Asheville’s current short-term rental rules do not allow homestays to offer rooms that contain either a stove, a full-sized refrigerator or a kitchen sink. A new definition of “kitchen,” proposed by local host organization the Homestay Network, would still forbid stoves in homestay dwellings but allow sinks and refrigerators.
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.
Questions linger about the buses’ capability to keep up with their diesel and hybrid counterparts on Asheville’s demanding roads. Issues with the length and battery life of the vehicles have led city officials to delay the planned purchase of three more electric units.
“Council cannot claim to be transit advocates while leaving evening service behind. We must include all routes to 10 p.m. and Sunday and holiday service to 8 p.m.”
The net proposed operating budget stands at $190.31 million, a 5.4% increase over last year’s adopted budget. Campbell said the spending plan aligned with the priorities outlined by Council members in March during their annual retreat, which focused on transit and affordable housing.
“A major investment in electric public transportation will make a huge difference in equity and in achieving our goal of 100% renewable energy! So I invite all who value both social and environmental justice to insist on funding for great, electrified public transportation.”
At a budget work session on March 26, city CFO Barbara Whitehorn reported that Asheville can expect to receive $2.5 million in property and sales taxes from the health system in fiscal year 2019-20 — only half of the $5 million initially estimated by the Buncombe County tax office — then $5 million instead of $8 million for every year to follow.
“This may hurt some feelings, but you can no longer operate the city of Asheville like it’s the Oprah Winfrey talk show, where you get a car and you get a car,” said Council member Keith Young, referencing the daytime TV host’s famous giveaways. “As much as we love all these programs and trying to help the public good… this is the time to close the bank.”
Even accounting for the fossil fuels needed to generate the electricity they will use, said Council member Julie Mayfield, each vehicle will produce 54 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions than one of Asheville’s current buses. Once all five buses hit the streets, the total emissions savings of 270 tons will make up a third of the city’s annual carbon reduction target.
City Manager Debra Campbell called the Feb. 12 capital budget briefing “food for thought” as she encouraged Council members to focus and prioritize their objectives. “This is why we’re presenting this information,” she said. “We’ve got some tough decisions that we need to make over the next several years.”
Asheville’s human population growth has been matched by an increase in the number of vehicles on the region’s roads. Efforts to accommodate the resulting traffic — or move people around the city in different ways — were at the heart of many new developments in 2018.
Change proved the only constant among staff members in Asheville city government during 2018. Firings, resignations, reassignments and new hires left the city’s bureaucracy radically changed from its makeup at the start of the year.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners members expressed their concerns over the city’s impending requests for county funds to expand its Asheville Redefines Transit service. “This is Buncombe County; it’s not the city of Buncombe,” said Commissioner Mike Fryar.
Amanda Edwards’ first day in the hot seat should be fairly chill.
A quarter-cent sales tax on all purchases in Buncombe County would be earmarked for transit improvements, as required by state law, while a 1 percent tax on prepared foods and beverages bought in the city could be used as general funds. Both taxes would require approval by voter referendum, projected to take place in 2020.
The Land Use Incentive Grant point maximum will increase from 140 to 200, with every 10 points worth a rebate of one year of city property taxes above a property’s pre-development total. But developers will also face stricter conditions when applying for LUIG money: The minimum period for which a project must guarantee affordable housing will increase from 15 to 20 years.
Members of Asheville City Council will hear an update on Tuesday, July 24, on efforts to boost transparency of policing data and will decide whether to approve an ambitious new plan for the city’s mass transit system.
The ambitious proposal would increase bus service hours by 44 percent starting in fiscal year 2020, construct a new $50 million operating facility by 2024 and double the current fleet by 2029. Elias Mathes, transit planning manager for the city, says these bold changes are needed to make Asheville Redefines Transit a viable alternative to automobile commuting for the city’s future.
Asheville as we know it today was built upon the back of its electric streetcar system, one of the largest networks of its time. As the city finds itself in a growth spurt once again, could its defunct trolley system provide some clues to Asheville’s transit future?
“The $74 million in bonds means that these projects would be completed within the next five to seven years, a timeline well ahead of how much time it would take individual projects without a new source of funding.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Asheville Transit Commission looked at a proposal to arm Asheville City buses with software that would give riders a real-time view of a bus’ position on its route.