I would like to comment on Stephanie Brown’s letter [“Lodging Tax Supports Local People,” May 15, Xpress]. While she paints a rosy picture about the benefits of the hotel boom, there is something that matters at least as much as money: quality of life. While I have no doubt many locals are reaping the rewards of the influx of tourist dollars, I suspect the big winners are the corporations.
While those people who are coming here to “launch and live their dreams” may be bringing fresh ideas and assets, how many of them can actually afford to live here? How many locals can find a parking spot to enjoy the local venues they have supported for years? How many mountain views have disappeared from the city? While all of that tax money goes to bring even more tourists here, who is footing the bill for public services, street repair and rising real estate taxes?
Has the city imposed a 1% fee on new buildings for public art? Do we have to wait until someone dies falling from the beer cycle because of a giant pothole to get it fixed?
It seems ironic to me that, now you talk about sustainability? Now, as the city and county are finally, maybe, starting to emerge from a greed-induced stupor. With a zoning board that never met a variance they didn’t like and a planning commission that apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word planning, you want to talk about sustainability. I fear your sustainability is going to come on the backs of the residents. It’s like a developer bulldozing an orchard to build cookie-cutter houses and then naming the development “The Orchard.” It just might be too late.
I agree with you, Ms. Brown, [Asheville] is an awesome town with a rich diversity of unique businesses and activities. That is why most of us live here. However, this is not Disney World. When the tourists leave, we don’t take off our Goofy costumes and head home. We live, work and play here and are left to clean up the trash, accidents, puke and exhausted, underpaid and underappreciated service workers who take great care of us and our visitors.
My suggestion is that you return at least half of the $23 million to the city for pothole repair, public services and maybe even some wage assistance. I have no doubt you could still promote our town quite successfully with $11.5 million.
Hey, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.
— Ron Greenberg