After months of haranguing City Council over the wording of a climate emergency resolution, over 40 protesters with Sunrise Movement Asheville occupied the government building on Dec. 6 to demand that Mayor Esther Manheimer and her colleagues pass the document as written by the climate justice group.
While 12.7 African American babies die during the first year of life per 1,000 live births on average in North Carolina, that number is 19.6 per 1,000 in Buncombe County. Moreover, the county’s rate has doubled since 2012, when it was 9.8 per 1,000.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners must whittle down 25 applicants to fill nine available slots on the new advisory group. According to the resolution establishing the group, members must be selected evenly from each commission district and should represent the community’s gender, age and racial diversity; notably, all of the current applicants are white.
Nearly 70% of those confined at the Buncombe County Detention Facility are there awaiting trial. While Buncombe County aims to cut its pretrial jail population by 15% by next September, compared with 2018 figures, the numbers are actually up slightly in 2019 to date. We wanted to know: What is the jail experience like for the 536 individuals (on average) at the jail on any given day?
On Nov. 26, Asheville City Council declined to allow tiny home communities in Highway Business zoning districts, saying those areas should be reserved for higher-density, transit-oriented forms of development. Activists with the Sunrise Movement urged Council to pass a climate emergency resolution advanced by the group without changes of any kind. And a group of bear advocates asked the city to help investigate whether local black bears are being caught in illegal snare traps.
Asheville City Council will consider a zoning change that would allow tiny homes on wheels to operate as permanent residences within the city’s Highway Business zoning district during its Nov. 26 meeting.
“In my opinion, there are no problems with the TDA. The problems lie elsewhere,” said Vice Chair Himanshu Karvir during the tourism authority’s Nov. 20 meeting. “The problem lies with individuals that have nothing to do with our industry and have no idea how hotels operate, how the TDA operates and what the occupancy tax does for our community.”
After former Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones finished her questions about an allegedly improper $20,000 allocation of county money to build an animal barn at Charles D. Owen High School, her colleague Ellen Frost messaged then-County Manager Wanda Greene: “Like you said earlier, silence is a beautiful sound.”
During a Nov. 19 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, attorney Ron Payne said the settlement would bring the suit to an end, “hopefully in somewhat of an expeditious manner.” All six commissioners present were in favor of accepting the settlement, with Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferrara absent for the vote.
As outlined in a presentation available before the meeting, Buncombe’s 26 county-owned buildings have an average age of nearly 50 years, with total maintenance costs running over $789,000 in each of the past two fiscal cycles. The county hopes to hire an outside firm to evaluate those buildings against Buncombe’s needs.
Asheville City Council announced that it would consider on a resolution to declare a climate emergency during its upcoming meeting. But representatives from the Sunrise Movement feel that the vote is being pushed through without proper vetting from activists and city staff.
Climate Change and Asheville’s Urban Forest, a symposium organized by Asheville GreenWorks for Thursday, Nov. 14, 5-7:30 p.m., brings together a broad coalition around the results of the city’s recently released canopy study. Urban forest advocates emphasize that trees are critical to help Asheville avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Buncombe County had a 76% response rate during the 2010 census, in line with the state average, but Asheville officials will try to raise participation to 80% next year. The city will join Buncombe’s Complete Count Committee to work alongside county government, area schools and universities, nonprofit and faith communities, business leaders and the media to spread information about the count.
Many public commenters urged the commissioners to act even more decisively on transitioning away from fossil fuels in the context of climate change. Chloe Moore with the Sunrise Movement referenced a scientific paper, published earlier that day, in which over 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared a “climate emergency” and warned of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” if stronger measures were not taken.
Over 100 members of the community attended Let’s Talk Opioids, described as a “community update and conversation on opioid crisis response in Buncombe County.” The standing room-only crowd listened as in-the-trenches experts presented information, including the Mountain Area Health Education Center, Vaya Health, Asheville Fire Department, Buncombe County Health and Human Services and the N.C. Department of Justice.