A primer on the Business Improvement District controversy

Asheville City Council is set to tackle the issue of a Business Improvement District — a services non-profit funded by a special tax district in downtown — tonight. Here’s a roundup of information and perspectives on this controversial topic.

What is the BID?
Place your BIDs This article from March details the BID proposal, how it came about, and who its architects are.

Behind the backlash
Plan for downtown Asheville Business Improvement District faces skepticism A blog post detailing some of the opposition and doubts about the BID proposal.

City Council gets an earful on BID At the May 29 Council community meeting, BID critics showed up in force to voice their problems with the proposal.

BID critics come out for forum A week ago, BID critics organized a forum to express their grievances and organize a protest at tonight’s Council meeting.

Arguments for the BID
Asheville Grown Business Alliance The AGBA believes the BID is a way to pursue long-term goals “somewhat insulated from the changing whims of politics.”

Council member Marc Hunt Hunt said he supports the BID, feeling it will benefit downtown, but wants its board appointed by the city.

Asheville Downtown Association The ADA asserts that the BID “will make downtown safer.”

Arguments against the BID
Group of downtown residents A an ad-hoc group of downtown residential property owners released a list of their problems with the BID, claiming “that the vast majority of owners of residential and commercial property downtown have not had any say” in its formation.

Firestorm Cafe Asserting that “our community is not a mall,” the worker-owners of Firestorm Cafe denounced the BID as “a misappropriation of public funds for private gain.”

People Advocating Real Conservancy The neighborhood advocacy group PARC criticized the BID as “an unelected board [that] would collect tax money and spend it as they wish.”

What do you think?
An informal online poll on the issue has over 100 responses so far. Or you can let us know your thoughts on the BID in the comments below.

Photo by Max Cooper


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4 thoughts on “A primer on the Business Improvement District controversy

  1. scott owen

    The BID proposal is a perfect example of how a small group of people with special interests can radically change the lives and peaceful existance of other people who were just trying to live their own lives without being harrassed or manipulated.
    Now, without asking for it, the people of Asheville are in a fight to save their downtown and surrounding areas from a small group of millionaire developers who are seeking to decide what is and is not right for Asheville.
    One look at the proposed structure of the board with its required millionaire status for those wishing to participate tells the story of who these people are and who they will be representing.
    Another quick look at the proposed use of the money raised with tax increases tells the story of the true intent of the BID,with some 70%,I believe it was, of the money going to hire “ambassadors” (private security) to patrol the streets looking for what they (the BID board) deem to be inapproperate behaviour (etc.,etc.).
    If you love Asheville, as most of us do,why would you want to support this obvious attempt to change what makes this city so wonderful, it’s free-flowing, fun-loving,creative, artistic, spontaneous, un-expected and adventerous attitude and lifestyle.
    If business in Asheville needs improving, there are hundreds of ways to achieve that, while including all of it’s citizens in a way that will make Asheville even more exciting and vibrant than it is now, if that is the goal.
    Please just say no to the BID proposal.

  2. ray conaway

    There is too much secrecy in the BID program. An interim board was developed (No one knows who chose the members)to promote the program. They determined the districts boundaries (areas that will not benefit one iota are included, but have high value, over assessment, and are residential). Some of these outlying areas have little or no businesses. If it is to benefit the business community, which the name implies, it should be funded by them. It appears to be a way for the city get extra income to fund obligations that they should be doing. As mentioned above, it will change the dynamics that make Asheville Asheville. Speak out against this program!

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