Thanks to your advocacy efforts, City Council has made substantial changes to the hotel development policy that was proposed during its February 9th Council meeting. However, these changes don’t do enough to advance racial equity and offset the harmful effects of hotel development on housing insecurity and gentrification, which have a disproportionate impact on Asheville’s Black communities.
We’re calling for you to reach out to our City Council members in advance of the February 23rd 5:00pm meeting to urge them to table the vote on the proposed Hotel Development Policy until they make further revisions to reflect the City Council’s stated goal of promoting racial equity and making reparations.
How to reach City Council Members directly:
To email all Council Members at once – AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
Mayor Esther Manheimer – email@example.com; 828-259-5604
Vice Mayor Sheneika Smith – firstname.lastname@example.org; 704-401-9104
Sandra Kilgore – email@example.com; 954-540-5593
Antanette Mosley – firstname.lastname@example.org; phone number not provided
Kim Roney – email@example.com; 828-771-6265
Sage Turner – firstname.lastname@example.org; 828-423-0621
Gwen Wisler – email@example.com; 828-333-1767
What you might say when you reach out to Council Members:
Thank you for the revisions you made to the hotel development policy proposed at the last Council meeting on February 9th. These improvements to this policy bring us closer to enacting justice in the process of hotel development in our communities, and I appreciate the effort made toward this goal. I believe more can be done, particularly to protect our Black communities from the negative impacts of allowing new hotels to be built in Asheville. I would like to ask you to table the vote on this policy to a future date when you have revised the hotel development policy further to include ALL of the following: (a) A smaller overlay map, (b) more points for hotel developers (to increase their contributions to the Affordable Housing Fund AND the Reparations Fund), and (c) continued review by City Council (including public comment) for approval of every hotel development proposal. These additional adjustments to the policy will limit new hotel growth, make sure new hotels are built in the right places away from Urban Renewal Program areas, offer substantial benefits to all our communities, and maintain the essential element of public accountability and community involvement in these critical decisions.
Please fill out the “report back” form below so we know what action you have taken or are planning to take. There are some talking points and further information below.
More Information About This Call to Action:
You can read the agenda for this City Council Meeting in its entirety here.
V. UNFINISHED BUSINESS:
A. Vote to amend the Unified Development Ordinance Articles II, III, V, VIII, IX and XVII in order to adopt new standards regulating hotels and associated changes.
February 9 Documents
Memo with Revisions
B. Vote to apply a new Hotel Overlay District to certain properties located within the City of Asheville corporate limits.
February 9 Documents
Memo with Revisions
Notably, the City Council’s changes to this policy include the following:
- An increase in the public benefits already required, and also the requirement that hotel developers either build affordable housing or contribute money toward affordable housing or reparations. Specifically, benefits points are now 22-40% higher in urban areas and 33-150% higher in suburban areas. For example, a 100-room hotel downtown will now be required to contribute $400k instead of $150k to the Housing Trust Fund and/or Reparations Fund.
- Removal of properties where the proposed Hotel Overlay District overlaps with Urban Renewal Program areas and removal of any resulting non-contiguous parcels.
Despite revisions to the policy, it is still poised to circumvent City Council involvement in (and public comment on) the review of hotel development proposals, which then eliminates an essential element of community engagement and public accountability in this decision-making process.
Additionally, Council Member Kim Roney has promoted an option for revision of this policy to include a smaller overlay map and require a greater number of benefit points which could then require hotel developers to increase their contributions to the Housing Trust Fund AND Reparations Fund. In particular, she recommends adjusting the map to preserve the historic Southside neighborhood by removing Lyman Street, Coxe Avenue, and properties that are adjacent to the Urban Renewal Program Area from the Hotel Overlay map and doubling (at a minimum) the number of benefit points required of developers. We agree with this assessment and believe it will do more to advance racial equity in our communities by mitigating the risks of hotel development that disproportionately impact our Black communities. Doubling the benefit points might also allow the City to require that contributions be made by hotel developers to affordable housing AND reparations, as opposed to the either/or structure the policy currently proposes. We believe this policy would also be strengthened with the explicit addition of a periodic review (annually or biannually) of the points matrix to ensure accountability to our communities’ shifting needs over time.
The City has committed to promoting racial equity, both as a goal to be achieved by 2036 and also in their July 2020 commitment to reparations for our Black communities. We believe that continued open dialogue and concrete changes are required to ensure that hotel development promotes equity and offsets its potential harm to Asheville’s Black communities.