Letter: Asheville area can learn from Coral Gables

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Handling development can be pretty simple.

Rules need to be put in place that specify what is acceptable in differently zoned areas within the city. Things like density, traffic flow, architecture and historic preservation are examples of areas to be addressed by these rules. That structure usually helps folks who want to develop areas because they can base their investments on something solid. It also helps the citizenry because there are a lot less surprises!

In addition to the rules, a committee needs to be in place for compliance and for any variance requests. The committee should have the power to decide on the variance.

The city of Coral Gables, Fla., put this practice in place many years ago and has been very successful preserving its heritage as well as allowing for the growth that comes with a popular place to live.

— Barry Shoor
Asheville

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville area can learn from Coral Gables

  1. SpareChange

    As a former resident of Coral Gables I disagree that it provides any kind of reasonable model for development, permitting, etc. for Asheville. There is a reason that “the Gables,” long known as, “The City Beautiful,” has also been given nicknames like, “Moral Gables,” or the “City of Friendly Fascism.”

    As a city which started out as one of the first affluent planned communities in the country, Coral Gables’ very existence is rooted in a kind of, “circle the wagons” sense of privilege. Since it was never intended to be the hub of a diverse metropolitan area, the way Asheville is, it could afford to set its own terms on what kinds of architecture, housing, businesses, and yes, what kinds of “people,” it would permit.

    Coral Gabes’ voluminous 566 page zoning code (which is strictly enforced) specifies everything from the size and types of archways permitted in a home’s design, to what kind of shutters, to where one can put a swing set, to mandating tile roofs, to what color one can paint one’s own home (only light pastels, please). One even needs a permit to paint any part of the inside of one’s own home. Until recently pick up trucks were not allowed to be parked in one’s own driveway overnight. Suffice it to say, unlike Asheville, the town of Coral Gables not only does not have to worry about affordable or low income housing, through its zoning it effectively prohibits it. Several of the wealthiest zip codes in the entire nation are located in Coral Gables.

    These things, however, are only part of the story. The core distinction is that Coral Gables is an exclusive, affluent, and yes, very beautiful bedroom town in an otherwise incredibly diverse metropolitan area. It’s whole history and continued existence has been premised on tight controls and restrictions of a type completely inappropriate to a town like Asheville, which serves as the urban hub for the entire Western North Carolina region. Locally, the Coral Gables model comes closest to approximating the town of Biltmore Forest – an affluent enclave community with its own governance, zoning, services & tax base – beautiful, yes – but not a reasonable model for 90% of the population.

    • bsummers

      Well, not so fast. That ‘no pick-up truck’ rule has some merit.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Does Coral Gables allow tent encampments? Do they have a homeless problem? Does Coral Gables have a functioning and effective city council and mayor ?

  3. Taxpayer

    Ah. Another “let’s do it the way we did where I came from” or “the place I left managed everything better” letter.

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