[Regarding the letter, “Asheville Is ‘Sold Out,’” June 2, Xpress]: Asheville has been and is popular for many reasons, not least if which is its climate, its welcoming nature and its counterculture vibe. It has more than its share of growing pains, and the way it has grown sometimes works against itself.
One easy example is South Asheville. Take a drive on Hendersonville Road. Endless retail strips, mini-malls, chain restaurants, gas stations, ad nauseam — indistinguishable from suburban Chicago or Atlanta or you-name-it big city. Built exclusively for the privileged in their ubiquitous oversized vehicles. Ugly, messy, maddening traffic.
Public transportation and pedestrian movement is an afterthought, at best. Outside of downtown (gotta impress the tourists) and tonier neighborhoods, there are no bus shelters to get out of the sun or rain. Long stretches of road everywhere without sidewalks.
Tourism rules, but unless the city focuses on a robust, growing local economy for its residents, it will become less desirable as a vacation spot.
We need to invest in ourselves — pay living wages, build or convert affordable housing, expand public transportation, house the homeless, focus spending on the people who live here.
— Jack Hafeli