After a contentious public hearing earlier in the week, Asheville City Council voted 5-2 to pass a 2020-21 fiscal year budget with three months of funding allocated for essential department spending at its July 30 meeting.
Buncombe County’s Tourist Development Authority began advertising for tourists to visit Asheville again — on the same day that the county’s top public health official said coronavirus cases were “rising at an alarming rate.”
Asheville City Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting reparations for Asheville’s Black community at its July 14 meeting. Members also moved to table a $83,000 contract with risk-management firm Hillard Heintze to investigate Asheville Police Department’s response to recent protests after listening to community concerns.
During a June 24 meeting, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board heard a presentation from marketing firm 360i about a new advertising campaign, scheduled to start in July, designed to attract a “responsible tourist audience” to the region. Ads will target visitors whose behaviors agree with “psychographic statements” about “willingness to conform.”
African Americans in Asheville are three times more likely than white people to be searched by police in traffic stops and are disproportionately charged with common crimes such as marijuana possession in disparities that experts in police bias called shocking, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police data found.
Since March 16, local government boards and commissions meetings have been canceled, meaning citizens have largely been shut out of formal policy discussions as Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners manage the tandem economic and public health crises caused by the coronavirus.
“Our objective is to safely and responsibly encourage travel, working hand-in-hand with our local health officials and government, as we move toward that direct invitation of visitors to our community,” said Marla Tambellini, Explore Asheville’s vice president of marketing.
In the first weekend of March, said Explore Asheville’s Marla Tambellini, hotels throughout the county were at roughly 90% occupancy. By March 27-28, only about 15% of rooms were filled, and the average price for those accommodations was approximately half its usual rate — $80 instead of $160.
More Buncombe County voters — 81,887, or 41.79% of all eligible residents — took part in the primary elections that wrapped up March 3 than in any previous primary in the county’s history. Xpress outlines the winners and losers for levels of elected office from president to Asheville City Council.
Candidates in the Democratic primary for the N.C. Senate District 49 seat give their answers for the Mountain Xpress voter guide.
Jessica Morriss, Asheville’s assistant director of transportation, explained that the higher costs were primarily driven by federally mandated door-to-door paratransit service for residents with disabilities. The remaining transit budget gap, she said, was due to higher-than-expected prices for fuel and electricity to power city buses.
After months of haranguing City Council over the wording of a climate emergency resolution, over 40 protesters with Sunrise Movement Asheville occupied the government building on Dec. 6 to demand that Mayor Esther Manheimer and her colleagues pass the document as written by the climate justice group.
Asheville City Council voted to halt hotel approvals for one year and will use the time to examine the impact of hotels on the community and develop new guidelines for hotel approval.
“All of this begs the question: Who is this city built for? “
“There’s not a simple solution,” says Sage Turner, who chairs both the Downtown Commission and its Parking and Transportation Committee. “The reality is, at peak hours when everyone wants to be downtown, there is just not enough parking.”
The Tourism Development Authority discusses the proposed hotel moratorium during a July 31 board meeting.
On Friday, Sept. 6, said Council member Julie Mayfield, the city will hold an affordable housing work session to explore options such as tiny homes and housing voucher acceptance for long-term rentals. Mayfield also announced that Council plans to discuss whether the city should temporarily ban new hotels in the city during its Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday, Aug. 29.
What does transit — and the city’s support of its bus network — mean to Asheville? Xpress talked to residents with different perspectives to better understand Asheville Redefines Transit’s role in the community.
As the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority unanimously passed its nearly $19.36 million operating budget for fiscal year 2019-20 on June 26, Brown noted that the authority had begun engagement around its Tourism Management and Investment Plan.