforce housing loan program, state affordable housing tax credit
  • Community standards: retain local control of tree regulation in the city and aesthetic controls in historic districts
  • Environmental stewardship: coal ash cleanup, increase funding to natural resource trust funds

Boards & Commissions

Council will consider applicants for three city boards, the Haywood Street Advisory Committee, the Public Art & Cultural Commission and the Recreation Board.

Before the regular session

Prior to the start of its regular session at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, Council will hold a budget worksession at 3 p.m. in the first floor north conference room at City Hall.


From the April 12, 2016 meeting of City Council:



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33 thoughts on “Asheville City Council poised to consider HB2 response on April 12

  1. James

    Oh let me guess… they will all vote unanimously to condemn HB2. Go for it Asheville City Council, you don’t speak for the vast majority of North Carolinians who unapologetically support HB2.

    • Tony

      Hey James, speak for yourself. Everyone I know supports HB2. If you were born a man, go to the men’s room. Simple.

    • bsummers

      The only poll that I’ve seen says 51% support overturning Charlotte’s transgender bathroom law. But 53% think that LGBT should be added to the list of non-discrimination protections, so they oppose that part of HB2. And the poll didn’t even ask people about the HB2 provisions that prevent LGBT people from suing over workplace discrimination. So maybe ramp down your “vast majority” claims. When the dust settles, I predict that a solid majority will realize that HB2 was a huge mistake.

      • James

        Polls are only as honest as the people who conduct them. bsummers you really ought to get out of your comfort zone that is liberal/progressive Asheville and be more open to diversity. Explore Hickory, North Wilkesboro, Franklin and even head down east to Wilson, Kinston and Morehead City. Seriously, do you really believe that the average woman in North Carolina wants a man in the stall next to her, watching her have to buy a sanitary napkin, or thinks it would be just fine and dandy for men to shower in the open inside the women’s locker room at the gym? Don’t you think they might be just a little concerned those guys may be there for their own gratification and/or getting footage on their smart phone that they’ll post later on the web? I’ll bet you even the majority of uber-liberal women in Asheville who seethe with hatred for Republicans in the General Assembly would quietly vote to keep HB2 if it came to the ballot. It’s just a common sense thing.

        • bsummers

          Polls are only as honest as the people who conduct them.

          And yet you claim that the “vast majority of North Carolinians” support HB2. Where did you get that? Let me guess – like Tony up there, you only count the people you know. “Ta-daaaah!”

        • Matt

          James, how do you feel about the other provisions of the HB2?

          Specifically the one that bars workplace discrimination claims from NC court system? Are you familiar with this? NC is now one of two states that say it is okay for an employee to be fired for ANY reason. Is that also something you are cool with, or do you prefer a little protection built in at the state level?

          Another provision in HB2 is that cities and counties no longer have the ability to change their own minimum wage. It sounds to me like big government is really over reaching here. What do you think?

          • James

            I think it’s great, thanks for asking. Employment is a privilege, not a right. If you for example accept a job at a Catholic Church and then decide to have an abortion and brag about that abortion on social media, denouncing the Church for its Teachings on the sacredness of life, then yes, your sorry rear end deserves to get fired. As for the minimum wage issue, if you’re a company and Asheville requires you to pay $20 an hour for someone to hit enter on a order entry when you can outsource to China for $1 an hour, that should motivate every North Carolinian to rally against this “living wage” tyranny to save our state and nation’s economy.

          • “Another provision in HB2 is that cities and counties no longer have the ability to change their own minimum wage.”

            Local governments never had the ability to set minimum wages or to establish nondiscriminatory personnel policies for their jurisdictions. This authority was never granted to them by the state legislature. HB2 makes this clear, if they did not understand that.

            Cities and counties in North Carolina act by permission, not by right.

          • Matt

            Tim, It sounds like you might be trying to tow the republican party line that HB2 “Doesn’t actually revoke any rights.” And I don’t quite agree with your statement.

            NC cities needed permission from the state to require things like sick leave and certain minimum wage, and that is indeed an important distinction to note. But this bill revokes any city’s ability to even petition for such things. It’s called a “Pre-emptive Bill”, preventing such trends that may result in a company being required to invest in the welfare of it’s employees by local municipalities.

