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