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The city is experiencing many issues that are common with fast growth and popularity. Top issues include a lack of affordable housing, a safe and clean community, aging infrastructure and needs, ongoing equity work, and frustrations with the impacts of tourism and growth.

I have served on many boards throughout my life. I love community work. I currently serve the city on many boards and commissions as well as Council. These committees do the deeper work on policies and projects, strategize long term, work with citizen input, read and weigh studies, and make recommendations to Council. From this work, I have learned so much and I offer my service again in the hopes of continuing this work. Current Service Roles:

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CLEAN & SAFE COMMUNITY AMID STAFFING SHORTAGES

Ever since the pandemic, the City has struggled with staffing levels in key departments. The job market shifted, millions of workers were removed from the workforce in the nation, and employment strategies have had to adapt and grow.

Public Safety

Since the pandemic, social uprising around the death of George Floyd, and increases in overall mental health needs, policing as a career has faced changes and challenges. Asheville is no different and has seen a loss of officers that is still slowly recovering. At the peak of low staffing, Asheville Police Department was down 40% of their staff.

Strategies to increase officers have included salary increases, benefit increases, adjustments to pay for working harder to staff shifts, voicing our support, and sign on and retention bonuses. In particular, a push to hire lateral hires has helped by hiring existing and experienced officers from other areas.

Efforts to grow the community paramedic program, which helps those experiencing mental health and addiction crises, has supplemented our first responders and staffing shortages and provided right sized services .

Public Works

The nuts and bolts of a city are elaborate. The teams that keep us operating, from utilities to stormwater emergencies, are in the public works department. They also keep us clean, handle brush pickup, graffiti, potholes, streets, deal with safety hazards, and clean up trash. In recent years, this department has suffered staffing shortages as deep as 40% down. This not only slowed down the city's operations, it also log jammed us.

Council was able to increase wages in many areas to better retain and hire staffing. Efforts are paying off, and additional efforts to hire outside contractors have also been put in place.

Neighborhoods need more services and community engagement on issues and new needs, from public safety to help with NCDOT state owned roads. We continue to hear from and work with neighborhood groups; please join your neighborhood coalition or CAN - the coalition of Asheville neighborhoods.

Other Help

With changes in the lodging tax laws, it is possible we will see tourism taxes help with maintenance. The newly created LIFT fund recently accepted its first round of applications, including requests from the city for repairs and infrastructure impacted by tourism, including things like special, larger trashcans.

The Chamber is also exploring a BID - Business Improvement District - that could help supplement services if approved. This would enact a new tax on the properties in downtown central business district and the tax revenue would be spent on downtown services.

Neighborhoods are organizing better than ever and making their needs known and city staff are in regular interaction with area leaders. Residents are encouraged to join and participate in their neighborhood coalitions and groups.

ACCESSIBLE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Housing is a multifaceted problem in need of a multifaceted, all hands on deck approach. Where we see the risk of gentrification, we need to protect. Where we see risk of loss of housing, we need to intervene. Where we see not enough, we need to create abundance. Where we see high rents, we need assist in bringing down costs.

Growth and Demand

Since the pandemic, we have seen significant increases in relocating residents, higher demand for housing, and higher prices as a result.

Growth is manageable if we strategize on locations, access, density, and livability.

Missing Middle housing: Incremental growth that doesn't overwhelm - back yard lots, garage apartments, town homes, condos, quadplexes, ADUs, courtyard cottages, etc.

 

We need to  upzone major travel corridors to focus growth along existing infrastructure and access, upgrading as we go. We need multimodal and transit options along the way, as well, helping to ease pressure on neighborhoods.

Alignment of local, regional, state, and federal funds and funding cycles to maximize affordability in developments.

Barely Getting By

We know that the quality and cost of your housing is central to your budget, health, and future wealth.

