Letter: Cramming 10 gallons in 5-gallon bucket of Charlotte Street

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I strongly disagree with Ms. Laura Berner Hudson’s recent piece in the Mountain Xpress [“Future Vision: 101 Charlotte St. Deftly Balances Conflicting Priorities,” May 19]. Perhaps valid in theory, it presents her thoughts and solutions in a vacuum:

1. She quotes the Bowen report of about 3,200 additional households in the city by 2024. The two projects on Charlotte Street represent close to 400 of those households, meaning that 12.5% of that total will be crammed on an already overburdened two-lane road.

2. The “new” development calls for 18 affordable housing units. More than that in terms of existing affordable housing will be destroyed in building this new monstrosity.

3. Ms. Hudson talks about “upgrading” the current infrastructure that makes high-density building preferable. And yet there has been no talk at the Council or Planning and Zoning Commission level on making that happen. Nor has there been any responsibility for the upgrade placed on the developer. If we already have challenges with water, sewer and traffic, then where/when would these upgrades happen? And the belief that Asheville will suddenly develop viable modes of public transportation is almost magical in its thinking.

4. The idea that more density leads to more affordable housing is a trope that has played out all over the world. If Ms. Hudson’s logic is to be believed, then shouldn’t New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, etc., be some of the least congested, most affordable places to live?

The last point is key to the troubling and not-so-subtle classism and racism that Ms. Hudson and others have presented. It has nothing to do with the “few who already have theirs” trying to keep others out; it is about trying to cram 10 gallons in a 5-gallon bucket. The view of Ms. Hudson and others that we have no choice but to be swamped under the deluge of people who want to be here is — in my opinion — misguided.

We can control the growth and do it smartly (by starting with following the existing guidelines that protect a quality of life for those already here). It seems the former and current chair of the P&Z Commission both have taken it upon themselves to argue against the existing rules and believe warehousing people in a city is better than living in a city.

— Lee Arevian


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Cramming 10 gallons in 5-gallon bucket of Charlotte Street

  1. luther blissett

    “If Ms. Hudson’s logic is to be believed, then shouldn’t New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, etc., be some of the least congested, most affordable places to live?”

    I’m not sure where you pulled “congestion” from, but all of that completely misses the point. There are places where lots of people want to live. There are places where only a few people want to live. It is typically very affordable to own property and live someplace nobody wants to live. (Some friends of mine got drunk one night and bought 10 acres in Nevada for the price of an old Corolla.) A place where lots of people want to live can choose to build densely or not densely. You can buy a house relatively cheaply in the exurbs of Atlanta or Charlotte but if you have to commute… well, I assume that you have spent a minute in Atlanta or Charlotte or even Greenville, and talking about congestion in relation to Asheville is nonsense.

    So the question becomes: how are you going to stop people from wanting to live in Asheville? Are you going to scour the property listings and show up outside viewings telling people to go away? Are you going to campaign for the demolition of downtown? Do you want to reinstate prohibition in the county? (The easiest way to stop them is to make housing unaffordable even to those packing up from New York and California, but that has… repercussions.)

    “We can control the growth and do it smartly”

    Who is this “we” here?

    Ms Hudson already pointed out — correctly — that the current growth pattern is as follows: random parcels of land become available in the unincorporated county because the property owners want to sell, often because of a bereavement and inheritance; property developers snap up that land and drop in cookie-cutter housing complexes; the county has to scramble to accommodate that growth after the fact. This is a stupid pattern.

    If you think that permitting mixed-use development two blocks north of 240 and opposite an empty Fuddruckers is some kind of assault on the city, I can’t wait for the “save the abandoned Fuddruckers” protests.

  2. Mike R.

    Well stated. The project is too large for the site and surrounding area. Period.
    That should be the main point of contention/opposition.
    Everything else (including saving the houses) is a distraction that will end up (perversely) helping get this thing approved.

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