ON SHORT TERM RENTALS:
I believe that short term rentals should be allowed if they are owned by residents of Asheville. This would eliminate out of town buyers from buying homes and renting them for profit, and would give our residents more opportunity to purchase homes of their own. It would also give residents that currently have STR the opportunity to continue to rent them, instead of routing all our tourist dollars to hotels that are owned by out-of-towners. Most of the people that live in Asheville and rent STR use this income to be able to live here. STR should be licensed and regulated and pay taxes accordingly. Property owners that choose to rent long term at an affordable rate should be given some property tax relief.
ON THE ST. LAWRENCE GREEN SPACE:
The Basilica was built over 100 years ago and is one of the iconic sights in Asheville. When the City of Asheville bought 4 parcels of land in front of the Basilica ten years ago, they planned to build a parking deck. In 2005 four opponents to the parking deck were elected to City Council and the project died. Then the Council decided to sell to McKibbon Hotel Group, who were the only bidder. They were threatened by a lawsuit and McKibbon withdrew.
Residents have consistently opposed building on that site. Most residents would prefer a green space that included gardens and a park-like setting with benches. With the building boom in Asheville, it is imperative that this piece of land be preserved. I endorse creating green space on the city owned land in front of the Basilica and believe that we should fight to preserve the little remaining green space in our downtown,
I invite you to sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/asheville-city-council-imagine-st-lawrence-green
ON OVER DEVELOPMENT:
Over development not only destroys the unique culture and charm of the city, but compounds our problems of affordable housing, living wage, over-crowded streets, and crumbling infrastructure.
As part of the Master Plan voted in by City Council, a provision was adopted that removed downtown development decisions from council to developer-dominated, non-elected boards and commissions. City council meetings are where citizen's comments and testimony can make a difference in the outcome. If there are no meetings about the issues, citizens can't weigh in. This takes away the voice and desire of the citizens. When elected to City Council I will vote to restore City Council oversight to downtown development decisions.
As a resident that lives on a busy street without sidewalks, I am aware of the problem facing so many neighborhoods in the city. In a progressive city where we want to promote walking as a form of transportation, many citizens find it unsafe to walk to a bus stop, the supermarket or a neighbor's home. Residents are often told that the city does not have the money to take care of theses issues, yet they can find the money for sidewalks in new developments and tourists areas of the city. Caring for the residents and the people that work here seems to be of a lesser priority. If elected, I will put the needs of our citizens first to ensure safer, more walkable neighborhoods with sidewalks.
Most experts would agree that we have to move towards multi-modal transportation that takes us out of our gas fueled automobiles and puts us into alternative modes of transportation (be it walking, biking or public transportation). Continuing to rely on automobiles to get us to the city center is not a sustainable choice. We have got to move towards closing inner city streets to cars other than delivery vehicles and public transportation and to become a more pedestrian friendly city. We need to make our transportation system more efficient and reliable. Several ways to do this are: 1) Expand hours to accommodate service workers.
2) More frequent and convenient scheduling to make our bus system a desirable choice for those seeking an alternative mode of transportation. 3) Make public transportation free to those living within the city, which would, in turn, make the bus system more desirable, even for those that might not necessarily have to ride the bus. 4) Find a way to decrease the amount of traffic coming into the city by creating park and rides, or shuttles, for those who commute from outlying areas. 5) Ensure that all citizens are within safe walking distance to a bus stop so that everyone has access to a grocery.
On Chain Stores:
No chains downtown. While the rebirth of our downtown was the driving force behind making us a destination city, the direction we are now headed is taking away many of the unique qualities that brought people here in the first place. That original growth that began in the early nineties was fueled by investing in local independent businesses. We need to return to that model. We need to offer the same incentives to our local businesses to expand and grow that we do to outside sources. The path we are now on is unsustainable and will lead to the loss of our original charm.
The buskers are an important part of Asheville's culture and uniqueness. Having recently met with the buskers organizational committee, I believe that the buskers should be included in any future discussions and decisions that are made by the city concerning their interest in this matter. The buskers are a self-regulating committee. They are making a list of new proposals to present to the city concerning busking regulations. Their proposals seem both practical and show a willingness to find common ground. I believe that the city should sit down with the buskers to develop a plan that is beneficial for all.
Having recently met with an organizational group of graffiti and mural artists. I found that they are a group who feels that self regulating is often the most effective way to deal with an issue. I found this group to be both practical and willing to work with the city to resolve existing issues. Graffiti is an art form and means of expression that is not going away. What is needed is an outlet for young aspiring graffiti artists to express and nurture their art. they are a tigh knit group who respects the work of fellow artists and will not tag over the work of others. Much like the buskers, often the city's best form of action would be to listen to the people with the most invested in the issue to come up with compromise that works for everyone.
For Asheville City Council