The new economy, as represented by its exemplars Uber and Airbnb, seems to have adopted the late Justice Scalia’s refrain, “Deal with it,” as its motto.
Consider the owner of a property on a ridgeline who wants to (illegally) rent his house through Airbnb. Clearly, the rent he could charge would be higher after he has hired a couple of likely lads with a truck and some saws to (illegally) remove trees that were blocking his view of the sunset.
The resulting mudslides start small — maybe the mud ends up covering the floor of a garage 300 feet down the hill and a quarter of a mile away. But they grow as each storm weakens the remaining soil on the hill. Eventually, of course, the hill ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, and our renter’s demands that “someone” protect his property go unanswered.
Too far-fetched for you? Go look at the river after the next rainstorm.
At the last City Council meeting, we heard a variant of the same sad story — a newly built house as the cause of runoff that flooded an existing basement.
Human nature means that there will always be cases like those. But would Council adopt policies with the same effects? Surely, Asheville is better than that.
According to a recent discussion, Asheville has a sidewalk deficit of roughly 90 miles. By the time that’s dealt with, the city will have replaced something like 50 acres of topsoil with impermeable concrete — during a storm that dropped an inch of rain that could result in an extra 2 million or so gallons of water that would once have soaked into the ground to feed trees and vegetation diverted into drains or uncontrolled runoff.
On a much smaller scale, the construction of Beaucatcher Greenway is apparently to involve the destruction of 85 mature trees and the construction of a couple of miles of impermeable concrete and asphalt trails on steep and unstable slopes.
Asheville isn’t ours to destroy like that; we hold it and its beauty in trust for our children and grandchildren. Choosing to cut down mature trees and convert land into impermeable surfaces is an abuse of that trust —especially when obvious alternatives exist.
— Geoff Kemmish