 

Creating economic mobility is important in building our city. Many residents are paycheck to paycheck, caught in high rent cycles, moving further & further out

Half of housing assistance vouchers were going unused because there weren't available rentals accepting vouchers. We now have a program that builds supply of voucher accepting units.

We need to focus on additional family size units that accept vouchers and in locations that have predominantly higher rents.

We are underway in drafting a new Affordable Housing Plan and we need the plan to include larger, family size households and workforce income ranges. Each are being left out when the city provides subsidies.

Gentrification

1. Supply. The greatest risk to vulnerable neighborhoods occurs when demand is high, supply is short, and residents are experiencing rising costs. As we review items like flag lots and missing middle, we need to be prepared to protect particularly vulnerable and historic neighborhoods.

2. Ownership. We need to actively move more residents into home ownership. Currently, more than half of us do not own our homes.

3. Missing Middle housing: back yard lots, garage apartments, townhomes, condos, quadplexes, ADUs, courtyard cottages, upzoning major corridors to allow them is a strategic, needed move to focus growth along existing infrastructure and access. In turn, it helps protect neighborhoods.
 

Heavy Cost Burden

Heavy Cost Burden

Paying too much for housing spills over into all other areas of our lives and our families' lives.

 

Too many people must decide between rent and the water bill. Between health
insurance or gasoline.


Half of renters are cost burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

21% of homeowners are also cost burdened.


We are on the right track and we need more ownership opportunities, more housing types and sizes.

The Poverty Trap

Wages

Continue working toward paying a living wage of $20.10/hr minimum for all city employees and contract workers.

Educate businesses about the need for living wages and pooling resources when and where they can to reduce costs and help pay higher wages

Tie incentive programs to paying living wages.

Support organizations that pay living wage

Homelessness

Transportation

Continue to strategically implement the Transit Master Plan but reconvene to assess updated timelines

Work to implement a downtown shuttle for employees to reduce costs of parking

 

Establish and connect sufficient multi modal paths that allow residents to travel without a vehicle

Focus on partnerships and strategies to increase monies for transit

Focus on frequency and timeliness and work to increase all ridership, reducing personal automobile use and growing grant access.

 

Homelessness

RESPONSIBLE, SMART GROWTH

Grow up, not out

There are two main ways to grow a city:

Up or out. When we build new roads, new sewer lines, new power infrastructure, etc., we trigger new costs and ongoing maintenance costs that eat up budgets year after year. Using the example of our failed water systems in 2022, we have a lot of maintenance to do on existing lines. Building new lines in new areas of the city creates more maintenance over time.

When we build up, we can reuse the same roads, sewers, water lines, power etc., reduce our long term maintenance costs, and preserve more open and green space.

We need more types of housing and more missing middle opportunities for residents. Duplexes, quadplexes, garage apartments, townhouses, courtyards, etc create more naturally occurring affordability and economic mobility.

Downtown Asheville

Downtown is everyone's neighborhood.

Focusing density and commercial activity in downtown contributes significant tax revenues to our budgets while using less space and land. This is quite literal - the property tax revenues from downtown REDUCE tax increase pressures on our neighborhoods and residents.

Fiscally strong cities have a thriving downtown that has a strong business community, many local and unique options, great entertainment, lots of  food, wares, clubs, arts, events, sports, and activities,

Creating housing downtown, near job centers, reduces the need for cars, and thereby congestion and air pollution. It also reduces the pressures to build in neighborhoods.

Urban Centers and TOD

Urban centers are identified large areas of along existing transit corridors. The aim is a mix of uses, including residential development and commercial activity that supports it.

These areas and corridors will support walkabilty, multiple transportation modalities, and reduce our overall need for automobiles.

They will include dense housing options, including apartments and condos, with affordability woven throughout.

TOD = Transit oriented development.

We need shuttles that moves folks quickly around downtown and to adjacent business areas and to these hot spots.

We need to focus transit strategies on increasing ridership, reliability, and frequency in the hopes more residents will get our of their cars.

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