While the city of Asheville is lagging on its carbon reduction goals, having failed to meet its 4% annual target since at least fiscal year 2016-17, staff members have made progress on another climate-related effort: the Climate Justice Initiative. Members of Asheville City Council will hear an update on the matter during their meeting of Tuesday, Jan. 25.
The work was launched in response to Asheville’s passage of a climate emergency resolution in January 2020, which committed the city to “an equitable and just citywide mobilization effort to reverse global warming” and set 2030 as a target for eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions within city limits. As part of that resolution, Council supported additional public engagement, with a focus on the marginalized communities most harmed by climate impacts such as higher urban temperatures and more frequent flash flooding.
According to a presentation available before the meeting, the city’s work to date has included the creation of a Climate Justice Data Map, which provides a visual representation of local climate threats alongside social and economic stressors. One-on-one interviews and “story circles” with community members who are Black, Indigenous and people of color were led by Asheville-based Tepeyac Consulting.
A “Climate Justice Guide and Screening Tool” are also listed as products of the process, although neither were available on the city’s website as of press time. And a public art project called Voices of Our Youth, conducted in collaboration with Tepeyac and Youth Artists Empowered, is bringing together climate educators and young artists of color to create artistic interpretations on the topics of climate change, justice and equity.
In other news
Council members will also conduct a public hearing on whether to update the structure of the Design Review Committee. Currently, Council members appoint eight seats on the nine-member committee, four each from members of the Downtown Commission and Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission; an at-large member is then selected by the eight Council-appointed members.
The amendment would reduce members appointed from the each of the two city boards to three each, make the remaining three seats at-large and transfer responsibility for all board appointments to Council.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains nine items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution amending the 2022 City Council meeting schedule to add virtual American Rescue Plan Act worksessions on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 11:00 a.m. No materials for these meetings were available as of press time.
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to sign a lease agreement with DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball LLC for McCormick Field. Asheville Tourists owner and Ohio governor Mike DeWine has leased the property at $1 per year since 2010. In exchange for the effectively free lease, the DeWine organization will continue to staff the stadium, maintain the field and manage baseball operations.
- A resolution reappointing former City Council member Chris Pelly to the Metropolitan Sewerage District Board of Directors for another three-year term.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to apply to the N.C. Department of Transportation Public Transportation Division for over $223,00 in federal transit planning funds, which would be used to fund a portion of the city’s existing Transit Planning Division personnel budget.
Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must sign up in advance online or call 828-259-5900 no later than 9 a.m. Jan. 25. City staff will use the list of registered speakers to manage the speaker queue during the meeting. Speakers will need to listen to the meeting via phone by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 5288.
Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 5288; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilJan252022@publicinput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.