Letter: Open-space protections under threat

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Loss of open-space protection at Asheville City Council coming up at the July 26 meeting! This is effectively a giveaway to developers under the guise of providing affordable housing. Make no mistake, higher density doesn’t mean affordable units will actually be provided. Most will still be market rate because that’s where the profit is.

Affordable is extremely expensive, and developers avoid getting entangled with the onerous requirements. We will lose our celebrated natural areas and gain little as a community. Demand keeping open-space protections and using other means to provide lower-cost housing.

Please read the proposal [avl.mx/bqk] and make comments via email (ashevillenccouncil@ashevillenc.gov) or come to the meeting to speak.

— Janet Thew


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9 thoughts on “Letter: Open-space protections under threat

  1. Taxpayer

    We can comment…or not. City council isn’t concerned what the taxpaying residents want and they’ll do whatever they want regardless unless the pressure is beyond intense.

  2. indy499

    There will be 30-50 million more people in the US by 2050 per the latest forecasts. Some will live in our area. Do you prefer density or sprawl? Don’t come is not one of the choices.

  3. AndyPAvl

    This letter is uninformed at best when it comes to matters of affordability.

    The research is clear that infill lowers rents by increasing vacancy rates and giving tenants more options so that landlords have less of an upper hand with which to gouge tenants.

    (You can find just some of the research here: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5d00z61m )

    It might not be intuitive (or convenient) to wealthy homeowners, but ask any renter in town if they would prefer there to be more apartments in town to choose from and a higher vacancy rate to keep their rents down.

    Furthermore, we know that the environmentally responsible thing to do is to build dense, walkable neighborhoods rather than continue to sprawl out. The latter represents 1950s thinking, and the land use patterns we’ve normalized have depended on cheap oil and US-led coups in countries like Iran. Mandating that all buildings in Asheville have large lawns isn’t environmentalism. It’s environmental gluttony.

    To get the real info on the open space amendment, please check out:


    • Shultz!

      Thanks Andy. It’s a good idea. I went your website and then on to the YIMBY website (didn’t see Asheville’s chapter listed there btw). Digging into the YIMBY site further, well, it all seems very Cali-centric & strikes a tone in some instances that will sour a lot of potential support, such as their goal to “Allow more housing in every neighborhood, especially historically affluent and exclusionary neighborhoods, removing barriers to both subsidized affordable and market rate housing.”

      Dunno, after spending time reading through the YIMBY site, I think your group would be better off splitting off from them. This is Western NC & though it may come as a shock to Californians, not everyone enjoys the vibe. Anyhow, good luck w/the amendment – wish you success!

    • Kris

      You didn’t read the letter or the plan. Open space would be sacrificed to build crammed in units on every square inch possible, leaving only concrete. They won’t be affordable without massive government investment which will not be forthcoming. You YIMBYs are all about sticking it to people in nice neighborhoods, not preserving any green space for anyone.
      Asheville is NOTHING without its gorgeous natural spaces .

    • Robert

      A couple good points, but we should also acknowledge that some people (homebodies, introverts, retirees, military veterans, people raising children with autism, to name a handful of groups) enjoy their large lots for gardening, family recreation, and other activities that allow them a wonderful stay-at-home quality lifestyle, which keeps them from driving all over town to see music and drink beer and clog the roads. In some of these cases where humans are contentedly leading frugal low-carbon-footprint existences, homes with large lawns might actually be good for the environment. Anyway, food for thought. (Plus we all know that many infill homes are used as Airbnbs, so those aren’t helping the affordable long-term rental market.)

  4. Peter Robbins

    Here is the open-space presentation of the city’s urban-planning staff: https://www.ashevillenc.gov/projects/open-space-zoning-updates/. I’m not an urban designer, but I don’t see any big giveaway to developers. I see a reasonable and balanced response to a local need for cheaper, more eco-friendly housing — one crafted to meet stormwater needs and other considerations unique to the geography of Asheville. So I presume it will go down in flames. But you have to admire people who fight the good fight using calm facts rather than scare tactics.

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