It was a relatively short meeting for Asheville City Council tonight, but they managed to consider issues ranging from the role of rising rents in homelessness to landslides to a different location for the Brewgrass festival. Here are some of the highlights:
Rising rents and younger homeless: An update from the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee touted success in housing most of Asheville’s chronically homeless. However, the overall numbers of homeless, while down from the initiative’s start in 2004, has ticked back up in recent years, partly due to the end of federal stimulus funds that helped local government house more people.
Furthermore, according to initiative coordinator Heather Dillashaw, there’s a particular increase in homeless who are 24 or younger, due to both the economy and rising rents. The latter, she said, mean that it’s increasingly impossible for young, low-wage workers to afford a place to stay in Asheville.
Landslide season: Asheville has received 65 inches of rain this year, the most since 1973. That’s left the city facing a challenge as it’s “dealing with climate change,” as Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball put it. The rain has made landslides around the city a major issue, and Council gave staff the go-ahead to conduct a comprehensive study of the area’s stormwater and steep slopes to find potential danger spots.
A new spot for Brewgrass: Due to complaints from some residents of the East End neighborhood that the annual Brewgrass festival had grown too large for Martin Luther King, Jr. park, Council unanimously prohibited the festival (or an event of similar size with alcohol) from the park again. The organizers of Brewgrass have agreed to find another location for next year’s event.
Less density in Kenilworth: Council unanimously approved rezoning some land near the Kenilworth Inn from institutional to residential use, allowing for less dense development. Both the land’s owner and the Kenilworth Residents Association agreed with the move, with neighborhood representative Teddy Jordan saying that single-family homes make more sense in the neighborhood, but still concerned that other property in the area was zoned in a way that could attract higher density.