Letter: Asheville, we need to invest in ourselves

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[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


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6 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville, we need to invest in ourselves

  1. luther blissett

    “One easy example is South Asheville.”

    South Asheville is what it is because a) Biltmore and Biltmore Forest exist; b) proactive annexation doesn’t. Perhaps the smartest idea is to retrocede everything south of Ballard’s Appliance and make it the county’s sole responsibility.

  2. Lou

    YES all of this. Excellent summary of a plethora of issues that can be fixed if we focus on our community. To tourists, we’re just something new to post on social media.

  3. Robert

    There’s nothing wrong with telling people not to move here and refusing to allow developers to build really awful crowded warehouses for humans while polluting our river and causing gridlock. Saying No to a few inharmonious projects will keep our quality of life from going fully off the cliff (or bluff). Saying No from time to time will make our homes more valuable and livable and make people happier and we might even be able to grow food or navigate streets in future years. Come on, Asheville, are we Chick-fil-A or Curate?

  4. Felix Babbins

    Fixing housing problems and infrastructure will never happen if we don’t stop putting money into advertising Asheville. And taking advertising money to fix those things won’t help the tourist industry so of course those things won’t happen. The number one place Asheville has to take money to from is advertising, but oh no, let’s keep advertising so more people we don’t need move here so more people complain about affordable housing and our roads and traffic while they contribute to it. Until we get our state and local government to understand development has to stop while we get housing needs and in-town roads and outlying highways fixed and expanded, then it’s just gonna get worse. It all just keeps going around in one big circle- advertise, get more moving here, roads can’t handle more, no housing, locals feel left out ignored and put-upon, advertise some more, more move here, etc., etc., and it goes around in the circle again ……

  5. Taxpayer

    The letter writer misses the point in saying “Public transportation and pedestrian movement is an afterthought, at best. ” EVERYTHING in Asheville is an afterthought at best and mostly it isn’t even thought of at all. Instead of looking ahead, we have a city council and staff that bend with the squeakiest wheels into their contortionist positions on a daily basis.

  6. independa

    So after Asheville was economically devastated by a pandemic that saw countless businesses close their doors forever, your solution is to further burden private business with a litany of bad economic decisions? Do you work at city hall? Because this is the kind of nonsense that put Asheville in the situation it’s in now.

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