In response to Bill Branyon’s recent opinion essay in the Mountain Xpress [“Sierra Club Chimera: WENOCA Chapter Endorsements Are an Environmental Disgrace,” June 29]:
I don’t know anything about the Sierra Club or Branyon’s claims about the organization. But I am saddened whenever I see Ashevilleans using fearmongering language that pits longtime residents against anyone who is from “out of town.”
At the intersection of housing, land use and the environment, there is a lot of uncertainly and anxiety in Asheville. Fear and confusion are understandable.
But the solution to our overlapping affordability and climate crises can’t be to try to freeze our city in time, to shut our borders or to blame anyone who hasn’t lived here long enough to earn the right kind of Asheville cred. And we needn’t be starry-eyed about capitalism or private builders to understand that everyone’s home was “developed” by someone, and it’s a bit hypocritical to live in such a home and at the same time declare that no more homes should be built.
Such “no growth,” neo-Malthusian thinking only leads to an “us” vs. “them” mentality, which is easily weaponized to pit different groups of working people — even workers who build homes for a living — against one another. And by maintaining scarcity in housing, it only preserves Asheville as a sprawled-out, carbon-intensive playground for the wealthy.
All successful cities grow. Let’s talk about how Asheville will do it equitably, sustainably and in a way that facilitates transit, “gentle density” and walkability. And let’s do it without resorting to xenophobia or provincialism.
— Andrew Paul