Letter: The sad decline of downtown Asheville

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I moved to Asheville in 2011, when downtown was safe and friendly. In the past years, there has been a very large increase in crime, drugs, violence and a large homeless population.

Needless to say, I haven’t gone anywhere near downtown in several years because of these very sad changes and don’t expect to in the foreseeable future.

When I decided to move to Asheville from Florida, I couldn’t wait to get here. At that time, Asheville was a dynamic, friendly city with a strong community of creative people, a diverse population and a thriving downtown. Now, I barely recognize it and have reservations about living here.

We all know the priorities, and they are past needing to be dealt with.

— Marsha Collins

Editor’s note: Most of the letters about downtown Asheville in the March 15 issue came in after a recent Xpress newsletter that highlighted three articles covering concerns about public safety and cleanliness downtown. Those stories can be found at avl.mx/chuavl.mx/chw and avl.mx/cht. To sign up for Xpress’ free newsletter, go to avl.mx/8st.


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4 thoughts on “Letter: The sad decline of downtown Asheville

  1. indy499

    I’m not sure what the priorities are, but I know what they aren’t. The mayor, the council and the invisible city manager do not support downtown residents or local businesses. They’ve shown that by closing the downtown police station (you know the station where the density of residents and visitors is the highest), approving ear popping noise levels well above the levels approved for their neighborhoods and neglecting soaring crime and vagrancy.

    If we want to save our regional beauty, that can only be done by building sustainable, inhabitable density from the core out. Sprawl can only be countered with density. The decisions and policies of this leadership group are encouraging exactly the opposite.

  2. Aron Collins

    A society without government and law enforcement will fail to exist.

  3. Jdr

    I agree with Sad about Asheville! I’ve live in South Asheville for 20+ years and moved out of the area to get away from the crime and traffic. I’ve never seen a city go
    Down so fast! However, when you strive to be like
    Portland, defund the police, removed the Vance Monument and paint BLM in front of the Police/Fire
    Department, what do you Expect!!!
    The money the city paid to remove the Monument and pay for Reparation would have been great to pay for extra Police. I mean Seriously, I just hope Waynesville, Black Mtn, Hendersonville and other surrounding communities
    don’t follow Asheville’s!

  4. The crime, homelessness and filth in Downtown Asheville is a complex problem with many layers. The City (and County) need to pay more to recruit and attract new officers because the cost of living is so high here (the same argument the teachers are making). The cost of living is so high because there are so many second homes and short-term rentals, which reduce the housing inventory. So, how do you stop local and outside money from snapping up all the property under $300K? There are very few properties in the whole county that are “entry-level” for people to buy. Building hotels instead of apartments or condos is great for tourists, but not so good for the local housing supply and it doesn’t solve any local problems (although the local businesses like it). Unfortunately, the City can’t just say No to those doing the building; it’s not legal. The moratorium on building hotels had to be temporary.

    What do you do? Do you raise taxes on the current residents so the City can spend more on police? Do you tell people they can’t open an AirBnB on their own property? Do you tell the City that you don’t want a homeless shelter in your neighborhood? You can protest all you want. You can write as many letters to the editor as they’ll print. But until someone comes up with workable solutions … well, here we are.

    I’ve been a resident of Asheville since 2003, and yes I’ve seen changes, but I still love it here. I still think this is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. And I still go downtown. I want to fight to save Asheville — not to return it to what it once was (whatever you think that was) — but to find a way forward where people can feel safe, where costs are affordable, and the homeless, elderly and mental health-challenged are cared for. If we don’t work together to solve the problems at the root of our troubles, nothing we do will ever work.

    Comment with your ideas.

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