You know. When someone says it’s all everyone else’s negativity and claims zero accountability for complaints, that’s a pretty big red flag right there. After reading Himanshu Karvir’s little rant [“On the Defensive: TDA Board Members React to Criticism,” Nov. 27, Xpress] … my first thought is: What a crybaby.
I have lived near Asheville and called it home now for nearly four decades. I loved it when I moved here. Yes, downtown was mostly dead. But there was a vibrant community here. I was happy to see the turnaround as old buildings were renovated and cool shops and restaurants sprouted up. Buskers and colorful events gave the city a spark. It’s always been a tourist-based economy.
But as more and more posh hotels sprouted up, rent hikes forced out the small businesses or forced them to hike prices and target the well-to-do; infrastructure is utterly maxed out; homeless people pushed out of sight; and literally the whole wonderful feel of the city moved into a fake simulation of what used to be — yeah, I no longer care to dine, shop or hang out downtown. I work three days/week near the RAD, and some days I literally dread the certain traffic snarls. I have watched the neighborhood I work in gentrify before my eyes in the last four years. And now even out where I live in the country, it is swiftly changing into housing developments. If I weren’t so far along in my years, I’d sell and move farther out.
So, yes, Mr. Karvir, there is such a thing as going too far. And you need to heed these complaints and concerns. Tourism adds a lot of wear to Asheville’s stressed infrastructure. And yet I see busted-up sidewalks and horrible potholed roads go unfixed for years. Tourists act like they can jaywalk anywhere they please without regard to traffic. And tourism has caused the popularity of Asheville to soar. Forcing out residents as cost of living shoots skyward, but measly service-job pay that the industry provides remains stagnant. It’s absolutely a factor. And to say it’s all good and none bad just makes you a shill. This kind of denial of how tourism has negatively impacted people who live here will only infuriate them more.
Instead, Mr. Karvir (and all the TDA) need to listen to these concerns. And understand why people are pissed. And acknowledge that they are very legitimate concerns and not just blow them all off with “tourism is all good and nothing bad.” What BS!
— Troy Amastar