            I personally suspect this provision is what helped get such a bill through, from what I’ve learned about the National Restaurant Association’s agenda to pass similar bills around the country. But it’s not the most acute affront to civil rights in the bill, which is the state’s refusal to protect discriminatory treatment in the workplace. What a roll back! Are you really, actually okay with that?

    • boatrocker

      The GOP will keep the children about as safe in bathrooms as the Catholic priests do in confessional booths – just ask Dennis Hastert, an ex Speaker of the House. He’d be happy to give a statement from his jail cell.

  2. Matt

    What about if someone were fired for being black? or for being female? They have no state protection now, and cities in NC can’t enact any ordinances that prevent it. Is that cool with you as well?

    What about paid sick leave? I see you are dead set against cities requiring raised minimum wages, but what about sick leave? That’s also preemptively barred in the entire state now.

    Do you know that the National Restaurant Association has spent millions of dollars over the past few years to get these preemption bills passed in red states around the country? Are you cool with corporation buying such a privilege?

    • Austin

      Matt, James is obviously unequivocal in his support so don’t expect him to concede anything, not matter how sensical. Don’t waste your energy.

  3. CommonSense

    Ideally, only transgender people would use HB2 to use the opposite sex bathrooms. However, in real life, perverts and child molesters would have fun with this.

    Big mistake; I sense lawsuits brewing already.

    • Peter Robbins

      What exact language in the Charlotte ordinance produces the outcome you fear?

    • “However, in real life, perverts and child molesters would have fun with this.”

      Quite correct. The illegal Charlotte ordinance would have created new opportunities for criminal behavior without recourse to the law. This was their mistake:

      HB2 fixed that and protects women from harm. Now we find that the safety of women is something the left is willing to sacrifice for partisan political gain. Shame.

      • Peter Robbins

        I don’t think that’s what “Common Sense” was saying. I think he was suggesting that HB2 will create opportunities to sue private businesses for negligence if they now do not police birth certificates and something bad happens.

        And since “James” has gone mute, I’ll ask you, Mr. Peck: What exact language in the Charlotte ordinance produces that harm that you fear? (I’m not asking why you think the ordinance was unauthorized by state law. The state could have fixed that problem — if any problem there actually was — simply by authorizing the nondiscrimination ordinance, as amended, that Charlotte has had since 1968). We can’t address your concerns until we know precisely what you think was amiss in the ordinance.

        • Who is “we”? I think there are only two of you progressives left who don’t get it. Even though you, I mean “we” have everything we need. And yet we still pretend to be operating in the dark. Does this approach usually work for you? Or us?

          • ‘You didn’t answer the question.”

            But conversations with you are really a waste of time. Especially when you have all the answers you need and still play dumb.

          • Peter Robbins

            I don’t have all the information I need. “James” apparently thinks that the Charlotte ordinance allowed men to hang out in the women’s restroom on the pretext that they felt like a woman that day. I would like to know what exact language in the ordinance must be construed as producing that particular result. I have read that the legislature plans to revisit HB2 in regular session, so it would be good for critics of the law to know as much as possible about what the opposing side thinks in hopes of finding common grouind.

          • Peter Robbins

            I would rather not guess at what the argument might be. Nor do I click on suspicious-looking links. Just quote the language, if you can. I really want to know what it is. I won’t comment further.

          • mynameis

            It’s shocking that you actually get paid to do this, Tim. You’re so bad at it.

  4. Austin

    There is a trend here: Too many blacks are voting, so let’s create a “voter fraud issue” that requires id’s and then they won’t vote as much. And now we don’t like gay people so let’s pretend perverts are stalking women and children in bathrooms, outlaw that potentiallity, and throw in some other legislation allowing discrimination. Cute. Divisive politics plain and simple, a lot like Obama Care. This is a terrible new trend in U.S. politics.

  5. NC312

    I would hope that our local government representatives (regardless of party affiliation!) would be screaming about the loss of governmental control/power at the local level. Start reading at Section 2 of the HB2 bill and you’ll see what the TRUE intent of this law is. This whole bathroom non-issue is a smokescreen folks. Sort of like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the wizard is behind the curtain pulling all those levers scaring Dorothy…. it’s a sham. Don’t be fooled.

  6. Thanks to my advocacy (and the feedback from many citizens), we will now be voting on a slightly modified version of the Carrboro resolution. Much, much stronger than the original proposal.

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