A bill that would have changed the distribution of Buncombe County’s controversial hotel tax to better benefit local government is likely dead until at least next year. The change would have reduced the share of room tax money to market and advertise Asheville as a tourist destination.
Coronavirus relief is just the latest topic in an ongoing debate over whether the Tourism Development Authority, with its mission to bring ever more overnight guests to Buncombe County, is good for county residents — or just good for the hotel industry that has controlled it since its inception nearly four decades ago.
Asheville voters turned out in relatively high numbers on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to reelect two incumbents and significantly increase the diversity of City Council.
This month the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council seeks approval from the city for a revised version of its Food Action Plan.
Asheville and Buncombe County have worked for several years on plans to reduce the area’s solid waste stream, but implementing “pay as you throw” and municipal composting programs remain in the realm of good ideas rather than reality or even future plans. But the city says it hasn’t given up on initiatives to divert more waste away from the landfill.
Nonprofit organizations made their best pitch to City Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee for a share of federal and city funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year at a day-long meeting on Friday, March 24. Some left happy, while others expressed dissatisfaction with a process they said favored established city partners who had received funding in prior years.
Through their elected leaders, Asheville voters will now have more say-so over development projects downtown and new hotels citywide.
While 2016 statistics show increasing availability in the area’s rental housing market, Asheville renters say their choices remain limited and prices steep. Several city initiatives — including a $25 million affordable housing bond referendum approved by voters in November — aim to bolster the supply of affordable housing, while some private-sector players are pursuing similar goals.
While July was marked by a series of protests, rallies and demands for changes to the APD’s approach to policing in the city’s marginalized communities — especially its 11 public housing neighborhoods — August saw a shift in tone, with the outline of a collaborative process arising out of discussions among the APD, City Council and a wide range of community groups convened by the Racial Justice Coalition.
The die is cast: a $74 million bond referendum will appear on Asheville voters’ General Election ballots in November. What uses has the city proposed for the money and, if the referendum passes, how will that spending affect different parts of the city?
At its June 14 meeting, City Council approved a conditional zoning request for a 290-unit apartment complex off Long Shoals Road that will displace 55 low-income families from a mobile home park located on part of the project site.
With an annual economic impact of $2.6 billion, tourism is a critical industry in Western North Carolina. But politicians and local residents are increasingly asking whether the tourism industry is paying a fair share of the cost of providing everything from sidewalks to roads to public safety to tourists. Now, City Councilman Gordon Smith is pushing for a new study to consider the local tourism industry’s impact and sustainability.
In addition to her new role as Vice Mayor, Asheville City Councilmember Gwen Wisler serves on a long list of important city boards and commissions, as well as civic organizations. Xpress talks with Wisler to find out what’s on her mind as she leads city projects from the budget to the update of the citywide comprehensive plan.
With her win in the District 1 Democratic primary, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara is slated to become the first openly LGBT Buncombe County Commissioner. To get there, she had strong competition from City Councilman Gordon Smith and from another civil rights activist, Isaac Coleman. Since no Republican filed to run for the District 1 seat, Beach-Ferrara is almost certain to take office in the fall after the General Election.
While only one Buncombe County commission seat was actually decided in last night’s primary, in all the races where a woman was running, she was selected by her party.
“I believe that anyone who works in Buncombe County, regardless of job title, should be able to afford to live here. That is why I will vote for Gordon Smith, whose vision for our county includes affordable housing and living wages. “
“Vote for Gordon if you think a commissioner should believe transparency and fiscal responsibility are necessities, if you think that land conservation and farmland preservation are important, and if business tax incentives should be focused on local businesses, not just large corporations.”
“Gordon wants to preserve, diversify and grow opportunities for our small, local, family- and minority-owned businesses.”
Gordon Smith’s 2016 primary voter guide profile.
One clear winner from the 2015 City Council elections: local hopes for a public space for the city-owned lots facing the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center. Not so clear: exactly what kind of space Asheville needs and who will pay for it. The city’s Planning and Economic Development committee took up the hot potato issue to try to figure out how to move forward.